Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29



To the Editor of the New Zealand Country Journal.

Sir,—In the month of October last, I observed in the Canterbury Times a copy of a paper read at a meeting of the Kaiapoi Fanners' Club, by Mr. P. Duncan, on the œstrus Ovis of New Zealand. Soon after that, while taking my sheep home to be shorn, I found one of the hoggets unable to get up on its hind-quarters; thinking it had been hurt by some of the other sheep, I brought it in to the homestead on a dray, and as it appeared in good health and eat grass, I left it about the place for several days. One morning I found it had lost the use of one fore-foot at the pastern joint, and next day it had lost the use of the leg altogether. I then killed it, and examined the head very minutely, having divided it in two with a saw. At the top of the left nostril, and rather behind and above the eye close to the brain, I found six very small larvæ—all alive. Further up, and in the small folds or leaves in the nostril, only a thin membrane dividing them from the brain, I found two page 178 large ones—one as large as a common maggot, and in size and shape very much like those blown by the large blow-fly. There was only the thin membrane between them and the brain, and still the brain was clear and healthy looking, and without any appearance of inflammation, and I could detect nothing about either the brain or spine which could cause the disease the sheep suffered from. On opening the right nostril I found appearances of inflammation, and a number of small larvæ, which had evidently been deposited longer than those found in the other nostril. I also found three large worms in a similar position to that in which I found three large ones in the left nostril, two of which had evidently been deposited long before the others. You will know them in the glass sent herewith; they are finely striped brown and white across the back, with the head and tail brown. Two of the others were all white, except the head and tail, which were brown. In all, I found 15 larva;, which I put into strong spirits of wine as soon as I removed them from the head. The small ones died almost immediately, but the large ones showed signs of life for at least six hours after they had been put into the spirits. From what Mr. Duncan said in his paper I was afraid we should have a plague among the sheep in this Province; but unless the sheep above mentioned was affected by the larvæ found in its head, I have seen no bad effect from the œstrus Ovis. In killing fat sheep for home use, I have frequently found worms in the head; but I have never noticed anything about the sheep which would lead me to believe that they were affected by them.

I send you some specimens of the fly which deposits the worms. You will observe there are two different kinds—one brown, and the other a small blue fly, both of which blow the worms above.

Yours truly,

W. Morrison.

Maitland Vale, Cust.

[The specimens sent by Mr. Morrison have been handed to Dr. Powell.—Ed.]

To the Editor of the New Zealand Country Journal.

Dear Sir,—For certain reasons I am very anxious to have a reading of a book called "Lasteyrie on the Merino Sheep," but unfortunately I cannot find a copy in the bookshelves of any of my friends. Should any of your readers possess the book, I shall feel greatly obliged by the loan of it for a week, after which I will undertake to return it safe to the owner.

Yours &c.,

Northern Farmer.

To the Editor of the New Zealand Country Journal.

Sir,—There is no subject of more importance connected with the agricultural progress of this country than the question—What are the best means that can be adopted for the speedy and safe transit of our largely increasing productions by railway ? It must be palpable to every one that our present system is very far from being successful, and that we are thereby placed at very great disadvantage as producers in comparison with the growers of many other countries. Year after year the railways are blocked in the grain season, and we hear different reasons assigned, such as an insufficient number of trucks, want of storage accommodation, bad harbour arrangements, merchants' delays, and so forth, but little or no improvement takes place; in fact, this year, matters were worse, I believe, than on any former occasion, and an immense loss has been caused to the producer, the exporter, the ship-owner, to say nothing of the public carrier—the Government.

