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Farmers' Clubs

Farmers, like other men, divide naturally into two classes--those who do

too much work, and those who do too little. I know men who are no

farmers at all, only by virtue of the fact that each of them inherited,

or somehow acquired, a farm, and have since lived upon and out of it, in

good part upon that which it could not help producing--they not doing so

much as one hundred fair days' work each per annum. One of this class
/> never takes a periodical devoted to farming; evinces no interest in

county fairs or township clubs, save as they may afford him an excuse

for greater idleness; and insists that there is no profit in farming. As

land steadily depreciates in quality under his management, he is apt to

sell out whenever the increase of population or progress of improvement

has given additional value to his farm, and move off in quest of that

undiscovered country where idleness is compatible with thrift, profits

are realized from light crops, and men grow rich by doing nothing.

The opposite class of wanderers from the golden mean is hardly so

numerous as the idlers, yet it is quite a large one. Its leading

embodiment, to my mind, is one whom I knew from childhood, who, born

poor and nowise favored by fortune, was rated as a tireless worker from

early boyhood, and who achieved an independence before he was forty

years old in a rural New-England township, simply by rugged, persistent

labor--in youth on the farms of other men; in manhood, on one of his

own. This man was older at forty than his father, then seventy, and died

at fifty, worn out with excessive and unintermitted labor, leaving a

widow who greatly preferred him to all his ample wealth, and an only son

who, so soon as he can get hold of it, will squander the property much

faster, and even more unwisely, than his father acquired it.

To the class of which this man was a fair representative, Farmers' Clubs

must prove of signal value. Though there should be nothing else than a

Farmers' Club in his neighborhood, it can hardly fail in time to make

such a one realize that life need not and should not be all drudgery;

that there are other things worth living for beside accumulating wealth.

Let his wife and his neighbor succeed in drawing such a one into two or

three successive meetings, and he can hardly fail to perceive that

thrift is a product of brain as well as of muscle; that he may grow rich

by learning and knowing as well as by delving, and that, even though he

should not, there are many things desirable and laudable beside the

accumulation of wealth.

A true Farmers' Club should consist of all the families residing in a

small township, so far as they can be induced to attend it, even though

only half their members should be present at any one meeting. It should

limit speeches to ten minutes, excepting only those addresses or essays

which eminently qualified persons are requested to specially prepare and

read. It should have a president, ready and able to repress all

ill-natured personalities, all irrelevant talk, and especially all

straying into the forbidden regions of political or theological

disputation. At each meeting, the subject should be chosen for the next,

and not less than four members pledged to make some observations

thereon, with liberty to read them if unused to speaking in public.

Those having been heard, the topic should be open to discussion by all

present: the humblest and youngest being specially encouraged to state

any facts within their knowledge which they deem pertinent and cogent.

Let every person attending be thus incited to say something calculated

to shed light on the subject, to say this in the fewest words possible,

and with the utmost care not to annoy or offend others, and it is hardly

possible that one evening per week devoted to these meetings should not

be spent with equal pleasure and profit.

The chief end to be achieved through such meetings is a development of

the faculty of observation and the habit of reflection. Too many of us

pass through life essentially blind and deaf to the wonders and glories

manifest to clearer eyes all around us. The magnificent phenomena of the

Seasons, even the awakening of Nature from death to life in Spring-time,

make little impression on their senses, still less on their

understandings. There are men who have passed forty times through a

forest, and yet could not name, within half a dozen, the various species

of trees which compose it; and so with everything else to which they are

accustomed. They need even more than knowledge an intellectual

awakening; and this they could hardly fail to receive from the

discussions of an intelligent and earnest Farmers' Club.

A genuine and lively interest in their vocation is needed by many

farmers, and by most farmers' sons. Too many of these regard their

homesteads as a prison, in which they must remain until some avenue of

escape into the great world shall open before them. The farm to such is

but the hollow log into which a bear crawls to wear out the rigors of

Winter and await the advent of Spring. Too many of our boys fancy that

they know too much for farmers, when in fact they know far too little. A

good Farmers' Club, faithfully attended, would take this conceit out of

them, imbuing them instead with a realizing sense of their ignorance and

incompetency, and a hearty desire for practical wisdom.

A recording secretary, able to state in the fewest words each important

suggestion or fact elicited in the course of an evening's discussion,

would be hardly less valuable or less honored than a capable president.

A single page would often suffice for all that deserves such record out

of an evening's discussion; and this, being transferred to a book and

preserved, might be consulted with interest and profit throughout many

succeeding years. No other duty should be required of the member who

rendered this service, the correspondence of the Club being devolved

upon another secretary. The habit of bringing grafts, or plants, or

seeds, to Club meetings, for gratuitous distribution, has been found to

increase the interest, and enlarge the attendance of those formerly

indifferent. Almost every good farmer or gardener will sometimes have

choice seeds or grafts to spare, which he does not care or cannot expect

to sell, and these being distributed to the Club will not only increase

its popularity, but give him a right to share when another's surplus is

in like manner distributed. If one has choice fruits to give away, the

Club will afford him an excellent opportunity; but I would rather not

attract persons to its meetings by a prospect of having their appetites

thus gratified at others' expense. A Flower-Show once in each year, and

an Exhibition of Fruits and other choice products at an evening meeting

in September or October, should suffice for festivals. Let each member

consider himself pledged to bring to the Exhibition the best material

result of his year's efforts, and the aggregate will be satisfactory and


The organization of a Farmers' Club is its chief difficulty. The larger

number of those who ought to participate usually prefer to stand back,

not committing themselves to the effort until after its success has been

assured. To obviate this embarrassment, let a paper be circulated for

signatures, pledging each signer to attend the introductory meeting and

bring at least a part of his family. When forty have signed such a call,

success will be well-nigh assured.