Farm life in 1910
June 16, 2008 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Farming with Dynamite Do stumps, clay or tired old soil have you down? Let "Red Cross" dynamite come to your rescue. (A blast from the past via )

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posted by caddis (34 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Is this product available at my local county co-op, or am I only allowed to get soil samples done these days?
posted by fijiwriter at 9:09 AM on June 16, 2008


1) Call it unhealthy, but the Hacker's Diet has worked for me.

2) "...a refrigerator with no moving parts other than the refrigerant..." The diagram isn't too clear. Does anyone know anything else about this? I don't see how this can work without violating the Second Law. Or is there a large reservoir at the top and it runs via gravitational potential energy, a la Hero's Fountain?

3) I remember reading this years ago and ever since I've wanted to try it.
posted by DU at 9:16 AM on June 16, 2008

Well, if I ever get transported back to 1910, I'll run to the pharmacy to get some opium, then to the general store to get some dynamite and begin work on my hemp farm immediately!
posted by horsemuth at 9:24 AM on June 16, 2008 [4 favorites]

Last season Mr. Williams proposed to the ladies of the Baptist church that he would give them a load of hay, provided they would come out the the place, shock the hay, load it on wagons and haul it to town. They took him at his word and shocked and hauled to town two tons which sold for $16. When the second crop was ready the ladies came again, and 'touched' Mr. Williams for a little more than two tons which sold as well as the first load.

Well, mostly hay. Some wild oats.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:24 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love Fermilab's Earth and Moon Viewer.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:31 AM on June 16, 2008

One in a series of helpful pamphlets about how dynamite can help you, the modern farmer of this new 20th century.

See also:
  • Fishing with Dynamite
  • Cotton Cultivation with Dynamite
  • Animal Husbandry with Dynamite
  • Curing the Nervous Woman with Dynamite

posted by boo_radley at 9:35 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yep, the north 40 blowed up real good!
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:36 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I grew up on an orchard and we used dynamite for removing old trees. 1910? More like 1980.
posted by boydmain at 9:39 AM on June 16, 2008

I know very little about farming, but this seems to make a lot of sense. If you knew what you were doing, I don't see how it could be more dangerous than trying to winch old stumps and large rocks out with chains and tractors. More fun, too.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:45 AM on June 16, 2008

My friends and I used to play with explosives a lot when we were younger. It probably helped that my first job was third shift at a place with no on site leadership, and a quarry right behind it. Once we used a half stick of dynamite to launch an industrial garbage can fifty feet in the air.

So a few years ago when we needed to do some tree trimming my wife caught me staring speculatively at the branches, I turned to her and said, "You know, there's a way we can do this all at once..."

To which she immediately responded, "No. You aren't going to use det-cord on our tree."

Which just goes to show that she knows me way too well.

It's a damn shame too. It would have been awesome! Overgrown tree, click, boom, smoke clears... pruned tree. (maybe on fire)
posted by quin at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2008 [10 favorites]

Quin - you are my hero for today.
posted by JibberJabber at 9:52 AM on June 16, 2008

Last weekend, some friends and I, we took a bunch of Mentos and a liter of Coke and...

on preview, nevermind.
posted by hal9k at 9:57 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Books of this type were produced at least into the 1940's. The elderly copy I learned from in the '70's covered ditch digging, stump removal, small scale quarrying, rock removal and much more in considerable detail. Dynamite was not, by then, available at the general store - it required a licence (still have that) and had to be purchased from an elderly gentleman who ran an impressive set of magazines in a remote part of the county.
Ah - happy days!
posted by speug at 10:15 AM on June 16, 2008

Replying to myself: The Einstein refrigerator

I was thinking that the area labeled "heat" in the diagram was either where the heat comes out or where you put the thing you want to lose heat. In fact, it seems to be neither. The entire thing sounds like a fluidyne engine. You apply heat to do work, which in this case also happens to be forcing OTHER heat up a gradient out of the fridge.
posted by DU at 10:28 AM on June 16, 2008

To which she immediately responded, "No. You aren't going to use det-cord on our tree.

... You've got to use shaped-charge cutters for branches that big."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:38 AM on June 16, 2008

My dad was a demolitions expert in the Marine Corp, and after that he remained qualified to buy explosives. We had a small farm, and he used to dynamite stumps all the time. It's great fun until you set the field on fire! He also used to fish with it from time to time. I was the only 5 year old that I know of that knew what a blasting cap looked like.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:03 AM on June 16, 2008

As a child, I only knew what a blasting cap looked like because of the public service announcements on early-morning kids TV featuring stern State Policemen telling us not to play with things that looked like this (orange thing) or this (yellow thing) or this (green thing) if we found them in the woods or fields.

