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Transcription of

The Western Shore Gazetteer and Commercial Directory,
For the State of California…, Yolo County

Compiled and published annually
by
C. P. Sprague & H. W. Atwell,
Woodland, Yolo County, 1870, pp. 41-158.

Transcribed by Peggy B. Perazzo
(Feel free to use the following transcription for your personal use or your non-profit web sites.)

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Yolo County (Description)

Yolo County lies on the west side of the Sacramento River, between the parallels of thirty-eight and thirty-nine degrees, north latitude. Woodland, the county seat, is situated near the forty-fifth degree of longitude, west from Washington, or one hundred and two degrees west from Greenwich. The county contains a population of nearly ten thousand, probably falling short three hundred of that number, according to the census just taken.

The main portion of the county presents the appearance of an unbroken plain, interspersed with strips or belts of timber-land. It forms one of the most productive portions of the Sacramento Valley, and is already justly celebrated for the richness of its fields, the rapid growth of its leading towns, and the general advancement of trade and commercial interests. As surveyed, the county contains nine hundred and forty square miles, or six hundred and one thousand six hundred acres. Supposing the western line to run its direct course through the unsurveyed portion, there would be about eighty thousand acres additional, making a total of six hundred and eighty-one thousand six hundred. For convenience, we will call it seven hundred thousand acres, divided as follows: Swamp and overflowed land, one hundred and sixty thousand acres; mountain land, two hundred thousand acres; leaving three hundred and forty thousand acres suitable for cultivation. We have accounts of one hundred and fifty-six thousand three hundred and fifty-eight acres cultivated this season, divided as follows: One hundred and twenty-nine thousand and eighty acres of barley, two thousand five hundred and seventy acres of garden. Our estimate of the average crop is: Fifty-eight thousand tons of wheat; twelve thousand tons of barley; value of garden products, one hundred and thirty thousand dollars. The value of the annual export trade of eggs and poultry is fifty-eight thousand three hundred dollars. Taking the average price of the season, one and one-half cents per pound, we have as the value of the wheat crop, one million seven hundred and forty thousand dollars; value of the barley, at twenty dollars per ton, two hundred and forty thousand dollars. About thirty thousand acres were cut for hay this season, yielding about that number of tons, valued at two hundred and forty thousand dollars. The value of the agricultural products foots up to two million four hundred and eight thousand three hundred.

The grain crop is mostly purchased at three points: Woodland, Knight's Landing and Davisville, though small quantities are stored and sold at other points along the river and railroad. Messrs. Laugenour & Brownell and C. F. Reed buy at Knight's Landing, Messrs. Thomas & Hunt and F. S. Freeman at Woodland, Dresbach & Co. at Davisville.

The past season has not been favorable to grain growers, and the yield through the county, with but few exceptions, has been light.

There are in the county many sources of wealth aside from those mentioned, which will be treated of in their proper order – a brief paragraph being devoted to each. Manufacturers are in a flourishing condition, as will be seen by a glance at the tables of statistics. This county is a heavy importer of many articles that could be well manufactured here at less cost than they now command, and this fact is turning the attention of capitalists in that direction, and we hope ere long to see factories for various branches of manufactures erected in our midst.

Yolo County possesses great natural advantages as an agricultural and commercial county. With the sinuosities of the river the county possesses a water front of sixty to seventy miles, on which are several landings where grain and produce can be readily shipped.

The California Pacific Railroad traverses the central part of the county, affording rapid transit for exports or imports at any time of the year. The river carriage is extensive and rates of transportation reasonable, and the route is rarely interrupted by changes of seasons.

Projected Railroads.

The projected railroads, when completed, will bring a great addition of wealth to the county – bringing the land carriage and travel of several counties directly through Yolo. With a road to Colusa and Red Bluffs, connecting with the present road at Woodland, the business of that section would pass over this route on its way to the bay, adding materially to the extensive travel now passing through the county.

But a road of as much and perhaps of more importance to the interests of this county, because its business would be more centralized here, is the road projected from Woodland, through Capay Valley and Cache Creek Cañon, via Clear Lake, to the Mendocino Red Woods.

This road would give us the whole trade of Lake County and a large portion of Mendocino. It would centralize the business at Woodland, doubling its business and size within the first year after the road was completed. Lumber, which now commands such exorbitant prices, could be delivered in Woodland at rates enabling our farmers to fence and build at far less rates than they are now compelled to pay. The growing importance of the Lake County trade demands that an earnest effort be made on the part of the business men of this county to secure it. The lumber and wood interests alone would justify the venture. From Woodland to the mouth of the cañon through Capay Valley is but forty miles, over a natural road-bed, presenting no obstacles but a level plain. From the outlet of the cañon to the lake is twenty miles of heavy work, the route following the creek. From the lake to the lumber regions – forty miles – the route presents no serious obstacles, the spurs or slopes of the broken ridges being long and of easy grades. Through the cañon seems to be the only natural, feasible route for the road, as the range that intervenes between the lake and Capay Valley is from six hundred to one thousand feet above the lake, ascent and descent very abrupt and probably insurmountable.

There are no long, sloping spurs by which a road could be carried up or down this range, without the expenditure of such sums as would forbid its construction in the present state of the counties affected thereby.

The prosperity of the county demands the establishment of these routes, especially the northern and northwestern portions, which are now dependent on freight teams as a means of transportation for the vast crops annually grown in those sections.

Clear Lake Wagon Road.

A very good wagon road has been constructed across the mountains, connecting with the Berryessa Valley and Clear Lake Road; but it is of little importance as a route over which to transport large amounts of freight, owing to the abruptness of the ascent from this side and the steep descent into Sulphur Creek Valley, where it unites with the road mentioned. From the foot of the mountains to the county line, or rather, all that portion of the road lying in Yolo, is a county road and free to travelers, but that portion in Lake County, from the ridge to the valley, is a chartered toll road, which has a great tendency to turn Lake County travel into Napa via of Berryessa Valley.

In this connection it may be well to consider the

Public Roads of the County.

We cannot speak in lavish praise of the road-system of the county, which has had the effect of furnishing very poor roads and very few at that.

In a county susceptible of having the very best of public roads, we find but few if any that would be classed as belonging to that order. We find further, that many of the roads, as now used, have never been laid out and declared public highways, and are liable to be shut up and closed to the public at any moment, when caprice or other causes on the part of the land-owners should determine them to do so.

This state of affairs is a great detriment to the prosperity of the county, for various reasons. Owners of lands adjoining roads, not yet declared public highways, hesitate to fence, build, plant trees and otherwise improve their farms, fearful that some caprice or whim of their neighbors may remove the road, and they and their improvements be left isolated. Again, the farmer fears that a road may be forced through his lands at inconvenient points, and he forbears fencing, which might all have to be removed, to remain of any value, should the present roads be changed, as is frequently the case. These and many other considerations render it almost imperative that the public roads should be located permanently by the proper authorities.

There is another item to be considered in connection with roads, of equal importance to trade and travel. We refer to the public

Bridges.

In this department the county has done nobly, and, as far as at present constructed, her bridges are inferior to none. Two fine bridges span Cache Creek – one at Nelson's, near Woodland, and one at Cacheville. One is spoken of at the mouth of Cache Creek Cañon, which would accommodate the section north of the creek, and known as Hungry Hollow. A bridge at this point is an imperative necessity, and will doubtless soon be built by the county or by private individuals. It is absolutely necessary to bring the trade of that portion of the county to Woodland.

