SHEEP'S FESCUE. 75
leaves so dry that they break off at the slightest touch; but give the plant a little water and, though seemingly dead, it will immediately make a fresh start.
Habits of growth: It produces a light stand the year it is sown and its yield steadily decreases after the third year. It starts early in the season and keeps on growing until late in the fall.
Agricultural value: It is only of secondary importance as a forage plant and its use is rather limited. On account of its low growth, the leaves being short and crowded near the ground, it cannot be used for hay. Its principal value is as pasture for sheep on poor land where more valuable grasses cannot be successfully grown. The growth being bunchy and the roots rather shallow, it will not stand tramping and should always be mixed with other grasses or clover. If sown with White Clover, for instance, a firm sod is obtained and the clover improves the quality of the pasture.
Seed: Sheep's Fescue is one of the cheapest grasses, the plants being heavy seed producers and the seed easy to harvest. If allowed to get too ripe, the seed scatters. It is ready to cut when the spikelets break up easily.
Quality of seed: Good commercial seed is straw-coloured—a trifle more yellowish, as a rule, than Red Fescue. It weighs from ten to fifteen pounds a bushel.
A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,
From a fat meadow ground.—Milton, Paradise Lost, 1669.
Each soil hath no liking, of every grain,
Nor barley and wheat, is for every vein:
Yet know I no country, so barren of soil,
But some kind of corn may be gotten with toil.
Thomas Tusser, Fire Hundreth Pointes of Husbandrie, 1557.
I have indeed seen many when sowing artificially prepare their seeds, and steep them first in soda and black lees of olive oil, that the produce might be larger in the usually deceptive pods: and that they might be sodden, to hasten their growth, on a fire, however small. I have seen those seeds on whose selection much time and labour had been spent, nevertheless degenerating if men did not every year rigorously separate with the hand all the largest specimens. So it is: all things are fated to deteriorate, and, losing their ground, to be borne backwards.—Virgil, Georgics, 37 B.C.