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Farm Accounts

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FARM ACCOUNTS. One of the most curious facts, in agricultural economy, is, that probably not one farmer in ten ever keeps a correct book account of debit and credit on the farm. Conse quently his only means of knowing which crops pay best, or in fact which pay at all, is to guess at it and take the chances. One reason is the pre valent idea that there is some mystery in keeping books or something requiring a special order of talent. One of the excuses made is, that it takes a large amount of time. Book-keeping may be made as simple as any other labor of the farm, and the little time occupied in keeping the books in order every evening, may very economically be taken from some other less important work. There is another class, who shirk this duty from an unwillingness to undertake anything that savors of intellectual labor. The larger class, how ever, do not keep a correct account of what per tains to the farm, because they consider it unim portant. A merchant or manufacturer who goes upon such a presumption most assuredly bank rupts himself. The farmer who goes upon this presumption loses enough yearly to pay for doing the work ten times over. The only way to get into the habit of keeping farm accounts is to begin. It is not necessary to keep an account of the cost of every animal from the time it is born; an approximation can be had, for instance, on the feeding of a lot of calves, a bunch of steers, or the time and money spent on a field of grain, etc., can be had with but little trouble. Some time since Mr. John H. Borne, of Massachusetts, presented a simple and concise plan for doing this, from which we extract, for one reason especially, that some portions of it apply to farms where manure is a considerable item. Where this is not the ease, of course it will become one of the minor items. In relation to this matter, 1VIr. Borne says: Sometimes we see accounts, even in agricultural reports, in which everything a farmer raises is set down at the market value. For instance, credit is given for the number of tons of hay, the number of bushels of corn and potatoes, and everything that is raised, without a corresponding debit of what is used in keeping the stock through the year—making it appear as if the net income was very large. when, in reality, nearly all is used upon the place. A farmer may, perhaps, plow large fields that have been previously manured, and, without applying any fertilizer, obtain a good crop, which, when sold, brings in a large sum of money. He may decide that his profits are large; but a system of book-keeping that estimates the value of the land of each field, each year, would oblige him to appraise the fields from which his large crops were taken as of ess value than before. This would show him that the profits were not really as large as he at first supposed. Another might spend a good deal of time and money in making improve ments, which, for the present, bring in no profit, and it might seem that nothing was made by farming; yet an account of what his improve ments cost, and of all that the land (on which the improvements were made) produced for several years would change his opinion. Thus, by carrying out a system of book-keeping which, not only applies to the farm as a whole, but also to each operation in detail, a very large fund of practical knowledge would be obtained in a few years. If each farmer in our nation would thus estimate the expenses of his business our practi cal knowledge of the value of agricultural pro ducts would be much increased, and the amount of productions in the nation be vastly enlarged.

Some charge no interest upon their cattle, tools, land, and buildings; others sell a large quantity of wood each year, which is all considered as profit, without regard to the diminished value of the lot; these all deceive themselves, thinking they have made a large profit by farming, when the profit, in reality, comes from some other source. The plan which I propose to present is so simple that a person whose education is very limited can adopt it. The productions raised, and the prices of both productions and labor, vary much in different localities; but the prin ciples will apply, and a little practice will make the application comparatively- easy. It will be better to use only one book; it may be of any size and shape, but containing about two hun dred pages, made of ruled paper, and having two ruled lines on the right hand, up and down the page, for dollars and cents, and one on the left hand for the date. of the transaction. Let the book be paged, writing the numbers plainly, and place an index at the commencement. Following, should be an inventory of the value of the farm, the stock and farming implements, leaving a few blank leaves for inventories in future years. Next, may follow what may be called a memorandum or journal, in which should be noted all transactions important enough to be remembered. This will require no debit or credit, but is simply a history-, important for reference, and will serve to prove the time and nature of any transaction. At one-third the distance from the beginning should commence the cash book or farm account, in which every sale is credited to the farm, aud every expense is debited. Commencing with the last quarter of the book may be kept the account with different fields, hired men, and every person with whom an account is kept. As the season begins in April, I would com mence the year with that month—as less pro duce is on hand, and it is easier to take an inventory, (or account of stock, as merchants call it,) which should always be done. It will require some judgment to rightly estimate how much more, or less, each animal is worth than one year before; whether your buildings and fences are in as good repair; whether your land has improved or lessened in value; whether the new tools purchased are equal in value to the loss by use of the old; whether you have more hay, grain, or vegetables on hand than at the com mencement of the previous year, all of which should be correctly ascertained, being appraised at the market value. If an inventory is not taken, however accurate the account of the receipts and expenditures may have been, the real income or loss of the farm will not he known; and the more accurately the estimate is made, the nearer correct will he the figures that show the gain or loss for the year. The farm to which the following figures apply is one upon which a mixed system of husbandry is employed, and its poverty of soil and distance from a market may, in part, account for the small net income of the year. The following will assist in understanding the plan to be pursued. It would, perhaps, be better to name and appraise each animal and each wagon sep arately, as, in case of losses or sales, the loss or cash could be set against it more readily.

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