In other parts of the county, the streams are smaller and generally well bridged. The road and bridge fund of the county is in good condition, and we may confidently expect an improvement in the public highways.

Toll Roads.

There are but two toll roads – the Putah Greek (sic) Turnpike and the Yolo Plankroad Turnpike Company's Road. The latter road connects the River Road with the Buckeye Road, via the Tule House. The Toll Road extends from the river to the Tule House, and is four and one-half miles long. It was built in 1855, under a charter granted to J. L. Lewis, William Green, J. P. Hopper, W. C. Wallace, George W. Foster, Joshua B. Tufts and Judge Ralston. The road is assessed at three thousand eight hundred dollars. It was built to enable the travel to cross the tules during the winter and spring months, but we believe there has been but two winters since it was built when travel was entirely uninterrupted by the floods. J. L. Lewis is gate-keeper.

Ferries.

The first ferry established in Yolo County was established by J. B. Lewis, who crossed the plains in '50 and settled in this county in May, '51. In the following fall, he started the first ferry across the tules, near where the present Toll Road is established. It was what is known as a rope ferry, the rope used being three miles long. Two trips were made daily, unless the wind prevented, as was frequently the case. The prices of ferryage was as follows: Two dollars per head for stock; one dollar for each passenger. Mr. Lewis records one season when the ferry was useless, there being no water in the Tules. In '52-3 and 4, he run (sic) a ferry across Washington Lake.

Smith's Ferry.

The ferries in present use in the county are four in number. Smith's Ferry, the uppermost, is about fourteen miles north from Woodland, on the Marysville Road.

Knight's Landing Ferry.

Is one of the oldest on the river. It is owned by J. Snowball and others.

Sutterville Ferry.

Three and a half miles below Washington, connects Sutterville with the Yolo shore, at McGregor's Ranch. It is owned and run by Samuel Hawk.

Freeport Ferry.

Or Jackson's Ferry, connects the town of Freeport with the Yolo shore. It was established by George C. Jackson and others in 1852 – Mr. Jackson being boss-builder of the first boat. This is a buoy ferry, with a large boat and excellent landings. It is thirteen miles below Washington, thirty-one miles southeast from Woodland. It is owned and run by its old proprietor, George C. Jackson.

We will now consider the natural divisions of the county, their general character, resources and value:

Natural Divisions of the County.

Owing to the peculiar location of the county and the varied character of its soil, it is divided by nature into five sections, which we have classed as divisions one, two, three, four and five, when locating the many farms and speaking of their qualities.

These divisions have not been made by us in such a manner as to include in one belt all land of equal value – far from it. We have taken the natural divisions and simply numbered them. For example: A farm may be located in division three, but owing to its proximity to division two it may be comparatively worthless, or it may be of far more value than the one in the same division immediately adjoining it.

There are farms in division two which, owing to their peculiar location, their adaptability to peculiar phases of agriculture, and for many other causes, are held at high figures and will command them; while, on the other hand, there are farms in divisions one and three that are nearly worthless, owing to natural causes, still they are ranked in those valuable divisions because they come within the belts thus segregated by Nature.

In division five occasionally we find small and valuable farms, but not in division four, which presents but little difference in soil throughout its length and breadth.

This explanation may suffice to show why some farms in division three are valued at thirty, forty, fifty to one hundred, dollars per acre, while others in the same division are valued at from five to fifteen dollars per acre.

Quality of soil has been the first consideration, then the advantages of living water – soil being equal – in valuing lands. We then consider the proximity to market and large towns, which places a value on such lands (all other things being equal) far above the price of lands less favorably situated. For instance: Land in the immediate vicinity of Woodland sells readily at from sixty-five to one hundred dollars per acre, while land of better quality, thirty miles distant, commands but from twenty to thirty dollars. Again, very large farms are rated lower per acre than small ones in the same locality, our aim being to give a valuation that would be realized in case of forced sales of the whole quantity.

The buyer would find it impossible to purchase eighty or one hundred and sixty acres of land from the owners of large tracts at the figures given, for the reason that the holders of large tracts of grain land do not desire to sell, unless they dispose of the whole body.

Again, in division two the value of the lands is but prospective, depending on the future.

But we leave this for a general description of each division, commencing with

Division One.

Which is a narrow belt of land, bordering the Sacramento River the entire length of the county. In width, it varies from fifty rods to half a mile, rarely exceeding the latter. Besides the river belt a similar strip of land borders Babel, Elk and Sutter sloughs, as well as the sinks of Putah and Cache creeks. This land is entirely "made land;" or, in other words, it has been deposited by the streams in their annual overflow. In some localities, where the water has been "backed up" and over these lands, the sediment has accumulated very rapidly and attained a great depth. These sections are the choice garden lands of the county, and are remarkable for their fertility and the apparently inexhaustible nature of the soil. The clearing of these lands from the great growth of willow and "underbrush" which covers them is very difficult and expensive. The labor ceases not with the first crop. Great care must be exercised for several years, or until the roots have been quite eradicated; and then, if the land is suffered to lie idle for a few seasons, it is again covered with an almost impenetrable mass of vines and "underbrush."

This land, at the present time, rents readily for fifteen to twenty-five dollars per acre, according to the locality and quality. A great many Chinamen are employed in gardening, generally renting the land and working for themselves. About twenty-five hundred acres are cultivated in vegetables, the annual value of the product being estimated at one hundred and thirty thousand dollars.

Division Two.

Under this head is classed the tule and swamp lands of the county. They are situated mostly in the southern and eastern portions of the county, though the belt extends to the extreme northwestern corner. This tract of land, or division, contains two hundred and fifty sections, or about one hundred and sixty thousand acres. A large portion of this land can be grazed only during the summer and fall, for when the winter and spring floods appear it is mostly submerged. Great loss of property has frequently occurred from the sudden inundation of this section of the county.

The valuation of this land is merely nominal, the taxes light accordingly. For the present year it is assessed at one and a quarter dollars per acre. Its real value in many cases is far greater, while in others it is all the land is worth at present.

The Tules.

Which cover this section are simply immense rushes, which cover the ground with an almost impenetrable thicket. They reach an altitude unknown in other lands, frequently attaining the height of sixteen to eighteen feet. The average height of these tules is about ten feet, growing less on the borders where the swamp land joins the other division. During the summer season these swamps afford good pasturage, or "range" for numbers of cattle and horses. Hogs thrive remarkably well, finding a great variety of roots and bulbous plants suitable for food.

These immense rushes are annuals, and their decay in the fall is as rapid as their growth is remarkable in the spring.

From the decayed matter of this swamp growth, and the sediment annually deposited, the present soil has been formed. In some localities it is comparatively shallow, while in others it has been demonstrated to extend a depth of sixty feet, with no perceptible difference in the character or formation of the deposit.

Underlying this deposit is a strata of clay, resting upon a bed of sand and gravel, from which, in most cases, excellent water is obtained. The soil is apparently inexhaustible, and where it has been reclaimed has been proved of great productive powers.

Levees.

A system of levying was undertaken several years since, which so far has not produced the desired effect. The waters from the Sacramento River have been kept within their channel for some distance, but the back-waters overflow the land at every flood. Still the damage is trifling, compared with what it would be if the river had full sway.

It is a question whether this land can ever be reclaimed, as a body. Apparently not, unless the streams which pour their winter floods thereon could be carried between levees until their waters reach the main channel or the bay.

Certain it is, that could be this reclamation be effected, one of the finest bodies of agricultural lands in the State would be ready for occupancy, and becomes a source of immense wealth and prosperity.

