Agriculture has made rapid advances of late years, particularly in the eastern districts, where crops of every kind are raised of the best quality. The culture of wheat is universal, except in the mountainous parts: the farmers are peculiarly skilful in the management of flax and potatoes. The lands in the more fertile districts are much subdivided, the general size of farms varying from 5 to 50 acres: the fields are judiciously laid out; the fences generally of white thorn, except in the hilly country, where they are mostly of dry stone, sometimes 8 feet broad at the bottom, very carelessly built and much neglected: where stones are scarce, walls built of sods, and often topped with furze, are used. Draining and irrigation form part of the general system in many parts, but the water is not good for irrigation. The improvements in the agricultural implements and carriages have kept pace with those in tillage. Spade cultivation is not so prevalent here as in the hilly districts of other counties.

An implement called a "skroghoge," for cutting scraws or sods, is peculiar to this part of the country: it is in the form of a large spade, with a blade of ten inches both in length and breadth, and a handle about four feet and a half long. The sods used in the covering of houses, to lay between the wattles and the thatch, are cut with it about two feet broad and from an inch to two inches thick; the length is determined by that of the slope of the roof: when cut, they are rolled upon a stick like a roll of parchment, and thus carried to the place on which they are to be laid. The mode formerly general here of allowing land to rest for a few years, to recover itself naturally, without the assistance of clover or hay-seeds, prevented the pastures from being of a rich quality, but it is no longer practised except by the poorest class of farmers.

A pernicious custom exists in many parts of turning the cattle into the potato grounds before the stalks are withered, thus checking the growth of the bulb and injuring the land. Red and white clover are the most common kind of artificial grasses. The native cattle are mostly reared on the mountains; they are of various colours and shapes, but generally small, as heavy stock could not subsist on the scanty vegetation produced there, being principally heath and a coarse kind of sedge grass which springs up immediately after burning the heath, a common practice in many parts. In no other county in Ireland has there been a greater improvement in the breed of cattle than in the low country of Tyrone. Some of the best description in England and Scotland have been brought over. The numerous crosses thus produced have occasioned a great variety of stock, which, however, appears necessary to suit the various soils.

In the valley of the Blackwater and some other similar districts, the Durham breed thrives remarkably well, and in many parts a judicious cross with the Kerry cow has been introduced to great advantage. Though there are few extensive dairy farms, butter is made in large quantities, and some cheese: the butter is usually salted and made up in firkins for the Scotch market. The native horse, though ill-shaped, is hardy and well suited to agricultural purposes: a superior description, for the road or field sports, is brought in from other counties: the great mart for the purchase of good horses is the fair of Moy; yet some very fine horses are now reared in the county from British sires. The native sheep are small and ill-shaped, and very inferior both as to fleece and carcass: these are confined to the mountainous districts; in the fertile parts the breed is good; but, strictly speaking, Tyrone is not a sheep-feeding county. The vicinity of Strabane is the only part in which pigs are kept in great numbers; and little improvement has taken place in this kind of stock.

County Tyrone | Tyrone Towns and Baronies | Tyrone Topography | Tyrone Climate | Tyrone Agriculture | Tyrone Geology | Tyrone Manufacturing | Tyrone Rivers | Tyrone Antiquities | Tyrone Society | Tyrone Springs

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