Now, it may be, that each and all of the above-mentioned reasons have helped to create the intolerable state of things we have witnessed this season; but I think the chief cause of all the difficulty is simply this—that the producer is making use of page 179 all the modern appliances which science places within his reach for the saving of labour and quickly preparing his goods for market, while the system adopted on our railways for the carriage of our produce is destitute of nearly all the time and labour-saving improvements of the age. Just compare the spirit of our grain farmers in importing every new machine that is invented in order to enable them to turn out their produce cheaply and quickly, so that we can reap and thresh, and I hope soon tie also, at one-tenth of the cost, and in one-twentieth of the time our fathers did. Compare this with the old world way of doing things on the railways, where we see three or four men unloading a truck of grain, and as many more storing the sacks; where we find the cost of carriage about five times what it might be, and the whole expenses so great, that in spite of the high tariff, our railways are not paying a fair percentage on the original outlay. And, perhaps, this comparison will help to show us where to look for a remedy for what is wrong, namely (as I think), in a total change in the way of managing the traffic, and in the adoption of something like the American system of carrying the grain. No sooner do our farmers know of an American invention for tying grain, than orders are sent by the hundred for the new machine. I would say let the Government follow this example, and obtain, with as little delay as possible, all the necessary information from San Francisco or elsewhere in America, as to the cheapest and quickest way of getting our produce on shipboard, and adopt their plan, or some modification of it, suitable to this country. An American Kail way Company delivers a ton of wheat 50 miles from where it is grown for about 1s. 7d., there is no reason why the same should not be done here with proper appliances for the handling of grain. Under the new tariff, just published, one charge is over 10s. per ton for 50 miles, to which has to be added the terminal charges, and with the everlasting manual labour that goes on, it is probably none too high to cover expenses and leave a small margin of profit. I do not know sufficient of the American way of working the traffic to explain the many labour-saving and ingenious methods adopted, but I have learnt from intelligent travellers through the United States, that by a system of classification of the different parcels of grain, which are shot from the farmers' sacks into the trucks, and by working on the plan of raised and sunken levels on the railways, and of steam-driven elevators in the stores, the grain requires very little manual labour in its transit to port. Surely it would be worth while for the New Zealand Government to send some suitable officer of the Railway Department, to obtain information and report on a system by which such excellent results are obtained, with the view of adopting it here for the general welfare of the country.

I do not think that I can be charged with over-estimating the importance of this subject. The grain production of New Zealand is still in its infancy. I feel certain it will be double what it is now in a few years. Our railways, as at present worked, have proved incapable of meeting the demand upon them; what will be the state of affairs when all the large quantity of agricultural land lately purchased and still to be purchased comes into cultivation ? It does not require much foresight to predict that, unless some such steps as I have mentioned are taken forthwith, enormous loss will be incurred by farmers at a distance from any port, who depending on quick and easy transit by railway, are cultivating large tracts of land for grain growing, which they would not attempt to do but for the delusive hope of having the advantage of efficient railway accommodation.

I would suggest that the matter be taken in hand by the Committee of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and that if they agree with me as to the necessity of the case, strong representations should be made by them through our members in the Assembly, to induce the Government to take energetic measures for the adoption in New Zealand of the American system of forwarding grain, as well as coals, timber, &c., by railway. I have no doubt that a unanimous opinion coming from such an influential body would have the desired effect.

A Lincoln Farmer.

page 180

To the Editor of the New Zealand Country Journal.

Sir,—The new rule of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association, requiring, after July 1st., that all members shall be ballotted for, suggests the consideration of the relations that ought to exist between the Association and its members, and what might be advisable towards an increase of benefit to all concerned.

Certainly the time is come when these should be more definite. The Association has fought its way through difficulties and early troubles not so much by the help of an organization fitted for its purposes, but simply by reason of its strong claim on the Agricultural and Pastoral interests, and these interests now considerably advanced have carried the Association along them. The objects which the Association has in view are now so evident, and the benefit accruing from its action so much more plainly seen, that it appears a wise step on the Association's part to regulate more closely the connection between it and its members, that is if its managers have framed the above bye-law with the intention of laying down more clearly the position the members ought to hold toward it; a position which demands support, and a corresponding privilege and duty on the part of members who are now to be admitted only after the ordeal of a ballot. Time was when the Association had been content with annual support from whoever could be prevailed on to subscribe. On one great occasion it even sold for a comparatively small sum life-memberships to wipe off liabilities. Now, it is to be hoped, it feels its position so secure that it can face the farming and pastoral public, whose interests it does its best to conserve, by a bolder front, and ask to be supported as other and older societies are supported elsewhere.

The writer's experience is mainly confined to the position of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, of which he has been a member many years. It is the oldest Agricultural Society in Great Britain; and if outstripped by the wealth and greater advantages of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, it can at least boast to have shown the Royal Agricultural Society the way, and to have in no degree lost the claim to be considered the elder sister through any sacrifice of the real objects of the Society, or from having been found wanting in any respect, except that it has had to do with a poorer country and a more scattered population. In this respect therefore the writer's experience as to older societies may be more useful as gathered in a country where support could only be the result of practical benefits.

First then, to explain the position which the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland bears to the farming public in that country in order to justify the position taken up by our Association by its new Bye-law :—In Scotland, as a broad rule, every landed proprietor and his eldest son, every tenant farmer of any position, every merchant and business man connected with land, every manure or chemical merchant and manufacturer, all as a matter of course, almost as a matter of honour, are subscribing members of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. And the practice of the Society being to shift its yearly place of show, so that in a cycle of years every part of Scotland shall be visited, keeps up a lively interest in its proceedings, as well as periodically renews by a practical exemplication the benefits of belonging to it. The counties are grouped for show purposes,—Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Dumfries being the different show centres, each of which town has a circle of counties attached, who find a certain proportion of necessary funds, and do a certain amount of necessary local work; and the result is always a large addition to the Society's list of members from the counties whose turn it is to have the Annual Show among them.