Reclamation of Swamp Lands.

There are parts and portions of this land, such, for example, as Merritt's Island and those portions bordering the sinks of Cache and Putah creeks, that could be readily reclaimed; but those parts lying within the "deep tule" range, though perhaps reclaimable, would, doubtless, require a greater outlay of capital than the present condition of affairs would justify. Hence, we can see no reasonable ground for believing that the main body of the tules will be reclaimed for many years to come.

A plan is now under consideration whereby the tule lands in the northeastern portion of the county may be reclaimed, and a petition has been laid before the Board of Supervisors, asking that legal steps may be taken for that purpose. It is proposed to take in, in one district, all that body of tules lying north of Knight's Landing and south of the Colusa line, and inclose it, where necessary, with levees. It is claimed that by thus segregating it, the work of reclamation will be very light.

Division Three.

Under this head is classed the grain lands of the State, or that portion of the county lying between the foot-hills and the belt of swamp land of which we have been speaking. In it are included the valleys, such as are large enough to be of any note. This body of land, with one exception, is treated as a whole in classifying farms, though it is far from possessing an equal value.

The exception referred to is the red, gravelly belt, which extends through a portion of the main grain-growing section. This will be spoken of under division four, with which we have classed it.

Where the grain lands join the tules the quality of the soil is frequently very different from that which lies but one section further inland. A narrow belt of lands, often strongly impregnated with alkali, generally unites the two divisions. This land, lying above the overflows, and generally cultivated, is located among the grain lands. Owing to the prevalence of alkali on some farms, their value is very materially decreased. This explanation will suffice to afford a reason why some farms are valued at low figures, while others immediately adjoining them are valued very high. The quality of the soil and the improvements thereon have determined the valuations of farms, while nature determines the divisions.

Again, where the grain lands border on the foot-hills, and include in their compass broken lands, rolling hills, gulches and ravines, they are naturally of less value than where the same quality of soil is well situated.

All these points have been considered in connection with these lands, and the main peculiarities of each section have been noted and will be briefly alluded to.

Division Four.

This embraces the red, gravelly belt, referred to, and the first range of foot-hills. This gravel ridge and alkali belt begins about four miles west from Woodland, extending to within about three miles of Cottonwood. It has a width of from one to four miles, including in its limits, alkali, adobe, gravel-beds, and many other peculiar features of soil, that are more marked than valuable. There are a few good farms within this district, but they are the exceptions. The foot-hills included in this division are those bordering the entire length of the county, or rather those that are suitable for and have been devoted to grain culture.

Division Five.

In this is included the mountainous part or western division of the county. It is used only for grazing, and has for that purpose a nominal value, equivalent to the tule lands in taxation, though these lands will sell more readily and bring a better price.

Value of the Grazing Lands.

These lands, where convenient to water, have been rated at five dollars per acre, and of those which are not watered and claimed we have made no mention. There is quite a body of grazing land among the mountains yet unclaimed and unsurveyed. It is worthless to any one but those who have secured the water-courses and springs.

It is highly probable that many years will elapse before the mountains will be surveyed and sectionized, if ever they are; and until then those who have stock ranges will hold them to the exclusion of new-comers. There is no inducement whatever for stock-men to seek Yolo County, as every available stock ranch is claimed or occupied – generally the latter. Unless he wishes to purchase locations, and expects to pay a round price for them, it is unnecessary for the stock-man to visit Yolo with the intention of locating.

Having glanced at the divisions thus naturally formed, we will consider some of the main features o the localities thus divided, and take a general view of the different varieties of farming lands found in division three, commencing with those bordering the Sacramento River – the main body of division one.

Sacramento River Land.

Along the Sacramento River, extending from the lower end of the county on the south to Knight's Landing on the north, is a strip of arable land which is separated from the main body of grain lands by a belt of tule or marsh lands. This belt of land, which we have classed as division one, varies in width from one-eighth to one mile, and extends, including the sinuosities of the river, about forty or forty-five miles in length. From Knight's Landing, where the belt is broken, it continues to the Colusa line, but bearing the same general character. This portion of the belt, including Grand Island, being more properly under the head of grain lands, has been generally so designated, though the marsh lands bordering it have been classed with similar land in the county. All of that portion which lies below Washington is included in the gardens of the county. But very little grain is grown below that point – the land being better adapted to growing vegetables and garden products. Besides, it has been found to be more profitable – a surer source of income – when cultivated in that manner, than when planted to grain. The uncertainty of the grain market, the constant and increasing demand for vegetables and of fruits, and the peculiar adaptability of the soil for this particular branch of industry, has had the effect of almost totally excluding grain culture from this division of the country.

Another cause works strongly in favor of gardening, as compared with the culture of the cereals. We refer to the annual overflows, which, for a limited portion of the year, hold these lands completely locked in their embrace. Although large and strong levees have been constructed along the river banks, they are security against the river floods alone, and are powerless to prevent the inroads of the waters which accumulate in the tule marshes, having been discharged there from the mighty torrents which annually find their way from the mountains to the plains, through the swollen channels of Cache and Putah creeks, their numerous tributaries and the many creeks and gulches which, though dry and dusty in the summer, are roaring torrents in the winter. This water, not finding an available outlet to the sea of sufficient capacity to readily discharge its vast volume, "sets back" over the lands adjoining the river, and almost completely submerges them, for months at a time.

The quantity of land thus submerged, which is afterward made available, varies in bulk according to the severity of the winter; but, until the rainy season has passed, it is unsafe and unwise to cultivate any portion of the land which is subject to inundation.

The bed of the river has, doubtless, underwent many changes, as the valley is one vast deposit. It can hardly be supposed that the river has known only its present channel, though the trees which line its banks are indications that many years have elapsed since the present channel was formed.

But in many places the channel has shifted very materially, within the memory of the old settlers. Close by where Mr. Conrad's house is standing, the proprietor hauled his seine, in '49 and '50, over one of the best fishing grounds on the river. Now the river is three hundred yards distant, and the intervening space is overgrown with large willows, vines and a dense undergrowth.

Older evidences of changes are not wanting; also evidences tending to show that the southern end of the county has all been made from the annual deposits of the river.

A few years since, Mr. J. C. Ray, while sinking a well on his place, a hundred yards or more from the river, came on the body of a tree, twelve inches in diameter, bedded in a strata of gravel twenty-four feet below the surface. Four feet above this, he passed through a strata of blue clay, and above that still a sand-bed. At seventy feet, a bed of gray or ocean sand, thickly interspersed with large marine shells, was found. Beneath this, good water was obtained, and the well was dug no farther. We might enumerate many instances where it has been demonstrated that a large portion of these lands, and probably the whole body, has been formed by deposits from the main river and its tributaries, but it is unnecessary.

This class of lands, or most of them, have been reclaimed at great cost. Originally, covered with a dense growth of scrub-oak, willow, briers, wild grape and other vines, the expense attending on clearing the lands and fitting them for cultivation, was very great, ranging from one hundred to one hundred and eighty dollars per acre.

After the underbrush had been cleared and burned off, the roots were "grubbed" or dug out, before a plow could be put in the ground. Not only for one year, but for several years, after the first clearing, must the grubbing process be repeated, until the green sprouts are thoroughly eradicated, and the remains of the old roots are entirely destroyed.

