Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

the season. Each time they sit, they are to hatch two broods, by the withdrawal of the first clutch of chickens, and the replacing them with fresh eggs. The kidnapped chicks are to be reared by an artificial mother; we are told how. If the Hen hatches only ten chickens from each set of eggs (which is considered a low estimate) this gives eighty chickens per annum from each Hen. Let us work the scheme out a little further. If one Hen will produce eighty chickens, for the expense of maintaining five hens, (and, we suppose, a Cock, though he, poor fellow, is not mentioned), we get four hundred chickens in the course of the year, or more than one per diem upon our table. Who would not keep five Hens, and even submit to the additional cost of a Cock, if necessary 1 But, alas ! if we reckon, eight sittings of three weeks each amount to twenty-four weeks, or nearly half the year. Now the Hen that incubated twenty-four weeks in one twelvemonth, and hatched only fifty chicks during the same period, would deserve a gold medal and a pension for life from the Royal Agricultural Society. Hens are made of flesh and blood, not of wood, hot water, iron, and macintosh. Whenever I have overtasked the incubating powers of Hens, they have invariably suffered for it afterwards: it has taken them the whole autumn, and perhaps the winter also, to recover their health. One fine Dorking Hen, who had been over-worked in this way, never sat afterwards, and laid but indifferently, though we kept her for the two following summers. Another gentleman, having read somewhere that certain Cochin-China Fowls attain great weights, and that the Hens lay two, sometimes three, eggs a day, declares his intention of speculating in the purchase of a large number of them, with the hope of eventually forming a Poultry Company, without knowing either how old these very heavy Fowls were, if they existed, and without making sure that these feats of laying were ever performed, except upon paper. These are the sort of details which I certainly am cruel enough to cast cold water upon, and disrespectful enough to treat with ridicule. But the Reader has listened long enough to this praeludium ; we will strike the final chords, which sound harmoniously to our own ears. Thanks are the burden of our closing song. Without great help, this volume, though small, could not have been written at all; without great encouragement, the writer would certainly not have ventured to send it forth. It is scarcely possible to mention by name all the persons to whom he is indebted for hints, and answers to inquiries. The addition of initials to many paragraphs is an attempt to avoid some part of the reproach of strutting in borrowed plumes; they will also perhaps serve as props to sustain his own otherwise tottering edifice : but it would be an ungrateful omission not to mention specially the obligations under which the Author feels himself bound to the Editors of The Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette.

CRINGLEFoRD HALL, Norwich,
October, 1848.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »