Texas Almanac and State Industrial Guide for 1904 Page: 87
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THE TEXAS ALMANAC. 87
on credit, so far as moisture is concerned. It will not grow without moisture,
but will wait for it. If a severe dry spell comes it doesn t die. It simply takes
a vacation. The leaves curl up, parched, apparently dead. It will remain
in this condition sometimes for weeks, but when rain falls upon it the leaves
open out, turn green and the plant goes on to maturity. --Kaffir corn is
becoming quite popular in other sections of the State. During the present
season quite a lot of it is growing in northern and central Texas.
THE COMING OF ALFALFA.
By J. F.- BOWLES, Sherman:
Alfalfa! A word almost a stranger in Texas less than a decade ago, its
very mention now brings to the thoughts of every man materially interested
in the future of Texas gratification because of the wonderful progress in
diversified farming, of which there is no more unswerving witness than this
great forage crop. The very first of all the crops to carpet the generous
soil with verdure in spring, it outlives them all, and is the very last to dis-
continue growth in the latest autumn.
Of course, Omnipotence could devise a better plant-one that would yield
greater wealth to the hand that sows and harvests it-but Omnipotence has
never done so. Much has been heard in late years through the press, from
the speaker's stand and from the mouths of practical planters about alfalfa,
and the more the people have heard and seen of it, the more interested have
they become. In the great productive river belt of Texas alfalfa is a fad;
but, reproducing itself so often-from three to four crops each year, each
crop equal to a fair annual return from other crops upon ordinary land-it
has not required such an immense acreage, and has not, thanks to the idea
of diversification again, encroached too heavily upon lands that ought to be
devoted to the ra.sing of the other staple anid necessary crops. The calamity
howler has found in alfalfa a tough proposition. The lifting of the stones
piled in the pyramids does not suggest more forcibly a hidden genii than does
the exemplified power of alfalfa in the lifting of mortgages. Nor has it been
kinder to man in adding to his bank account and the chance to live com-
fortably than it has been to the live stock--the fattest, sleekest, healthiest
horses, mules and cattle in Texas are those nearest alfalfa.
New in its role of prosperity making in Texas, alfalfa is in truth and
fact as old as the story of mankind. Those who know its history best say
that when "the evening and the morning were the third day," and God said
"Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed * * * after his
kind and it was so," that alfalfa sprang up in the valleys and on the moun-
tainside to greet the rising of the sun. It is told in Holy Writ that Abraham
was rich in cattle and silver. Agrostologists tell the world that in the valleys
where Abraham pastured those wonderful herds alfalfa has grown as God's
gift in abundance so long that the mem )ry of man runs not to the contrary.
Not exceeding ten years ago the cultivation of alfalfa in Texas began to
take a firm hold upon the judgment of < onservative, thinking farmers, grown
weary under the tithes' gathering yoke of King -Cotton. Steadily since then
has the interest increased and the benefits accrued with compounding in-
Alfalfa is, indeed, a wonderful plant. When one is told that a single
root found in a meadow devoted just a few years to alfalfa was more than
a foot in diameter, and that 325 stalks grew from its single crown, and that
this root had delved 129 feet into theyearth to reach perennial water, a doubt
is liable to creep into the mind; yet it is just as true as the wonderful fact
that under the genial smiles of a climate adapted to it, as is that of Texas,
alfalfa produces each year four bountiful harvests. All over Texas. in Indian
Territory, Kansas and Arizona, all doubts to the contrary notwithstanding,
alfalfa is sending its roots deep into Mother Earth to be watered by unfailing
lakes; and thus it comes about that the king of the forage fields defies
drouth and burning suns, and waves cool and green, while other crops about
it wither and literally burn to death athirst for rain.
Not only for cattle, horses and sheep is alfalfa a blessing, but a pig
which has spent all its eight months in an alfalfa meadow, taken up and
given ten days' topping with corn, weighed 250 pounds, and this was but an
average case. Truthful men say tbev have beaten the record by the same
procedure, and that an acre of alfalfa will sustain from 20 to 25 such pork-
ers, making $300 an acre ner annum It would seem fabulous were it not
supported by facts-and alfalfa. Agricultural reports show that this wonder-
ful plant is quite democratic, requiring no protection against heat or cold,
for it flourishes in the wintry blasts of Manitoba and the tropic heat of
Central and South America just as luxuriantly as it does in our own tem-
perate zone. Compared with the interest manifested in it ten years ago, the
hold the culture of alfalfa now has upon the planters and practical farmers
of Texas shows a growth of popularity unequalled by any other crop.
While alfalfa has been known always. its presence upon the western
hemisphere can be traced back to the Spanish invasion and conquest of
Mexico, in which country it was made an useful crop even in that early day.
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Texas Almanac and State Industrial Guide for 1904, book, May 1904; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth123779/m1/99/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.