Handy Farm Devices and How To Make Them

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

In and Around the House Part IV

A Handy Water Filter

Nearly every farm can boast of good water, but no water, either from well, spring or stream, is pure, as it all contains more or less animal or vegetable matter. The only way to make it pure is to filter it, just as is done in city supply reservoirs, or private filtering tanks.

A simple water filter is very easily made that answers all purposes for domestic use. The plan of its operations is identical with that employed in large reservoirs where water is filtered on a large scale for general distribution. This filter consists, primarily, of two flower pots, set one above the other. In the bottom of the upper pot is stuffed a large sponge. A sponge is also stuffed in the bottom of the lower pot, but it is more adequately supplied with filtering material by placing above the sponge a layer of smooth pebbles, then a layer of coarse sand, and still above this a layer of pounded charcoal 3 or 4 inches in depth. It is also best to place another layer of smooth pebbles above the charcoal, to prevent it from being stirred up during the circulation of the water.

The upper pot should be the largest, and if the lower one is strong, the upper one may stand in it, or two strips of wood will serve as a base support. The two pots thus arranged are placed on a three-legged stool with a hole in it, through which the water drips through the bottom of the lower pot into the mouth of a jug set underneath. The upper pot serves as a reservoir, and its sponge stops the coarser impurities, and thus the filtering layers of the lower one may be used for a year without being renewed, though it is necessary frequently to clean the sponge of the upper pot.

The layers of sand and charcoal of the lower pot are positively effective in stopping all animal and vegetable matter, as well as many smaller impurities in the water. The only trouble one may experience with it is in neglecting the upper sponge for too long a time, or in stuffing it in too loosely, thus allowing the water to pass from the upper pot faster than it can filter through the lower one. Only a little attention, once or twice a month, is sufficient to keep this simple filter in perfect running order.

Delivering Mail by Trolley

Where the house stands some distance back from the highway a trolley can be rigged up to save steps in getting the mail. The box is hung on two pulley door hangers, as shown in cut. A strong post, with a bent arm, is set next the highway, a, suspended between it and the house, on which the box runs. A pulley is fastened in or to, the post, and over it runs a cord, b, c, to pull the box back and forth between the house and the road. The box is sent down to meet the carrier, who places the mail in it, and then it is quickly pulled back to the house.

Beauty in a Barrel

A very nice ornamentation for the lawn is shown in the picture. It is made by sawing an oil barrel in two as shown, and mounting it on legs. Paint it and set one-half of the barrel on each side of the walk and use them for growing flowers in during the summer. Care should be taken to have the hoops thoroughly nailed to the staves and to have the heads solid. Dark green or dark red are good colors for the painting. If preferred, the barrel may rest upon the ground, but should be securely braced or blocked to prevent rolling.

Storage Bin for Vegetables

Instead of keeping the vegetables in barrels or boxes scattered all over the cellar, have a set of storage bins. Take six drygoods boxes and bolt them together as shown in the drawing. Put legs on them to hold them off the floor and a cover on the top. Then paint on the boxes the names of the vegetables. It is most convenient to have the vegetables most frequently used in the upper boxes, which would not be true of the bin shown in the picture. If the upper row of boxes is attached to each other, but not to the lower ones, the top section can easily be moved enough to make filling the lower boxes a simple matter. Otherwise, the vegetables would have to be put in through the openings at the top of each box a few at a time by hand, instead of pouring them in.

Many people would not care to keep their potatoes in such a sectional bin, preferring a large separate bin. It certainly is all right for other root vegetables, and many other products of the farm that are stored might well be kept handy for use in such a labeled sectional bin.

An Inexpensive Cellar

A temporary cellar is sometimes necessary in cold countries where that under the house is not sufficient for storing vegetables. A very effective and useful temporary cellar may be constructed after the following method, as shown by the drawings: Dig a pit 15 feet long, 10 feet wide, 4 feet deep in a solid, dry place where the drainage is good. Put a gable roof of 1-inch board over the hole, supported by 2 x 4-inch strips at the eaves, gable and half-way up the sides. Strengthen by crossbeams and a central support if the lumber is not first class. Over this place 8 to 10 inches of dry straw well packed and over the entire structure, excepting one end, pack earth 12 to 14 inches deep. The surface should be smooth to shed water. It is better if plastered with mud covered with sods.

The door end must be double-walled and the space filled with straw. The door must also be double and its margin packed with cloth strips, so as to be practically airtight. If possible, the pit should be drained by a tile, the end of which is covered with a piece of wire netting to prevent the entrance of rodents. Such a cellar will prevent freezing during usual winter weather. The door should be opened on mild days and the interior aired thoroughly. The size and depth of the pit may be varied according to needs.

Clothesline Up and Down

Heavy posts should be set for the ends, 3 feet in and 3 feet out of the ground. It is not necessary for the center post to be as heavy as the end ones. Have the posts clean and smooth, so they will not soil the clothes when blown against them. Take a piece of 2 x 4-inch hard wood 5 feet long for the lever. Fasten to the post near the top with a 3/4-inch bolt, 2 feet next to the line and 3 feet for the lever. A block holds the lever in position while the clothes are being put on. A button holds the lever upright when the line is hoisted.

