ARGENTINA FROM A BRITISH
POINT OF VIEW.
ARGENTINA FROM A BRITISH
POINT OF VIEW
NOTES ON ARGENTINE LIFE.
lWitb pbotograpbh anb )tagrams.
CAMPBELL P. OGILVIE.
WERTHEIMER, LEA & CO.,
CLIFTON HOUSE, WORSHIP STREET, E.C
WERTHEIMER, LEA & CO.,
CLIFTON HOUSE, WORSHIP STREET, LONDON, E.C
THE SHAREHOLDERS OF THE SANTA Ft LAND COMPANY,
who take a real interest in the Coimpany.
IN May last I was asked to read, towards the end of
the year, a paper on Argentina, before the Royal Society of
Arts. The task of compiling that paper was one of
absorbing interest to me; and though I fully realise how
inadequately I have dealt with so interesting a subject, I
venture to think that the facts and figures which the paper
contains may be of interest to some, at any rate, of the
Shareholders of the Santa F6 Land Company. It is upon
this supposition that it is published.
Whilst I was obtaining the latest information for the
paper (which was read before the Royal Society of Arts on
November 30th, 1910), several members of the staff of the
Santa F6 Land Company aided me by writing some useful
and interesting notes on subjects connected with Argentina,
and also giving various experiences which they had under-
gone whilst resident there. I am indebted to the writers
for many hints on life in Argentina, and as I think that
others will find the reading of the notes as engaging as I
did, they are now reproduced just as I received them, and
incorporated with my own paper in a book of which they
form by no means the least interesting part.
The final portion of the book-Leaves from a journal
entitled "The Tacuru"-is written in a lighter vein. It
describes a trip through some of the Northern lands of the
Santa F6 Land Company, and it is included because,
although frankly humorous, it contains much really useful
information and many capital illustrations. I should,
however, mention that this journal was written by members
of the expedition, and was originally intended solely for
their own private edification and amusement; therefore
all the happier phases of the trip are noted; but I can
assure my English readers that the trip, well though it was
planned, was not all luxury.
To the many who have helped me in this work I tender
my most sincere thanks.
CAMPBELL P. OGILVIE.
ARGENTINA FROM A BRITISH POINT OF VIEW... ... ... 1
HISTORY OF THE SANTA FE LAND COMPANY, LIMITED .. 33
THE VALUE OF LAND IN ARGENTINA ... ... ... ... 45
REMARKS ON STORMS AND THE CLIMATE OF THE ARGENTINE 51
SOME EXPERIENCE OF WORKING ON ESTANCIAS ... ... 57
THE SOCIAL SIDE OF CAMP LIFE ... ... ... ... 69
CARNIVAL IN THE ARGENTINE ...... ... ... ... 75
HORSE-RACING IN THE ARGENTINE ... ... ... ... 79
SUNDAYS IN CAMP ... .. ... ... ... .. ... 87
THE SERVANT PROBLEM IN ARGENTINA... ...... ... 91
POLICE OF A BYGONE DAY ... ... ... ... ... ... 97
A VISIT TO THE NORTHERN CHACO ... ... ... ... 107
WORK IN THE WOODS ... ... ... ... ... ... 119
CACHAPtS, AND OTHER THINGS ... ... ... ... ... 125
MY FRIEND THE AXEMAN ... ... ... ... ... ... 131
DUST AND OTHER STORMS ... ... ... ... ... ... 141
LOCUSTS... ... ... ... .. ... ... ... ... 147
CONSCRIPT LIFE IN THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC ... ... 155
ACROSS THE BOLIVIAN ANDES IN 1901 ... ... ... ... 161
PROGRESS OF THE PORT OF BUENOS AIRES ... ... ... 185
JUST MY LUCK ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 193
" THE TACURU ... ... ... .... ... .... ... 199
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS.
CATTLE TRAIN ON CENTRAL ARGENTINE RAILWAY, BRINGING
CATTLE TO BARRANCOSA ... ... ... ... ... 39
LOADING WHEAT AT ROSARIO FROM THE BARRANCA ... 40
SAN CRISTOBAL ESTANCIA HOUSE ... ... ... ... 41
WATERING-PLACE AT BARRANCOSA ... ... ... ... 42
WOOD ON THE COMPANY'S OWN LINE READY FOR LOADING 43
LOADING TIMBER AT WAYSIDE STATION... ... ... ... 44
WHEAT READY FOR LOADING AT STATION ON CENTRAL
ARGENTINE RAILWAY ... ... ... .... ... ... 48
THE MAKER OF LAND VALUES ... ... ... ... ... 50
TENNIS PARTY AT VERA ... ... ... ... ... ... 73
CARNIVAL AT VERA ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 77
"A DAY OF REAL ENJOYMENT "... ... ...... ... 90
SQUARE QUEBRACHO LOGS WORKED BY THE AXEMAN, SHOWING
RESIN OOZING THEREFROM ...
LOADING WHEAT AT THE PORT OF BUENOS
HORSES AWAITING INSPECTION
STACKING ALFALFA ... ... ... ...
ALFALFA ELEVATOR AT WORK ...
THE GREEN FIELDS OF ALFALFA ...
HERD OF CATTLE ... ...
EXPANSE OF ALFALFA ... ...
DISC-PLOUGH AT WORK ... ...
ROADMAKER AND RAILROAD BUILDER ...
PLOUGHING VIRGIN CAMP ... ... ...
... ... ... ... 134
AIRES ... ... 187
.. ... ... 209
... ... ... 210
.. ... ... 221
.. ... ... 222
... ... ... 223
... ... ... 226
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS (continued).
HART-PARR ENGINE, DRAWING ROADMAKER ... ...... 228
CATTLE LEAVING DIP ...... ...... .. ... 233
CROSSING THE SALADO ........ ... ... ... 240
THE EFFECT OF A LONG DROUGHT ... ... .. ... 241
REFINED CAMPS ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 242
"RICH BLACK ALLUVIAL SOIL ... ... ... ... ... 251
WATER KNEE-DEEP ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 265
QUEBRACHO COLORADO TREE ... ... ...... ...... 266
SLEEPERS AWAITING TRANSPORT AT VERA ... ... ... 267
TANNIN EXTRACT FACTORY ... ... ... ... ... 268
SOME OF THE HORSES ... ...... ... ... ... 271
" AWFUL FLOOD" .. ... ... ..... .. .. ... 276
ON THE WAY TO OLMOS ........ ... ... ... .. 277
LIST OF DIAGRAMS.
IMMIGRATION RETURNS ... ... ... ... ... ... 2
AGRICULTURAL EXPORTATION ... ... ... ... ... 14
CULTIVATED AREA IN HECTARES... ... ... ... ... 15
VALUE IN L STERLING OF THE TOTAL EXPORTS OF
ARGENTINA, 1900-09 ... ... ... ... ... ... 22
ARGENTINA FROM A BRITISH POINT
ARGENTINA, which does not profess to be a manu-
facturing country, exported in 1909 material grown
on her own lands to the value of [/79,000,000, and
imported goods to the extent of _"60,000,000. This fact
arrests our attention, and forces us to recognize that
there is a trade balance of nearly 20 millions sterling in her
favour, and to realise the saving power of the country.
It is not mere curiosity which prompts us to ask: "Are
these [79,000,000 worth of exports of any value to us ?
Do we consume any of them? Do we manufacture any of
them ? And do we send any of this same stuff back again
after it has been dealt with by our British artisans ? It
would be difficult to follow definitely any one article, but
upon broad lines the questions are simple and can be easily
answered. Amongst the agricultural exports we find wheat,
oats, maize, linseed, and flour. The value placed upon
these in 1908 amounted to [48,000,000, and England
pays for and consumes nearly 42 per cent. of these exports.
Other goods, such as frozen beef, chilled beef, mutton,
pork, wool, and articles which may be justly grouped as
the results of the cattle and sheep industry, amounted to no
less a figure than [23,000,000. All these exports represent
foodstuffs or other necessities of life, and are consumed by
those nations which do not produce enough from their own
soil to keep their teeming populations. Another export
which is worthy of particular mention comes from the
forests, viz., quebracho, which, in the form of logs and
extract, was exported in 1908 to the value of [C1,200,000.
The value of material of all sorts sent from England to
Argentina in 1908 was [16,938,872 (this figure includes
such things as manufactured woollen goods, leather goods,
oils, and paints), therefore it is clear that we have, and
must continue to take, a practical and financial interest
in the welfare and prosperity of Argentina.
New countries cannot get on without men willing and
ready to exploit Nature's gifts, and, naturally, we look
to the immigration returns when considering Argentina's
progress. To give each year's return for the last 50 years
would be wearisome, but, taking the average figures for ten-
year periods from 1860 to 1909, we have the following
interesting table. (The figures represent the balance of
those left in the country after allowing for emigration):-
From 1860 to 1869 (inclusive) ... 15,044
,, 1870 ,, 1879 ,, ... 29,462
S 1880 ,, 1889 ,, ... 84,586
S 1890 ,, 1899 ,, ... 43,618
S 1900 ,, 1909 ,, ... 100,998
Sixty-five per cent. of the immigrants are agricultural
labourers, who soon find work in the country, and again
add their quota to the increasing quantity and value of
materials to be exported. Facing this page is a diagram of
the Immigration Returns from 1857 to 1909.
Nature has been lavish in her gifts to Argentina, and
man has taken great advantage of these gifts. My desire
now is to show what has been done in the way of developing
agriculture in this richly-endowed country during the last
fifty years. One name which should never be forgotten in
Argentina is that of William Wheelwright, whose entrance
into active life in Buenos Aires was not particularly
dignified; in 1826 he was shipwrecked at the mouth of the
River Plate, and struggled on barefooted, hatless and
starving to the small town of Quilmes.
Mr. Wheelwright was an earnest and far-seeing man,
and his knowledge of railways in the United States helped
him to realise their great possibilities in Argentina; but,
DIAGRAM OF IMMIGRATION RETURNS.
r" C0 0 to 8 ) 0 l)0 o
U- o it o n Q C o ( o 0 o
LI) CDO r- p a a) 0 2
T S Ro T co c ) o 0)
231084 IN 1909
NOTE:- IN THE YEARS 1888,1889&1890 THE ARGENTINE
GOVERNMENT ASSISTED PASSAGES.
strange to say, upon his return to his native land he
could not impress any of those men who afterwards
became such great Railway Kings" in the U.S.A. Fail-
ing to obtain capital for Argentine railway development in
his own country, Wheelwright came to England, and
interested Thomas Brassey, whose name was then a house-
hold word amongst railway pioneers. These two men
associated themselves with Messrs. Ogilvie & Wythes,
forming themselves into the firm of Brassey, Ogilvie,
Wythes & Wheelwright, whose first work was the
building of a railway 17'480 kilometres long between Buenos
Aires and Quilmes in 1863; afterwards they built the line
from Rosario to Cordova, which is embodied to-day in the
Central Argentine Railway. Other railways were pro-
jected, and this policy of progress and extension of the
steel road still holds good in Argentina.
The year 1857 saw the first railway built, from Buenos
Ayres to Flores, 5'879 kilometres long; in 1870 there were
457 miles of railroad; in 1880 the railways had increased
their mileage to 1,572; in 1890 Argentina possessed
5,895 miles of railway, and in 1900 there were 10,352 miles.
The rapid increase in railway mileage during the last
nine years is as follows:-
In 1901 there were 10,565 miles of railway.