It sounded like the coolest toy in the world. For years I kept hoping I would find a blasting cap when we played in houses under construction.
posted by ardgedee at 11:17 AM on June 16, 2008

Our old neighbor growing up was missing an eye and three fingers from playing with blasting caps as a child. So needless to say, I steered clear of them and favored, instead, glass baby food jars packed with black powder and a waterproof fuse. I don't think it's fishing though if you throw them off of the top of a train trestle into the river.
posted by mrmojoflying at 11:26 AM on June 16, 2008

Shower of shit over Cheshire RIP Dereck.
a little bit of Youtubery.
posted by adamvasco at 11:30 AM on June 16, 2008

The Einstein refrigerator

I was thinking that the area labeled "heat" in the diagram was either where the heat comes out or where you put the thing you want to lose heat. In fact, it seems to be neither. The entire thing sounds like a fluidyne engine.

It sounds very similar to an absorbtion refrigerator, which is the type commonly used in boats or recreational vehicles. It's run by heat (typically a small flame that runs from the propane tank) and doesn't require electricity or any moving parts.
posted by flug at 11:38 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I nearly got my head taken off by a cable that snapped on a "come-along" pulling out a tree - so I would have to agree with jeff-o-matic.
posted by Liosliath at 12:07 PM on June 16, 2008

When I went to school at a cow-college, the Ag department offered a course titled "Agricultural uses of dynamite". It was a field course, and its purpose was to teach the students how to blow up boulders and tree stumps without getting themselves killed.

Another thing they learned was how to use dynamite to dig drainage ditches.
posted by Class Goat at 12:33 PM on June 16, 2008

Interestingly, according to the "inflation calculator", the $18 to remove those stumps in PA in 1910 would cost $410.55 today....still pretty cheap for a buncha stumps...coming from someone who has had to remove stumps manually.
posted by TomMelee at 12:45 PM on June 16, 2008

Somebody has built one of those refrigerators.
posted by caddis at 1:13 PM on June 16, 2008

If anyone had any doubt that blowing up stuff is a guy thing, this thread removes that doubt.
posted by Cranberry at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2008

I'm sure it's a freudian slip, but I read the headline as "Farting with Dynamite".

My younger sister is an attorney for the state department of natural resources, and as part of her ongoing training on mining and safety matters, is taking a course on blasting. She's going to actually get to do a big detonation at an abandoned coal mine later this summer. I assure you, she's as excited about that as any guy would be.
posted by Mcable at 2:20 PM on June 16, 2008

Say what you will about farming with dynamite, (and I do love me some blowing some shit up now and then, like any good American boy) but that is one really lovingly crafted and handsome volume. The typesetting and decoration puts 99.73% of all modern publications to utter shame. I'd love to own a copy, as a work of art.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:13 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

For some reason you find big basalt boulders in people's yards all over Seattle. I had about a dozen in my front yard which I never cared for. I underestimated how many strikes with a sledgehammer it would take to shatter them into pieces small enough to carry off. I rented an electric jackhammer at one point, which was by and large ineffective. I tried the "Roman" method, which was heating the boulders with a large propane torch then dousing them with water in order to cause them to fracture. Largely unsuccessful. Eventually I utilized a roto hammer with a 5/8" bit and drilled three holes adjacent to each other several inches down. I then pounded in a conventional steel wedge. This worked fairly well. I removed two or three F-100 truck loads of rock from my front yard this way.

Yeah, I recognize the city of Seattle frowns on using dynamite in one's front yard, but damn, if it wouldn't have been easier....
posted by Tube at 4:44 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Reading this book I can't help thinking about some 1950s science books filled with all kinds of chemistry experiments. Back then, any home experimenter could have gotten nearly any chemical they wanted. The "terrorists won" situation seems to not be a recent thing... it started perhaps in the 1970s? Or maybe litigation was the catalyst for change? Whatever, I can hardly argue with the nanny state theories.
posted by crapmatic at 6:45 PM on June 16, 2008

Tube, I wonder if Dexpan. (via) would have worked. You drill holes, place in this goop, and wait. The goop expands, and the concrete or boulder cracks. Never tried it.

Generically, they're apparently called Non-explosive demolition agents. Aka not-as-much-fun.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:09 PM on June 16, 2008

crapmatic, the 1970s was the big era of eliminating unsafe toys.

I had one of those full-featured chemistry sets, thanks to a generous family friend, and while most of my time spent with it was rather uneventful, there was this time I managed to make something that kept bubbling and expanding and heating up so very quickly ....
posted by dhartung at 9:25 PM on June 16, 2008

I see your dynamite farming and raise you thermonuclear mining.
posted by scodger at 10:28 PM on June 16, 2008

I printed this booklet out nicely and used it as a Father's Day card.
posted by wtdoor at 3:31 PM on June 17, 2008

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