The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47
Though a large portion of the East Cascade region is arid and sterile, the country generally is preeminently fitted for grazing. The grasses are numerous and nutritious—bunch, sage, alkali, sower, redtop, sedge, with peavine, &c., &c.
In the absence of carefully-obtained statistics, it is believed there are in the province about 25,000 head of horned cattle, 5000 to 6000 horses, 12,000 to 15,000 sheep, and about 10,000 pigs—three-fourths of the cattle, and perhaps of the others also, being on the mainland. Farmers there have from 200 to 1000 cattle. Cattle multiply rapidly, and grow very large. Prices of course depend on quality to a large extent, but a rough average would give 10l. (50 dollars) for a cow; 20l. (100 dollars) for a horse; 1l. (5 dollars) for a pig; 1l. 8s. (7 dollars) for a sheep.
The bunch grass is a favourite grass. It grows over extensive areas—loves warm, dry localities—never ceases to grow—heart always green, though outside dried up—sugary taste perceptible—makes excellent beef—fattens cattle more quickly than stall-feeding (if weather is good)—yearling steer has been known to weigh 600 lbs. dressed—full-grown 1200 lbs. and more, fed entirely on grass—six to eight weeks on bunch grass will make the leanest beasts of burden quite fat—horses leave grain to eat bunch-grass hay—bunch grass goes more to fat than milk, so is not best for dairy purposes.
Bunch grass is delicate—roots take slight hold of powdery soil—sheep crop page 58 it too closely—large flocks in a small area will kill the grass—horses and mules cut the roots with their hoofs—cattle injure the grass least, as their hoofs are cloven, and they do not bite closely. If bunch grass is destroyed, wild sage and absinthe usually appear; these are good cattle food, especially for winter. Sheep are very fond of black sage.
Here and there in this region are alkali spots, frequently alternating with alluvial patches, on the banks of rivers. An alkali spot is not considered a drawback to a cattle "run"—helps to fatten cattle—stranger cattle sometimes lick too much—swell and sicken to death—antidote is oil or fat—alkali spots should be avoided on dairy farms—alkali makes cows lose milk. Alkali is not found, however, to hinder the growth of cereals. When mellowed by cultivation, alkali land in British Columbia produces very fine beets. In Eastern Oregon, and in Idaho, alkali lands, mostly covered with sage brush, have proved well adapted to raising grain.