1902 ,, ,, 10,868 ,,
1903 ,, ,, 11,500 ,,
1904 ,, ,, 12,140 ,, ,, ,,
1905 ,, ,, 12,370 ,,
,, 1906 ,, ,, 12,850 ,, ,, ,,
,, 1907 ,, ,, 13,829 ,, ,,
,, 1908 ,, 14,825 ,
,, 1909 ,, ,, 15,937*,, ,, ,,
12,000 of which are owned by English companies,
representing a capital investment of '170,000,000.
These figures are approximate
In other words, for the last forty years Argentina has
built railways at the rate of over a mile a day, and in
1907, 1908, and 1909 her average rate per day was nearly
three miles. This means that owing to the extension of
railways during this last year alone, over a million more
acres of land could have been given up to the plough if
suitable for the cultivation of corn.
When William Wheelwright first visited Argentina it
was little more than an unknown land, whose inhabitants had
no ambition, and no desire to acquire wealth-except at the
expense of broken heads. There was a standard of wealth,
but it lay in the number of cattle owned; land was of little
value, save for feeding cattle, and therefore counted for
naught, but cattle could be boiled down for tallow; bones
and hides were also marketable commodities; the man,
therefore, who possessed cattle possessed wealth.
The opening out of the country by railways soon
changed the aspect of affairs. The man who possessed
cattle was no longer considered the rich man; it was he who
owned leagues of land upon which wheat could be grown
who became the potentially rich man; he, by cutting up
his land and renting it to the immigrants, who were begin-
ning to flock in in an endless stream to the country, found
that riches were being accumulated for him without much
exertion on his part. He took a risk inasmuch as he received
payment in kind only. Therefore, when the immigrants did
well, so did he, and as many thousands of immigrants have
become rich, it follows that the land proprietors have be-
come immensely so. It was the railways which created this
possibility, and endowed the country by rendering it prac-
ticable to grow corn where cattle only existed before, but
many Argentines to-day forget what they owe to the railway
pioneers; it is the railways, and the railways only, which
render the splendid and yearly increasing exports possible.
In 1858 cattle formed 25 per cent. of the total wealth of
Argentina, but in 1885 cattle only represented 18 per cent.
of the total wealth, railways having made it possible during
those thirty years to utilise lands for other purposes than
cattle-feeding. Let it be clearly understood, the total value of
cattle had not decreased; far from that, the cattle had
increased in value during the above period to the extent of
48,000,000, and to-day cattle, sheep, horses, mules, pigs,
goats and asses represent a value of nearly 130,000,000.
The following table shows how great the improvement
has been in Argentine animals:-
Cattle in 1885 were valued at an average of $13*
S 1908 ,, ,, 32
Sheep in 1885 ,, ,, 2
,, 1908 ,, ,, 4
Horses in 1885 ,, ,, 11
1908 ,, ,, 25
Notwithstanding these increased valuations per head, and
the larger number of animals in the country, the value
created by man's labour far outweighs the increased value
of mere breeding animals.
Next to the railways the improvements in shipping have
helped the development of Argentina; the shipping trade
of Buenos Aires has increased at the rate of one million
tons per annum for the past few years, and the entries into
the port form an interesting and instructive table:
The following statement gives the total tonnage
that passed through the port of Buenos Aires from 1880
to 1909, and will more clearly show the increase and
advance made in the last thirty years. These figures
The dollar referred to throughout this paper is the Argentine
paper dollar, which since 1899 has had a fixed value, and is worth
approximately Is. 9d. Previous to that date its value fluctuated
include both steamers and sailing-vessels, and local as well
as foreign trade:-
1880 ... 644,750 1895 ... 6,894,834
1881 ... 827,072 1896 ... 6,115,547
1882 ... 995,597 1897 ... 7,365,405
1883 ... 1,207,321 1898 ... 8,051,045
1884 ... 1,782,382 1899 ... 8,741,934
1885 ... 2,200,779 1900 ... 8,047,010
1886 ... 2,408,323 1901 ... 8,661,300
1887 ... 3,369,057 1902 ... 8,902,605
1888 ... 3,396,212 1903 ... 10,269,298
1889 ... 3,804,037 1904 ... 10,424,615
1890 ... 4,507,096 1905 ... 11,467,954
1891 ... 4,546,729 1906 ... 12,448,219
1892 ... 5,475,942 1907 ... 13,335,733
1893 ... 6,177,818 1908 ... 15,465,417
1894 ... 6,686,123 1909 ... 16,993,973
In 1897, out of the total number of steamers that entered
Buenos Aires, viz., 901, with a tonnage of 2,342,391; 519,
with a tonnage of 1,327,571, were British. Taking the year
1909 we find that 2,008 steamers and 137 sailing-vessels
entered the port of Buenos Aires from foreign shores with
a tonnage of 5,193,542, and 1,978 steamers and 129 sailing-
vessels left the port for foreign shores with a tonnage of
5,174,114; out of these, British boats lead with 2,242
steamers and 37 sailing-vessels, or say 531 per cent. of the
total. Germany comes next with 456 steamers and 2 sail-
ing-vessels, or say 101 per cent. of the total. Italy with
307 steamers and 67 sailing-vessels is next, and then France
with 264 steamers. The total number of steamers that
entered and left the port from local and foreign ports is
13,485, with a tonnage of 14,481,526, and 20,264 sailing-
vessels with 2,512,447 tons, which make up the amount
of 16,993,973 tons, as shown above.
In the year 1884 the experiment of freezing beef, killed
in Buenos Aires, and shipping it to Europe was first tried.
That was successful, but an immense improvement was
made when the process of chilling became the common
means by which meat could be exported. The frozen beef
trade in Argentina has had a wonderful development; it
commenced in 1884, and the export of chilled meat has
progressed steadily at the rate of 25,000 beeves yearly,
until, in 1908, it reached the enormous quantity of 573,946
beeves, or 180,000 tons. Frozen mutton has remained
comparatively steady, and has only increased by 38,000
tons in twenty-two years, or from 2,000,000 sheep frozen
in 1886 to 3,297,667 in 1908, whilst "jerked beef," which
was mostly sent to Cuba and Brazil, has fallen from 50,000
tons per annum to 6,651 tons. The value of frozen and
preserved meats exported in 1908 was [5,233,948.
The value of live-stock in Argentina in 1908 was made
up as follows:-
Cattle .. ... ... ... [82,000,000
Sheep ... ... ... ... 25,000,000
Horses ... ... ... 18,000,000
Mules ... ... ... ... 2,000,000
Pigs ... ... ... ... 1,368,000
Goats and Asses ... ... 1,000,000
A few years ago it was common on an estancia feeding
50,000 or 60,000 cattle to find the household using canned
Swiss milk. To-day 425,000 litres of milk are brought
into the city of Buenos Aires each day for consumption,
and no less than two tons of butter, one ton of cream, and
three tons of cheese are used there daily. Argentina also
exports butter. This trade has sprung up entirely within
the last fourteen years, and in 1908 she exported 3,549 tons
of butter, the value of which was [283,973.
Until 1876 Argentina imported wheat for home con-
sumption; in that year, when for many years past
agricultural labourers had been arriving at an average of
25,000 per annum, she began to export wheat with a modest
shipment of 5,000 tons. Thirty years later the export had
mounted up to 2,247,988 tons, and in 1908 the wheat
exported amounted to 3,636,293 tons, and was valued at
25,768,520. Agricultural colonies had sprung up every-
where, and cattle became of second-rate importance; to-day
the value of the exports of corn, which term includes wheat,
barley, maize, oats, etc., is more than double that of cattle
and cattle products. It is interesting to follow the evolution
wrought by labour, intelligence, and capital in the prairie lands
of Argentina. First, let us note the developments on those
wonderful tracts of splendid prairie lands lying between
the River Plate and the Andes: fifty years ago these lands
were of little account, and only a few cattle were to be
found roaming about them, but upon the advance of the rail-
way they came under the plough, and, without much atten.
tion or care, produced wheat and maize. After a time
improvements in the method of cultivation produced a
better return, and to-day a great deal of attention is paid to
the preparing of the land, and thought and care are given to
the seed time, the growing, and the harvest. When it is
found desirable to rest the land after crops of wheat and
maize, etc., alfalfa is grown thereon. Alfalfa is one of
the clover tribe, and has the peculiar property of attaching
to itself those micro-organisms which are able to fix the
nitrogen in the air and render it available for plant food.
Every colonist knows the value of alfalfa for feeding
his animals, but it is not every colonist who knows why this
plant occupies such a high place amongst feeding stuffs.
Alfalfa is easily grown, very strong when established, and, pro-
vided its roots can get to water, will go on growing for years.
The raison d'etre for growing alfalfa is for the feeding of
cattle and preparing them for market, and for this purpose
a league of alfalfa (6,177 acres metric measurement) will
carry on an average 3,500 head. When grown for dry
fodder it produces three or four crops per annum and a fair
yield is from 6 to 8 tons per acre of dry alfalfa for each
year. A ton of such hay is worth about $20 to $30, and
after deducting expenses there is a clear return of about
$14 per acre.
The figures supplied by one large company are interest-
ing; they show that, on an average, cattle, when placed upon
alfalfa lands, improve in value at the rate of $2.00 per
head per month, so it is easy to place a value on its feeding
properties. Thus, we will take a camp under alfalfa capable
of carrying 10,000 head of cattle all the year round, where
as the fattened animals are sold off an equal number is
bought to replace them. Such a camp would bring in a
clear profit of $200,000 per annum, and the property
should be worth 175,000 sterling. An animal that
has been kept all its life on rough camp, and, when
too old for breeding, is placed for the first time on alfalfa
lands, fattens extremely quickly, and the meat is tender
and in quality compares favourably with any other
beef. No business in Argentina of the same importance
has shown such good returns as cattle breeding, and these
results have been chiefly brought about by the introduction
of alfalfa, and a knowledge of the life history of alfalfa is
of the greatest importance to the cattle farmer. All cereal
crops take from the soil mineral matter and nitrogen.
Therefore, after continuous cropping the land becomes
exhausted and generally poorer; experience has taught us
that rotation of crops is a necessity to alleviate the strain
on the soil, and such an axiom has this become that in
many cases English landlords insist that their leases shall
contain a clause binding the tenants to grow certain stated
crops in rotation.
This system is known in England as the four-course
shift. Knowledge gained by successive generations of
observant farmers has given us the key to what Nature had
hitherto kept to herself, and to-day we know why the plan
adopted by our forefathers was right, and why the rotation
of crops was, and is, a necessity. Men of science are
devoting their lives to the systematic study of Nature's
hidden secrets, and by means of Agricultural Colleges, as
well as private individual research, these discoveries are
being given to mankind, and long before the soils of
Argentina show any serious loss of nitrogen from continuous
cropping, science will probably have established means of
applying in a practical manner those methods already
known of propagating the nitrogen collecting bacteria
which thrive on alfalfa, clover, peas, soya beans, and other
leguminous plants. Almost every country is now devoting
time, money, and energy to agricultural research work. In
1908 the Agricultural College at Ontario prepared no less
than 474 packages of Legume Bacteria, and in 309 cases
beneficial results followed from the application thereof
to the soil; in 165 cases no improvements in the crops
were noticed, this may, however, have been due to the
want of knowledge of how to manipulate the bacteria, or
to lack of experience in noting effects scientifically, but in
any case the experiment must be considered successful
when the results obtained were satisfactory in no less than
65 per cent. of the trials. No greater factor exists than the
microscope in opening up and hunting out the secrets
concealed in the very soil we are standing on.
