Compiled from the Society`s Records, by H.G. Shepard, Secretary
In May, 1891, the British Dairy Farmers`Association held its Annual Conference in the Island, the occasion coinciding with the Spring Show. Prior to the conference, instruction and demonstrations in butter-making were given by an expert sent down by that Association, while a general demonstration and lecture was given at the Show. The visitors, on their arrival on May 19th, were received at the Town Hall, when Col. Le Cornu read an admirable paper on the Dairy Industry in Jersey, while at a further assembly Professor Jas. Long read a paper on Dairy Education. This visit of the most important Dairying Society in Great Britain stimulated interest in practical butter-making, where the Jersey farmer had much to learn. Mr. G.T. Barham, the President of the British Dairy Farmers`Association, offered to pay the expenses of a farmer`s daughter at Aylesbury Dairy Institute for one month`s tuition, but no Jersey dairymaid availed herself of the offer.
Statistics of the Potato Crop furnished by Mr. P. Barbier, are published for the first time in the Report for 1891. In that year, 66,840 tons realised £487,642 the highest tonnage and the highest value since 1883.
A baseless report was published at the Royal Counties Show of 1891 that Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia existed in the Channel Islands. This did great harm to the export trade and, though a denial was published in the Agricultural press, the perpetrators of the report did not come forward with any apology.
The Report of the Agricultural Department for 1892 reiterates the risks run by farmers in growing potatoes on land unsuited for their cultivation and thus relying on imported fodder. It also remarks with satisfaction that many farmers were compounding their own artificial manures. Then a paragraph follows referring to a subject which, since then, has provoked unending argument:
Before leaving the subject of the potato, the Committee wish to call attention to the advantage to be derived from the use of the mixture known as "Bouillie Bordelaise", for mitigating the effects of potato disease. This mixture has had a thorough trial in England and elsewhere, and has proved efficacious in most cases. Under the supervision of Mr. Toms, States`Analyst, it has been tried on some potato plots in this Island, with satisfactory results.
Owing to contagious diseases in England, the States of Jersey in 1891 passed a regulation prohibiting the importation of Cattle for slaughtering purposes. This decision was supported by a resolution of approval by the Committee.
Though the summer show of 1892 had been fixed for August 24th and 25th, it was decided, at the last minute, to hold it on the latter day only, with the innovation that cattle had to be brought in on the previous evening.
Jersey Cattle enjoy an enviable reputation for freedom from disease and that reputation is wel established, as may be judged by this extract from the minutes of forty years ago:
"A letter from Mr. F.S. Peer, New York, USA, copy of which is herewith annexed was next read relating to an impression "That the Jerseys on the Island are subject to contagious Pleuro-Pneumonia & Tuberculosis". Colonel Le Cornu moved "That the President and Secretary be requested to inform Mr. F.S. Peer that Pleuro-Pneumonia and Tuberculosis have never been known to exist amongst our Cattle on this Island and that our stock has always been allowed to land at any port of the United Kingdom".
So fearful were the fathers of the Society of any partiality being shown when cattle were judged that for long years the owners were not allowed to lead them in the ring. This was relaxed shortly before this period, to the extent of allowing exhibitors`sons or their servants to lead the stock. In 1893, exhibitors of bulls were given permission to parade their animals before the judges "if they think fit".
22. The Butter Tests start.
The year 1893 will ever be memorable in the annals of the Society as that in which the 24-hour Butter Tests were first held. In May of that year, Mr. Ernest Mathews came over to judge the first time of these, the prizes being offered by the English Jersey Cattle Society. Of 26 entries, 17 animals competed, Mr. R. Williams`"Fancy" coming out top with 2-lbs 8 1/4 ozs butter. Another Test was held by the Department in the Autumn, when only seven animals were entered.
Exhaustive trials of different methods of cream raising were also made during the year, when the capabilities of the Cream Separator were proved to be superior to any other method.
Two hundred and fifty head of Jerseys were shipped to Sweden in that year. This was the first of many subsequent shipments to Scandinavia, both Sweden and Denmark being, for a time, good markets for a certain class of stock.
1893 was the last year in which Horses and Swine were exhibited with the Bulls in April.
Butter Tests, which were to prove so beneficial to the Jersey breed, were again held in 1894, but with the exception of that in May, for which the English Jersey Cattle Society again offered medals, received scant support. The following year, the Departmental, as distinct from the E.J.C.S. Tests were held on the farms of the owners of competing cattle. This, however was not successful, and finally in 1897, the polizy was adopted of having three Butter Tests a year, in March, May and October, the prize money in the first and third being furnished by the Agricultural Department. Subsequently the March Test was given up. So little support did the Butter Tests obtain in the early years that their continuance was in jeopardy. In course of time, however, their value was recognized and by 1913, the entries were so large that proper accommodation was not easy to provide.