The labor on these lands ceased not with the eradication of the first growth of brush and vines. Frequently the floods would wash over them, destroying orchards and gardens, and, in a few days or hours, obliterate every trace of years of patient toil; and the orchards must be planted again, the fences rebuilt, the garden reclaimed again – or the farm be abandoned. In several cases, the latter course has been adopted, but not until after repeated trials, which left the unlucky gardener hopelessly involved – completely ruined.

Many of those lands which are now in use as gardens along the river, are still suffering from the effects of the frequent overflows. On some, the wash and sediment has been deposited to such depths as to destroy the fertility of the land, for some years at least. In some places, where, but a few years since, luxuriant crops of vegetables were grown, and where fine orchards were standing, every vestige of cultivation has passed away, and nothing is to be seen now but a dense growth of willows and briers, among which one may occasionally see the tops of fence-posts protruding six or eight inches above the soil, where but a few years ago they stood five feet above the ground. That depth has been filled in by the deposits of the numerous floods which have washing away the top-soil off some farms only to deposit it on others.

Again, we find farms sadly neglected – abandoned, in fact, by their former owners, and now occupied by Chinamen, who rent and cultivate each a few acres. The owners having become discouraged by the frequent losses from floods, have ceased to improve their lands, and, being unwilling to dispose of them at ruling prices, have ceased to cultivate them, nor will any effort be made to restore them to their former position, until some system of leveeing shall be devised and carried into effect that shall guarantee them security against future devastation.

That portion of the river lands now under cultivation commands a high price and rental per acre. Good garden land near Washington sells from fifty to two hundred dollars per acre, and rents at fifteen to twenty-five dollars, cash, rent.

The general products are vegetables of various varieties – the principal being corn, melons, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and peanuts. The amount of land annually under cultivation in vegetables or garden, including that in other portions of the county, amounts to about twenty-five hundred acres – yielding an annual income to the owners or cultivators, of one hundred and thirty thousand dollars, and affording employment to about three hundred men, a large proportion of whom are Chinese. The remainder are mostly Portuguese and Italians – a few French, Germans and Americans, being engaged in the same occupation.

With a proper system of levees, that would afford security against the floods, the number of acres and working force would soon be quadrupled, and an almost incalculable source of wealth added to the county.

The effects of the floods are not alone devastated farms. In many localities where the lands have been submerged but uninjured by wash – owing to the water backing up over them without a current – the lands have been left in a foul state – the seeds and roots of foul growth from other places having been deposited thereon by the water and taken firm hold of their new location as soon as the floods subsided. Once established, it is found to be very difficult, if not impossible to eradicate them by cultivation – in fact, the morning glory, a vine of rapid growth, seems to thrive under the severest system of cultivation. Every joint of root which is broken up by the plow, if left on or in the soil, takes a new start and soon becomes another vine, spreading its branches far and wide and choking all other growth around it. The joint-grass thrives still better, when disturbed and broken up by the plow or hoe. Every joint, when separated from the parent stem, throws out roots and attaches itself to the soil immediately, and as its roots extend but a few inches below the surface, the drought has no effect upon it. In fact, this troublesome visitor thrives equally well above or beneath the water. The cultivation of grain, fruit or vegetables, will not eradicate these troublesome parasites that fatten on the ruins of fine gardens.

The only remedy left by which to escape their ravages seems to lie in seeding the land to alfalfa, the rapid growth of which effectually chokes out the foul interlopers. Many of the farmers are adopting this system, and many more will follow their example.

Among the dairy farms we find the introduction of this plant becoming general, and the farmers express themselves as being well satisfied with the results. Under another head we shall treat more fully of this matter.

The dairy farms on the Sacramento are worthy of especial notice, and several of them will be mentioned under the head of dairy farms.

Among the most prominent of the dairymen who have located in Merritt Township, we might refer to J. B. Green, whose ranch lies in Yolo and Sacramento counties, being divided by the river. The location is one of the pleasantest on the river, being situated on the island formed by Elk Slough on one side and the river on the other. On the same island are the dairy ranches of Mr. Cave, Mr. Childs and several others.

The Sacramento River lands possess much of interest, notwithstanding the fact that in many cases the farms have been neglected and permitted to become overrun with weeds, briars and bushes, while the buildings have fallen into disuse and consequent decay. These lands were the very earliest settled in the county, with one exception, and many are still living on the ranches they occupied in 1849 and 1850. The mulberry orchards, the cocooneries, with but one or two exceptions, are situated on the river. The only chickory-growing and manufacturing establishment in the State is on one of these river farms, and the finest orchards and vegetable gardens of the county are located here. As a general rule, the water along the river is excellent, being much colder than that found further back and on those plains not subject to overflow. Grain does not succeed as well on the river farms as it does on the plains, excepting in very dry seasons. It grows too rank, and is apt to fall without ripening, when a new crop grows immediately, mixing with that which has partially ripened, rendering it unfit for harvest and difficult to save.

Vegetable gardens line the river bank for miles, interspersed with orchards and occasional grain fields. Nowhere in the State do vegetables grown in greater profusion, or attain a larger size. Mammoth squashes, melons, beets, etc., under a liberal system of cultivation, are the rule – the dwarf, shrunken specimens being rarely found. The result of the numerous overflows has been, in most cases, beneficial to the gardening interest. In many places the soil is but sediment – a loose, fine sand, in which the foot sinks to the ankle whenever placed upon the yielding surface. This sand is thoroughly mixed with fine loam, of exceeding fertility, rendering it very productive. Sweet potatoes grow to an unprecedented size, possessing a flavor second to none raised elsewhere. Berries of different varieties are successfully cultivated and yield handsome returns. The mulberry grows very rank in this soil, and requires but little, if any, care beyond the planting and cultivation necessary to keep down the weeds.

Peaches, pears, apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries, quinces, figs, and many other varieties of fruit, reach their greatest perfection along the river, but grapes fail of reaching the high excellence attained in other parts of the county and State, though they are rather extensively cultivated. The apple thrives better along the river than elsewhere in the county - the fruit being more crisp and juicy, and growing to a larger size. The extreme heat of the summer is injurious to this fruit in the more exposed plains. Along the river there is generally a breeze, cooler and more invigorating than that which sweeps the plains at certain periods, which has a tendency to preserve the apple from the effects of the sun's rays. But, with this in its favor, we find no apples which, for solidity of texture, flavor or general appearance, can compare favorably with those grown in the mountains either of the Coast Range or the Sierras. The apple requires a colder climate, a rocky soil, frosts, snows and marked changes in seasons, to enable it to reach its perfection. For the earliest varieties - those which ripen and are gone ere the long-heated term is fairly upon us - the river farms will do as well or better than any portion of the county; for those varieties of later growth, that require a season in which to ripen, the river farms as well as the plains present no qualifications nor inducements to orchardists.

Grapes fail from over-moisture, probably, as the wood grows very rank and rapidly. The vines appear to be well sheltered during the growing season; the fruit sets finely and presents the most encouraging aspect until a certain period, when the mildew or blight seizes upon it, and the stand becomes worthless. Such is not the case at all times, but so frequently does it occur that grapes cannot be considered a sure crop along the river, and many have either destroyed their vines entirely, or suffered their vineyards to go to decay and consequent ruin. We do not wish to convey the idea that this is the case in all parts of the county which borders on the river, for some localities, where the land along the river bank is high, the grape flourishes very well, but still not on an equality with those grown on the plains, the foot-hills or the mountains.

Grapes, like the apple, thrive best on ruder soil, where the bed-rock is near the surface, and the roots of the vine can readily feed on its peculiar properties. These facts will be further treated under the head of vineyards.

Woodland Farms.

In the immediate vicinity of Woodland, the soil is mostly composed of a sandy loam, with a gravelly subsoil. The depth of soil is not as great as in some localities, owing to the fact that a gravelly elevation extends for some distance around the place on which the town is located. Yet these lands possess a strong soil, and, with proper cultivation, yield handsome returns. The gravelly elevation spoken of is, however, better adapted to fruit and vines than grain - the former growing most luxuriantly.

Within one and a half miles of Woodland are some very valuable grain farms, among which may be mentioned

Clanton's Farm.


This farm contains six hundred and forty acres of excellent grain land, well fenced and improved. It is peculiarly adapted to grain-raising, and ranks among the best grain farms in the vicinity of Woodland.

To the north of Woodland, the land slopes away to Cache Creek, increasing in fertility and materially changing in quality of soil, becoming more mixed with sand on the surface, and changing to a clayish subsoil. With the exception of a narrow strip of cold, swampy ground, which extends up toward the town from the sink of Cache Creek, a fine body of grain land is presented, which is all under successful cultivation.

The average yield of wheat for this section can be safely estimated at thirty bushels per acre, in favorable seasons, though frequent cases are mentioned where the yield is much higher - forty to fifty bushels per acre having been harvested.

Immediately west from town, we find the lands of excellent quality, until we arrive at the gravelly, red soil referred to, which will be spoken of in another article.

Willow Slough Farms.

Along the banks of Willow Slough are some of the finest and most valuable farms in the county. Their value is not enhanced from the supposition that they are of a better quality of soil (which is not always the case) than those farms situated in other parts of the county, but rather from their superior location, their proximity to the railroad, and the great advantages arising from having a plentiful supply of living water convenient of access for stock. This consideration alone is sufficient, in the minds of many, to induce them to pay or ask a price for those lands far above that realized for other lands of equal qualities of soil, yet lacking the great desideratum - water - living, running water.

The farms immediately bordering the slough, and situated on its eastern bank, of which we propose to speak, with but few exceptions, possess a soil superior, in many respects to that found a few miles away from the bank of the stream. Especially is this the case in considering much of the land lying to the eastward of the lower body of water, and distant a few miles therefrom. The loam, comprising the top-dressing of the slough lands, is deeper and more mixed with sediment from former wash and overflow, which gives the land a lighter, looser bearing, especially protecting it against drought. In the immediate neighborhood of the last division of the slough, as soon as the higher land bordering the stream is left, the whole aspect of the soil is changed entirely. One would hardly suppose that two classes of land, so entirely opposite in their nature and properties, would be found in such close proximity. The one possessed of a clear, lively, war and strong soil - a mixture of clay-loam and sand-sediment, capable of producing the most luxurious crops of cereals, well adapted to gardening, vines or orchards - while the other is cold, heavy and backward, composed more of decayed vegetation than other material; entirely different though from regular tule or adobe soil; thickly splashed with barren, alkali spots, on which no vegetation grows - the whole comprising land of but little value for aught else than grazing purposes.

This difference in quality, when understood, will account for the great difference in the valuation of farms which are situated in the same neighborhood - in fact, joining each other. On some of the farms bordering Willow Slough, on the east side, these alkali patches occur occasionally, destroying several acres in a farm, while the land immediately surrounding these barren places is of excellent quality, and produces good crops.

Dr. Ruddock's Farm.

In the following up the slough on the west or Woodland side, we find some farms worthy of especial mention, as being peculiarly adapted to various branches of farming. The farm of Dr. Ruddock, embracing one hundred and sixty acres of land, owing to the remarkable manner in which it is watered, is unsurpassed in its adaptability to be rendered a small model farm. As now arranged, about ninety-five acres are in grain, the remainder being used as pasturage. The farm is divided by fences in four fields, in each of which is living water – the slough, and those three remarkable wells or springs spoken of in the article on Willow Slough. The Doctor has about two acres of sweet almonds, which are doing finely, yielding a good crop each year. They are seedlings, and were planted by him but a few years since. As a grain, fruit or stock-ranch, it is equal to the best and inferior to none. A farm of this size, when properly prepared for stock grazing, by seeding down in alfalfa, well watered as it is, would become of far more profit to the owner than it can possibly be while under grain cultivation; or, used as a garden, with the advantages possessed by this particular farm for irrigation, it could be rendered very valuable.

Merritt's Farm.

Another class of farms – i.e., large grain farms – is well represented on the slough by the farm of Merritt Brothers, containing about seventeen hundred acres of the finest quality of wheat land. This fine body of land is well watered, lying on both sides of the slough, and is devoted to raising grain. Taken as a whole, it ranks among the most valuable farms in the county. It is improved in advance of many, with orchard and vineyard. The dwelling-house is one of the best in the county, and adds much to the value of the place. This farm is peculiarly adapted to alfalfa, and could readily be transformed into a stock farm of great value.

Bullard's Farm.

Further up the slough we find the farm of Mr. F. Bullard, one of the best-improved grain farms in that part of the county. The annual product per acre is above the general average – partly owing to superior soil, but more to superior cultivation. This farm is also well adapted to alfalfa and stock, and could be rendered very productive and profitable in connection therewith.

It is evident that those farms possessing the advantages of running water and a good soil combined – and there are but few in the county thus situated – are and will be of far more value than those farms deficient in this particular. Where water must be raised by pumps for stock purposes, it adds no small item to yearly expenses – consequently detracting from the value of a farm, when compared with one possessing the advantage of living water. This may serve to show why, in the valuations of land, we have placed the Willow Slough farms in advance of others whose soil is as rich and as deep – perhaps better for general farming – but they lack the essential advantages enumerated above. This body of land, though well watered, is safe from overflow – an exception to most of the lands bordering the streams. The quality of soil which characterizes this section is not confined to this locality, but extends for some distance south and north of the slough, embracing some of the best farming lands in the county. Of these we will speak in other articles, beginning with the

Plainfield Farms.

Plainfield, or Plainfield Schoolhouse, is situated on the north side of Dry Slough, seven and one-half miles south from Woodland, in the midst of a very fertile portion of the county. There are two blacksmith shops, one store, and one saloon, on the south bank of the slough. As its name indicates, the slough is but a dry ravine, excepting during the prevalence of heavy rains, when it drains a large tract of the plains of their surplus waters.

It is intended by the citizens adjacent to this place to apply to the Department for the establishment of a post-office at the Corners, on the south side of the slough. They certainly need one at that point, as their nearest post-office is Davisville, about five miles distant.

That portion of the county commonly designated as "Plainfield," and lying south of Dry Slough, possesses many of the advantages and peculiar properties which characterize the Willow Slough lands. Though not possessing the advantage of running water, these lands are easier supplied with this needed element than the average grain lands of the county.

The water is found very near the surface, a plentiful supply being obtained at from nine to twelve feet. An ordinary, cheap windmill, in connection with a Douglass pump, is found to be sufficient for all farming purposes and even the watering of large bands of stock.

The soil of these lands is deep, the top dressing being generally a gravelly, sandy loam, easily cultivated and in ordinary seasons producing bountiful harvests. Wheat is the principal production, but few, if any, of the farmers raising more barley than is sufficient to feed their teams. Summer-fallow is not resorted to in this section as much as in many other parts of the county, for two reasons: 1st. The natural looseness of the soil enables the farmers in this locality to start their plows in the fall, when but little rain has fallen – not enough to enable the farmers on clay land to begin work. And again, when excessive rains have rendered clay land too wet for immediate cultivation, these lands are but little affected thereby, and it is seldom that the plows cease running for that reason. The second reason is, that a large part of the soil of the Plainfield lands is very rich, and when fallowed before a favorable season the grain grows so luxurious that it generally falls, or becomes "lodged," while the berry is in the milk, causing a shrinkage of the kernel, besides entailing an additional expense and loss in harvesting. Taking this part of the county as a section, it is second to none in its resources or in its productiveness. Some of the largest farms and wealthiest farmers of the county are to be found in this district.

