- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
244

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
plough up the unused grass land, sow corn and get a
rich crop the first few years. But when, after four or
five years or so, the crop begins to fall off, they leave
that piece alone and plough up a fresh one, where they
proceed in the same way. This is exhaustive farming,
but, as I say, there is plenty of land, and they do not
see why they should not farm it in this way, which is
easy and cheap.
It is significant that the Government hand-book for
colonists mentions that besides seed-corn and seed
for kitchen gardens, grass seed is also to be obtained
at the depots for agricultural implements that have
been established for the colonists in many places in
Siberia. Special stress is laid on the importance of
grass-sowing everywhere, and on its necessity even
in the steppe districts ; for in these districts, where
the dung is used as fuel, any improvement of the soil
by manuring is out of the question, and a judicious
rotation must therefore be introduced, with grass to
follow the corn when the soil becomes impoverished.
But as to the treatment of manure in other parts of
Siberia nothing is said.
As already remarked, they do not build barns for
the hay ; but a worse thing than this is that they do
not build cow-houses either. There is only a fenced
farmyard in which the cows are collected for the night,
and over this they usually put up a roof to protect
them from the rain. The sides are often open, but in
winter boards are put up to act as a screen against
the worst of the wind and snowdrifts. But the tem
perature is about the same inside and out, and there
are no such things as stalls for the cows. When we
remember that in winter the temperature may be as
low as 40 or 50 degrees below zero, this does not seem
to be a reasonable way of keeping cows. Just think
244

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