Weymouth was closed as a landing place for Cattle from the Channel Islands in 1894, in spite of a memorial addressed by the Society to the Board of Agriculture. This left Southampton as the only southern port into which cattle could be sent. This position remains today, though, during and immediately after the War, some cattle were sent via Weymouth and quarantined at Southampton.
The abnormal snow and frost of 1895 is still remembered by many and any "cold snap" experienced since usuaually revives memories of that time. With snow on the ground for several weeks, the planting of the potato crop was delayed and though, when the thaw came, growth was rapid, dry weather had a bad effect on the crop in light soils. Much seed having been frozen, the shortage was made up by the introduction of a quantity of English "Myatts". Like the "Majestics" of recent experience, these proved too late for remunerative export and were a failure on that account. Apples were in abundance and a small quantity was actually sent to Germany.
23.- Horticulture since 1888.
It is necessary at this juncture to retrace our steps to where the Horticultural Department`s share of this story was left in 1888. That Department`s report for the following year deplores, as it had done before, the lack of a trial ground for fruit, flowers and vegetablles. Unfortunately, it was never in a good enough financial position to do more than suggest that members should temselves carry out such trials. The Fruit and Floral Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. C.B. Saunders furnished an interesting report and again in 1890 and 1891. On his death, the Committee seems to have also passed away.
By 1893, owing to a waning of interest and the expense of the numerous shows the finances of the Department were in a bad way and a loan was obtained from the Jersey Herd Book as well as a grant from the C.I. Exhibition Trustees. The number of shows was cut down and at the Summer Show of 1894, prizes were honorary only. Proposals were made for making the shows more attractive to the general public, though, to be sure, until then, some of these fixtures had admittedly drawn large attendances; lectures and winter meetings were also suggested. The Pavilion at Springfield, where many successful shows have been held, was, however, complained of as being too far from the centre of the town. After commenting on he development of horticulture and its blessings, the writer of the report for that year goes on to say:
And now your Committee would ask if all these great things have been done inthe past, how is it that in the Island of Jersey framed as it is by the silver sea, the landscape itself a garden and an orchard, that in this year of grace 1894 there should have been such a paralytic numbness with regard to matters Horticultural? That such is the fact does not allow of a moment of doubt. We began the year in sadness - the sadness of debt. That state of affairs yours Committee venture to think should have acted as a nerve tonic on all the members of the Department and braced them to increased exertion. Such, unfortunately, has not been the case. Ere three months of the year had elapsed twenty-five old members had retired - and retired too, without payment of their dues, viz, their subscription for the year. This, in the opinion of your Committee, is not only a debt of honour but also a legal debt. Some of those who thus silently retired had been pillars of the Society for years; they had been some of its most successful exhibotors, and had filled the honourable position of judges. It is impossible for a Managing Committee to view such a state of things with philosophical calm; for desertion such as this means the loosening of the very foundations of the Department.
Despite the gloomy picture, the year had ended with a small balance on the right side and the Herd Book loan repaid. The fate of the Department, however, hung in the balance, but at a General Meeting a useful interchange of views led to various alterations being made to the rules to secure most economical working and remove such causes for complaint as may have existed. Only two shows were fixed for 1895, thus effecting a great saving of expense. By 1896, the fortunes of the Department were, for the time at any rate, retrieved and the Shows of that year were in every way successful.
As far as the Agricultural Department was concerned 1896 was a successful year. The Summer Show was lengthened to occupy three days and driving competitions, implement trials, etc, combined to make it an exhibition of more than usual interest. In fact, from this, dates the policy of making the Summer Exhibition a combination of show and entertainment, which has been adhered to down to the present day. Members of the Royal Guernsey Agricultural Society were present and entertained by the Department.
24.- The Shows Committee`s Programme for 1897.
1897 dawned, the year of Queen Victoria`s Diamond Jubilee, and with it there opened a new era in the activities of the Society, or rather the Agricultural Department of it. It is fitting that the programme drawn up by the Shows Committees should be set forth here.
1st. That a sum of money be devoted to the discovery of a new variety of of "fluke" Potato.
2nd. That the Butter Tests Committee should encourage the testing of Cows at 2 or more Tests during the year, with a view to showing the length of time that the flow of milk can be sustained in each cow; and that the Tests should be divided into 2 classes, one of young and one of old Cows.
