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I. THE FEEDING OF CATTLE, Etc.
(Read before the Chamber of Agriculture.)
As my friend Mr Stevenson and some other members of the Chamber of Agriculture have expressed a desire that I should read a paper on my experience as a feeder of cattle, I have, with some hesitation, put together a few notes of my experience. I trust the Chamber will overlook the somewhat egotistical form into which I have been led in referring to the subject of dealing in cattle.
My father and my grandfather were dealers in cattle. The former carried on a very extensive business: he had dealings with several of the most eminent feeders in East Lothian; among others, with the late Adam Bogue, Linplum, John Rennie of Phantassie, Mr Walker, Ferrygate, &c. I cannot express how much I reverence the memory of the late Adam A
Bogue, as one of the finest specimens of a kindhearted gentleman I have ever met Other friends of my father and of myself in East Lothian I also recall with the greatest respect; among these let me mention William Brodie, John Brodie, William Kerr, John Slate, Archibald Skirving, and Mr Broadwood, farmers, all eminent as feeders of stock. My father's chief business-connection was with East Lothian; but he had also a connection with Mid-Lothian and the county of Fife, and a large trade with England. At one of the Michaelmas Trysts of Falkirk he sold 1500 cattle. He wished to give all the members of his family a good education. I was kept at school, and was afterwards two years at college; but to this day I regret my inattention when at school.
My father was very unwilling that I should follow his business, knowing that it was a very precarious one; but what could he do with me? I would do nothing else, and he was obliged to yield. I worked on the farm for years, when not away at the fairs, with the servants, and shared their diet. I cut two harvests, and during the season took charge of the cattle. My first speculation was a £12 grass-field. In this I had a partner, an excellent man, who had been a servant to my father for twenty years. It was a good year, and we divided £15 of profit. This gave me encouragement. I yearly increased my speculations, and gradually got into my father's business at the Falkirk markets and Hallow Fair. My father was very indulgent, and sent me away to a fair when a very young man, giving me authority to buy, and money to pay for, half-a-dozen beasts. I exceeded my commission and bought three little lots—about fifteen in all. The owners trusted me the money I was short. I drove them home myself—about six