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The Home Acre

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Land hunger is so general that it may be regarded as a natural craving. Artificial modes of life, it is true, can destroy it, but it is apt to reassert itself in later generations. To tens of thousands of bread-winners in cities a country home is the dream of the future, the crown and reward of their life-toil. Increasing numbers are taking what would seem to be the wiser course, and are combining rural pleasures and advantages with their business. As the questions of rapid transit are solved, the welfare of children will turn the scale more and more often against the conventional city house or flat. A home CAN be created in rented dwellings and apartments; but a home for which we have the deed, a cottage surrounded by trees, flowers, lawn, and garden, is the refuge which best satisfies the heart. By means of such a suburban nook we can keep up our relations with Nature and all her varied and health-giving life. The tired man returning from business finds that his excited brain will not cease to act. He can enjoy restoring rest in the complete diversion of his thoughts; he can think of this tree or that plant, and how he can fill to advantage unoccupied spaces with other trees, flowers, and vegetables. If there is a Jersey cow to welcome him with her placid trust, a good roadster to whinny for an airing, and a flock of chickens to clamor about his feet for their supper, his jangling nerves will be quieted, in spite of all the bulls and bears of Wall Street. Best of all, he will see that his children have air and space in which to grow naturally, healthfully. His fruit-trees will testify to his wisdom in providing a country home. For instance, he will observe that if sound plums are left in contact with stung and decaying specimens, they too will be infected; he will see that too close crowding renders the prospect for good fruit doubtful; and, by natural transition of thought, will be glad that his boys and girls are not shut in to the fortuitous associations of hall- way and street. The area of land purchased will depend largely on the desires and purse of the buyer; but about one acre appears to satisfy the majority of people. This amount is not so great that the business man is burdened with care, nor is its limit so small that he is cramped and thwarted by line fences. If he can give to his bit of Eden but little thought and money, he will find that an acre can be so laid out as to entail comparatively small expense in either the one or the other; if he has the time and taste to make the land his play-ground as well as that of his children, scope is afforded for an almost infinite variety of pleasing labors and interesting experiments. When we come to co-work with Nature, all we do has some of the characteristics of an experiment. The labor of the year is a game of skill, into which also enter the fascinating elements of apparent chance. What a tree, a flower, or vegetable bed will give, depends chiefly upon us; yet all the vicissitudes of dew, rain, frost, and sun, have their part in the result....