[From Manx Quarterly, #22 1920]


The abnormal prevalence of inshore winds at Douglas during the last two or three months has been of considerable advantage to farmers who cultivate land within a reasonable distance of Douglas beach, in that splendid opportunity has been afforded of procuring an abundant supply of very excellent and cheap fertiliser. Many thousands of tons of wraick have been among the jetsan left by the receding tides and wraick discreetly applied to Mother Earth has a remarkably wholesome and stimulating effect. Soil of certain descriptions treated with algae develops wonderful productive qualities; indeed for some crops wraick is probably the most valuable manure known. Agriculturists who carry on operations fairly close to the seashore have not been slow to take advantage of the bountiful provision forthcoming from the sea, and any day almost within the last two months or so, farmers' carts in goodly procession have been observed wending their way to the slips leading from the Shore-road at Douglas to the sands for the purpose of loading supplies of the valuable marine vegetation. The farm-workers engaged in piling the carts high with wraick have a by no means easy task. The gathering of the sea-weed and its subsequent forking on to the vehicles involve work at once artful and trying. Knee-deep among the wraick, the hands toil right vigorously in raising huge masses from the level of the shore above their heads and depositing them upon the stacks which constitute the cartload. The physical labour involved in loading is very heavy indeed, and is certainly not lightened by the fact that the lower extremities of the workers are being constantly soaked with sea-water. Then there is a considerable knack in so disposing of the wraick on the cart that removal from shore to land is not attended with loss of material — A well-arranged load can be transported to the farm "street" almost intact; not so an ignorantly or slovenly filled load, which will in all likelihood suffer diminution owing to the disturbing effects of jolts over rough road surfaces, to the extent of a quarter or even more ere destination is achieved. In the days when artificial manures were not so largely imported as now, wraick was very extensively employed by farmers for the fattening of their land; and perhaps the revival of its use this winter is in considerable measure attributable to the big prices which patent manures command. Possibly, too, the dry and mild weather which prevailed during last autumn, by enabling farmers to get through quickly with autumn ploughing, allowed of the horses being employed in wraick carting to greater purpose than in average seasons. In old days it was not uncommon to see carts hailing from so far inland as the Baldwin Valleys employed in the ingathering of wraick, but nowadays the harvest is in the main secured by agriculturists whose land lies within a mile or two of the sea beach. The small boy of a quarter of a century ago had an inordinate appetite for the " fans" and " tangles" which entered so largely into the constitution of wraick, and along the country roads the laden carts were frequently followed by a " mob-beg" ready and anxious to glean any of the droppings from the loads, and even to abstract forcibly from any tempting morsels which dangled from the rear of the carts. Though the "fans" are sweet enough, they are as hard as the hobs of inferno or as a profiteer's heart, and their assimilation demands such chewing as is possibly beyond the masticatory powers of present-day boys. Anyhow the sight of a lad feasting upon "fans" is now an exceedingly rare one.

January 10th, 1920. A.E.R;


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