The Old Time Farm Magazine: Rye Bread Recipe, Kelp as Fertilizer and a Manure Pit

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Ever thought of using kelp as a fertilizer?  If not, you may want to go ahead and read these old-farm magazines.

Reprinted from THE COUNTRY GENTLEMAN, © 1915, The Curtis Publishing Company

Wild Ducks on the Farm

Why not grow wild birds on the farm, both for pleasure and for profit? Prof. J. C. Halpin, of the Wisconsin Experiment Station, has demonstrated that the wild mallard is readily domesticated and may easily be raised by farmers who have small ponds or streams. Professor Halpin started about five years ago with a single pair. Although he sold many last year, he now has a flock of more than 200. The bird propagates so rapidly — from thirty to forty eggs a season — and shows the inherent ability to shift for itself at so early an age that the plan has evidences of being a good commercial proposition.

Naturally the first question asked is how these birds may be kept in captivity. The original stock was bagged by hunters. When turned over to Professor Halpin he clipped one wing of each bird to the first joint. The following spring the thirty-odd eggs laid were divided between the incubator and the mother. The little ones became so domesticated from handling after hatching that they were even greater pets than the domesticated ducks on the farm. Their rapid increase in numbers has not changed this condition.

It is a sight worth seeing to behold these 200 mallards start on their exercise flights about four o’clock in the morning and just before sundown, sometimes in groups, then in an unbroken straight line. At times during the day they may take a spin, but when the weather is hot they prefer to lie in some shady place and quack family gossip. Sometimes they will go miles away or alight in pastures long distances from the yards that have been fenced off for them. A word to the farm dog with whom they have been raised and he is after them. As if they understood the message they arise and circle to the yards.

Occasionally one or more pairs of these mallards may leave, but this happens too seldom to be considered of importance. On the leg of each duck, a few weeks after hatching, is placed a registration seal. This gives an opportunity to keep an exact record of each bird as to laying and breeding qualities.

Not unlike guineas, these domesticated mallards retain many of the instincts peculiar to their wild nature. When mother and baby ducks are out in the field, let a strange object approach and with one quack the little brown birds hide in the grass close to the earth. Moreover, these wild ducks are habitual imitators. Let one mallard start limping and in ten minutes, unless there is something to attract attention elsewhere, a majority will be limping. A strange noise, the appearance of the dog, and all will again be walking naturally.

Little feed is given these mallards because they fatten quickly and become logy. The 200 are given fourteen quarts of cracked grains each morning. Without any feeding, five mallards that were hatched on October 12, 1914, weighed three pounds apiece on Thanksgiving Day. At four to five pounds the birds give up their regular flights.

No special houses are demanded for them, even in winter. A shed is provided where they can get grain and drink, but during the daytime they sit on the snowbanks with their feet tucked in their feathers.

On the market these birds sell for twenty to twenty-five cents each more than the domestic ducks.

A Manure Pit

Fourteen by thirty are the outside ground dimensions of the manure pit. It is located on the Sherman farm in Floyd County, Iowa, where twenty-five cows are cared for, The floor is of watertight concrete and the sixteen-inch thick stone walls are three and one-half feet above the ground line. It is easy to build and will cost less than fifty dollars when complete.

The carrier track from the barn runs out over the pit, dumps its load and returns empty. The owner plans to build over the pit a cheap roof which will shed the rain and snow. Last spring removing the manure was found to be a rather troublesome job because of the excess amount of water present.

The liquid manure is most valuable, but this part is hard to save. A farm improvement like this one will care for all the fertility. — W. E. P.

Eradicating Scrub Oak

Scrub oak may be eradicated from land by grubbing. A team of steady horses is of great value in this work. A hitch may be made ten or twelve feet above the ground on the trunk of the tree and the horses used for the purpose of exerting a steady pull.

Most of the smaller scrub-oak trees may be pulled out by the roots without much difficulty; a few of the more tenacious roots may be chopped off with an ax well below the soil surface. In the case of the larger trees the hitch should be made much higher above the ground, so the leverage will be greater.