Green's Ranch.

Among the farms located here, we mention that of Charles E. Green, as being one of the largest, and we think the best improved, in this section. In improvements it ranks second to no large farm in the county. It contains twelve hundred and eighty acres of land, of superior quality, all inclosed with a five-board fence with redwood posts. It is divided into several fields, containing, respectively, ten acres, eighty acres, thirty acres, forty acres and four hundred acres – the remainder of the farm being in one large field. For the purpose of comparing the present appearance of the county, or portions of it, with the past, we will note the general appearance of this farm and compare it with its appearance a few years since.

The first dwelling-house erected on the ranch is still standing, a low, one-story, wooden structure, twelve by twenty feet. In that house the first settler on the farm lived for some years, while pursuing his labors, and doubtless considered that he had a very good and comfortable mansion. It was also occupied by the present owner of the farm before he felt himself able to improve the place according to his ideas of comfort and convenience.

The dwelling-house now occupied by the family is a two-story frame, twenty-four by seventy-two feet, with an L, twenty-four by forty-eight feet; hard-finished and well furnished throughout, and ornamented with front and rear piazzas. A large and deep cellar, with brick walls and floor, laid in cement, and brick foundation, complete the lower division of the building. Rats or mice can find no refuge around the building. By perfect ventilation the cellar is kept cool and sweet, where the milk is kept in the warmest weather, enabling them to make butter alike in the warm or cool seasons. For the rainy or cool season, the pantry above ground is used for dairy purposes, where the temperature can be regulated, by artificial means, to any required degree.

A rain-water cistern, brick, laid in cement, holding six thousand gallons, receives the water from the house-roof, and stores it, from whence it is raised by a pump as needed. The stock of groceries and provisions to be seen in the store-room is sufficient to furnish an ordinary grocery store with more than average stock.

In addition to the main dwelling, but a few yards from it, is the headquarters of the men employed on the place. This building cost twelve hundred dollars, and has ample accommodations for all employed – the sleeping apartments being superior to those of many farmers' families.

The main barn is sixty-four by ninety-six feet. The main body of the building will store two hundred tons of hay, besides containing the mill in which all horse-feed and hog-feed required are ground.

The stables have room for twenty-two horses, and are light and airy.

The improvements on this place have cost about twenty thousand dollars, including orchard and shade trees. Eight hundred and fifty locust trees have been planted, and the owner of the place intends to plant several acres more, during the coming winter, as a future supply of wood and also to break the force of the winds which at times do much damage. There being no timber in this portion of the plains, it becomes almost a necessity that timber be grown; if not for its beauty and shade, the scanty supply of wood demands it.

Where these improvements now are, twelve years ago the plains were bare of aught save the little frame house we referred to and a small shelter for stock. Twenty years ago no signs of improvement or progressive life were visible. Mark the change, and draw your own inferences regarding the rapid growth and development of Yolo County.

Buckeye Grain Lands.

The farming lands of Buckeye Township are varied in character and value – or, to use the common term, they are "spotted." There are some of the best grain lands in the county in that township, and some of the poorest. The main body of grain land bordering the foot-hills and extending eastward is generally of excellent character until it unites with the red gravel belt which extends through a portion of this and Cottonwood townships. The general character of the soil is very different from that which surrounds Woodland, and the change is for the better, as far as grain raising is concerned.

East of the Town of Buckeye the gravel, alkalied belt approaches within a few miles, cutting off the first-class grain lands very abruptly. Southward the grain lands extend unbroken until the border of the county, or Putah Creek, is reached. Within this section are many valuable farms, prominent among which is

Ely's Farm.

This farm contains fourteen hundred and sixty acres of excellent grain land, all in cultivation. The soil is deep and lively partaking in a large degree of mountain wash and deposits. It is the representative farm of the district, and in ordinary seasons has thus far proved very productive.

Briggs' Farm.

Near by, is also a noted place, and contains nine hundred acres of grain land, all under cultivation. The general character of the soil is the same as that just described. In addition, this farm possesses the advantage of having a large body of grazing lands connected with it, enabling the proprietor to divide his investments between grain and stock. These two farms may be taken as examples of the best farms in the township or county. There are many others of equal value according to size, but we do not think of any others which combine the advantages of soil with an equal or larger number of acres.

The grain lands of Buckeye which lie within the alkaline belt are not of very large extent. Situated as they are, they would be considered excellent by those accustomed to cultivate the sterile, rocky soil of the Eastern States. The alkali spots are comparatively worthless, yet the soil surrounding them produces equal to any. In some localities some farms are rendered of little value by them; in others but one or two spots will be found on a farm.

The average grain yield of Buckeye is equal to any portion, according to the number of acres cultivated – in fact, when sections are considered, but little, if any, difference of yield per acre is noted.

Cottonwood Grain Lands.

The Township of Cottonwood comprises the northwestern and part of the central portion of the county. The quality of the grain lands is more equal, presenting but few places where alkali beds are found. On the other hand, the grain lands occupy more rolling, broken country than we have hitherto described. Immediately surrounding the Town of Cottonwood the land is excellent, though easterly it soon loses its characteristics, and is merged with the belt of poor land which enters the township from that direction. Southerly, the land is good until Buckeye Township is reached – of which we have spoken. Westerly, the same quality of land extends, embracing the first low range of foot-hills, many of which possess a very superior soil. The general character of the soil is a gravelly loam in the lower lands, a clayish loam in the more elevated portions, with a clay subsoil supporting both sections. Along the borders of the small creeks we find some farms with soil composed entirely of mountain wash and sediment, rendering them very prominent among the first-class farms.

Again, we find farms of clayish soil, thickly covered with slight elevations or knolls, having a harder crust and possessing a colder nature, though yielding bountiful harvests. The marked difference in the grain lands of this township consists in these divisions, which are slight, when we consider the strong contrast existing in other localities.

Another division should be noted – that caused by Cache Creek, which extends through the township. The borders of this stream possess a soil similar to the river lands, though not as deep or lasting. The gravel-beds which underlie it are nearer the surface, and the loam partakes more of the character of the mountain wash than river deposits. In color it assimilates with the river front, with but this difference – a reddish-brown cast abounds, which is found only along the banks of the Sacramento, with the addition of the decomposed slate and granite of the hills.

As fair representative farms, perhaps among the best of these three divisions, we will mention those of Scott, Stephens and McFadyen.

W. G. Scott's Farm.

Contains about two thousand acres of grain land, all in cultivation. The main portion of this grain land lies in one body, southwest from Cottonwood, some distant miles distant. This farm presents many advantages, and several varieties of soil. A portion of it belongs to the elevated portion of the plains, while a part borders a creek, dry in the summer, but of sufficient volume during the heavy rains to enable it to overflow its banks and deposit large bodies of sediment, enriching the land thus overflowed.

The advantage of a stock-range of several thousand acres connected with this farm, renders it very valuable in this respect. The grain land, as a body, presents but little difference in returns in favorable seasons; but, when drought prevails, the lower sandy soils present a marked superiority in their returns, as compared with the more elevated and clayish soil.