If soils were composed of nothing but pure silica
sand, nothing would ever grow; but in Nature we find
that soils contain all sorts of mineral matter, and chief
amongst these is lime.
Alfalfa thrives on land which contains lime, and gives
but poor results where this ingredient is deficient. The
explanation is simple. There is a community of interest
between the very low microscopic animal life, known as
bacteria, and plant life generally. In every ounce of
soil there are millions of these living germs which have
their allotted work to do, and they thrive best in soils
If one digs up with great care a root of alfalfa (it need
not be an old plant, the youngest plant will show the same
peculiarity), and care is taken in exposing the root (perhaps
the best method is the washing away of the surrounding
earth by water), some small nodules attached to the fine,
hair-like roots are easily distinguished by the naked eye, and
these nodules are the home of a teeming, microscopical,
industrious population, who perform their allotted work with
the silent, persistent energy so often displayed in Nature.
Men of science have been able to identify at least three
classes of these bacteria, and to ascertain the work accom-
plished by each. The reason for their existence would
seem to be that one class is able to convert the nitrogen in
the air into ammonia, whilst others work it into nitrite, and
the third class so manipulate it as to form a nitrate which is
capable of being used for plant food.
Now, although one ton of alfalfa removes from the soil
50 lb. of nitrogen, yet that crop leaves the soil richer in
nitrogen, because the alfalfa has encouraged the multiplica-
tion of those factories which convert some of the thousands
of tons of nitrogen floating above the earth into substance
suitable for food for plant life. As a dry fodder for cattle
three tons of alfalfa contains as much nutrition as two tons
The cost of growing alfalfa greatly depends upon the
situation of the land to be dealt with; also upon whether
labour is plentiful or not; but, in order to give some idea
of the advantage of growing this cattle food, we will
imagine the intrinsic value of the undeveloped land to be
[4,000, upon which, under existing conditions, it would be
possible to keep 1,000 head of animals, whereas if this same
land were under alfalfa 3,000 to 3,500 animals would be
fattened thereon, and the land would have increased in
value to 20,000 or 30,000.
Now, if the undeveloped land is to be improved, it
becomes necessary either to work it yourself, with your own
men, in which case you must provide ploughs, horses,
bullocks, etc., or to carry out the plan usually adopted, that
of letting the land to colonists who have had some
experience in this class of work. Usually a colonist will
undertake to cultivate from 500 to 600 acres, and agrees to
pay to the landowner anything from 10 per cent. to 30 per
cent. of his crops according to the distance of the land from
the railway. The colonist brings his agricultural tackle
along with him, and establishes his house (usually a most
primitive affair), digs his well, and then proceeds to plough.
In this work the whole family joins; the father leads the way,
followed by the eldest child, and all the others in rotation,
with the wife bringing up the rear; she keeps a maternal
eye upon the little mite, who with great gusto and terrific
yells manages somehow to cling to the plough and to do his
or her share with the rest. Is it to be wondered at that
work progresses fast under these conditions ? There is but
one idea prevalent in the family, namely, that time and
opportunity are with them.
The first crop grown on newly-broken ground is usually
maize; the second year's crop is linseed, and perhaps a
third year's crop-probably wheat-is grown by the colonist
before the land is handed back to the owner ready to be
put down in alfalfa. The colonist's cultivation of the land
will have effectually killed off the natural rough grasses
which would otherwise grow up and choke the alfalfa.
Sometimes the alfalfa is sown with the colonist's last
crop, and in such cases the landowner finds the alfalfa
seed, and during the sowing of this crop it is very advisable
that either he or his agent should be in constant
attendance, because the after results greatly depend upon
the care with which the seeding has been done. When the
colonist's contract is completed he moves on to another part,
and the owner, who has year by year received a percentage
of the crops, takes back his land. Considerable outlay has
now to be made in fences, wells, and buildings; the more
there are of these the better, the land will carry a larger
head of cattle and the control of them is easy when the
camp has been properly divided.
The colonists are generally Italians. They are an
industrious and kindly people, hardy and quiet, well content
with their surroundings, careful and frugal in their living,
and many thousands could go back to their own country
with wealth which has been acquired by constant and
assiduous attention to the economies of life.
It has often been said that an Englishman will starve
where an Italian will thrive, and in some respects this is
true ; but it would be better expressed if it were stated that
an Italian can adapt himself to circumstances better than an
Englishman. At the same time, I doubt if an Italian would
come off best were the two placed on a desert island where
instantaneous action, grit, and endurance were called for.
Many things are said of an Englishman, and none fits
his character better than that which gives him the privilege
of "grumbling," and this characteristic becomes more
marked when he is able to grumble with one of his own kith
and kin. I have heard Argentines praise Englishmen, who,
they say, manage their estancias far and away beyond all
others, but at the same time they have told me that they
would never allow two Englishmen on their place at once.
It has been said that many of the immigrants do not
intend to settle in the country. Probably this idea has
gained ground on account of the large numbers of the
labouring population, who are attracted to Argentina by
the high wages ruling during the harvest time, and then
find it pays them to go home and secure the European
harvest, but generally these men come out again to stay.
They have acquired a knowledge of the country, and often
enough have also acquired an interest in some land, and
they return, bringing their families, to adopt Argentina as
their home-for a period at least.
A glance at the statistics prepared by the authorities in
Buenos Aires shows that during the last fifty-two years
4,250,980 persons entered as immigrants, and out of this
number only 1,690,783 returned, leaving in the country
2,560,197 individuals, or an average of 50,000 workers per
annum. These figures have become even more marked of
recent years. Taking the last five years, the country has
received on an average 249,000 immigrants per annum; of
these, 103,000 went back. In other words, 727,670 have
made their homes within the borders of Argentina during
the past five years, and of these at least 500,000 were
It is not to be wondered at, then, that the exports,
chiefly made up of agricultural produce, have shown extra-
ordinary progress. Facing this page is a diagram showing
the agricultural exportation from 1900 to 1908.
Nothing can be more eloquent than the figures shown in
this diagram. This remarkable progress, almost steady in
its upward march, is not in one direction only. Argentina is
an ideal country for agriculturists, and in every branch of
that industry progress has been made. Greater care is being
taken to-day in working up the by-products of the cattle
business. More varied crops are being grown, and vegetable
by-products are being economically looked after. The
forests of Argentina are also being worked for the benefit
INCLUDING WHEAT, LINSEED, OATS, MAIZE,ETC.
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908
13. 1 QOO
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908
CULTIVATED AREA IN HECTARES
(ONE HECTARE = 2-4-71 ACRES)
1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908
1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904- 1905 1906 1907 1908
of mankind. The Quebracho Colorado tree forms a very
important item of export. It is sent out of the country
either in the form of logs, of which no less than 254,571
tons were exported in 1908, or in the form of an extract for
tanning purposes; 48,162 tons of this extract were made
and exported in 1908, and a small quantity of the wood
was exported in the shape of sawdust. The total value
of Quebracho Colorado exported in various forms in
that year was, as already stated, /'1,200,000. This means
that the Quebracho forests are being depleted at the rate
of half a million tons per annum for export purposes alone,
in addition to the enormous quantities used for sleepers,
etc., in the country.
The area in acres under cultivation for the year 1908
was 46,174,250, an increase of 265 per cent. on the land
under cultivation in the year 1895.
The diagram facing this page shows the area in hectares
cultivated from 1897 to 1908 :-
WHEAT-The area under cultivation for wheat shows
an increase of 89 per cent. in ten years from-
8,000,000 acres in cultivation in 1898, to
15,157,750 ,, ,, ,, 1908
LINSEED-shows an increase of 361 per cent. from-
831,972 acres in cultivation in 1898, to
3,835,750 ,, ,, 1908
MAIZE-increased by 250 per cent., and other crops,
including Oats, 300 per cent. in the same period.
The United Kingdom purchased from Argentina and
retained for its own use (in round figures) during the year
1908-WHEAT ... to the value of /13,000,000
MAIZE ... ,, ,, 5,600,000
FROZEN MEAT ,, ,, 9,300,000
Making a total of _27,900,000
Indeed, we buy from Argentina nearly 25 per cent. of
our total food purchased abroad, and she supplies nearly
29 per cent. of our corn and grain requirements. These
figures again clearly demonstrate that we have a vital
interest in the well-being of our friends across the sea.
In every direction Argentina has progressed, and judging
from the past we may look with confidence to the future;
the total area of the Republic is 776,064,000 acres, and
certainly it is within the bounds of reasonable forecast to
consider that 100,000,000 acres of this land will be, when
opened up by railways, and other facilities, available for
corn-growing. To-day only one-fifth of this available area
is being cultivated, and another 43,000,000 acres are being
utilised for feeding purposes; thus, only 63,000,000 out of
776,000,000 acres are being occupied. The chief reason why
more is not utilised is because there is not sufficient labour
Argentina ... has 5 inhabitants per square mile.
Russia ... ,, 18
foundland, etc. ,,
Australia ... ,, l
U. Kingdom... ,, 364
Belgium ...,, 625
Germany ...,, 290
Not only is there an enormous tract of land lying
dormant, but the productive power of land now under
cultivation may be vastly increased if farmers will devote
their attention to improving the conditions of cultivation.
11'3 bushels of wheat per acre is not high-class farming, yet
this is the average production for Argentina. Manitoba in
1908 produced 132 bushels per acre, Saskatchewan, 17
bushels. In the fourteenth century England only produced
10 bushels per acre, but we have improved this yield to
30 bushels, while Roumania has increased her yield from
15 bushels per acre in 1890, to 23 bushels in 1908. France
has increased her yield from 17 bushels in 1884, to 20
bushels in 1908. Germany has increased her yield per acre
from 20 bushels in 1899, to 30 bushels in 1908. So that we
may not only look forward to a greater area being placed
under cultivation, but we may reasonably expect heavier
crops, if land proprietors will bring science to bear on their
work of development. Indeed, with land rising in price,
i with an increasing influx of immigrants, and with more
intelligent cultivation of the soil, the land must of necessity
give a far larger yield than it has done heretofore.
The following tables, taken from the Board of Trade
returns, show from whence England draws some of her sup-
plies. They also show how prominently Argentina figures
as a food producer. The first table includes corn and meat;
the second gives corn alone, and the third meat alone :-
FOOD IMPORTED INTO AND RETAINED BY THE
UNITED KINGDOM IN 1908.
CORN (including wheat, barley, oats, rye,
buckwheat, peas, beans, maize, wheat-
meal, flour, oatmeal, and offals) ... ... [71,103,487
MEAT, fresh and frozen (including animals
for food) ... ... ... ... ... 48,704,613
Total ... ... ... [119,808,100
Argentina supplied ... ... 29,569,773 or 24'68
U.S.A. ,, ... ... 38,229,135 ,, 3190
Russia ,, ... ... 7,394,607 ,, 618
Canada ... ... 11,907,203 ,, 994
Australia (including Tas-
mania) supplied ... ... 4,520,244 ,, 377
Other Colonies and Foreign
Countries supplied ... 28,187,138 ,, 23-53
CORN IMPORTED INTO AND RETAINED BY THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 1908.
Argentina. U.S.A. Russia.