After the trees have been pulled out, piled and burned, the soil should be plowed as soon as possible and put to a cultivated crop for the purpose of killing the young shoots that persist in coming up.

Kelp as Fertilizer

The chief fertilizer value of kelp lies in its content of potash. Dried seaweed contains an average of two to three per cent of nitrogen and about fifteen per cent of potash. It contains practically no phosphoric acid. I should not advise the use of kelp alone on any crop.

A mixture of kelp with acid phosphate and some nitrogen-supplying material, such as sulphate of ammonia, animal tankage or fish scrap, will make a very good complete fertilizer.

Kelp may benefit crops that demand large quantities of potash — beets, potatoes, apples, peaches, oranges, asparagus, and so forth. It is almost always poor economy to apply a single fertilizer material to any crop. There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule, but it is nearly always true that a complete fertilizer, supplying nitrogen, phosphoic acid and potash, is the most economical.

Uses for Pine Needles

The green leaves or needles of the long-leaf pine are used for steam distillation, the product being a volatile, colorless oil used for medicinal purposes. Only young, thrifty leaves at the ends of the twigs are chosen, as those from old trees produce less oil and of a much poorer quality.

After the oil has been driven off the needles are removed and boiled in a soda solution until all the resinous matter and nonfibrous tissues are separated from tile fibers.

The material is then passed through a series of washing, drying and bleaching processes, leaving it much like wool. This fine wool is used to some extent in upholstery, in stuffing mattresses and pillows and even for spinning and weaving into fabrics. It retains its balsamic odor, which is said to repel insects. — S.J.R.

Persimmon Beer

Five pounds of lump sugar, three gallons of water, a quarter of a teacupful of yeast, a slice of toasted bread, two lemons and eight persimmons. Boil the sugar and the water for an hour. When it is cold add the persimmons, sliced, the juice and peels of the lemons, and the yeast on the bread.

Let it stand for two or three days in a tub covered with a thick cloth. Then strain and bottle it. It will be ready to drink in five days after it is bottled.

Nut Sandwiches

Nuts may be used very successfully in sandwiches for the school luncheon. Black or English walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and hickory nuts may be used in the following recipes.

These sandwiches may well take the place of cake in the lunch box, as they supply the required sweets in a wholesome and delicious form. Well-baked bread, cut into even slices and buttered, should form the basis of all sandwiches.

Nut-Date Filling. Wipe ten dates, remove the seeds, grind or chop the dates with meats of six to ten nuts, depending on the size of the nuts. This mixture may be packed in a jar and kept in a cool place. When it is ready for use moisten with milk or cream so that the mixture may be spread easily.

Nut-Fig Filling. Use four figs with six to eight nut meats, and prepare in the same way as for nut-date filling.

Nut-Prune Filling. Wash prunes and soak them overnight in enough water to cover, Allow them to simmer on the back of the stove until the fruit is plump. Sweeten slightly, remove the prunes from the juice and dry them out in the oven. Cool, remove the stones and crush the fruit with chopped nut meats, using one to two nut meats for each prune.

Nut-Watermelon-Preserve Filling. Drain watermelon preserves, chop and mix with a few chopped nut meats.

Nut-Cottage-Cheese Filling. Mix a few chopped nut meats with some cottage cheese, season with salt and moisten with milk or cream. Add a little sugar if you want a sweet sandwich filling.

Rye Bread

Scald half a pint of milk and add half a pint of water. When the liquid is lukewarm add half a cake of compressed yeast that has been dissolved in two tablespoonfuls of cool water, and half a teaspoonful of salt; then stir in sufficient rye flour to make a butter. Beat thoroughly; cover and stand aside for three hours.

Then add sufficient rye flour to make a dough stiff enough to knead. Knead thoroughly; pound it, if you can, for five minutes. Shape it at once into loaves and put it into a greased pan. Stand aside for an hour, or an hour and a half, until it is very light; brush it with water, and bake it in a moderately quick oven for an hour.