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ANNUAL EXAMINATION. Your committee found the examination of the graduating class of '90 for the Grinnell prizes in agriculture a pleasant yet perplexing task: pleasant, because of the degree of promptness and correctness of answers; yet perplexing, because there was a considerable portion of the class deserving of prizes, and there were only two prizes to be awarded, and it was only after the most careful consideration that it was found that the first prize belonged to George Bradley Simonds of Ashby, and the second prize to John Samuel Loring of Shrewsbury. In accordance with this judgment the awards were made. The usual method of conducting these examinations is as follows:
1. A topic is given to the class by the professor of agriculture, and each member is required to write out what he knows upon that subject. These papers or essays are handed to the committee for examination. This shows off the scholar of the class to the best advantage, but does not necessarily indicate the one best versed in the general subject of agriculture.
2. The class is called together before the committee for an oral examination, and here each member has a different subject, drawn by lot, assigned to him. This perhaps may be said to be as fair for one as for another; yet there is always a chance for a person to draw a topic with which he is especially familiar, and also for another to draw one about which he knows the least.
IIad the prizes been awarded according to the impressions made upon the first examination of the papers, the results would have been different. So also if the oral examination alone had been considered. It is the average of these two (written and oral) examinations which counts. Your committee were especially pleased that their final decision, reached after so much consideration, was most heartily indorsed by the young men themselves.
Your committee looked over the farm as well as they could at the time of the annual commencement, but found this by no means sufficient for their purpose. Therefore in September we made another trip to Amherst, and devoted a day to inspecting the farm, etc. Individual members of the committee have made special visits also during the year. To those of us who have been familiar with this farm from the beginning, the many improvements which have been made, especially during recent years, are most gratifying. That portion of the farm lying west of the college buildings, a large portion of which was once a swampy waste, is fast being made to bud and blossom like the rose. Here truly the Agricultural College comes under Dean Swift's definition of a public benefactor: “He who maketh two blades of grass to grow where but one grew before, is himself a public benefactor.”
As we walked over this portion of the farm, and noted the system of underdraining there adopted by Professor Brooks, we appreciated the fact that here was an object lesson for the college students, where a practical illustration of the subject of underdraining could be seen, and thus impressed upon the mind more emphatically than any amount of mere word instruction could possibly do; an object lesson, not for these only, but also for every visiting farmer who avails himself of the opportunity. The same may be said of the model portable fence which we found there; of the different crops which we saw growing upon the farm; of the experiments being made to show the relative value of potash, phosphoric acid and nitrogen for crops upon the soil of the college farm; of the experiments being made with buckwheat, mustard, etc., as late-grown crops for ploughing under; and of many other ways which we observed, but will not take space to enumerate. We could but notice the splendid crops of corn nearly ready for the silo, also the crops of potatoes, beets, squashes, etc., all of which showed that intelligent care and cultivation becoming the circumstances. On going to the barn, we took special notice of the silo; as a matter of practical use, it seems to us that this silo is a model for the New England farmer. It is hardly within the province of this report to give a detailed description of it, other than to say that it is of wood structure after the most approved pattern, and is lined with a coating of coal tar, from which the volatile oils have been burned. This forms a hard, glossy, cheap and seemingly indestructible
lining. The ensilage in this silo keeps most admirably, and is a source of pardonable pride to Professor Brooks, under whose superintendence the silo was built. We found the barn and accompanying buildings not only improved but well kept, and the neat stock, horses, sheep, swine, etc., in fine condition. Professor Brooks is now experimenting with milk, testing its quality, etc., in different breeds of cattle. We are especially pleased to note the financial success thus far of his attempts at dairying with a new lot of cows bought during the last part of the year. But, as the professor will make an annual report, these and many other details will therein appear, and the bulletins of the Hatch Experiment Station will contain all that is being done under that management. We can only say that we wish that every farmer in the State would at some time or other visit the college, and the experiment stations there located.