Wheat ... ... ...13,096,812 10,779,221 2,286,180
Barley ... ... ... 22,943 733,446 2,622,005
Oats ... ... ... 1,463,368 1,144,387
Rye ... ... ... 129,691 93,066
Buckwheat ... ... 6,677
Peas ... ... ... 38,545 42,279
Beans (not fresh, other
than Haricot Beans)... 15,094
Maize ... ... ... i 5,603,463 2,023,576 1,107,858
Wheatmeal and Flour... 50,597 5,407,119 80
Oatmeal and Rolled Oats 183,334 -
(except Starch, Farina,
Dextrine, and Potato
Flour).. ..... 99,112 -
Bran and Pollard ... 11,932 -
Sharps and Middlings... i 35,113 -
Maize Meal ... ... j 129,543 -
20,284,228 19,523,587 7,317,626
Percentage ... 28-53/o 27-46%0 10-29%
*A list of the other Colonies and Foreign Countries which largely contributed to this total will be found on the following page.
MEAT, including animals for food, and fresh, chilled,
frozen and tinned, imported into and retained by the United
Kingdom in 1908:
Argentina supplied ...
Australia (including Tas-
mania) supplied ...
Other Colonies and Foreign
9,285,545 or 19'07
18,705,548 ,, 38'41
76,981 ,, 016
4,084,113 ,, 8'38
1,995,471 ,, 410
48,704,613 ,, 100'00
*THE OTHER COLONIES AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
which largely contributed to the
Meat ... ...
Corn, etc. ...
Meat ... ...
TURKEY (including CRETE)-
Corn, etc. ...
totals mentioned are as
... ... ... 1,344,322
... ... ... nil.
... ... ... 1,099,660
Corn, etc. ... ... ... [2,226,668
M eat ... ... ... ... nil.
Corn, etc. ... ... ... [30,585
Meat ... ... ... ... 4,168,649
The lesson shown here is one worthy of attention. We
see that Argentina supplies England with one-fourth of
her imported food, and U.S.A. supplies nearly one-third.
Therefore it behoves both England and Argentina to see
that America does not so manipulate things that she
acquires the control over our meat and food supplies.
Argentine authorities should not only exercise the law
sanctioned February 4th, 1907, concerning the inspection of
factories, but they should enforce greater care in seeing
that all Argentine saladeros and packing houses are
manipulated with intense care, and cleanliness should be
insisted upon; it would be a bad day for Argentina should
ever such an outcry be raised against her saladeros as that
which a few years ago was directed against the North
American packing houses and for a time ruined the canning
industry of the United States, and yet we find American
methods being introduced into Argentina without let or
hindrance. If our soldiers and sailors are to be fed upon
canned meats, let those who are responsible for purchasing
the food, at least see that the food is prepared under healthy
and sanitary conditions.
The corn-growing industry of the Argentine Republic is
an intensely interesting subject. Before railways and steam-
ships brought the foreign producer into close competition
with our own farmers, Argentina did not produce enough
grain to supply her home consumption, and cattle were
bred only for their hides, tallow and bones. In the
course of time, when steamers superseded sailing-ships
and the world's carrying capacity thus became enormously
increased, Argentina saw her opportunity of becoming
a keen competitor in the food market. Corn-growing
became a highly remunerative business, although much
still remains to be learned concerning the handling
of wheat. Both in the States and Canada grain is
handled in a cheaper and more expeditious manner
than in Argentina. An enormous amount of grain is
dealt with in the Wheat Exchange of Winnipeg, but a
further big impetus will be given to this industry when the
wheat-fields of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are
connected with a deep-sea port on Hudson Bay; this will
be an accomplished fact in 1915, and as this route means a
thousand miles less haulage by land, and eight hundred less
by sea to the chief European ports than by any existing
route, it is bound to become the popular one; the chief
factor, however, in making it a useful wheat outlet is the
established fact that Hudson Bay, although many miles
north of Lake Superior, remains free from ice for a period
of one month after Lake Superior is tightly frozen up.
Argentina may look forward to keen competition with
Canada and Siberia for many years to come; on the other
hand, the U.S.A. will steadily show a smaller quantity of
wheat available for exportation, and the following table
throws some light upon the wheat position:-
Argentina and Uruguay have increased
the area of their wheat-growing
land brought under the plough in
the last ten years by ... ... 124 per cent.
Canada in the last ten years by ... 120 ,,
Russia ,, ... 27 ,,
United States ,, ,, ... 14 ,,
No country in the world has shown such wonderful
capabilities for growing linseed as the Argentine, and her
average production for the following five-year periods show
Years. Production in Tons.
1894-1898 ... ... ... ... 193,000
1899-1903 ... ... ... ... 382,000
1904-1908 ... ... ... ... 839,000
In ten years she increased her production by 335
per cent. In the same period India increased her
production by 3'8 per cent., and North America by
105 per cent., whilst Russia was unable to keep up her
The world's total linseed production for 1908 was
made up as follows:-
Argentina produced 1,101,000 tons.
North America ,, 694,000
Russia ,, 470,000
India ,, 360,000 ,,
Here again we find Argentina leading. Moreover, she
exported nearly the whole of her production, whilst North
America, Russia, and India exported less than half a million
tons between them.
It is more than probable that by 1920 Argentina
will be able to export, as the result of agricultural work,
more than L100,000,000 worth of produce per annum.
It is interesting to note that, as the present figures
reveal, allowing for a population of 6,500,000 and an
agricultural produce export of [48,335,432, each individual
in Argentina has sent abroad, after producing enough
from the land to keep himself, goods to the value of
The diagram facing this page shows what has been
accomplished by Argentina in the last ten years.
In actual money value the exportation of wheat,
DIAGRAM OF VALUE IN t STERLING OF
TH E TOTAL EXPORTS OF ARGENTINA 1900-1909.
1 l900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
.It 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 19081909
linseed, oats, maize, other grain, flour, bran, and middlings
is, in round figures, as follows :-
1900 ... ... ... ... 15,485,000
1901 ... ... ... ... 14,319,000
1902 ...... ... ... 13,634,000
1903 ... ... ...... 21,050,000
1904 ... ... ... ... 30,065,000
1905 ... ... ... ... 34,047,000
1906 ... ... ... ... 31,530,000
1907 ... ... ... ... 32,818,000
1908 ... ... ... ... 48,335,000
1909 ... .. ... ... 46,100,000
The value derived from the cattle industry and its
allied produce is of great importance to the Argentine
Republic. The exports from this industry may be divided
into four heads, namely:-
MANUFACTURED OR PARTLY MANUFACTURED MATERIAL
Since the closing of English ports in 1901 to the
importation of live cattle from Argentina, the trade in
the export of live stock has fallen off considerably;
the total value did not in 1908 amount to more than
[568,966; Belgium took 65,224 sheep, Chili took 45,114
cattle and 14,394 sheep, Bolivia took 3,383 head of
cattle and 10,676 sheep, and 16,000 asses and mules,
while horses were imported into England, Africa, Portugal,
Brazil, Uruguay, Chili, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
Exports of raw products, which include frozen and
chilled beef and mutton, hides, sheepskins, wool, and such
things as horsehair, tallow, jerked beef, etc., represented
a value of [19,549,231 in 1908.
Manufactured or partly manufactured material, includ-
ing prepared tallow, meat extracts, meat, butter, cheese,
lard, dressed leather, etc., represented [2,454,760, whilst
the by-products, including bones, dried blood, guano, waste
fats, etc., were valued at [7430,734. Thus, Argentina's
total export from the cattle industry (after supplying her
own needs) was over [23,000,000.
Argentina's live stock on hand when the last census was
taken in May, 1908, was as follows:-
Cattle ... ... ... ... 29,116,625
Sheep ... ... ... ... 67,211,758
Horses ... ... ... ... 7,531,376
Mules, swine, goats, and asses... 6,098,802
representing in value [129,369,628.
The favourite breed of cattle is the Shorthorn, and
they comprise 84 per cent. of the classified breeding cows;
the Herefords only figure out as 6 per cent., but, un-
doubtedly, a more careful and complete classification will
lead to modifications in these figures, for at the present
time no less than five and a-half million cows are returned
as Criollo cattle, in other words, unimproved stock.
Not until the year 1885, when it became possible to
send frozen meat to Europe, did estancieros pay serious
attention to growing cattle for meat production, and now,
with an ever-increasing quantity of land being placed under
alfalfa, the Argentine Republic is fast becoming the leading
factor in the production of meat to satisfy the world's
Cattle on the outside fringe of occupied lands are still
very coarse and rough, with a distinct strain of the
Hereford about them; they are, however, a useful herd and
most suitable for the districts they occupy, where they often
have to undergo the hardships of shortage of pasture owing
to drought, and little or no water, indeed, it is a marvel how
these animals exist at times; and assuredly no refined breed
of cattle could live where the Criollos not only manage to
thrive, but generally to return a satisfactory result to their
owners. The cattle on ranches which are nearer to the
seaports, manufacturing centres, or railway stations show
distinct improvements. Greater care is bestowed upon them,
and the main consideration is never lost sight of-it is the
ambition of every estanciero to have his cattle graded up so
that they are looked upon as "freezers," which means that
they are good enough to be purchased by one or other of the
refrigerating companies, who take nothing but the best.
In 1888 cattle running the northern camps (which then
represented the extreme outlying posts) were only valued at
$6 per head.
In 1890 the value had risen to $10 per head.
,, 1900 ,, ,, 15
,, 1908 ,, ,, 28 ,,
,, 1910 ,, ,, 40 ,,
The question of stock raising and the object to be obtained
must rest with the owners: they must decide whether the land
is to be utilised for fattening cattle or for breeding the high-
class animals for which there is an ever-ready market. To
show the enormous value of animals and the high standard
to which agricultural lands can be brought, mention must
be made of two estancias near Buenos Aires, viz., those
belonging to Messrs. Cobo and Messrs. Bell, where splendid
stock is always to be found. To give some idea of the high
price paid for first-class pedigree animals, it may be
mentioned that [C3,800 was paid for a prize Durham bull
which was sold to Argentina!
At the cattle show at Buenos Aires held in July, 1910,
Herefords for killing realized from r/850 to ;'1,000 per
animal! These latter high prices were, however, evidently
paid by the agents of Cold Storage Companies for
advertising purposes. One representative explained that
the freezing Companies desired to encourage breeders,
and that his Company paid the high prices mentioned
above so as to let the breeders know that they would
always be paid high prices for first-class cattle.
When we consider the really important position which
Argentina takes as a food producer, it appears incredible
that the English nation (business men and the general public
alike) is so extremely ignorant, as a rule, of prevailing
conditions. I do not refer to those who have invested their
money in the many channels known to the River Plate
circle. But men holding high official positions speak of
our commercial interests in Argentina as "something
between a hundred and a hundred and fifty millions," and
then in a whispered side-speech indicate the dangers of
Often it is suggested that the chances of death from
small-pox, yellow fever, and even from murder are a serious
drawback to what might otherwise be a country possible to
live in. It makes one very indignant to hear these state-
ments from the lips of those who probably have never left
their own country. Let me assure you they may be swept
aside, and were it not for their frequent reiteration it would
be unnecessary to say that there is not one grain of truth
in these suggestions as applied to the state of things to-day.
Nearly one-fifth of the population of Argentina is
centred in and around Buenos Aires. It is a city of
1,200,000 inhabitants, many of whom are millionaires; but
at the same time there exists much poverty within its
precincts-poverty caused in no small degree by the vicious-
ness of the rich, but to a far greater extent by the rooted
objection of certain classes to go out to the camps where,
during the harvest time at least, wages are high and labour
is anxiously awaited.
