THE diseases to which black cattle, in this parish, are exposed, are not numerous, and seldom fatal. For most of them Garlic is used as a sovereign remedy; and its healing virtue rarely fails. This is verified particularly in the Tail-slip, a disease which cold sometimes brings upon cows. This trouble first appears in the end of the tail, by affecting it in such a manner, that is seems soft to the touch. As the disease proceeds upwards every joint has the appearance of being dislocated; and, if a remedy is not got before it reaches the back, death is the unavoidable issue. It is discovered by the straddling manner in which the animal walks; by the softness of the tail, and the feeble manner in which it hangs down. The only remedy used in this part of the country, is, first to make, with a sharp knife, a deep incision, the whole length of the part affected: if the wound bleeds the disease is reckoned not incurable. The incision is then filled with a mixture of bruised garlic, and black soap; and the wound bound up with a piece of woollen cloth. The cure is almost instantaneous. Garlic given by the mouth, for the Moor-ill, has met with great success. The Spalliel, in young cattle, is sometimes cured by opening a communication between two incisions made, one on each side of the part affected, and filling it up with a mixture of black soap, salt-petre, and bruised garlic. But this disease is effectually prevented, by giving the calves about the quantity of half an ordinary head of garlic, once every 3 or 4 weeks, from the time they are 2 or 3 months old, till they are out of the reach of taking the disease. The garlic is bruised, and given them along with their meat, or thrust down their throat. I know not if there is a single instance of a calf, thus treated, taking the disease.
THE Film is a disease in the eye, and is occasioned by a hurt. It appears like a white scale covering the sight. The remedy commonly applied, is salt-petre pulverized, and mixed with an equal quantity of the yoke of an egg, boiled so hard as to be crumbled down into a powder. This mixture is blown into the eye through a small reed, or a tube of paper. The operation is to be repeated 5 or 6 times; each after an interval of about 20 hours. This remedy seldom fails of success.
GRAZING of cattle for slaughter succeeds pretty well in those parts of the parish where it has been practiced with judgment. There are few places in Scotland where less attention is paid to the rearing of horses. The farmer supplies himself, with that useful domestic, from the Rutherglen and Glasgow markets. Hogs are frequently reared by the whey made from the cheese. They are afterwards fattened by potatoes, or oatmeal mixed with water: fed in this cleanly manner they are highly esteemed, and bring a good price.
THE breeding of Sheep was, for time immemorial, an object of importance in this parish: but the practice gradually declined as the lands were inclosed for ploughing; and the west Highlands opened for the rearing of sheep. There are only about 110 score, of the black faced kind, fed in the parish, and these are confined to the moorland farms.
THE farmers, in general, pay strict attention to domestic economy. Frugality presides over all their family expences. To their honour it may be said, that extremely few of them deserve the name spendthrifts. The wives and female-servants are very industrious. Besides managing their houses, making cheese, and lending their assistance in many operations in the fields, they bring to the market a considerable quantity of fine linen yarn, of their own spinning. Of this fine yarn, there is, perhaps, more spun in Kilbride than in any neighbouring parish.
SERVANTS wages are double what they were 40 years ago. A man-servant commonly receives 5l. sterling per half year; and a woman from 40 to 50 shillings. The terms for the removal of servants are the 15th of May, and 11th of November, old style. Farmers are under a necessity of keeping cow-herds. These, in general, are an idle set of mortals; and, a few instances excepted, are a draw-back on the community at large. Little or no encouragement is given them, to be employed, like herds in some parts of Scotland, in knitting stockings. Masters, from a notion that they would not do justice to the cattle, forbid them every kind of lucrative amusement: they consequently spend their time in the most disgraceful indolence.
LITTLE can be said in favour of the plan after which the farm-houses are built. The byre and stable are commonly in the one end, or rather half of the building; the kitchen in the middle; and the spence, which serves for a room, in the other end. The passages about the house, owing to the improper entrance into the byre, are, for the most part, not very clean. The old, but nasty custom, of having the dunghill before the door of the dwelling-house, is generally continued. Some good farm-houses have lately been built on the estate of Torrance. The furniture of their houses is, in general, very plain. An universal taste, however, prevails for a Clock and a Chest of Drawers. These useful articles are to be found in almost every house, even that of a day-labourer not excepted. Delf instead of wooden vessels, for the table, are commonly preferred.