These institutions are a God-send to the farmers, and may be said to be already indispensable to their welfare. At all events, the farmers who take advantage of their teachings have a long leverage over those who do not. The college has thus far received a liberal support from the Legislature of our State. It is a State institution. From the very nature of the case, annual wants will occur, and appropriations of money yearly become necessary. This year a barn is needed west of the Hatch experiment barn, for the economical storing of food and soiling of cows in summer, thus affording convenient means of increasing the fertility of that portion of the farm. The system of underdrainage is yet incomplete, and more tile is needed for the purpose. Additional farm implements are wanted for the more economical cultivating and harvesting of crops. A steam boiler is wanted to supply heat to the squash room, hospital stalls and piggery, which, as the professor says, are now as cold as Greenland's icy mountains; and he suggestively adds, “ Here is a good chance to see which is cheapest in sustaining animal heat, — food or fuel.”
THE EXPERIMENT STATION. The nearly fifty acres of land, under the eye of Dr. Goessmann, with the buildings specially arranged for the experiments constantly being made there, should interest every farmer of our State. It would be of great advantage to any farmer to visit the station and follow the doctor around for one or more days, if he cannot spare as many weeks, and note the words of wisdom which fall from his lips. Go with him to the barns and pens, to the fields, and hear his lectures on the crops as he moves from plot to plot; go with him to his laboratory, let the farmer ask all the questions he pleases, and when the day is done he will find that the day has been well spent, with great profit to himself, and he will carry away much that will interest him in the days to come. The farmer should always take his pencil and memorandum book, and note down the many suggestions that he hears, and he will learn why the State and general government are willing to spend money at the Agricultural College, farm, and experiment station at Amherst. Your committee will again urge every farmer in the State to send his name to the station for its monthly bulletin, and carefully read the same. The committee always leave the doctor's presence wishing they had more time to spend with him.
BOTANIC DEPARTMENT, In performing our duties as examining committee of the Agricultural College, as prescribed by the Governor and Council, to inspect the property of the college, including the land and buildings, especially with reference to the adaptability and sufficiency thereof for accomplishing the object of the institution, we must say, after a careful study of the needs and advantages of the botanic department in numerous visits made in the past two years, we are led to make the following suggestions in relation to its improvement :
It is believed by many friends of the college that the efforts now being made to make the department self-supporting should be given up, so that the whole energy of the professor of botany and horticulture and his assistants be given to making it more valuable to the students and the public in general. Its income from the sale of trees, plants, fruits and vegetables, has ranged from $2,000 to $7,500 per year, which has paid the running expenses, including fuel,
glass, paint, and much of the material and labor of ordinary repairs, with the exception of from $250 to $800 for its additional support. With this income has been grown annually more than 25,000 bedding and ornamental plants for the decoration of the grounds, and the care of the roads, walks, lawns and flower beds. The large, ornamental greenhouses now on the grounds must soon be extensively repaired or rebuilt. They have now been in use twenty-four years, and new houses more suitable for the required purpose and with all the modern improvements should replace them. The grounds of the botanical department, containing about one hundred acres, including the building site, forests, walks, lawns, etc., should be put in good condition by underdraining where necessary, and an abundance of manure for the most perfect growth of all ornamental trees, shrubs, fruits, vegetables and flowers. The department is well supplied with a large collection of ornamental trees and shrubs, both hardy and tender, under glass, most of which are labeled conspicuously, so that “ he who runs may read.” It has a large and complete collection of dried plants, including a valuable lot of parasitic fungi. Its laboratory is supplied with a large number of compound microscopes, with the necessary apparatus for the study of all kinds of plant tissues, including the rusts, smuts, blights, etc. It has complete spraying apparatus for the application of fungicides and insecticides, and tools for all horticultural work. While its equipment is large and well adapted to good work, the best results cannot be obtained while its efforts must be given to the production of an income wherewith to pay expenses. With the increase of funds now in the hands of the trustees, the botanic department should be supported in a way that its importance demands; for upon the knowledge of the structure and functions of the plant depends largely man's ability to produce the enormous quantity of food consumed by both man and beast.
THE HORTICULTURAL DEPARTMENT.
This department, in charge of Prof. S. T. Maynard, is in a prosperous condition. Experiments have been made with the Bordeaux mixture, to prevent mildew on the grape vines.