Making Home Profitable
MAKING HOME PROFITABLE
KATE V. SAINT-MAUR
AUTHOR OF “THE EARTH’S BOUNTY,” ETC.
STURGIS & WALTON
|A Border of Hardy Perennials||Frontispiece|
|The Poultry Yard||48|
|A Flock of Turkeys||64|
|Ducks and Geese||72|
|A Corner of the Vegetable Garden||96|
|A Cellar Store-Room||186|
MAKING HOME PROFITABLE
MAKING HOME PROFITABLE
A PROFITABLE HOME
It is just sixteen years since misfortune broughtabout our emancipation. A disastrous businessventure made it necessary to curtail expenses.Rent being an especially heavy item, the hunt for acheaper habitation commenced. Toiling up and downinnumerable stuffy staircases in tow of slatternly janitorsrevealed the fact that cheap flats were either over-crowdedbarracks redolent of dirty soapsuds and stalecooking, or overdecorated cubbyholes where childrenwere tabooed. Evening after evening for two weeksI returned home weary and discouraged.
Then chance, in the shape of a poultry show, cameto my relief. Instead of a cheap flat and semi-darkrooms, why not a house and garden, where we couldhave chickens, eggs and vegetables of our own?Friends scoffed; and even my husband, who had alwaysjoined me in planning the ideal home of our oldage, as a place far from the noise and rush of the city,where we could indulge our love of flowers and animals,demurred at first, though he eventually becameimbued with my enthusiasm, and told me to go ahead4if I felt equal to shouldering the responsibilities whichcity duties would obviously prevent his sharing.
He stipulated also that transportation to and fromhis business in the city, and all other expenses, shouldcome within the newly necessary curtailment of expenses,which limited rent to twenty-five dollars amonth and the housekeeping allowance to twelve dollarsa week; that none of our very limited capitalshould be risked, excepting one hundred dollars tocover expense of moving, etc., and that even this sumshould be considered as a loan. To satisfy the dearman’s cautious, masculine ideas of fairness, I tooktwenty-four hours to consider the conditions, and then,with solemn, businesslike gravity, accepted.
A painstaking advertisement in a Sunday paper, statingplainly that we wanted a small farm near the cityand a railway station, the rent not to exceed fifteendollars a month, brought dozens of letters offering allsorts of places at all sorts of distances and prices, butonly six real answers. With the writers of these sixletters I corresponded; studied innumerable railwayguides; took several fruitless journeys; hesitated abouttwo or three places, then just stumbled upon the rightplace.
It is like choosing a new hat or garment. You likethat one, but this one is more becoming. You suddenlysee something else quite different—hesitancy isover; the unconscious ideal is found.
The house was long and low and white, standing atthe end of the road, facing a somewhat neglected, old-fashioned5flower garden, which verged into five acresof orchard bounded by a river. The man who wasdriving me didn’t know to whom the place belonged.I got out, looked in at the windows, made out thatthere was a wide hall through the centre and two bigold-fashioned fireplaces and a lot of odd cupboards.
Outside there was a wood-shed, summer kitchen,small smoke-house, barn, cow shed, corn-crib andchicken house. My original destination was forgotten.I was driven back to the station; found out whothe owner was, and where he lived; drove over there,and ascertained that the house contained four largerooms and one small one, kitchen, pantry and two cellarsdownstairs, and five rooms and an attic upstairs.
There are one hundred and eighty acres of land ormore, but the landlord would divide it to suit goodtenants, which he evidently thought we would be, forsubsequently we arranged to take the house, buildings,orchard, twelve acres of farm land and four acres ofwoodland on a three years’ lease, at a rental of fifteendollars a month, with the privilege of taking the remainderof the land at any time during our tenancyfor an extra five dollars a month, and an option ofpurchase.
Really, it seemed too good to be true, for it waswithin the prescribed distance from the city and depot,the price of commutation being only six dollars amonth. The river, the old-fashioned garden with itstwo great catalpa trees shading the house, and thebeauty of the surrounding scenery, made it almost a6realization of our ideal home. Thankful joy filledour hearts even before we had experienced the gloriousinvigoration of an industrious outdoor life on thefarm, where each day brings some new interest.
All our goods and chattels, including two cats and acanary, were packed in two vans, which took them theentire twenty-eight miles for thirty dollars. A kitchenstove cost thirty-five dollars; three wash tubs, fourlamps and a few necessary tools absorbed anothertwenty-five dollars; and the last ten of the hundreddollars was spent in straw matting, which we dividedbetween two bedrooms.
Of course, I had to start at the very bottom of theladder, buying only with the money that I could savefrom week to week from my housekeeping allowance.A few hens, a few ducks, gradually through the poultryfamily, then an incubator and brooder, to the dignityof a horse and cow; after whose acquisition, thehome became self-supporting, the third year showinga surplus profit.
Of course, there were difficulties and troubles to beovercome, but they were all the direct result of myown ignorance. A friend well posted in country-homemaking, from whom I could have acquired vicariousexperience, would have prevented most ofthem. Hence my desire to pass on to practical lessons,learned during the last sixteen years, for the benefit ofother women.
Our old-fashioned white house and shady garden7might not appeal to every one, but no matter whatindividual taste may demand in architecture and environment,there are certain points which must beobserved to insure the health and happiness which weall desire. The house must be on high ground, withgood subdrainage. How to be sure of the latter pointpuzzled me, until an old real-estate man, in answer tomy praise of a place we were passing, said:
“Handsome? Yes, but it is a death trap. Dig ahole six feet deep anywhere around the house, and intwelve hours there will be water at the bottom of it.”
Needless to say, this place was not on his list, butthe hint was a good one and has been remembered.Wet meadows and spring ponds may give no anxiety,but stagnant water is dangerous, for it breeds mosquitoesand malaria. Fortunately, it is generally easilyabolished; an able-bodied man with a shovel can usuallydig a gutter to some near-by fall in the natural gradeof the land that will drain it. Mosquitoes were oneof our troubles for two years; then three hours’ workbanished their breeding-ground.
As it is a permanent home, and not a summer camp,which is being selected, shelter from cold winds isimportant. The woodland on our place protectedbarns, house and orchard. If there is no natural wind-break,and the place is satisfactory enough otherwiseto make you contemplate buying it in future, it willbe wise to plant out quick-growing trees, which usuallycan be bought for little or nothing in the country, and8transplanted when quite a good size. Inexpensivecountry houses do not have furnaces, and like us, youmay not be able to afford one for a year or two.
We found that two large stoves, with the pipes arrangedto pass through the ceiling and into radiatorsin the rooms above, and thence into the chimney, wouldheat four rooms. The pipe of the kitchen range canbe utilized in the same way. Stoves with cracks andpoor fire bricks waste fuel and warmth, so don’t tryto economise on stoves.
We have always used an open hearth in the living-room,because it looks so cheerily comfortable, and adoor at the opposite end of the room opens into thedining-room, allowing the air from there to come in,and so preventing the cold backs which are the usualdrawback of a picturesque open fire.
One of the joys of depending on stoves is being ableto regulate the heat in each room to meet all conditions.Our apartment in town was of the better class, yet