It would be premature to advocate a peripatetic show here, as no out district could give the facilities for such an experiment at present, neither could the Association do without the gate-money certain at Christchurch, nor could the public be put off with the difficulties of attending shows elsewhere. But perhaps another part of the Highland and Agricultural Society's plan, equally a proof of universal care for the interests of the farming community of the whole nation, might be adopted here. Its practice is to give medals or prizes for competition at all local shows affiliated to it, in page 181 all the principal classes, such distinctions having an honour of their own far above the other awards of the local shows. Such a position might easily be taken up by our Association towards the smaller Country Shows, which, although exceedingly useful and important from a local point of view, require mainly to be assisted towards a standard of excellence. This standard might be given by a judicious offer of medals or premiums from the Association to stock or exhibits deserving of such distinction; and each local show might be made an excellent opportunity for bringing under the notice of farmers in the several districts their duty of supporting the Metropolitan Society. A similar plan might be adopted with regard to ploughing matches. At all events, it is to be hoped that the committee of management will not consider that their mission is ended until every farmer and landholder in Canterbury is up for ballot.

Another point deserving of ventilation, is the necessity of the Association's having a library for reference, and the current agricultural literature of the day for their members' benefit. We ought at all events to have the quarterly journals of both the Scotch and English Societies. These might be obtained by having if it were possible our Association affiliated to the older societies at home, or our President might be a subscribing member of each on behalf of the Association. Probably an application in the right direction might get us a complete set of all their back numbers. In any case the want of such are frequently felt; and although our climate and soil are different to those of England and Scotland, and our capital and labour on a different footing, still these publications as the results of experience, are of very great value to those who are thinking out similar and perhaps more difficult problems on their land in New Zealand.

I am, &c., &c.,

A member of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

To the Editor of the New Zealand Country Journal.

Sir,—In your issue of January appeared an excellent article, by Mr. Ford, upon the different breeds of sheep. In common with many others, I perused it with much interest, and was very much struck with his account of the "Improved Dartmoor" sheep. Would you kindly inform me in your columns whether any of these sheep are procurable in these colonies; if so, where? If they have been imported, whether they have proved a success; and whether they have been bred sufficiently long enough to reproduce themselves; are they, in fact, pure-bred sheep ? Such a sheep as Mr. Ford describes is just the sheep we want on hilly country; and, with a view to eliciting more information on the subject, I trouble you with these enquiries.

I am, &c.,


Hawke's Bay, P.S.—Would you kindly inform me what is Mr. Ford's address.

To the Editor of the New Zealand Country Journal.

Sir,—In answer to "Enquirer," re Dartmoor Sheep, five rams and six ewes of that breed were imported to this province in June, 1864, by Mr. Charles Reed, and used by that gentleman on his station, Westerfield, Ashburton. The rams were put to Merino ewes; and, for some three or four years the cross was persevered with, and produced most satisfactory results. Although bred and fed on the native grass of the Canterbury Plains, they clipped unusually heavy fleeces, and the wethers, when three years old, were sold to West Coast dealers, by whom they were much appreciated—as, although often travelled in winter through the ranges along the West Coast road, they suffered but little loss in weight, and always met a ready sale when the breed became known.

As the Lincoln and Leicester sheep became more fashionable here, and Mr. Reed's estate became improved, he crossed the half and three-quarter-bred Dartmoor ewes with those sheep, keeping no Dartmoor rams, even from his pure-bred sheep. In a page 182 letter received from him a few days ago, he informs me that he has about 25 pure ewes, and these he would sell, not considering them so profitable for close farming as the long-woolled breeds before mentioned. The wool is not so valuable as the Lincoln or Leicester; but, on rough country, exposed to common treatment, the quantity would more than make up the deficiency in price; while the sheep would be more hardy, the ewes would give much larger increase, and a given acreage would feed a much larger number than could be carried of the heavier breeds. The old Dartmoor sheep has been improved by crossing with other long-wools—as stated in my paper,—and so rendered more valuable. Should "Enquirer" be desirous of giving them a trial, I shall be pleased to give him the address of breeders in Devonshire, by whom he could be supplied.

I remain, Sir,

Your obediently,

J. T. Ford.

Hereford-street, Christchurch,