3rd. That a competent Lecturer and Teacher on Dairy matters should be engaged to give demonstrations and instruction in Butter-making.
4th. That a competent Lecturer be engaged to lecture on the use and abuse of artificial manures and feeding stuffs.
5th. That the States of the Island be approached to obtain the subvention of a sum of money to be devoted to the giving of technical education in Agriculture.
6th. That the States be approached with a view to having a clause inserted in the law reffering to the Sale of Margarine to the effect that all Margarine imported be of a white colour.
7th. That the Glebe Field adjoining the Show Grounds be, if possible, purchased.
8th. That a circulating Library, consisting of Agricultural works and periodicals be formed.
9th. That an endeavour be made to secure the 25 sovereigns annually raced for as a "Queens Plate"
Here indeed was an ambitious plan of campaign. Some of the proposals were put into operation at once, notably the Potato Variety Trials and the Travelling Butter School. (Item 3).
Items 4 and 5 were longer in coming to fruition, but, by the establishment of the States Experiment Station and the more recent developments in research and advisory work conducted there, the plans of 1897 may be said to have matured. Item 6, re noncolouing of margarine was duly accomplished, only to be set aside at the dictates of popular clamour during the war years. The Glebe Field was purchased not many years later and by its acquisition, the ultimate development of the Showyard as a place of public entertainment and recreation was assured.
The nucleus of a circulating library continues to exist, but, though facilities are available for borrowing books, they are not taken advantage of.
The Queen`s Plate, now the King`s Cup, is still raced for annually, though in Guernsey, this valuable trophy is offered in what seems (in the present day, at any rate) a more serviceable cause.
Throughout the history, the personal element has been kept in the background and the company of Jerseymen who from its earliest days worked devotedly for the Society`s well-being are unnamed except for a few. One more name, however, should be set down here, that of Mr. J.A. Perrée, in its Centenary year President of the society and who in 1897 accepted, soemwhat reluctantly, the office of Secretary, a post which he held to the lasting advantage of the society for 20 years.
Reverting to the programme of the Shows Committee, the Travelling Butter School was maintained in 1897 and 1898 despite the initial apathy of some of the Parochial Agricultural Societies who were asked to support the Scheme, votes form the States Assembly and the C.I. Exhibition Trusees being obtained towards expenses. The Butter School did good work and those who had received tuiton and won Certificates formed themselves into an Association for marketing, locally, butter made under scientific conditions. With the advent and general adoption of Co-operative Butter Making, this Association was dissolved. The Butter School was the means of attracting large entries to the Butter and Butter Making Classes at the Shows of that time.
The Potato Variety Trials lasted, as intended, for three seasons, the conditions being:
The tubers must be of a kidney shaped, white fleshed, and white skinned variety, adn were to be grown for three years in competition with the Royal Jersey Fluke, the object in view being the discovery of a variety which would possess the early productiveness and handsome appearance of this well-known sort, and excel it in cooking qualities.
Six varieties were tried, the plots being laid out at St. Peter in 1897 and at St. Saviour in 1898 and 1899.
The result was that none of the varieties was found to fulfil the conditions laid down and the "Royal" has remained the most suitable potato to be cultivated for the English Market, and in fact improved as regards culinary qualities. At the time of the trials, it had not been grown for very many years, for at the Jubilee Show of 1883, Mr. Hugh de la Haye exhibited "a box of potatoes, The Royal Jersey Fluke, a new variety introduced by the Exhibitor in 1878".
25. The last Years of the Century in both Departments.
Again the Shows Committee brought forward a comprehensive programme for 1898. One suggestion was that the Bull and Spring Show be amalgamated, a suggestion which was given effect to in 1920. Another item was that Medals be offered for new and improved Agricultural Implements. Unfortunately, this laudable intention was defeated by the absence of entries.
A subject which had before this received attention was the lack of Official Statistics of the Island`s Exports and Imports. The matter was taken up again at about this time and in 1898 was on the Shows Committee`s programme for the year, a list being drawn up which it was considered would represent the inward and outward trade of the Island. This was submitted to the Harbours Committee, and after a lapse of time official statistics of the Island`s commerce were published annually.
Occasion has been taken previously to comment on the freedom of Island Stock from Contagious disease. Further proof is afforded by these extracts from the Report for 1898.