When we compare the health of this city of Buenos
Aires with that of other large cities, we can see what has
been done in the way of improvements in the last few years.
A glance at the following tables will give some idea of
what has been accomplished. The natural increase of the
population of Buenos Aires between 1898 and 1907 was
19'1 per 1,000, and no other city equals this.
The increase in London was 8'8 per 1,000.
S Berlin ,, 8'5 ,
S New York ,, 57
S St. Petersburg ,, 4'6
The birth-rate of Buenos Aires for 1908 was 34'3.
S ,, London ,, 25'7.
Berlin ,, 233.
S New York ,, 28'5.
,, St. Petersburg ,, 275.
Both these tables are, however, probably affected by the
great number of immigrants finding their way to Argentina,
many of whom remain in Buenos Aires.
The health of the City may be well gauged by the death-
rate for the year 1907.
Buenos Aires stands well with 15'2 per 1,000 inhabitants.
London has a death-rate of 15'1
Berlin ,,. 14'8 .
New York ,, ,, 186
St. Petersburg ,, 25'7 ,,
(Undoubtedly the high rate shown by the last-named city is
greatly due to the foul condition of the Neva.)
To appreciate thoroughly the position which Buenos
Aires now holds, and the strides which have been made in
regard to the sanitation of the City, we have but to look at
the past. Between the years 1889 and 1898 the death-rate
per thousand was as high as 22'9 per 1,000; from 1899 to
1908 it was only 16'6, and now the record stands at 15'2
The authorities are justly proud of what has been done,
and will not diminish their efforts so long as there is work
to do and problems to solve.
I should like to state once more the fact that the United
Kingdom depends upon Argentina for nearly one-fourth of
her food supply purchased abroad. I want to impress upon
your mind the seriousness of the position, for this proportion
of one-fourth will be largely increased in the near future,
for reasons already stated.
The question has often been asked, Is it safe to buy
land in Argentina? But the drift of this query too often
is merely self-interest; in other words, it really means Can
I successfully speculate in land ? Clearly the matter is
solely a personal one, no other consideration is thought of,
so one is tempted to give an evasive answer. Should the
questioner, however, be a young fellow, with God's gift of
health and plenty of truth and grit in him, who wants not
only to acquire the land, but to work it, then, indeed, there
is but one answer, and that is in the affirmative-let him
go, and let him ever remember that he is an Englishman
and that England is judged by the conduct of her sons: but
do not let him make the great mistake a newcomer so often
falls into, which is, that because he is an Englishman all
other nationalities must be inferior, and that by some sort
of divine right he has been created lord of all. Let him
realise that those whom he meets in Argentina are as noble
and pure as those he left at home. Argentina offers to-day
a splendid opening for the best of England's sons, but
she does not want the loafer nor the ne'er-do-well. Can it
be wondered at that England's prestige is seriously injured
when so many of the "wasters," and worse, are sent from
the country ? It is but natural that from these, who go to
foreign countries, England is judged. To my mind we
should send abroad men who are bound to succeed, men
who never forget that from their behaviour the Mother
Country will be appraised. Argentina will embrace and
reward them, but she will spurn and despise the dissolute
The advice I would give to all those thinking of trying
Argentina as a field for agricultural work is to remember that
to be successful one must begin at the bottom, the harder the
school the better will be the result: you cannot detect and
correct the faults which militate against success unless you
have been through the mill. Not long ago I sent a boy out
to Argentina and painted the first two years of learning in
the new country in rather lurid colours. I explained and
dwelt on the hardships-indeed, I described it as "a dog's
life." Within a year, the lad wrote home to his parents
and mentioned all that I had told him, but finished up by
saying, "There's plenty of 'life' about it, but not much
'dog.' The truth is that the boy had accepted things as
they came along and had adapted himself to his surround-
ings, and, I predict, he will never regret having left
his home, where opportunities were cramped by small
surroundings, for the wider field of Argentina.
A great many Englishmen resident in Argentina, whose
sons are looking forward to finding their life's work in that
country, send their boys home to England to be educated.
Far be it from me to deprecate the training acquired by
English public school life, but it might well be worth while
to consider the other phase. The boy who has had his
schooling in Argentina and goes through his training and
passes into one of their Universities will have to his credit
something which cannot be bought by money or influence
by boys straight out from home. He will have been a
fellow student, and worked shoulder to shoulder with men
who will in due time occupy positions of power and
influence, and it is just as well to weigh out these things
before deciding where to educate your boy. A boy born in
Argentina, whatever the nationality of his parents may be,
is by Argentine law an Argentine subject, and should be
brought up to appreciate that he is liable to be called upon to
go through a military course: the Argentine boy, who has
had just as gentle an upbringing as the English boy, is
compelled to serve his time in the army if called upon, and
generally the discipline engendered by this training has
not only been good for him, but is a distinctly valuable
asset to the country, and the English boy,. as well as a
boy of any other parentage born in the country, will be
obliged to go through this military training if required.
I venture to think that were England to adopt compul-
sory military service in some shape or form, we should hear
a great deal less of the unemployed and don't-want-work"
To attempt to give a picture of Argentine life is impos-
sible in the short time at my disposal. Imagine to your-
self, if you can, a country of 1,212,600 square miles
whose borders extend from well within the Tropics
to away down south to the everlasting snows, embracing all
kinds of lands, from the very richest of soils to ice-capped
and rocky peaks, and you must admit that to attempt to
describe the various conditions of lifetherein is wellnigh
impossible. Life is much what the surrounding conditions
make it-on the extreme edge of cultivation it is distinctly
rough, on the inner camps refinement steps in, and in the
cities you will find just what society you wish. Amongst
the cosmopolitan population of Buenos Aires there
are many men and women of the highest culture and
There are many Argentines, who stand out prominently
from the throng of busy pleasure-seekers, who are devoting
their lives to improving the surroundings of those less
fortunate fellow-creatures who have fallen upon the thorny
path, and whose portion is often the cup of bitterness.
Indeed, I have ever found the Argentine desirous of helping
those who seek advice and assistance; but he spurns the
foreigner who degrades himself and his country by acts of
folly which would not be permitted in his native land.
Englishmen often fall into the great error of keeping
themselves to themselves. Possibly this trait is engendered
from birth and training by our insular position, but it is a
great pity to carry it too far, for the Argentine people do
appreciate the thoroughness of our countrymen, and are
ready to welcome the right sort. We have taught the
Argentines many of our national sports and games, and
they have entered into them with such thoroughness that
the teachers have often had to admit that the pupil has
proved better than the master.
Travelling has become an integral part of the education
of the Argentine family to-day, and it is quite general to
find young children speaking fluently four or five languages.
I could wish that those who have Argentine friends
would insist upon their seeing, when in this country, some
of the Englishman's home surroundings, for hotel life,
theatres, dinners, and music-halls are all very well in their
way, but to see the real inwardness of English life you
must follow the Englishman to his country home. My
experience is that the Argentine will always refuse an
invitation to your home at first, because of the trouble
which he believes you will be put to, but don't take
"no" for an answer; simply make him come, and he
will thank you afterwards for his experience of English
Just a word or two, for fear I have left an impression
that Argentina is the El Dorado which lies beyond the
seas. There are such things as locusts, floods, droughts, and
frosts in that country.
The first of these-locusts-are indeed a plague which
to-day it seems almost impossible to annihilate, for I have
little faith in man's attempts effectually to stop or, decrease
this pestilence; on the other hand, Nature always seems to
be on the alert to prevent an overthrow of the balance of
things. Those who have spent their lives in the River Plate
district have seen this appalling plague crushed by means
which Nature, in her own good time, has thought fit to use.
With regard to floods and droughts, these can, at least,
be modified by men, and means are now being adopted to
conserve the floods and render their waters available in
time of drought.
From frosts we seem powerless to defend ourselves, and
it is only those whose work is in close touch with the
growing and handling of crops who can fully appreciate the
damage done by late frosts.
No country is free from drawbacks of some sort or
another, and these troubles which I have just mentioned
will not prevent the forward march of progress in Argentina.
HISTORY OF THE SANTA FE LAND
HISTORY OF THE SANTA. FE LAND
IN the years 1881 and 1882, Messrs. C. de Murrieta & Co.
acquired a block of land from the Government of the
Province of Santa F6, and in December, 1882, sold one
undivided half-share thereof to Messrs. Kohn, Reinach & Co.
Messrs. Murrieta & Co. and Messrs. Kohn, Reinach & Co.,
having decided to develop the said lands, formed the
Santa F6 Land Company, and the prospectus appeared in
The area sold to the new Company was said to comprise
about 650 Spanish leagues, or 4,336,150 English acres, and
the price to be paid to the vendors was ['1,050 per league.
In order to provide a port of shipment on the Rio
Parana the Company bought a further lot of 323 acres in
the Colony of Romang.
In addition to the original block of land, the Company
has since bought the following areas:-
The estancia of La Barrancosa, 10,801 Acres.
hectareas, say ... ... ... ... 26,678
The estancia of Santa Catalina, 4,049
hectareas, say ... ... ... ... 10,002
A strip of land at Guaycuru on the eastern
boundary of the Company's forest lands,
1,636 hectareas, say ... ... ... 4,041
A piece of land at Venado Tuerto, 37 hectareas,
say ... ... ... ... ... ... 91
A piece of land at Arrufo, 100 hectareas, say 247
A piece of land at Tostado, 50 hectareas, say 123
Since the beginning of the Company the total area of
land sold has amounted to 709,549 acres (up to 30th June,
35 D 2
1910). It is calculated that the land comprised in the
Bazan claim, to which reference is made later on, measures
582,914 acres. Upon this supposition the Company now
owns 3,044,100 acres.
The original price paid for the Company's lands worked
out at about 3s. an acre.
The original capital of the Company was [875,000, of
which over [675,566 was paid to the vendors, leaving a
balance of 199,434 to meet the preliminary expenses and
the initial cost of opening up the new properties. After
some years it was found necessary to write off a portion of
the capital, and accordingly, in 1897, the Company's lands
were re-valued at approximately 2s. 9d. an acre.
The present Directors of the Company are:-
Mr. CAMPBELL P. OGILVIE (Chairman).
Mr. IVOR BEVAN.
Mr. GORDON H. BROWN.
Mr. Louis H. KIEK.
Mr. T. E. PRESTON.
Capt. The Hon. F. C. STANLEY.
The London Office is at 779, Salisbury House, Finsbury
Circus, London, E.C., and the Secretary of the Company
is Mr. David Simpson. The Head Office in the Argentine is
at 761, Avenida de Mayo, Buenos Aires, and the following
are the principal officers of the Company in Argentina:-
Mr. HUGH M. RATTRAY (General Manager).
Mr. W. B. WHIGHAM (Manager of the Cattle
and Lands Department at San Cristobal).
Mr. R. N. LAND (Manager at Santa Catalina).
Mr. T. SCOTT ROBSON (Manager at La
Mr. G. L. C. GITTINS (Acting Manager of the
The original shares of the Company were _10 each.
It was decided in 1897 to reduce them to 7 fully paid,
which placed the capital at [C612,500. Shortly afterwards
each 7 share was converted into seven shares of 1
In 1906 the shareholders authorised the creation of
[200,000 of fresh capital, which was issued to them in two
blocks of [154,000 in 1906 and [46,000 in 1907.
Fresh capital was authorised in 1908, viz., 187,500, of
which [161,608 was issued in 1909, and further lots have
since been issued, bringing the total amount of authorised
capital to [1,000,000, and of issued capital at 30th June,
1910, to [982,347.
