England – A British Stock Farm

We drove over to Carston to see Thomas But-tar and his Shropshires. The way lay through interesting fields, rich with grain, being harvested with self-binders made at Blairgowrie. We passed great Clydesdales, hitched tandem, and drawing carts of hay or earth. The horses were fat and fine and evidently well bred. I asked one of the farmers why they did not hitch them side by side, as we do in America. He replied that it would not do at all; that their way was much better. What a curious thing is this world, with its habits and prejudices. And how do I know that our own way is best? But imagine our trying to get our laborers to drive our horses tandem. It impresses me though that in Scotland horses are not worked at all hard; that the bulk of them is almost ridiculously more than adequate to move the weights behind them. In America the burden is always greater, for wagon and horse and for man who labors; yes, and for housewife too; we all work up to the limit of our strength, while these wiser Scots leave always a comfortable margin for safety. Be that as it may, it is certain that the man who “does not like the Clydesdale horse” in America would be impressed if he should see them here, in their best estate. We must have made some early importations of a bad type of leggy, wasp-waisted Clydesdales; they breed them very different from that type now.

Mr. Buttar has a lovely old home in a perfect setting of green, and back of it are great stone farmsteads. We found him in his working clothes, busily dipping his lambs to prevent attacks of blow flies. He had no ticks, lice or scab. He finds that dipping repels the flies, which seem more troublesome in Scotland than America. That is curious, for the house fly is so uncommon that I saw no houses provided with screens in the windows.

Mr. Buttar’s lambs were beauties. They were not large because of the drouth, but were healthy and perfect. There seems, by the way, to be in Scot-land little if any trouble from internal parasites; the climate is a bit too cool for the development of the stomach worm. The manner of dipping sheep in Scotland is unlike ours in America, and I am not sure that their way is not the better one. The dip-ping vats are not deep ; they have twenty-four in, ches or a little more of liquid in them. The lambs are gently turned in on their backs and after a brief instant of lying in that posture are turned over and allowed to emerge to the draining pen. Two men can turn them into the dip about as rapidly as our men put them in the deep plunges. The Scottish and English method at least has the merit of gentle handling.

Mr. Buttar desisted long enough to show me his sheep, talking with me about breeds and type and systems of breeding. He is a strong believer in line-breeding; in no other way can one get a lot of good ones; in no other way can he secure uniformity. He has two types : one for Scotland, selling them rams for cross-breeding, and one for America, for ram breeders. The type he breeds for us is the very compact sheep, thick and level, with a wonderful head covering. The type sold for cross-breeding is rather bigger, with not so much head wool. Mr. Buttar says he is sure that there has been no Merino blood put into the Shropshires in the past forty years, if ever there was any. This is an interesting point, since many of our people think that the wool on heads and legs came from an in-fusion of Merino blood. One can believe Mr. But-tar. He says, moreover, that it was not especially his wish to breed for head covering, but that the judges by giving so much attention to that point in the showring compelled the adoption of it by the breeder. He considers it rather a disadvantage to the sheep instead of an advantage. It does not mean more than at most a few ounces of additional wool.

We looked, rather hastily, at his bonny Short-horns, too, for what visitor to a first-rate Scottish farm would wish to depart without seeing his cattle? As time pressed, we said “good bye,” having received a happy impression at Mr. Buttar’s. The fine, strong, happy personality of the man, the beautiful type of his sheep, the comfort of their environment and the beauty of his garden and grounds all conspired to make one wish that Mr. Buttar would move, bag and baggage, to the United States.

The Shropshire, by the way, is not at all a common sheep in Scotland. Nor is it in England, for that matter. It is the fancier’s sheep, the sheep of export to the United States and to some extent to other regions.