[From T.Quayle Agriculture of IoM, 1812]
THE Manks farmers appear originally to have bor-rowed their practices from Ireland; their tools in some measure from Scotland, and the north-west coast of England. The ploughs formerly in general use, and still to be seen at work in some upland farms, resemble in construction the old Scottish plough ; with the mould-board straight and long, the share narrow and pointed, calculated for stony uneven land. They are drawn by three or four horses, with a driver. In the low-land farms these ploughs have been superseded by the swing-plough, drawn by two horses abreast, without a driver. These have a curved mould board, at present often formed of cast iron ; are nine or ten inches wide at the heel ; sufficiently high in the beam to keep clear of weeds: at the point of the beam, they are provided with a regulator for the width and depth of the furrows, varying from eight inches to four inches. The handles are fixed, and joined by two cross-bars. There are in the island wheel-ploughs, but not in general use. The ploughs of other constructions, detailed in the Board's instructions, are here unknown. To answer the purpose of trench-ploughing, one plough follows another in the same furrow. The situations in which the soil is of sufficient depth for this management, are not frequent. Where very deep ploughing has been practised, coltsfoot has followed. And the same effect has been found to result from lazy-bed potatoes.
THE ancient harrows had teeth of wood; those now in use are of the ordinary construction, having from 48 to 64 teeth, from six to eight inches below the wood. On every examination, these appeared, without exception, quadrangular; and not triangular or round ; either of which forms would seem to be preferable. The driver walks behind. When the quantity of weed on the land is so great as to require additional aid, a boy attends to drive. Light gangs drawn by single horses are not in use, except with small holders.
Good stone rollers are constructed of the blocks of granite, found in detached masses in the mountains each stone split and dressed costs from one guinea and a half to two guineas. The insertion of the axle, and the frame may about equal the same sum.
DRILLING corn is here a novelty, at present confined to a very few improvers about the two principal towns. Turnip-seed is universally delivered by a drill.
This is a round tin canister, suspended on a pair of iron-rimmed wheels ; a funnel sheds the seed over the coulter, which cuts about an inch into the soil. A light roller levels the top of one ridge, and covers the other which is sown. A drill of this description, with a man and boy driving a poney, may sow ten or twelve acres a day.
Foe hoeing potatoes and turnips, the common plough, or one of the same make, but smaller, is used. For the former purpose, they have also a small triangular harrow formed in three divisions, the two exterior of which may be placed at a greater or less distance, proportioned to the space between the rows. In work-ing, this tool is guided by handles, formed like those of the plough. It is called a potatoo-harrow, and seems well adapted for cleaning and pulverizing the intervals.
THE first thrashing-machine in the island was completed in 1793 ; since that period, two have been erected of a construction to be wrought by four horses ; thirty-four wrought by two horses, sixteen wrought by water, and one by steam. To meet the harvest of 1811, about twenty others are now in preparation. No injury to the barley converted into malt, has been found to result from the thrashing by the machine. By its means, wheat, when affected by smut, which is frequent in the southern division of the island, receives less injury than by the flail. Few of the balls are broken, and by taking out the screens, and permitting the grain to pass in small quantities with a sharp turn in the second operation, the balls are for the most part separated.
A method of preserving the straw, from which the grain has been separated by means of the thrashing machine, in a state fit for thatching, has been adopted by one ingenious farmer in the island. The wheel is first removed by which the rollers are moved ; these are then fixed a little asunder by two small pieces of wood: two men place the heads of the wheat between the rollers, and when the grain is clean thrashed out, draw back the straw, without allowing it to pass into the drum. By this simple method the straw is preserved unbroken.
THE chaff cutters here in use, are wrought by hand, or by a mill, with knives set in a wheel. They are purchased in London for about ten guineas. None of those wrought by the knee are here in use.
WAGGONS, or tumbrils, of the description used in the eastern counties, are unknown. Perhaps, on the whole, their absence is not to be regretted. To heavy loaded carriages, the narrowness and the imperfect construction of the roads would present serious obstacles ; and the necessity of locking the wheels of waggons in steep descents, would destroy the roads altogether. The occasions when waggons are useful in agriculture are not of very frequent recurrence.
The primitive mode of transporting the harvest from the field to the farmer's yard, was on horses' backs, or by means of sledges formed of two shafts, connected by five or six cross-bars, and widening in a small degree at the end which trailed on the ground. At the other end, these were secured to the horse's back. These awkward implements continued to be used by a few individuals 'till within these two years, and possibly may be to this day. They were long since superseded in general use by the Irish car, with solid low wheels. Though these latter have in their turn given way to carts, the use of which is universal, yet a few still remain; principally in the hands of Irish settlers.
From the narrow entrances left anciently in the fields, it is evident that it was not then foreseen that other modes of conveyance, besides the sledge or the Irish car, would be adopted. Both single-horse, and two-horse carts are now generally used; two of the former are often conducted by a single driver. In one instance the Manks servants refused to conduct each two carts ; and in their opposition met with some support against their master as an innovator. Finally, they yielded the point, and would now reluctantly recur to their ancient method.
No draining mills have been erected, or appear requisite ; nor are the sluices numerous.
ON account of the abundance of stones in the soil, spades are usually pointed. One particular tool of this denomination is here termed a Manks spade, and is probably peculiar to the island, anu to some districts in Scotland. The iron part is throughout about four inches wide, and strongly constructed ; near its top, an iron spur projects at right angles, on which the labourer's foot presses. The use of this tool is principally found in raising the surface sods of which their fences are composed, which it effects more neatly than the common spade. It is also adapted to land full of stones or furze roots. On account of its strength, it is occasionally used as a small crow in taking up the field-stones.There is not in the island a machine for weighing beasts alive.Winnowing machines have been long in use.