An issue of [50,000 Six per Cent. Debentures was
made in January, 1904; and the whole amount was
redeemed on the 1st July, 1909.
Part of the area sold to the Company consisted of a
block of approximately 88 Spanish leagues, or 530,000
English acres, which became the subject of negotiations
and lawsuits between this Company, the Provincial Govern-
ment of Santa F6, and other parties, lasting for more than
twenty-five years. The area in question lay to the West of
the Rio Salado, and, at the time when this Company was
formed, was supposed to be included in the Province of
Santa F6. Soon afterwards the Province of Santiago del
Estero put forward a claim to the lands on the ground that
the boundaries of that Province extended eastwards to the
Rio Salado, and it therefore disputed the right of the
Province of Santa F6 to sell the lands to Messrs: Murrieta
& Co. in 1882.
By an Agreement with the Government of the Province
of Santa F6, the Santa F6 Land Company took proceedings
in the Supreme Courts of the Province to establish its rights
to the land in dispute on the understanding that if the Com-
pany failed to establish its claim, the Government of the
Province of Santa F6 would indemnify it for its loss. In the
result the Company was evicted from the lands, and entered
into negotiations with the Government of the Province of
Santa F6 for indemnification. These negotiations went on for
some years without coming to any practical conclusion, and
at last the Company commenced a lawsuit against the
Province and won it. After further delays and negotiations
the Government agreed to issue bonds in respect of the
Company's claim, and, in July, 1909, the Company agreed
to accept $3,212,000 paper Bonds of the Province, carrying
interest at 3- per cent., with an amortisation of 2 per cent.,
the coupons being available for payment of land tax. The
Government further undertook to ratify the original titles of
the Company, and to make a survey at the joint expense of
both parties, for the purpose of ascertaining the exact area
comprised in the original transfer. Any lands found to be in
excess were to be paid for by the Company to the Govern-
ment at the rate of $13.50, paper, per hectarea (about 8s. an
acre). The price of such excess lands was to be recouped
by the Government from the Bonds issued to the Company,
and the Government retained $712,000 Bonds for this
purpose, pending the result of the survey.
At the time of the formation of the Company, the
nearest railway was that belonging to the Central Argentine
Cattle Train on Central Argentine Railway, bringing Cattle to Dfarrancosa.
Railway, and the nearest railway station was Rosario,
but some years later, the lines now belonging to the French
Railway Company of the Province of Santa F6 were laid
between Santa F6 and San Cristobal. Subsequently the
Central Norte Railway, which stretches northwards from
San Cristobal to Tucuman, was built by the National
Government, and in 1907, the National Government built a
line from Santa F6 to San Cristobal via San Justo.
The Company have built a railway from a point north
of Vera running into their forests, and extend it from time
to time as the development of the wood industry demands.
They further own a line from Margarita to La Gallareta,
where the extract factory of the Compania Tanin de Santa
F6 is situated. The Company propose to build a railway
from San Cristobal to penetrate to their northern properties,
and have applied to the Argentine National Government
for a railway concession in connection therewith.
After various changes of centre the administration
offices of the Company were, in the year 1902, divided
between San Cristobal for the cattle and lands department,
and Vera for the woods department, but, in 1906, the woods
department was placed under the supervision of the
General Manager of the Company, who lived at San
Cristobal, and, in 1908, the central offices were moved from
San Cristobal to Buenos Aires. Through the latter office
all the work of the Company in Argentina passes on to
the London office, the managers at San Cristobal, Vera,
Santa Catalina, and La Barrancosa, having to concern
themselves only with the technical and administrative work
carried on under them respectively.
The Company's business has been mainly divided into
three branches, viz.: (1) land sales and rentals; (2) cattle
industry, and (3) timber trade.
The first two branches are conducted from San Cristobal,
situated at the S.W. corner of the Company's original lands,
and for many years the site of the central offices of the
Company in Argentina, whilst the timber trade is conducted
SAN CRISTOBAL DEPARTMENT.
A township was started at San Cristobal in 1884, and
now numbers 4,500 persons.
The Administration House and other buildings for the
use of the General Manager and Staff of the Cattle and
Lands Department were erected about three miles from the
town, and the whole now forms a large and handsome
establishment, equipped with the most modern requisites
for carrying on the work of the estancia.
The cattle lands have been divided up into sections,
which are managed by officials of the Company, under the
control of the administration at San Cristobal. The office
there and the offices on the various sections have recently
been connected up by telephone. These sections are
Polvareda, Michelot, Los Moyes, and Lucero (which lie to
the North and North-East of San Cristobal), and Las
Chufas, which forms the North-Western corner of the
Loading Wheat at 'Rosario from the ,arranca.
San Cristobal Estancia House.
SANTA CATALINA AND LA BARRANCOSA.
In January, 1897, the Company rented the estancia of
Santa Catalina, which is situated about five miles from
Los Cardos on the Central Argentine Railway and about
150 miles South of San Cristobal. Here the stock which
was brought down from San Cristobal was fattened before
passing on to the markets. At the same time the Company
continued the sowing of alfalfa which had been begun by
the proprietor, and ultimately decided to buy the camp and
use it as an establishment for breeding fine stock. The
terms of the purchase were that the price should be paid by
way of an annuity, payable during the joint lifetime of the
owner and his wife. In 1909 this method of payment was
compounded and satisfied in full by an allotment of shares
of the Company.
The practice has been that the male calves born on this
estancia should be sent North to the general herds kept at
San Cristobal and the adjoining sections, and that the
progeny of these animals should in turn be sold as fat
To facilitate this business the Company found it neces-
sary to acquire a camp specially adapted for fattening pur-
poses in the Southern part of the Province, so that they might
be brought into closer touch with the markets of Rosario
and Buenos Aires. They accordingly bought the estancia
La Barrancosa in 1906, and have been constantly increasing
the area there under alfalfa, equipping it with a full com-
plement of wells and fencing. This estancia lies half way
between the towns of San Isabel and Venado Tuerto, from
the latter of which it is distant about sixteen miles. But,
during the year 1909, a new broad-gauge railway line was
opened, leading from Rosario to Bahia Blanca. It passes
right through the estancia, and by means of a station just
outside the boundary the Company have fresh means of
despatching their animals to Rosario.
The headquarters of the Woods Department is situated
about eight miles N.W. of the town of Vera, which stands
at kilometre 250 north of the City of Santa F6, on the
line of the French Railway Company leading from Santa
F6 to Resistencia. Sawmills and offices were built, which
involved the presence of a considerable number of work-
people, for whom houses had to be provided. Consequently,
a small village has grown up at the place.
A branch railway was begun in 1905, at a point
13 kilometres north of Vera town, on the French Railway,
to penetrate westwards into the Company's forests, and
has been extended to a point called Olmos, lying
30 miles away. Along the line two or three hamlets
have sprung up, where people connected with the wood
industry reside, as well as the Company's officials who
control the timber in the neighbourhood.
In 1904 the Company entered into an agreement with
Messrs. Albert and Charles Harteneck, Frederick and
Charles Portalis, and Hermann Renner, to bring out a
Company to work a factory for the manufacture of tannin
extract from the wood of the Quebracho Colorado tree, and
this factory was ultimately built within the Company's
properties at a place called La Gallareta, which is situated
17 kilometres north-west of the Station of Margarita on the
French Railway line. The Santa F6 Land Company
have also built a branch line from Margarita to this tannin
Watering-Place at farrancosa.
Wood on the Company's Own Line ready for Loading.
THE FOLLOWING TABLE SHOWS THE FINANCIAL POSITION OF THE COMPANY
FROM 1898 TO THE PRESENT TIME.
Year ending s Profit. Deben- Placed Balance Dividend
Year ending tures Profit. Loss. to
Autho- Issued and 6 per cent. Reserve. Forward. (percent.)
raised. fully paid.
30th June, 1898 ... 612,500 612,500 ... 420 ... ... Cr. 420
1899 ... 612,500 612,500 ... ... 1,650 ... Dr. 1,230
1900 ... 612,500 612,500 ... 11,757 ... ... Cr. 2,870 i
1901 ... 612,500 612,500 ... 9,854 ... 2,000 ,, 3,068 l
1902 ... 612,500 612,500 ... 20,746 ... 10,000 ,, 6,158 1
1903 ... 612,500 612,500 ... 23,988 ... 10,000 ,, 7,896 2
1904 ... 612,500 612,500 50,000 28,332 ... 6,000 ,, 8,790 3
1905 ... 612,500 612,500 50,000 36,483 ... 6,000 ,, 8,648 5
1906 ... 812,500 612,500 50,000 48,183 ... 6,000 ,,11,018 6
1907 ... 812,500 766,500 50,000 82,700 ... 12,000 ,20,398 8
1908 ... 1,000,000 812,500 50,000 91,463 ... 86,628* ,20,611 10
1909 ... 1,000,000 812,500 50,000 115,375 ... 20,000 ,22,549 10 and
Bonus of 1
Including 76,628 from Share Premiums.
Loading Timber at Wayside Station.
THE VALUE OF LAND IN
auctioned off, they did not fetch half what the properties
had been bought for in the first instance, some four or five
years previously. This, naturally, had a serious effect on
the credit, soundness, and finances of the country, but
really, the crisis was not felt until some three or four years
after, and it was 1896 and 1897 which were very serious
years for the country.
To give one an idea of the value of land in four or five
of the principal provinces of the country, I must begin with
the Queen Province, as it is called, viz., Buenos Aires. In
1885, property in the city centre was worth 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d.
a yard, whereas to-day it has been sold up to [200 sterling
per yard, while suburban lots of 20 yards by 60 yards realized
[5 and to-day are fetching [150, and camp lands have
risen from '10,000, to [100,000 the square league. Of
course this is within a radius of 30 to 50 leagues of the
city; lands away to the south and west may yet be bought
at [C10,000, and, still further south towards Neuquen
and the far Pampa, at [r2,000 per square league. The
province of Buenos Aires is not considered good for
alfalfa growing, but has good natural grass camps.
The province of Santa F6 is a large province, extending
from the northern boundary of the province of Buenos Aires
to Santiago del Estero, and contains what is known as the
Gran Chaco. The southern portion of this province is
largely dedicated to the production of wheat, linseed, and
maize, for which it is admirably adapted. There are also
large estancias carrying vast herds of cattle, sheep, and
horses, while the northern portion has vast forests of very fine
and valuable timber.
The first part of this province to be developed was the
country around Rosario, the large port on the River
Parana, where ocean-going steamers call. This, together
with good railway accommodation in all directions
- ' ..
Wheat ready for Loading at Station on Central Argentine R1ailway.
combined with excellent land in the district, facilitates the
cultivation of cereals on a very large scale. Property
in Rosario itself is very valuable, and from 30 to 50
a yard is a common figure. In the immediate district
of Rosario land is rarely sold in large areas, but may be
calculated at 20 an acre, whilst 40 leagues further north it
is to-day worth [50,000 a league. I know of one estancia
of one league which was bought in 1885 for [2,000, resold,
after being sown down in alfalfa and divided into paddocks,
without further improvements, at 12,000 (this was in
1903), and again sold in 1909, certainly with further
improvements as regards watering arrangements and more
paddocks, house, and sheds, etc., in fact, a fair model
estancia in good working order, for /60,000. Land on the
south-west of Rosario, and about 40 leagues distant, has
in the twenty-five years risen from [2,000 a league to
[40,000 a league. This is for virgin camp, and to-day
in these districts the average price can be stated at from
[/30,000 to [40,000 per league, yet 300 miles further north
land-good land-can be had at from [4,000 to [6,000 per
The next province, Cordoba, is one of the most hilly in
the country, and has been one of the most developed during
latter years. Some twenty years ago this was almost
considered a desert, where one was told nothing would grow
and cattle could not live. To-day it is one of the most
prosperous; wheat and linseed are great products here,
while alfalfa, when carefully treated, that is, not overstocked,
lives for ever on account of the sandy soil, and water being
so near the surface. These lands twenty years ago were
valued at about ['500 to [7600 per league, while to-day it is
difficult to acquire land under cultivation or alfalfa at less
than [30,000 per league. In the Northern part of this
province are very valuable stone quarries.