This farm is but partially fenced, the grain land being protected by the stock laws; but, considering its size, there are few farms in the county better improved – none better supplied with the implements of farming. The machinery, wagons and stock, employed could not be placed there for less than ten thousand dollars. A blacksmith and wagon shop belong to the ranch, where all the farm work is attended to. The average number of men employed is fifteen; the average wages paid is thirty-two dollars and a half per month.

G. D. Stephens' Farm.

This farm lies on both sides of Cache Creek, and contains about four thousand acres. The main portion is excellent grain land, well wooded and possessing a soil easy of cultivation. On the margin of the stream, the soil is deep and very productive. A portion of the land, lying between this belt and the lands of Kiethly, partakes a colder nature, being interspersed with alkali spots, and sedgy, adobe patches. This is used for pasturage; also, a low portion adjoining, on which the water stands at intervals during heavy rains. For a large body of land, it may be considered very uniform in quality, and very valuable. It is all, or nearly all, inclosed by a substantial fence, and otherwise well improved. It is used as a stock and grain farm, and could be made one of the best stock farms in the county.

McFadyen's Farm.

This farm, well known as the old Ben. Dennis place, lies between the farms of Messrs. Scott and Stephens, and is probably one of the most productive farms of its size in that section of the county. It contains four hundred acres, and is – all of it – formed from the deposits of Cottonwood creek. It is well wooded, having a large grove of noble oaks – the largest of which are seven feet in diameter.

The made soil on this farm has been demonstrated to exceed ten feet in depth, and in places it is deeper. Oak stumps have been burned out which leave pits ten, twelve, and even fifteen feet deep, before the walls showed a sign to mark where a root had formerly sprang from the tree, showing conclusively that the land had been made around them to that depth. In productiveness, this farm is unrivaled, and it deservedly is classed among the best in the county.

From this short description of three farms, representing three varieties of grain lands, we can form a fair estimate of the country under consideration. It is true that a few fields are found in this vicinity, the surface-soil of which is a variety of adobe; but little known or understood excepting that, in favorable seasons, it yields good returns of grain. It is not like the vegetable compound, which is the main ingredient in the adobe soils of the marshes; neither is it similar in color or quality to the adobe hills found near by, but rather seems to partake of the nature of sedimentary deposits, beat back into its present position by long and continued action of wind-driven waves. But of this we propose to speak to another place.

Capay Valley.

This lovely valley is better known under the name of Cache Creek Cañon – a name it bore until a few years since, when it was christened by the name it now bears. The valley has an average width of one mile, and a length of about twenty miles – according to its windings. This body of land is among the best grain lands of the county, and with the adjoining hills furnishes many fine stock-farms. It is well wooded and watered, Cache Creek extending through its entire length. The main body of the valley is under cultivation, and crops have been considered very safe and sure in this locality, despite droughts and sudden changes. It is sheltered, in a great measure, from the north winds, which frequently do great damage to the crops on the more exposed portions of the plains. But a few years since this land was offered for sale at four dollars per acre. It now rates at from eight to twenty, showing the rapid increase in value of real estate in the county.

Hungry Hollow.

As a portion of Cottonwood Township is called, lies to the westward of Cache Creek, bordering the foot-hills which skirt that portion of the county. There are some excellent farms in this vicinity, and we believe that the farmers of this locality are entitled to the credit of having grown the best wheat in the county for the two last years. The general character of the soil differs but little, if any, from the main plains, of which the valley is but a continuance – an arm of the vast body which covers so large a portion of the county. The grain lands sweep away to and embrace the low hills, presenting only this change in the general appearance. There are places where the prevailing gravelly loam gives place to adobe mixture, but these changes are neither frequent nor marked sufficiently to deserve especial mention. The available land in this section is all claimed and mostly under cultivation. Within a few years we may confidently expect this section to become one of the wealthiest in the county.

Prairie Lands.

This body of land, lying north of Cacheville, ranks among the first-class grain lands, possessing the general characteristics of the land described and requiring no further description. The same can be said of the body of lands lying between the foot-hills and the tules, from Knight's Landing to the Colusa line. With few exceptions, the soil is sandy or gravelly loam with clay subsoil, and produces well. It is one vast grain-field, which, in the summer, is one vast field of grain, and that is about all the difference worth mentioning. at Prairie, Antelope or Dunnigan's (? - print is faint here), the same scene greets the eye, the same quality of soil appears and equal advantages for successful grain-culture are apparent.

Cache Creek Lands.

We have already referred to these lands when speaking of Capay Valley and Stephens' Ranch, and therefore we will briefly glance at the grain lands around Cacheville. Those farms bordering the creek and possessing the advantage of water are held at high figures. They are well wooded, the soil is deep, strong and lasting. By many the land about Cacheville is considered the best in the county; it certainly possesses great advantages. This locality as well as Woodland possesses the advantages of irrigation, a ditch having been constructed which conveys the water of Cache Creek over the fields in that vicinity.

From what we have said regarding the grain lands of the county an estimate may be made of the advantages of each section; also the extent and value of the grain lands of the county.

We will now glance at the principal

Dairy Farms.

The dairy interest is now attracting considerable attention in all parts of the State, and of late years several citizens of Yolo County have turned their attention solely to this branch of industry. Butter and cheese command a good price and will for many years to come, sufficient to render the business more remunerative than grain-raising, taking one year with another. The average price obtained for cheese is about seventeen cents per pound, though favorite brands often rate higher. A fair average of the range of butter prices would be about forty-five cents, though prices range from fifty to sixty and as high as sixty-five cents per pound during the winter. Many of the dairymen are adopting the plan of milking their cows in the fall and winter months, when butter commands a high price, and allowing them to become dry when the opening of spring grazing brings a large number of competitors in the field and the price of butter becomes reduced to thirty or thirty-five cents per pound.

A very large sum finds it way to the East from our State, annually, that might be retained here, would our farmers but avail themselves of the advantages offered by Nature in this respect.

It is evident that where the business is conducted systematically, dairying cannot fail of being profitable. When we compare the prices obtained for butter and cheese (first class) here the price realized by Eastern dairymen for their products, the proof in favor of the correctness of our proposition is ample. We are all well aware that the diary counties of the Eastern States are the wealthiest portions of those communities, and that the individuals composing that class are far in advance of their neighbors of the same localities who follow the more precarious occupation of cultivating grain.

We have every natural facility for successful dairying, with the sole exception of tame grasses; but this is easily remedied in many localities, as has been demonstrated by farmers near Woodland and on the Sacramento River. They have overcome this objection by seeding their lands with alfalfa, which secures to them green pastures during the year.

Besides this method of securing green feed, we have large tule ranges which furnish green feed during the summer, when the hills and plains are parched and bare. These fields are now occupied by bands of stock that might readily be replaced by milch cows.

Along the Sacramento River, Elk Slough, and the tules bordering the grain lands, are several very fine dairy farms, possessing the advantages of continual green feed, though this is in a measure counteracted, in the minds of many, by the danger to stock from floods; hence, they prefer the foot-hill farms or ranges.

Green's Dairy.

