GREELY NO. 2 — Among the Farmers East of Us — Fine Crops and Good Fruit Prospects

LA VERNIA, WILSON CO., May 3, 1882, San Antonio Express — I left San Antonio yesterday at 3 p.m. and ran out to my old friend Forehand’s some twelve or fourteen miles from San Antonio, on the Lavernia and Sulphur Springs road. Mr. Forehand has the largest peach orchard in Bexar county, at least I have seen no larger in the County, some 1,500 old trees and 900 young ones, besides apples, plums in variety, and grapes.

I passed Mr. Kampmann’s place on the Salado. Saw a fine field of corn and some fine oats, being cut as hay, being simply run down with mower and run into wind rows. I think this crop of oats would weigh out three tons to the acre, fine feed, at $15 per ton, $45. I was so well pleased with this farm, that I had a strong notion of putting Mr. Kampmann down in my book as a farmer.

In traveling on, near the Rocillo. In field or pasture to my left I don’t think I ever saw such a crop of horsemint. Flornoy says it is good for the bees. If so, this is a wonderful bee country.

Forehand and I this morning took a stroll over the field and orchard. His corn and oats looked fine. His grapes are promising. His early peach trees have but a few peaches, and have but a few leaves, with some few scattering blooms. I asked him why he had not mulched his early fruit. He did not have straw, nor time. Did, however, try a tree or two, mulched looked more thrifty with larger leaves than any other trees of his entire orchard; his late fruit trees, (July and August) all have a fine crop. He will have for sale, some 500 or 600 bushels.

In passing through his old orchard, I saw a number of trees looking scalded and scar, but only on the west side of the trees. He said this was caused by the hot afternoon sun, and for the want of shade. The body of the tree was not sufficiently shaded by the lower limbs. Forehand does not believe in cutting off the ground limbs of his trees and says Judge Ireland is right in saying the hot afternoon sun will kill the trees, if not protected by shade. Forehand’s trees are eighteen feet apart. He says his seedlings are the best. Grafted fruit is not so reliable.

His Concord grapes are bearing, only three years old. His apples look well and are full of fruit and still a blooming. I was astonished. I could never get my consent to recommend the apple for this (illegible). His pears also look well. I asked him why he did not give his experience to the world for the good of others. He said he did not care to tell others what he knows about, his own business. It was not to his interest to do so. Let others find out as he had, by experience. Forehand said he saw in one of his agricultural papers where a wash with kerosene oil or coal oil diluted in water was good as a wash for his tree. He tried it upon two trees, and it killed them both. I saw water from coal or gas tar is better. Water off of gas tar is said to drive away all bugs that infest melons, cucumbers or cabbage, also the Colorado potato bug. Try it.

Forehand has four acres in melons. He said the best farmer he had in his neighborhood was a colored man named Ben Hansel. I got a pilot Willie Forehand and hunted him up. Sure enough, I found the best piece of corn I have seen anywhere. His cotton looks fine.

Four years ago he bought sixty-six acres from Mr. F. Cook (agent for our honorable mayor) for $300, on time. It was in the brush. He has paid for his land, so he says, and has some three head of horses and from eight to ten milk cows. He says his does not regret his bargain. I fear there are few Bens with us.

I also stopped at my old time friend’s, Bob Adams. He was not at home. I saw madam and son. They have (illegible) acres in cultivation all looking well except wheat, which is poor.

Mrs. Adams says that plums and late peaches are fine, but not so with the early peaches. She says that grafted peaches won’t do. Seedlings are much the best. I took dinner with Mr. F.J. Sprague, of New York. A more energetic and practical farmer I do not know. He is heavy on dwarf broom corn and orchards. Here I saw a grape vine two months old, grafted on the mustang grape that was fully five feet high. Who can beat that?

Here I saw the best and cheapest cornsheller I ever saw, if it will shell, as represented, from twenty to forty bushels an hour, and only cost $10. It is the Creedmore and McMillan patent, of Bell County.

Mr. Sprague has cut and stacked or shocked in the field his oats. They are fine. We need more Spragues. The prospects thus far are fine for bread, and the crops seem not to be suffering for rain. It must come before the 10th, or Greely’s reputation as a prophet will suffer. I will look into this Johnson grass business and see if I could be mistaken.