Handy Farm Devices and How To Make Them

Compiled by Rolfe Cobleigh, NEW YORK, ORANGE JUDD COMPANY 1912, Associate Editor American Agriculturist.

Worth Knowing Part I

Freezing Ice in Blocks

WHERE a pond or stream is not handy from which to get the year's supply of ice, blocks can be frozen in forms with comparatively little labor. A supply of pure water is essential. The forms are best made of galvanized iron of any size desired. A convenient size is 16 inches wide, 24 inches long and 12 inches deep inside measure. The sides and ends should be made to taper 1/4 inch, so that the frozen block will drop out easily. The top of the mold should be reinforced with wire for the sake of strength and durability.

With a dozen or 20 forms one can put up quite a supply of ice during the winter. The forms should be set level on joists or boards and placed a few inches apart. Fill them nearly full with pure water and let them freeze, which they will do in one or two days and nights in suitable weather. When frozen solid, turn the forms bottom side up and pour a dipper of warm water on them, which will release the cake of ice. The form can then be lifted off, the ice put away in the icehouse and the form filled with water again.

Saving the Seed Corn

Here is a handy device for preserving select ears of seed corn. It consists of a wide board fastened between two supports nailed to the edges. The board stands upright on one end and may be as long as desired. Drive heavy spikes through it from the opposite side and stick an ear of corn upon each spike. This allows for the passage of air, and the ears can be examined without removing them from the rack. It is much to be preferred to expensive wire racks, as each nail may be numbered and a record kept of the ears in this way. This rack was designed at the Idaho experiment station.

Rack for Seed Corn

Here is a simple arrangement for keeping choice ears of seed corn. Take a 2-inch square timber for the upright, and make a solid base by boring a hole through the two base pieces, then drive the timber into it. Drive 4-inch spikes through the upright at intervals of 6 inches from four sides, and stick the ears of corn on these spikes by thrusting the same into the butt of the cob. Numbers may be placed above each spike, so that records can be kept of all of the corn. The corn should be placed on this rack as soon as picked and husked, and may be left there until planting time if the rack is placed in a dry room where rats and mice cannot get at it. A large post strongly mounted on a heavy pedestal may be used in a manner similar to the small upright described above. The bigger the post and the larger the number of spikes used, the greater the capacity of the rack, of course. It is a good plan to make the pedestal heavy and strong in order that it may not be tipped over too easily.

The first years of man must make provision for the last.
-- Samuel Johnson.

Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry.
-- Colonel Blacker.

Drying and Keeping Seed Corn

Never let it freeze before it is dry. Farmers have had seed corn exposed to a temperature of 30 degrees below zero without injuring its vitality, and have had it ruined at 10 degrees above zero. We would not recommend kiln-drying for the general farmer, as this is only practicable where a grower is in the seed business. A very convenient way is to take four pieces 4 x 4, 6 feet long, set them up in a square, and nail laths on them two and two opposite. Leave a 6-inch space between the laths, so the corn will have plenty of ventilation. Lay your corn on this to dry, and if thoroughly dry it can lay there all winter.

Knowledge is worth nothing unless we do the good we know.

It is better to give one shilling than to lend twenty.

Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open.

Weight Lifter

The drawings show the different parts and one of the many uses of this device.

Strong and Simple Wagon Jack

Here is a good, practical wagon jack suited to almost all kinds of vehicles. The whole thing is made of wood with the exception of the curved piece, b, which is of iron and hooks over an iron bolt, e. It is well to have a strong 1/2-inch bolt at f, so as to support the heavy weight on the lever, a. The bottom, d, and the piece, c, are each 2 inches thick. In using the jack, the axle is lifted by simply pressing down on the handle of the lever. The teeth of b catch and hold on e automatically. The height of lever is regulated by moving f up and down.

Write down the advice of him who loves you, though you like it not at present.

A Jack for Heavy Wagons

Many lifting jacks which are designed for light vehicles would not work well in the case of a heavy log wagon. Here is one that will stand a lot of hard usage and is simple and effective. Make the base and upright of heavy 2-inch oak plank and insert a 3/4-inch bolt through the lever for a support. Have a good, strong hemp rope attached to the base, passing over the handle end of the lever, so that as it is drawn down and the wagon is lifted it can be hooked in a notch to hold it in position.

A Cheap Wheelbarrow

The construction of this barrow is very simple. Get a pair of old plow handles, two gate hinges about 1 foot long, and a wheel, which may be found at the junk dealer's. The legs of the wheelbarrow are those of an old chair, braced with a piece of iron. These articles in themselves are worthless, but in their combination we create something very useful.

A Wheelbarrow Cheap and Strong

Here is a picture of a handy, strong wheelbarrow that any farmer can make on a rainy day. Take a dry-goods box 30 inches long, 24 or 26 inches wide and 20 inches deep, and two sticks 5-1/2 to 6 feet long and 3 x 3-1/2 inches for handles. Nail or screw on crossbrace in front and rear, and pieces with brace as shown for legs. Cut four half circles from inch hardwood board and a notch in center to fit around axle. Nail these securely together for the wheel.

For the axle, take a stick 3-1/2 inches square. Trim and band each end or wrap with wire. Bore holes and drive a 6d. wire nail in each end. Just 2 inches apart in center, bore two 1-inch holes on opposite sides to hold the wheel in place. A band of hoop iron around the wheel will make it last longer. When it is put together, you have a very substantial wheelbarrow that cost but little.

