down on the farm

When cleaning up my grandparents’ home, I uncovered a dusty old tome that turned out to be none other than Magner’s Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor. You can read about it here; it’s basically the greatest book ever written.

Since it was published in 1902, predating the convoluted laws passed in the 20th century, the copyright has expired and the work is now in the public domain (see here). Still, its pages are conspicuously absent from the archives of Google Books. Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to upload the best selections as PDF files so that future generations might also be able to create successful farms; the files are found on the aforementioned link. The uploads will be in sections, hopefully in numerical order, and I will summarily discuss their key points here.

talking it over (magner 13)


The first section is, appropriately, the title page and table of contents, followed by Magner’s proverbs and an introduction regarding how to succeed in the world. Although he tackles some substantial topics, he does so in a way that is very accessible to the layman, creating lists and using forthright language to convey his points.

Of Magner’s “good advice” on pages 13-14, some of my favorites are as follows:

We are ruined, not by what we really want, but what we think we do.

No man can get rich sitting around stores and saloons.

If you truly love God, you truly love nature; and if you truly love nature, you love man. These three loves are but one.

Take time for eating, sleeping, and digestion. Don’t worry.

His wisdom extends to “getting on in the world” on pages 15-17. He implores us to be motivated and intelligent in the decisions we make, and to be honest and direct in our dealings with others. Also, he reminds us that “the corner-store box is not a good place on which to raise revenue; the saloon is worse” (17). Magner has laid the foundation and set us on the path to good citizenship.

Part 1: Mushrooms; Haymaking

mushrooms (magner 117)Having omitted 100 pages, I skip soils, drainage, and nutrition to proceed to something more interesting: ‘shrooms, and lots of them. Magner relates the magnitude of their importance in society, stating that they are impossible to import from Europe (in 1900; 116) and that “‘the economic value of mushroom diet is placed second to meat alone'” (117). He describes the cultivation of mushrooms on the following pages, in detail revealing the necessary combination of cow manure and garden soil requisite for their nutrition. All you really need is some mushroom spawn, and you can even make this artificially (119). Of course, French mushroom spawn is also an option (120).

Mushrooms need not only be grown in a box, however; they may also be planted in a field (122-123), provided suitable conditions exist. Magner includes a passage from Mr. Henshaw of Staten Island describing the manner in which he has successfully been able to grow mushrooms in the field (123).

loading the hay (magner 135)Although I did not include the section about feeding grasses, I considered the haymaking section to be crucial to any farmer. On pages 131 to 141, Magner describes the nature of hay and how and when to cut it, as well as how to properly fill your silo. After all, silage is “pre-eminently the food of the dairy cow” (137).

The instructions for the construction of silos are quite detailed, and the author relies on the testimony of several esteemed farmers throughout the chapter. These quotations give credence to the haymaking descriptions and make it far easier to entrust Magner’s design with the modeling of your own silo.

Look for the next update to discuss fruit trees.

9 thoughts on “down on the farm

  1. Ok scooter, we all know that french mushroom spawn has been an option for centuries. Tell us the stuff we don’t know. Give us the juicy stuff.

  2. in stead of working at work. I opted to read some of the chapter on mushroom growing. I found myself having to consult Google about once per section or more to define a word. A few times Google had did not contain a definition which was suitable for the context.

    This illustrates the genius of Mr Magner. He can stump Google.

  3. I think it’s great how no one knows D. Magner’s first name. Obviously this is because he transcends this world, both in diction and in person.

  4. Oh, by the way, “Nightman” is an utter fool for lumping a creation of this magnitude into the category of “book.”

  5. Here’s the thing – I’m afraid to move that fragile, massive item to my apartment, so it’s still at my home. I haven’t gotten around to taking more photos in my recent visits, but I’ll try to this weekend when I go home for Easter. And I’ll try to bring those Xbox controllers back too.

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