Description of the New Netherlands

17 Israel. This is a hardy grain, and is fit for the sustenance of man and animals. It is easily cultivated and will grow in almost every kind of land. . . . After a corn crop is gathered, the land may be sowed with winter grain in the fall without previous ploughing. When this is intended, the corn is gathered, the stalks are pulled up and burnt, the hills levelled, and the land sown and harrowed smooth and level. Good crops are raised in this manner. I have seen rye sown as before described, which grew so tall that a man of common size would bind the ears together above his head, which yielded seven and eight schepels* Amsterdam measure, per vin of 108 sheaves, of which two wins made a wagon load. The Rev. Johannis Megapolensis, Junior, minister of the colony of Rensselaerwyck, in certain letters which he has written to his friends, which were printed (as he has told me) without his consent, but may be fully credited,— he being a man of truth and of great learning, who writes in a vigorous style,— states, with other matters, that a certain farmer had cropped one field with wheat eleven years in succession, which to many persons will seem extraordinary, and may not be credited. Still it is true, and the residents of the place testify to the same, and they add that this same land was ploughed but twelve times in the eleven seasons,— twice in the first year, and once in every succeeding year, when the stubble was ploughed in, the wheat sown and harrowed under. I owned land adjoining the land referred to, and have seen the eleventh crop, which was tolerably good. The man who did this is named Brandt Belen; he was born in the district of Utrecht, and at the time was a magistrate (schepen) of the colony of Rensselaerwyck. We acknowledge that this relation appears to be marvellous, but in the country it is not so, for there are many thousand morgens of as good land there as the land of which we have spoken. During the period when I resided in the New-Netherlands, a certain honorable gentleman, named John Everts Bout (who was recommended to the colonists by their High Mightinesses, &c.), laid a wager that he could raise a crop of barley on a field containing seven morgens of land, which would grow so tall in every part of the field that the ears could easily be tied together above his head. I went to see the field of barley, and found that the straw, land by land, was from six to seven feet * A scke/elis three pecks English.