How to Hang a Kettle

Using stones for a kettle support seems handiest oftentimes, but let the heat crack one of the stones and tip the kettle over, as it frequently will, does not tend to improve a man's language, let alone the loss sustained. It is much better to make a support such as is presented in the cut. The three uprights, of suitable length to correspond with the size of the kettle, may consist of any good wood. Through the top of these a hole is bored for the bolt to hold them together, which must be long enough so they will have play to set up easily. All that is necessary then is to suspend two chains from the top and letting them extend downward to the proper distance, attach the ears of the kettle into the hooks on them. When not in use, the device can be folded together and laid away.

A Snow Plow

No person not owning a snow plow can appreciate how useful one is after every storm. A horse, or if the snow be a heavy one, a span or a yoke of cattle and this simple homemade arrangement, and in less time than is required to tell it there is a path, and no back-breaking work either. It is only a big V braced so the snow is pushed both ways by it. It must be made of 2-inch planks at least 1 foot wide and not less than 6 feet long. If shorter it wobbles and does not stay on the ground well.

To make a good road for teams, chain it to one side of the wood sled and drive up and down. It spreads 2 feet, and will make your farm front look as if somebody of pluck lives there. For foot-paths draw it from a ring at the top of the front so it will root.

Temporary Smoking Device

If one butchers only once a year it is not necessary to build an expensive smokehouse, for almost as good results can be obtained from a device such as that shown. It is made by taking both ends out of a barrel and mounting it upon a box or above a fireplace in the ground. The meat to be smoked is hung from the sticks laid across the top of the barrel, the fire built underneath and the lid put on.

Homemade Heater and Cooker

A cheap and economical heater may be of home construction. Make a frame of 2 x 8-inch pine 7 feet long and 27 inches wide. Put a bottom on this of No. 18 galvanized iron, letting it project 1/2 inch on each side and 14 inches at one end for a stovepipe fitting. Spike the frame together and cover the corners with heavy tins to prevent any leaking. Nail the bottom on with two rows of nails.

Make a fireplace on the ground of stone and blue clay or brick and cement of mortar if preferred, 2 feet wide by 3 feet long and 18 inches high. Pile up dirt 1 foot high and 3 feet wide at the end of the fireplace for a flue, put stone on the earth the length of the galvanized iron, place the tank on this foundation and bank it up with dirt. In cutting a hole for the stovepipe, turn up strips of the galvanized iron for a collar, then drive an iron rod into the ground, put on two lengths of stovepipe and wire it fast to the rod.

A piece of sheet iron should be set up before the fireplace to control the draft and keep the fire. Such a heater, on one farm, is located near the windmill and storage tank and can be filled from either. The water can be heated quickly with cornstalks, straw, cobs or brush. One may boil pumpkins and small potatoes for fattening the pigs, and cook ground feed by pouring scalding water on the meal in barrels and covering with old blankets or carpets. A light fire will take the chill from ice water for the milch cows.

Use for a Tough Log

Most farm wood piles have two or three old logs lying about which nobody cares to tackle with an ax or blasting powder, and are too short for the sawmill. If straight, they will make good water troughs. Square the ends, mark off about 10 inches from each end, chop out the inside and trim the edges. An inside coat of oil or pitch tar will increase wearing qualities.

A Handy Wood Splitter

For splitting wood a farmer in eastern Massachusetts uses a device as shown in the cut. Take a 2 x 8-inch plank about 3 feet long and an upright of the same material about 20 inches long. Set this upright at an angle of 20 degrees and use a brace of the same material. The sharp points shown in the cut are 40d wire nails. Set the wood against these spikes in splitting it.

How to Split Wood

Wood splits much more readily in the direction up from the root of the tree than when the blow of the ax is downward. In other words, to split a chunk place it upside down -- contrary to the direction in which it grew. It is much easier to split by slabs than to try to cleave through the center. This means to split off pieces near the edge.

A Pulling Hammer

If you want to make your old claw hammer do more work and do it better and easier, have the handle projecting a little beyond the head. You will find it much more convenient in drawing a nail, as it makes a right angle for pulling the nail without bending it to one side. It takes the place of a block and is always on hand and ready in the right place for immediate use. The handle is simply whittled a little more than usual and driven through to the required distance. Don't drive it through too far, but about as shown at a in the picture. If it sticks out too much, it will be in the way when driving nails. Whittle it off rounding, and give it a finished appearance.

Mounting the Farm Anvil

To make a solid foundation for an anvil, build a form of boards 14 x 18 inches square at the base, 18 inches high, tapering to 8 x 10 inches at the top. Fill this mold with rich concrete and fix a bolt in the center of the top of it to fasten the anvil. Afterward, melted lead can be poured around the base of the anvil, completing a very nice pedestal.

Sorting Potatoes Quickly

The sketch shows a homemade potato cleaner and sorter. It consists of a number of hoops to which are fastened 1/2-inch slats so as to make holes 1-1/2 inches square. Two heavy pieces, a, are placed inside the cylinder to hold the axle, b, which extends entirely through the machine and is turned by a crank, c. The frame made is 4 inches lower at the opening end of the cylinder so that the potatoes will run through freely.

At the crank end is a hopper, f, into which the potatoes are poured. The cylinder is 2-5/8 feet long and 3 feet in diameter. It will not bruise the potatoes, and the dirt and small ones run through on to the floor or crate and the marketable ones run out at the open end of the cylinder into another crate. With one man to turn the crank and another to fill the hopper, from 700 to 800 bushels can be sorted in a day.

An indiscreet man is more hurtful than an ill-natured one; for as the latter will only attack his enemies, and those he wishes ill to, the other injures indifferently both friends and foes.
-- Addison.