Another province that is advancing very fast is that of
San Luis. Here, again, it has been found that alfalfa is at
home, and thrives splendidly. This, again, is a very sandy
soil, and consequently is much sought after, but this land
has not yet touched the value of that in the provinces
already mentioned; it will not stand so much cropping, and
will not carry the same amount of stock, but still the
average price for virgin camp is from _5,000 to 10,000
per league. In this province there is a very large extent
of very poor land, covered with a small shrub, which is
not worth more than 2,000 a league.
Mendoza is a more northerly province, and mostly
dedicated to the grape and wine industry, while a lot of
fruit is also exported from there. Wine is made in very
large quantities, and a lot of very good quality. The value
of land varies very much. The greater portion is worth at
present very little. The great point is to get the water
concessions for irrigating; without irrigation the land is
useless. A good vineyard in its prime, with good irrigation
rights, is worth as much as from C40 to 50 per acre,
while the ordinary camp land is at about 7s. per acre.
Vhe MCaker of Land Values.
REMARKS ON STORMS AND THE
CLIMATE OF THE ARGENTINE.
REMARKS ON STORMS AND THE CLIMATE
OF THE ARGENTINE.
THE Argentine Republic, like all hot countries, is
subject to very great hurricanes and storms. They occur
most frequently in the spring and summer, when very
sudden changes of temperature take place. The thermo-
meter has often been known to drop 25 degrees within
half an hour.
A great deal of damage is always caused, trees which
have taken years of care and trouble are ruthlessly
uprooted, roofs blown off, windmills blown down, haystacks
turned over, and valuable animals struck by lightning.
The terrible closeness and stillness which generally precede
a tormenta" are certain forerunners of bad weather and
storms. A terrible hailstorm which took place some time
ago will always be remembered by its spectators. The
usual signs of it were evident; the atmosphere had become
very close and it had been extremely hot for some hours
before. Though only about 4 p.m., it got peculiarly dark
and a strong gale began to blow, and distant sounds of
thunder were heard. A sudden lull came, which meant
that the storm was about to break; sheets of lightning of
every description were followed by deafening peals of
thunder, which made man and beast tremble. Then there
came a downfall of huge hailstones; they were just like
big lumps of jagged ice; some of them measured about six
to eight inches round and weighed over half a pound. This
storm did a fearful lot of harm; not a leaf was left on a
single tree, and hundreds of birds lay dead all around.
Though very violent, this hailstorm did not last more than
ten minutes, in which time an incalculable amount of
destruction took place.
In September, 1909, a very bad cyclone suddenly came
on us. The sky turned black and blacker, and the clouds
looked horribly wicked. Suddenly a terrific gale got up,
which caused every window and door to rattle in a most
alarming manner, though they had all been as well secured
as possible. The dust seemed to filter in just the same,
and in five minutes the house was an inch thick in it. We
heard a loud bang and then another over our heads, and on
looking out of a window we saw the roof of one of the
outer buildings lying on the ground; part of it had been
blown over our house and had carried away the chimney, a
big iron one, on its way. We were told afterwards that the
cook had had to use all her force against the kitchen window
to keep it from bursting open, as, if the wind had got in, it
would have carried away that roof as well. This hurricane
lasted for about an hour and a-half; as soon as it had
abated somewhat we went out to see the result. Every-
where reigned havoc and confusion, the whole place looked
an old ruin, brick-bats, tiles, broken branches, loose sheets
of corrugated iron lying all around; three roofs had been
blown away, several windmills knocked down and carried
100 yards away, and lovely old trees had been completely
The natives, frightened of remaining in their own
quarters, had, in their terror, deserted them and taken refuge,
with their wives and children, in the open camp, where they
fondly imagined they were safer. Out in the camp the
roofs of most of the "puestos," or huts, had been also
carried away, leaving the occupants exposed to the cold
rains and winds which followed.
A peculiar feature of this storm was that it was not at
all general; at the neighboring "estancias it was not felt
at all, and some of the "peons," who were riding in the
camp at the time, said they could see this whirlwind coming
a long way off at a tremendous rate and that it looked like
a column of red smoke; they could not feel the effects of
the wind either, although they were not more than half a
This storm was followed by very heavy rains which
lasted for about ten days, during which our house was
flooded, as the wind had lifted the tiles and the rain was
driven in through every possible place.
Another time, when driving home from the town of
Vernado Tuerto, we were caught in a very bad dust storm.
Things became so black that we could not see where we
were going, so we had to halt. The wind was so strong
that the men had to get out of the carriage, which was a
heavy covered-in waggonette, and hold the wheels down to
prevent it from being overturned. We all looked like
seaside niggers, as the dust and rain falling at once came
down like mud on us all. One gets quite hardened to these
severe storms. On one occasion a very rough wind began
to blow, but, as it was a steady gale, no one took particular
notice of it. It was after dinner, and everybody was busy
playing cards. The wind made such a deafening noise that
you could hardly hear yourself speak; presently some of
the occupants of the house thought they would have a look
outside to see if things were all right; when they were
surprised to see an outer building, used for stores and
machinery, roofless, and the roof nowhere to be seen; it
was discovered afterwards on the top of their own house,
and they had never heard it happen.
The climate in the Argentine is very variable; we have
great extremes of heat and cold. It is healthy as a rule,
except in the swampy districts or during a very wet season,
when a great many residents suffer from rheumatism.
People talk about the sudden changes of English
weather, but we are treated just the same; one day it will
be brilliantly hot and fine, and another day cold and
One part of the country or another is generally suffering
from drought, when in another part they are being flooded
In the winter there is much more sunshine than there is
in England; in the early morning it is bitterly cold, at
noon on a fine day it is blazing hot, and then, as soon as
the sun goes in, it freezes hard.
In the summer, of course, the heat is very great, but, as
it is generally dry, it is quite healthy.
SOME EXPERIENCES OF WORKING ON
SOME EXPERIENCES OF WORKING ON
I CAME out with my brother on a tramp steamer from
Penarth. We took thirty-one days. However, time
passed fairly quickly, chipping off rust and painting the
decks, after we got over our sickness.
Rain fell heavily as we landed at Buenos Aires, two
typical gringos (greenhorns), not knowing a word of
Spanish. I went to a first-class hotel, whose proprietor I
had met in England. My first attempt to speak Spanish
was in a tram. I asked the conductor to stop; getting out
I said, "Mucha grasa" (much fat), instead of "muchas
gracias" (many thanks)-then called the man a fool for
We stopped in Buenos Aires a week and our bill came
into hundreds of dollars, which took a big slice off our
We then went to an estancia (farm) in the Province
of Cordoba. The estancia was fifty-one miles square,
owned by an Argentine family. The manager was a
North-American, well known in camp life.
The estancia consisted of three sections, one where I
went, another where my brother was, and the other the
I was under a young Scotchman. The camp was
fifteen miles, with 3,000 cows, 2,000 steers, and 500 mares.
There was my companion, one peon (man), a boy, and
myself. My house was made of mud walls and floor,
a zinc roof, with a little straw. It was cool in summer,
but very cold in winter. There was one room for ourselves,
where we slept and ate, one for the cook (when we had
one), and a kitchen. Under my bed I had a snake's hole;
a long black snake came out in the night, and, on
hearing a sound, would go back. I did everything to kill
it, but with no success. Also I had two kittens which slept
in my bed. One night I felt something soft by my feet.
I thought it was the kittens, but, putting my hand down,
I found my feet covered with blood. I jumped out of bed,
and found a young hare half eaten and my sheets covered
The first thing I had to do was to skin a cow, and it
made me feel very uncomfortable to look at the horrid
sight. The next day I was sent to fetch the fat from a
dead cow. When I got there I could not see any fat and
wondered what it was. I saw the intestines and carried
them bodily on my new recado (native saddle). My horse
got excited and I arrived dead beat. I told my companion
I hadcthe fat: then he burst out laughing and said I had
got the intestines. Needless to say my recado was the
worse for wear.
The food was different from what I was used to, and I
felt ill for a time.
In the summer I was up at between three and four, having
"mat6-cocido (cooked Paraguayan tea-the native drink)
with a hard biscuit; at eleven, breakfast of puchero (big
pieces of meat boiled in a pot), then maize with milk and a
biscuit. Sometimes tea at four, but very seldom; supper
consisted of an asado and mate at seven or eight o'clock.
I had charge of two valuable stallions-they had a
stable of mud and straw.
At branding time the capataz (foreman) came up with
his men for a week. Up before three o'clock, quite dark,
we branded 6,000 calves, and I enjoyed it.
The Boss seldom came; when he did, his trap would be
sure to run over a piece of wire, and then we heard of it;
nothing missed him.
Then our cook began stealing provisions from the store
box. We changed the locks three times, and each time she
bought a key to the same. One night I asked her for some
coffee. She said there was none. I could see she had
some in a small bag, and I went to fetch it. She took up a
knife and threatened me. I soon twisted the knife from
her. Our food was bad, my companion was careless, and
frightened of her. One day he had a row, and she got the
sack, using strong language. We then did our own cooking
for eight months: the first one home from camp had to
The meat we got was often green and bitter. All the
time we had puchero and asado, and an occasional ostrich egg.
Ostriches swarmed everywhere, and it was good sport
lassoing them. I found one nest with fifty eggs, laid by
different birds. My cooking was rather a failure at first,
the smoke was so thick we could not see each other. I
was told to cook maize for dinner. I made a big fire, and
cooked for three hours, and was then told I had the
stallions' maize. Another time it was very dark; our
candles, made of old clothes and grease, had run out. I
had made some good soup, and put the pot near the table,
then, walking by, put my foot in it: the hot grease made
me hop, and took the skin off my foot. Our table was an
old greasy box; we had no plates, nor forks, just a big
knife. Sometimes, coming in very tired from a hard day,
we had no strength to chop wood and make a fire; we just
went to bed. Many days we only had an asado and mat6.
Mat6 I am very fond of-it is so refreshing and sustaining.
My brother was only eight miles away: his section was
under alfalfa, and he had a comfortable house. One dark
night, going home from his place, I followed a fence until
I came to a cross fence. I was, going slowly, when, all of
a sudden, my horse stopped dead, and I shot over the fence,
the bridle and halter came off, and away went my horse,
leaving me to continue five miles on foot.
Bizcachas (like a big badger) were numerous; One
day we dug a two-metre hole, and next day found eight live
ones. They have teeth one and a-half inches long.
Our nearest village was eighteen miles away, where I
met some English friends, and played tennis or had some other
amusement. I used to start back at 2.30 a.m. to be in time
for work. One night I had to cross a big field, without a
path or fence for a guide. It was dark, and lightning hard.
