[From T.Quayle Agriculture of IoM, 1812]
TO each considerable farm is usually attached a portion of natural meadow, often skirting a small rivulet, with a sufficient fall for drainage. Little attention in former days was paid to the management of these meadows. Young cattle were kept on them 'till May ; no manure ever found its way in that direction ; and the grass was rendered coarse, and soured by stagnant water. Considerable improvement has been effected on each of these heads ; on the latter, particularly, stone-filled drains have been in some places constructed, which are durable, and, when sunk to a sufficient depth, draw well. For the first year after they are dug, they are kept open, in order that the effect of the drain may be seen, and an opportunity afforded to deepen or draw others in different directions, if necessary. It is of the more importance in mountainous situations to save the meadow-hay with all possible dispatch, as the autumnal rains, frequently setting in early, pour down with great violence into the vallies, bringing destruction on the hay-crop if abroad. The mowers who are to be procured are generally decrepid men, their juniors being usually attracted by the prospect of greater gain in the herring-fishery. From this cause, as well as from the precariousness of the weather at the time of the hay-harvest, it is usually tedious. The haycocks in the field are sometimes protected from the gusts of wind by a mode apparently peculiar to the islanders. After making the cock, two ropes are twisted of the hay, drawn tightly across each other over the top, and the ends thrust into the side of the cock, near the bottom.
A statement of the medium expense attending the making and saving hay has been before given.
SPOTS of good pasturage, adapted to fatting cattle, are not infrequent, but too often overstocked ; the rent, when left separately, is from 11. to 31. per acre; in the immediate neighbourhood of the towns, still higher.
One acre is calculated to fat a beast of their own breed, weighing, when fat, from 35 to 40 stone. There are no lands appropriated to the dairy exclusively, although the price paid in the island for milk and butter, appears tempting.
The precious cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) abounds throughout the island ; in the marl districts with great vigor.
No pasture, except the mountainous heathy portion, is dedicated to sheep exclusively.
With wheat; barley, oats, or flax; grass seeds are sown, either with a view to hay, or to be followed by permanent pasture. They are, however, rarely sown in order to remain in pasture, and still more rarely broken up after the first crop. When sown for hay, one bushel of ray-grass, and 121b. of red clover seed, is the quantity sown per acre ; when for hay, with subsequent pasture, from 71b. to 8ib. of red ; 31b. or 41b. of white clover ; 41b. or 5lb. of rib-grass ; and 21b. or 31b. of trefoil, are frequently sown, and produce a good sward.
Paring and burning land, which had been previously in tillage, is not here practised ; most usually it is ploughed for oats, for which the landlord's licence is not asked, nor is additional rent demanded.
By the books of the insular custom-house, it appears that the importation of grass and clover-seeds, in 1810, amounted to 613 sacks and 3 casks ; but without distinguishing the particular species of each, or the quantities in each package.