A Clothes Horse

There is no little thing that will save the household so much as a revolving clothes horse, so near the back stoop that the clothes may be hung on it without stepping out in the snow. A solid post should have a hole bored in the top and the arms may be beveled and spiked to a piece of plank through which a bolt passes into the post, or each arm may be bored to let the bolt pass through it. Three, four or five arms may be used as desired, and of any length, provided all are of one length. No skill is required in making it, as the rope holds the arms up simply by being tight enough. It is well to set the post before measuring for the arms, so that they may be sure to reach the veranda. Some laths may be nailed together at first to make a model, if you are not sure of your ability as a carpenter.

A Toilet Closet

A small closet in a home, for keeping medicines and toilet articles, is a great convenience. One consists of 1/2-inch pine, 4 inches wide, planed and put together so as to be 2 x 3 feet. It has four shelves. The door is of thin pine, free from knots, planed, hinged and with a back catch. The outside of frame and door is varnished. Being in the toilet room, it is indeed a very useful as well as ornamental piece of furniture. It has no back casing or boards; simply rests against the wall. It is held in place by four short pieces of band iron, one end of each band being fastened to back of frame, the other end fastened to the wall by a screw. All kinds of medicines, shaving materials, soaps, wash rags, can there be kept. If there is no other looking-glass in the room, one may be fastened on the outside of door.

Revolving Cellar Shelf

A handy cellar shelf that will save the housekeeper many steps may be arranged at the side of the cellar stairs, within easy reach upon descending a few steps. The shelf is contrived from an old axle and wheel. The axle is fastened to hang from the nearest beam to the stairway. The wheel is covered with thin, smoothly planed boards and the axle is kept well oiled, so the wheel will revolve readily, bringing all parts of the shelf within reach at need.

Water Supply for Farmhouse

Farmers can have running water, hot or cold, in their dwelling houses at a cost of fifty dollars and up, depending upon the size of the house and the kind of equipment needed. This makes possible the bath and toilet room, protection from fire, the easy washing of windows and walks, the sprinkling of lawns, the irrigating of gardens, and all the other conveniences which a few years ago were thought possible only in cities, where big water systems were available. This is one of the things that makes farm life attractive. It lessens the work in the house, insures a fine lawn and garden, reduces danger from fire, adds greatly to comfort and convenience in every direction.

The way to secure this is to install a water supply system, with a pressure tank in the basement.

This pressure tank is so arranged that by pumping it full under strong air pressure the water is forced all over the house, and is available for the bathroom, toilet room and the garden or fire hose. The water is distributed about the house exactly as it is in city homes, by means of galvanized iron pipes. Where a small building is to be supplied and the amount of water to be used is not large, the system can be installed for $50. For the average house $90 is a better figure. Where the house is large, and where considerable amounts of water are needed for the lawn and garden, and possibly also for washing carriages, automobiles and horses, a larger system should be installed, costing up to $150.

Installation and Operation

Its installation is easy, and its operation is exceedingly simple. Any pipe fitter or plumber can put in the plant so that it will work perfectly. All that is needed for operating is to keep the tank pressure up to the desired point. This may be 20, 40, 60 or 100 pounds. A few strokes of the pump, if the work is done by hand, is sufficient. If a lot of water is used, of course the amount of pumping will increase. By being economical in the use of water, that is to say, wasting none, this matter of pumping is not at all a serious problem.

The most satisfactory method of pumping, however, is to use a windmill, or what is much better, a gasoline engine. Every up-to-date farm ought to have a small gasoline engine, which can be utilized not only for operating this water supply system, but for churning, sawing wood, cutting feed and doing a dozen and one other jobs about the farm. It would take only a few minutes of pumping to raise the pressure in the tank the desired height. With the engine it will not be necessary to be economical in using water, provided the well is a good one, and the supply of water large.

Warning Against Fire

A handy device that will give an alarm in case the roof catches fire close to the chimney is shown. Drive a nail in two rafters on a line with the face of the chimney, to which stretch a cord close to the chimney, so that, in case of fire, the cord will burn off and release the weight hanging to it, which in turn will drop on an electric button and ring a bell. A dry battery will cost 20 cents and a bell 50 cents. Place these on a shelf above the fireplace. Place a piece of heavy wire, b, 10 inches long, as shown, and fasten to the wall or chimney for the weight, a, to slide on. The weight need be suspended only an inch or two above the bell.

Where to Hang a Fire Ladder

A necessity on all farms and near all farm buildings are ladders and other means of getting on the roofs, and in and out of upper story windows in time of emergency. A scuttle should be left or made in the highest part of the house roof and a ladder should be at hand that will reach the eaves of the highest roof. A good place to store a ladder of this kind is under the eaves of the L or along the rear wall of the house. Have two hooks to hang it on. Make a good ladder and keep it painted.

If your cellar is dark, there is danger of accidents when going down the stairs. Have the last step whitened so that you may easily know when you are at the bottom. You can see this step plainly even in a dim light.