Among these farms are some worthy of special mention, as being noted for the excellence of their products, the number of the cows milked, and the value of the locations. The farm of J. B. Green, on the Sacramento River, in Merritt's Township, is peculiarly adapted to dairying, and its natural advantages have been much improved by systematic cultivation. The grazing lands are situated on both sides of the Sacramento River – a large portion of the farm lying in Sacramento County. That portion which lies in Yolo County is situated on the island formed by Elk Slough and the river, and extends from the river to the slough, affording abundance of water, independent of the tule swamps. A large portion of the ranch is covered with tule swamp, which affords excellent range during the summer months. The high lands along the river bank are protected by a levee, and a large portion of them are sown to alfalfa, which produces luxuriantly. Here can be seen the advantages of green feed and root feeding, as applied to milch cows. Mr. Green depends on the winter trade principally, hence his cows bring their calves in the fall. Through the fall and winter, when butter commands a high price, especially if it is yellow, fresh and sweet, he has a large share of the market to himself, as but few of the dairymen are similarly situated.

The garden land on his place produces squash and root feed for his cows, while the alfalfa fields are ever green and inviting. If, as is sometimes the case, high water drives his cows from the fields for a few days or weeks, the produce of the garden supplies the animals with nutritious food suitable for their situation. By this means his stock is healthy, and capable of producing an excellent quality of butter, which at all times commands an extra price, be the market ever so dull; for good table butter is not the rule in this State, whatever it may be elsewhere. Eighty cows are milked on this farm.

Cave's Dairy.

Mr. Cave, on Merritt's Island, has a fine dairy farm, also well stocked with choice cows. He has the advantage of green feed also, having fields of alfalfa as well as the tule lands. The range is smaller than that of which we have spoken, but it is not inferior in quality. Butter is the principal product, little or no cheese being made along the river.

Other Dairies in Merritt's.

On the ranch of Mr. Chiles, a large dairy is kept, averaging about forty cows. On this ranch alfalfa is grown on the high lands. Following up the river, we find Messrs. Trumpler, Babel, Payne and several others, engaged in dairying, to a greater or less extent. On Elk Slough, Messrs. Feeon, Goan, Hindsdill and others, are working into the same business, in connection with stock.

Choice Cows.

Mr. Curtis, eighteen miles below Washington, has a choice lot of cows, which comprise selections from the best stock in the county. The cows of Mr. Babel are principally Durham and rank second to none, and those who desire to improve their stock should visit his ranch and examine them.

Conrad's Farm.

From this locality to Washington we find several small lots of cows, but none of any particular note, until we reach the ranch of Mr. Conrad, one mile below Washington. Here is one of the best dairy farms on the river and we find it occupied by a small but choice lot of cows. With sufficient stock, this farm could be one of the first dairy farms in the county.

Bryte's Dairy.

About one mile above Washington is the dairy farm of Mr. Bryte. One hundred cows are milked on this place, the milk being sold in Sacramento City. This is a very valuable farm, with a large extent of good pasturage. The tules and river range supply green feed during the greater part of the season. Further up the river is the dairy of Mr. Comstock, where a small and choice lot of cows are kept and butter manufactured. The cattle range of this farm partakes of the general characteristics mentioned – tule and alfalfa. We might enumerate several small lots along the river, but enough has been mentioned to show the general character of the dairy farms along the river and the quality of the stock.

Tule House Dairy.

Leaving the river, we will glance at the dairy of S. Enos, at the old Tule House. From eighty to one hundred cows are milked at this place. The proprietor has turned his attention to manufacturing cheese and has achieved an enviable reputation in that line. The cheese room and dairy are well worth visiting by those who wish to be initiated in the mysteries of cheese making. It is without doubt one of the finest cheese dairies in the State and conducted in the most systematic manner. The evidences of this face consist in the reputation established and the prices obtained for the products of the dairy. On this ranch the feed of the cows during the summer is the tule range – nothing but wild feed. In the winter the cows are removed to a hill ranch in Buckeye Township, where their feed is the wild hill grasses and wild oats. There is no alfalfa or tame feed of any kind, yet as good an article of cheese is made as can be purchased in the State or elsewhere.

Swingle's Dairy.

About five miles from the Tule House Ranch is the dairy farm of G. W. Swingle, at the sink of Putah Creek, where one hundred cows are kept and buttered manufactured. This ranch also possesses the advantage of green feed, having a large tule range.

Carey's Dairy.

Some three miles below Single's is the dairy of Mr. Carey, where upwards of a hundred cows are kept and butter manufactured. This ranch also possesses an extensive tule range, affording ample green feed for the stock. These are among the largest dairies located along the river and on the swamp lands, with the exception of the

Grand Island Dairies.

On this island there are three dairies, owned as follows: J. P. Bullock, sixty-six cows; Gwinn & Long, one hundred; Hanna, thirty. These dairies are all engaged in butter-making and meeting with deserved success. The stock is also fed on the tule marshes.

Scott's Dairy.

From these lands we will glance at some of the hill dairy farms and then leave the subject. In Buckeye Township, we find several small lots of cows, kept for dairying purposes. C. Scott, near Cottonwood, has a choice lot of twenty cows, from which he manufactures both butter and cheese, according to the season. His range is the wild feed and wild oats of the surrounding hills, yet he finds no difficulty in preparing an excellent article of butter, thus demonstrating that, with proper care, the quality of butter or cheese is not impaired by the wild grasses indigenous to California.

It may be well to consider whether the introduction of foreign grasses suitable for dairy stock is essential to successful butter-making; but, whether it be so or otherwise, it is evident that economy demands a change for the better, if such be possible. Under another heading, this subject will be considered more in detail.

The number of dairy or milch cows in the county is three thousand three hundred and thirty, valued at one hundred and sixty-six thousand five hundred dollars. The value of the dairy product is one hundred thousand dollars.

The Grazing.

Interest of the county next claims our attention. As the matter now stands, this interest is mainly confined to the tule marshes, the foot-hills and mountains. The tules present the best summer range, the hills are better adapted to winter and spring grazing. But little space on the grain lands is occupied by stock, owing to several causes, chief of which is the fence law, which provides that stockmen shall guard their stock. In accordance with this law, it becomes necessary for stock-men to either guard their stock or fence their ranges. The former method being very uncertain, the latter very expensive, the plains were gradually given up to grain-culture and the stock sought the tules and mountains.

The grazing lands of the county are all claimed or occupied. There is a vast range of unsurveyed lands in the mountains, but, owing to the fact that enterprising men have entered the land lying along and commanding the water courses and springs, it is of no value or use to any one but those owners.

The main reliance for feed in the hills is wild oats, which grow luxuriantly in the first ranges. In the small valleys and along the water courses, a species of clover grows in great abundance. The hillsides produce very early feed, which becomes ripe and dry about the first of June, in which state it retains its nourishment, possessing the properties of well-cured hay. In favorable locations in the mountains the stock do well throughout the year. Such has been the case heretofore, with the exception of the remarkable droughts of '63-4.

On the plains, or portions of them, the wild oats would thrive remarkably, were it not for the continual plowing to which they are subjected. Clover, salt-grass and bunchgrass, with a few other varieties, for the body of indigenous grasses of the State, and thus the plains of Yolo County present no exception to the rule. The yield of natural grass per acre averages about one-fourth the amount of feed realized from the average Eastern grazing farms. We do not include the tule marshes, which present a better showing in quantity, if not in quality. The grazing lands of the county, if properly reclaimed and seeded, would provide sustenance for a body of stock far larger than they now support. Including as they do a large part of the county (three hundred and sixty thousand acres), it is evidence to all that they could and should be made to provide a large share of the county's wealth. Were they in the proper condition for pasturage, the stock interest would soon outweigh all others, and the county would be rich in the herds alone. As it now is, the grazing is barely sufficient to maintain stock for home use. In this connection we will consider the value of a clover, still but little known or cultivated.

 

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