Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Money Savings on the Farm ...

Building advice from a 1946 farming book ...
"Many farms do not have running water. Naturally this will be one of the first major improvements a farmer will make; but until running water is available, here's the way to construct a practical shower bath for less than a five-dollar bill. 
Choose a corner of the shed, ell, or a back room. Have a sheet metal pan made at the local tinsmith's. It should be 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, and the sides should be 6 inches high. At one end, flush with the bottom, have an inch hole. Have a pipe from the hole go through the side of the shed or house.
Set the pan on a sufficient slant so the water will drain out and carry most of the dirt with it. Then at the high end of the pan, set a two-by-four or a peeled oak post three inches in diameter. The post must be firmly nailed at the top and fit tightly against the bottom of the pan. At about 5 3/4 feet from the floor of the pan, drive a spike into the side of the post. On this spike hang a 12-quart garden watering can with the spray-type nozzle. Twelve quarts will give a person an ample bath. as the water runs out, the can turns slowly downward so the shower keeps going.
Around the whole thing hang a regular shower curtain or oil cloth. The writer has been using this type of shower for 13 years and knows how it works. When one comes in sweaty and dirty from the field, there's nothing so refreshing as a good shower. The water necessary for tempering cold water is heated on the kitchen oil stove. In very hot weather an extra pail of cold water may be appreciated.
If one has this shower in a small room or a section closed in by canvas, it would be possible to use it the year round by warming the nook with a portable oil heater or an electric sunbowl."
I bet you are wishing you hadn't gone to the expense of installing that fancy shower in your house. All you needed was a 12-quart garden watering can! Of course it's only funny now because of the advancements we have made ... I'm sure in 1946 it was helpful!


Yeoman said...

You know though, one of the real shifts in farming was a change, post 1919, as to what farmers expected in terms of a "standard of living".

I can't recall what book I read it in. It may have been in Problems of Plenty, or in the short biography of Willis Cochrane that was written a few years ago, but the author actually documented that prior to around 1919, farm families had a different set of economic expectations as opposed to those in town. Later, probably really staring in with the New Deal, and accelerating thereafter, the Department of Agriculture actually encourage farmers to expect the same sort of living as those in town had. Their thinking was well meaning, but it wasn't well thought out.

That was a highly materialistic way of looking at life, and it essentially encouraged a view that what really mattered in life was stuff. People in town had more stuff, in their little town lots and small (by modern standards) homes. But given their jobs, this made sense. Rural people had less of that sort of stuff (and more of other sort of stuff), but they were encouraged to think that they needed the same stuff.

That's not really easy to do, if you are really living in the sticks. Farmers in Montana complain today about the Hutterites, who are very hard to compete with economically, but the reason for that is that they need less stuff.

I'm not saying that we should forgo hot showers (indeed, I'm not saying that at all), but in large part what makes farming or ranching worthwhile is the lifestyle. The distractions of town life are just that. Being more self sufficient where we can, and worrying less about Xbots or whatever is probably a sound idea.

mySavioReigns said...

An aunt of mine was just telling me the other day about something very similar. Her grandmother had this type of "shower," but it was outside... they used it a few times a week. She said that her grandmother ended up getting a bathtub with indoor plumbing and...used it to hold her plants! Lol, she said she never would use it.

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