I made for a light, which I thought was the house. Going
for some time, I came to a fence-I was lost. I unsaddled
and lay down to sleep, the rain was pouring hard, when I
heard a donkey braying, so I shouted, and was answered by
a man in a puesto (out-station). The light I saw was a
village twelve miles away.
My companion was very slack, and the patrons came up
and sacked him.
Then I went to the estancia house for a month, breaking
in colts for driving. I felt rather sad at leaving my rough
work. It was hard work, but I never had better health.
My Boss then earned $15 per month, and his wife cooked
for the men. Now he is one of the richest men in the
There was no opening there, so the Boss sent me to a
New Zealander who had half a league of camp, all fine
stock, good alfalfa and splendid water. He had a big
house and I expected I would live well. My first work
was to dig up locusts' eggs for a week under a hot sun, with
the ground very hard. The Boss was a man of forty-two,
very red-faced and extremely rich, but as mean as possible.
Our meals took about six to eight minutes, fast eating;
he would watch every mouthful. At tea he would take a
lot of milk and give me a little; he finished soon, while I
burnt my throat. He allowed me a slice of biscuit for each
meal. His cook only got $10 a month.
In the winter we were in bed by six to seven.
His clothes were a disgrace to any peon. He had
native trousers that button at the foot, with top boots, no
socks, his heel and big toe were sticking out, no vest, only
a shirt and an old hat, where the grease of many years was
He was a splendid worker-I have not seen a better one.
We used to catch locusts in a big zinc box pulled by two
horses; the locusts were put into sacks, and after being left
standing for four days, were carted to the village, where' he
got 10 cents a kilo. The smell in carting these dead locusts
was simply terrible. Then I helped pick ten square of
maize, which at first took a little skin off my hands. At
branding time we lassoed each calf to cut off the horns. I
had to sit on their necks, and got smothered in the face
with hot blood. The Boss was very proud because his
monthly account only came to $12 for four of us: biscuits,
sugar, tea, and other things. He sent his clothes once in three
months to be washed. He had few friends, no one ever
came to visit him, and every Sunday he shut himself in his
room. He bought the place for $90,000 and sold it
for over double. He was a thorough campman, but so
mean. One cold winter 500 cows died of starva-
tion; .rather than sell them at a low price he let them
starve. The last thing he said was, he was going to New
Zealand to marry an ugly lady, but she has plenty of
money." His countrymen called him a disgrace to his
country and the meanest in the Argentine.
Then a kind friend found me a place on a well-known
estancia in the same province. The manager, the second-
manager, and the book-keeper were all Irish, born in the
country. I had a good horse, which I rode fifty miles to
The second told me to have my food with the peons
(men), which was rather disheartening. I tried to eat in the
kitchen, but the French cook kicked me out, and for ten
months I fed with the peons; they were very good fellows.
The second and the book-keeper had meals together. The
second-manager did no work: up at half-past eight, he
went to the train, had a drink at the shop, then came back
for dinner, slept until tea-time, then went to see the train pass
again and have another drink, and came back at all hours.
He had been there fourteen years and was only getting a
hundred a month.
The chief work was loading cattle and sheep for the big
freezing factories. The trucks were rotten. One night we
finished at 11 p.m., after a hard day's work, three
of us unloaded 300 quebracho posts in under three
hours. I had a French gardener in my room who did
nothing else but spit and talk politics.
The Boss took me to learn shearing. I had to shear,
gather the wool, sort it and pack it up. Each man got five
cents a sheep, but it was hard work, all done by hand.
Then I cut alfalfa for a fortnight-a nice easy job.
A Catholic priest came to stay for eight days-Mass
every day at 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., sometimes three a day. No
work at all. Everyone had to go-the book-keeper did not,
so he got the sack. I, as a Protestant, went to the sermons,
which were very good. It was wonderful; these rough
campmen went away quite tamed for a time. The last
night the Boss got married at half-past twelve at night to a
native lady. Another time, while we were at Mass, some-
one came to say the gardener was dying-we raced down, the
priest in front ready to hear his confession, but when we
got there the gardener was calmly smoking his pipe, greatly
An inspector of locusts stopped all the summer. He
did nothing but eat, sleep, and drink whisky. We had
locust-killing machines of every description, but we did not
kill ten kilos.
The days I enjoyed were when we started out early to
part some animals in a herd of over a thousand. At eleven
we would have an asado and mat6, and give our horses a
drink, then finish parting, and get home at half-past seven.
The horses look wrecks, and no good, but they work all
day-mostly galloping-and are splendid stayers.
The Boss's brother, a very nice man of fifty, married a
servant of the Boss, a girl of eighteen.
Great excitement is caused by races. The Boss was
keen, and the men talked of nothing else for days. Every
Sunday there are races. Once I rode my horse bareback
in three races of 200 metres, and won a bottle of beer, a
packet of tobacco, and a knife.
Then I was put in charge of fine stock. I had ten
Durham bulls, two thoroughbred stallions, one Pecheron,
eight rams and twelve pigs. I had a boy under me. I also
had to saddle up the Boss's and the Second's horses, and
harness the traps. Sometimes I had to wait till eleven at
night, very tired, to unsaddle the Second's horse, as he had
been making love to the Stationmaster's sister.
The work was very interesting and hard, even on
Sunday or feast days,. watering, cleaning the animals,
and curing any foals that were ill.
I then moved to another room near the stable, with a
newly arrived Italian who knew no Spanish nor English,
also an Irishman just arrived. They could not speak to
each other. The Irishman slept on the floor every night,
and poured kerosene all over him to keep insects away.
One day he poisoned five pigs, giving them the dip-water
to drink. He had few clothes. He would turn them
inside out, and often had three pairs of trousers and two
One day the Boss was out: the men were taming some
wild colts in the corral. I took French leave and went. I
got on five. None had had a saddle on before or even been
handled. We lassoed them, pulled them down and put on
the bridle. Then five men held a long rope and one put on
the native saddle, with stirrups big enough to get your toes
in. Then they tied a red handkerchief round my head.
I mounted gently but quickly. Then the rope was taken
off and away the colt went as fast as possible, with one man
on each side to shove you either way, all the time bucking
and plunging. I did not fall, but one stirrup broke. One
laid down and would not move. It tried to bite everyone.
When they go fast and buck at the same time it is very
hard to stick on.
On the 25th of May, the great holiday in this country,
I went to an estancia to see some friends. On my way
back we had to cross a deep river. The coachman drove
across, but one wheel went into a big hole and the jerk
sent me out on my head, where the wheel passed over my
hair, missing my head by inches. I was senseless. A
crowd of women came and began weeping-they thought I
was dead-then I was taken in a procession to the chemist,
who sent me to a hospital, where I found my collar bone
broken. I did nothing for three weeks.
This estancia is a splendid one for learners, because
there is a little of everything. Once I had a month with
the threshing machine, sleeping out with the mosquitoes,
and getting meat nearly raw for food; but a lot of money
can be made from the harvest.
Then, after a few weeks' holiday to England, we came
back, and I went down south with my brother to sow alfalfa
seed. We had a caravan on wheels, and learned how to
plough and sow. We went to a camp race-meeting, where
every estancia has its own tent, there is racing all day and
dancing at night.
I often look back upon these jolly times. Work was
exacted with anything but kindness, but the life was simple
and very healthy, and many pleasant reminiscences are
talked over when it is my luck to join others around the
camp fire before falling to sleep with nothing but a bullock's
head as a pillow and a "recado as a blanket and the
glorious, starry sky above one.
THE SOCIAL SIDE OF CAMP LIFE.
THE SOCIAL SIDE OF CAMP LIFE.
To an outsider, life in the camps or country might be
considered very slow: the distance between the estancias
being so great, the ordinary form of social life is quite
impossible; for instance, when one goes to pay a call on
a neighbour, even a first call, it means going for the day,
starting in the cool of the morning and returning in the
evening, and so allowing the horses to have a rest. Of
course, if everyone had a motor-car, this might not be
necessary; but as yet they are very few and far between.
This is no doubt owing to the bad roads; in most districts,
after a few hours' rain, the roads are flooded, and what is
worse still, pantanosa" (thick, sticky mud).
Most estancieros keep open house, and are only too
pleased when people drop in," which they do at all times
and for any meal, almost without a by your leave." An
estancia house has to be very elastic, and ready to provide,
at a moment's notice, board and lodging for unexpected
guests. This is quite the nicest way of entertaining one's
friends-no fuss of preparation, and, more often than not, a
very jolly evening of cards, music, or games.
It is a delightful country for men, a healthy, open-air
life, with plenty of hard work and hard riding; each man
has from four to six horses allowed him for working
purposes, and then, as a rule (talking of the English
mayor-domo), he has two or three polo ponies of his own.
Sunday is the great day for polo; there is very little time
in our busy Argentine even for a practice game during the
week, so Sunday means a merry meeting of friends
wherever there is a polo club in the district, people going in
six or seven leagues (or even more) from one side of the
town to meet friends who have come an equal distance from
the other side, a thing they might not do for months if it
were not for the polo club. Each lady takes her turn in
providing tea on these polo Sundays, and there is great
competition as to who makes the best cakes, especially as it
often falls to the lady herself to make these luxuries.
Wherever there is a polo club the most exciting event of
the year is the Spring Race Meeting, two days' racing,
often followed by a polo match or tournament with neigh-
bouring clubs, and always as many dances as possible, as it
is the only time in the year when enough girls can be
collected together; every estancia house has its own party,
as many as can be crowded in, including friends from
Buenos Aires and Rosario, who delight in these camp
meetings, and she is a proud hostess who can count a few
girls amongst her party. I may as well add here that
girls are almost "non est" in the camp, many districts
for leagues and leagues round not being able to boast of
one English girl.
Most clubs hold a Gymkhana Meeting in the Autumn,
which makes one more excitement in the year: it is a very
merry meeting as a rule, with always a dance or two if enough
girls can be found. During the Winter season (from April 1st
to September 1st) the shooting is very good in most parts,
and many good shooting parties are given where there
is enough game to make it worth while asking one's friends.
The bag consists of partridges, martinetta (similar to the
pheasant) and hares (which are not considered worth
picking up); when there are a number of guns, dogs are not
used, but two men on horseback drag a wire through the
grass (several in a line, if a big party), which forces the
birds to rise, and the guns walk behind. Peons on horse-
back, carrying sacks, keep close up to them and pick up the
'Cennis Party al CVera.
birds as they fall, and close on their heels comes a big brake,
into which are emptied the contents of the sacks as they get
too heavy. The ladies of the party follow in all sorts and
conditions of vehicles, cheering on the shooters and
dispensing much-needed refreshments. A shoot is always
followed up by a jolly evening, after a hot bath and a good
dinner. The men, forgetting how tired they are, are quite
ready to sing, dance, or play bridge until the small hours.
Another great event not to be forgotten is the visit of the
Camp Chaplain: he goes from one district to another holding
services, every Sunday in a different place. In a well-popu-
lated district he would hold one about every two months, but
to some places, where there are next to no English people, he
would probably only go about once or twice a year. Church
Sunday is quite an event, and again gives one an opportunity
of meeting friends from a distance. The parson is very
lenient with us as a rule, and does not object to any form of
amusement in the afternoon, such as polo, tennis, cricket,
football, or golf, and encourages the young men to come to
Church (usually a room hired for the occasion) in costumes
suitable for such. Our poor Camp Chaplain does not have
an easy time; distances are so great that more than half
his time is spent on the train.
CARNIVAL IN THE ARGENTINE.
Carnival at Vera.