While tearing my desk apart on a mission to find something, I did find something. It was not the something I was looking for, but something else. Several pieces of something else, in fact. I have, it would appear, an abundant supply of something else.
Take this little gem, which turned up on a desk at the Farm Collector offices during a chaotic stretch early in the pandemic. No one knew how or why or from whence it came. Honestly. You’d think it just drifted in through an open window. Many thanks to those named at the bottom of the sheet of paper: Forada (Minn.) Threshing Co., Scott Erikson and Joe C. Steinhagen.
Steam Whistle Signals
Steam is up: one long.
Come to work: one long, one short.
Belt will start: two short.
Belt will stop: one short.
Water is low: six short.
Fire: one long, five short (repeat).
Runaway team: two short, one long, one short.
Grain wagon late: three short.
Bundle wagon late: one short, one long and two short.
Lunch or closing: one long (hold).
Then there are these suggestions of jobs for rainy days, from a 1921 agricultural almanac produced by John Baer’s Sons, Inc., Lancaster, Pennsylvania: “Clean up the stable and harness-room. Answer letters and correspondence in general. Then, when all your work is finished, as you think, ask your wife what to do and you will have no trouble in filling in the time until the rain is over and outdoor work is again possible.”
A practical tip from the Baer almanac explains how to double the life of your broom (hang it from a hook; never let it be left standing on the straw). When wear causes it to become one-sided, remove the bottom two rows of stitching, soak the broom in hot water and trim it to a new sharp edge. Finally, when the broom once more becomes lopsided, trim the straw to a point, making it an efficient cleaner for corners and around the legs of heavy furniture and machinery.
And finally, a pearl of wisdom from an old friend, now gone:
How short is time? Sign a note for 30 days and it’s mighty short.
What’s that I hear? One long, one short? Time for the editor to get to work. Until next time! FC
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