The Old Time Farm Magazines: Filtering Cistern Water, Feeding Birds in Winter and How to Peel Tomatoes

Read articles from old farm magazines that give advice on how to peel tomatoes, taking care of animals and filtering cistern water.

| November/December 1972

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    Good advice is good advice. These old-time farm magazine articles give just that.
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    A nice sketch of loading ice easily.
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    A picture of a post being lifted by a frost.
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    A simple diagram of a frost proof cellar.

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MOTHER has been compared so many times to the early farm publications, that we've gone back to some 1882 AMERICAN AGRICULTURISTs, 1892 FARM AND HOMEs and 1906 FARM AND FIRESIDEs to make a few comparisons. Yes, sure enough. Those old periodicals were mainly crammed full of how-to-articles and letters from their readers just like MOTHER — with all the ads stuck off in the back just like MOTHER. Matter of fact, we felt so much at home rummaging around in those "outdated" farm papers that we decided to bring you the best of what we found. Here then, are four pages of mostly good ideas, a few "just for fun" tips, and some great old ads from the past.  

The Close of the Year

December is the first month of winter and the last of the year. It is a most fitting time for taking an "account of stock." Storekeepers and businessmen know the importance of this work. The goods are overhauled and an exact list of all the articles, with their value, is made out; and from this, with the expenditures, the balance for the year is obtained. The farmer should do the same thing with his farm property, that he may also know how much he has made or lost during the year. The task is not a great one, as the sheep, horses, implements, grain, etc., can be catalogued rapidly, and when it is done there is a feeling of satisfaction that more than pays for the trouble. It may be somewhat difficult to estimate accurately some of the items, as for example the amount of labor expended upon a crop still upon the ground. A system of farm accounts kept from week to week will aid greatly in all such cases.

Filtering Cistern Water


While visiting a friend last year, I was surprised to find that he was compelled to use cistern water for alt purposes. In answer to my inquiries, he stated that no well water was to be had in that section short of one hundred feet, and then the quality was such that no one could use it. Springs were unknown. Three miles distant was a creek to which all live stock was driven, when cisterns and ponds failed. The water in the house cistern was simply abominable, caused by keeping the spout turned on, and running in every drop that fell on the house. At his earnest solicitation, I constructed a filter for his cistern. He recently informed me that it works like a charm and that his neighbors are all using it. The filter is a large barrel with one end knocked out. At the bottom is a layer of fine charcoal. Above this is a layer of fine gravel; over this is a layer of coarse gravel, on the top of the barrel is a thin strainer, held in place by a hoop which fits over the barrel. The cloth is depressed in the center. This strainer catches all leaves and coarse dirt, and should be cleaned after every shower. Some use a wire strainer of very- fine mesh, but the cloth answers the purpose very well. The filtered water flows through a hole. Into this hole a metal tube a foot or more long, punched full of holes, and covered with wire netting, is inserted. Six inches below the top is another hole; which is fitted with a short pipe.

During a heavy shower the overflow runs out of this hole, and into a spout provided for it. The barrel has a small shed built overit, to protect it from the sun and weather. This shed should open at one end, so the barrel can be taken out at any time. The top is movable to allow the strainer to be cleaned. The lower section of the water-spout should be loose, so that it may be moved up or down, and turned. The elbow rests on a block, or bracket, and the water flows through a hole in the cover of the shed, into the barrel. When the cistern is full, the elbow is turned, and drops down to a block, and throws the water into the spout to be carried away, or into a " wash water" cistern nearby. The above arrangement may be modified to suit different circumstances and places. When rain water is used exclusively for cooking and drinking, it is best to have a cistern for it alone, and a separate one for wash water. At the beginning of a storm, it is well to let the rain wash the roof for an hour or two, before the stream is allowed to enter the cistern. This is especially necessary where pigeons and outer birds collect upon the roots, as well as to wash off accumulated dust.

Feeding Birds in the Winter

As staple food, nothing is better and nothing is so cheap as good Indian corn, and one meal a day may safely be of this grain, either ground or whole. Grinding is of less consequence for poultry than for the larger animals, as every bird carries a complete mill for this purpose, and puts in a new run of stones as often as it can get to the ground. A variety of grain is always acceptable; wheat screenings, buckwheat, oats, and rye, the last rather sparingly. Cooked food is highly relished—potatoes or turnips, boiled and mashed with Indian meal, scalded and fed warm, especially on frosty mornings. Fowls are very fond of vegetables, eaten raw, and if sugar-beets or mangels or turnips are put within reach, they will help themselves. For an appetizer, nothing is better than cabbage or the tops o£ turnips. Hens never tire of cabbage, and a good supply for winter should always be laid in. Animal food in some shape must be furnished, if you want plenty of eggs, Shore farmers can get fish offal from the markets, clams from the banks, or minnows from the ditches. Skimmed milk is always in order, and meat scraps front fat trying establishments, sold in large cakes, and placed where the hens have free access to them, are a cheap and excellent food for laying poultry.

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