THE extent of the famers is generally from 40 to 60 acres. The duration of leases seldom exceeds 19 years. A custom, which once prevailed in the parish, of letting farms by two, or tree lifetimes, is now laid aside. Leases are mostly fixed by private agreement: lately some have been let by public roup; a method, equally hurtful to the proprietor, as to the tenant.
THE heritors, in general, pay no attention to the cultivation of trees; for which reason the face of the country has the appearance of nakedness. It was the practice to plough every inch of land that could be broken up; and, were the inclinations of the people to be consulted, the same custom would continue. Lately, however, a few gentlemen have begun to raise wood on their estates; and their attempts are meeting with deserved success. Were more of the country laid under wood properly disposed, there is every reason to believe, that the crops of grain would be more prolific than at present. That planting will not thrive in the cold climate of Kilbride is a mistake; because every house almost, even in the most exposed situations, is surrounded with large trees of various species. But considerable attention was paid to the raising of them. The soil was prepared by draining off the water. A handful of oats was thrown into the bottom of the hole, dug for the young tree: over these about an inch of good earth was laid: upon this the roots of the plant were carefully spread, and covered up with the best mould that could be got; and the plant secured from the cattle. The oats, having come to a state of vegetation, raised a proper degree of heat, and thereby made the plant set forth with vigour. It is not, therefore, a deficiency of nature, but of proper care, that forest trees will not thrive in Kilbride.
FOR the same reason fences are in a bad condition. It must indeed be acknowledged, that the soil is, in general, unfavourable for raising quick-sets: when the root strikes upon till, or into cold clay, the bush will never thrive. But no care is taken to prevent that evil. A ditch is dug out: the materials thrown up, are formed into a dyke of earth: in this the young hedge is planted, and very often in that part, where, in the course of the operation, the worst of the earth is laid. Seldom either stake, or rice, is placed on the top of the dyke, by way of security. Thus the tender thorns, imbedded in an improper soil, are left defenceless. The young hedge undergoes a kind of dressing for a year or two, but is afterwards left to combat with grass, thistles, &c. which greatly injure its growth. The practice of keeping it down by cutting it on the top is continued: the blame of the whole is cast on the soil and climate, and the parish left, in a great measure, fenceless.
SENSIBLE of the impropriety of such management, John Reid of Castlehill, Esq; began, about 10 years ago, the following method. A ditch 2 feet deep, and 20 inches wide, is cast and filled with small stones, from the land. Near to this, another ditch, 3 feet deep, and 4½ wide, is opened, and the best of the materials laid immediately above the stones. In this good soil the thorns are planted, in a sloping direction; and about a foot above the stones. He takes care to weed them twice in the year; and never cuts them on the top, till they are pretty large; when they are sided, topped, and plashed as occasion requires.
HERE I cannot but mention an uncommon method of planting thorns, that was practiced about 40 years ago , when hedges were beginning to be raised in the parish. The direction being marked out, a small drill was opened. In this was laid a rope of straw, in which, at small distances, were placed ripe feed of the hawthorn: the rope was covered with earth; and the seeds, by the time they began to vegetate, found abundance of good nourishment from the straw, which was then rotten. The feedings, in proper time, made their appearance, and, in some instances, became very vigorous. The hedge that encloses part of the glebe was planted, or rather sown, in this manner.
FARMERS, in general, are greatly deficient in keeping their land free from hurtful weeds. Forgetting the proverb, That one year’s seeding, is seven year’s weeding, they allow thistles, &c. to grow unmolested in the lee-land, road-sides, &c. &c. That the ground spontaneously brings forth weeds; and that, to attempt to eradicate thistles, &c. from the fields, implies a disbelief of the curse, and a fighting against God, are arguments used by some superstitious people as a defence for their negligence. But when these men are seriously asked if they think it to be their duty, and that it is in their power, to keep their fields clear of thorns, (which have a respect to the curse as well as thistles) they are forced to answer in the affirmative, and thereby confute their own hypothesis. Such persons should be taught, that one of the greatest curses entailed on the earth arises from the rooted prejudice, ignorance, and sloth of its inhabitants.
CONSIDERABLE improvements, in all the branches of agriculture, might, by this time, have been made, had the Farmer Society, which was instituted in 1772, been properly conducted. To enquire into the best methods of managing land, &c. and to lay in a fund for supporting distressed farmers, were the laudable designs of this erection. But Discord, the infernal pest of every worthy undertaking, put an end to this good institution. The society was, about 1789, finally dissolved, and their small stock was equally divided among the members, which were 25 in number.