In connection with the shipment of cattle to Sweden, it is important to relate that, by order of the Swedish Government who sent a veterinary expert over for the purpose, the tuberculin test was applied to the 130 animals with the result that on eheifer re-acted to the test, thus apparently showing signs of the disease known as tuberculosis.. The immediate slaughter of the heifer took place in presence of the Swedish veterinary surgeon and of two local veterianry surgeons with the result that the animal was declared by them to be perfectly free of the disease. It is ascertained that during the last few years the tuberculin test has been applied - either before shipment or on arrival at destination - to over 600 head of cattle bought on the Island without any trace of Tuberculosis being found. Several lots are represented in this large number, bought promiscuously all over Jersey and not selected in any particular part of the Island; it is, therefore, aperfectly safe conclusion to draw that tuberculosis does not exist amongst the Island cattle. The absence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle on the Island has been proved over and over again since then and is a cause for congratulation.
Mr. Jos. Le Gros, who had for a long period been Secretary of the Jersey Herd Book, resigned at the end of 1898. Henceforward, the Secretary of the Department became ex-officio Secretary of the Jersey Herd Book and the clerical work of both sections co-ordianted under his care.
The inordinate number of absentees from the Shows was brought to the notice of the Committee during 1899, the entry fee being raised the next year, in an effort to counteract this. There will, it seems certain, always be a fairly large number of cattle entered which do not come out on Show day, for various reasons. If the number entered bore any relation to the number which would actually be staled, the problem of space would be solved with less difficulty on many occasions.
As the outcome of a discussion initiated at a meeting in the Summer of 1899, a Special Committee was named to enquire into the state of the Island`s agriculture. The report this Committee issued and which was presented to the members in the following Mach, is one of the most exhaustive ever produced by any similar body. Statements are included showing the cost of production of potatoes, roots, hay, etc and of maintaining cattle and pigs. Many of the conclusions arrived at and much of the advice offered as to potato culture, stock raising, etc were not new, but had been rreiterated year after year. Outdoor fruit culture is recommended as a new source of income, while bacon curing is also suggested. The penultimate paragraph of the report may be quoted as showing the realization of the need for technical instruction in agriculture.
In these days when education is so progressive, the youth of the Island should be stimulated to follow the calling of his ancestors, and not to abandon the fields for town occupations. Technical instruction in agriculture in our schools would go far to train the mind in the direction of farming, and an elementary knowledge of geology, botany and chemistry, as applied to the farm, would assist materially in rendering the farmer`s calling one of peculiar interest, and would further the development of science combined with practice. It is to be hoped, in the interest of Jersey, that instruction of this nature will find its way into our schools, and that the land will remain in the occupation of Jerseymen, to the common advantage of all classes.
What seemed at the time a great conflict, the South African War, was in progress, and we find the Horticultural Department giving the proceeds of its Chrysantemum Show in 1899 to the Fund for the wives and families of the Abset-Minded Beggars. The Society too, at the request of the Constable of St. Helier, agreed to co-operate in the general rejoicings held, somewhat prematurely, in July 1900.
In 1899, a working agreement was concluded by the Horticultural Department with the Society of Jersey Gardeners, which should have been to the advantage of both, but which only continued fo a short time. At the end of 1899 too there is mention of a Horticultural Club which wished to affiliate, but no more is heard of it. It is a great pity that this division of effort was ever allowed to exist when possibly there was a time when tact and statesmanship might have bound all horticulturists, proffesional or amateur, into one body.
As a footnote to history", a Class for Aestetic Chrysantehmums appeared in the Schedules. The name suggests that the influence of the æsthetic cult of the nineties had penetrated into the garden.
At the end of 1900, relations between the two Departments became somewhat strained owing to the resentment displayed by one oficial of the Horticultural Section at a quite legitimate ruling of the Show Grounds Committee. There was even talk of secession. Apparently not in agreement with the policy of the Department, several officers and committee-men handed in their resignations. Again, the fate of the Department was in the balance, but Dr. Powell took over the joint duties of Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer and, the rules being recast, matters began to improve. The membership started to climb up again, consequently the funds increased also. With he help of a grant from the Channel Islands Exhibition Trusees, alecturer from Rothaamstead Experiment Station was engaged to give lectures on Agricultural Chemistry. (Reprints of these lectures are still on hand and obtainaable). This was in 1902, when Classes for jams, etc were first introduced and incidentally" ping pong" tables were provided at the Spring Show.
The long drawn out battle centred round judging by the scale of points came to an end at the General Meeting of the Agricultural Department in December, 1900, and the present method of judging as prescribed by the following rule came into operation.
Prizes shall be awarded by inspection, without adjudging points, the Judges governing their decision as closely as practicable on the following scale of points..
Many members, including Col. Le Cornu, thought that the change would be detrimental to the breed, as the standard of perfection would not be constant, but few after over 30 years`experience would now wish to go back to the old method of "scaling".