A Compendium of Useful Information for the Practical Man/Farm Work by Month
The following instructions are especially suited to our Northern latitudes. Slight variations will be necessary in the South, owing to the early seasons of that part of the country.
There is little particular work for January in cold latitudes, except that which has been left over from December, or which is general work for all winter. When the ground is open, late fall and early spring work of a colder latitude appropriately occupy the farmer more or less during the winter months.
Guard against damage by water, during thaws, about buildings and in the field.
The Work Shop.- A workshop, provided with the most important carpenters', painters', and metalworkers' tools, is what every farmer should have. Let it contain a bench with vise, nails, screws, a hammer, hatchet and drawing knife, saws, planes, chisels, center bits and stock, and other carpenters' tools. Paints, pots and brushes, of two or three sizes; varnish pot and glue pot ; a steel-jawed vise, assortments of files, cold chisels, monkeywrench and other wrenches, an anvil, or a hard-wood block, which will do for one; strong pincers, a set of round, square-jawed and cutting pliers, and a soldering iron; sheets of tin, wires, rivets, etc.; besides a good stock of boards and timber of various kinds. Add to this a few simple articles of the harness-makers' kit. such as awls, wax, thread, rivets, with "set" punches, and leather. Thus provided, many a profitable day's work may be done.
Buildings.— On mild days open and air thoroughly, especially the cellars. Look to the protection of roofs, water pipes, etc., against frost.
Stock. — Keep no more than can be kept well. Horses, with enough to eat, wilt beat exposure much better than cows and young cattle. Give good shelter to all ; if possible, warm, but well-ventilated stables, which arc a great economy of food. Let no stock run down m flesh; "spring poor" cattle are a burning disgrace. It will be weeks before poor oxen will be able to do a good day's work in the spring. Milk cows? especially young ones, to within five or six weeks of calving, and feed well. Grain or oilcake pays its cost twice over; once in fat or milk, and once in the better quality of the manure. Feed sheep grain, in small, but regular quantities, and see that each gets its share ; give all kinds range of a good dry yard, and warm sheds for nights and wet weather. Salt .in'! water are essentials to the well-being of all kinds of domestic animals, summer and winter. Fattening stock should be fed and watered regularly, keep very clean, in warm stables, well ventilated, and abundantly littered ; give exercise and air on mild days. Ground and cooked food, except for sheep, perhaps, is a great economy.
Corn, Small Grains, Straw or Hay, may be still on hand for sale. If sold, you "owe the land a debt which you must repay, or be poorer, for it is a draft on your capital. Watch the markets, calculate probabilities, and sell when a fair price is offered ; but get the full market price as near as you can. Never sell hay or straw or grain without conscientiously returning an equivalent in the purchase of corn-fodder, oilcake, ot grain for feeding, or bones for manure.
Permanent Improvements. — It is a good time to plan for building or alteration to buildings, and for such work as reclaiming swamps, clearing off stumps, moving walls, old fences, and the accumulated rubbish of neglected parts of the farm.
The winter is often open enough to do much labor in the swamps in getting out muck and similar work, and that which has been weathered enough may be hauled to the barn, or to places where you mean to make compost heap.
Ice. — The time for gathering the store of ice in cold latitudes may pass quickly. Early in the month, prepare the house ; clear out the old stock, if low ; see that the drain and air trap work well, that the flooring is level, and the bed at the bottom is shaken up and dried. Cut the ice in blocks to pack evenly in the house ; if it is a small one, pack in the coldest weather, when the ice is very cold and dry.