A portable steam engine, of twelve-horse power, looking like a common railway locomotive strayed from its track and taken up and housed in a farmer’s waggon-shed, performs prodigies of activity and labor. Indeed, search the three realms through and through, and you would hardly find one on its own legs doing such remarkable varieties of work. Briareus, with all his fabled faculties, never had such numerous and supple fingers as this creature of human invention. When set a-going, they are clattering and whisking and frisking everywhere, on the barn-floor, on the hay-loft, in the granary, under the eaves, down cellar, and all this at the same time. It is doubtful if any stationary engine in a machine shop ever performed more diversified operations at once; thus proving most conclusively how a farmer may work motive power which it was once thought preposterous in him to think of using. It threshes wheat and other kinds of grain at the rate of from 400 to 500 bushels a day; it conveys the straw up to a platform across what we call the “great beams,” where it is cut into chaff and dropped into a great bay, at the trifling expense of sixpence, or twelve cents, per quantity grown on an acre! While it is doing this in one direction, it is turning machinery in another that cleans and weighs the grain off into sacks ready for the market. Open the doors right and left and you find it at work like reason, breaking oil-cake, grinding corn for the fat stock, turning the grindstone, pitching, pounding, paring, rubbing, grabbing, and twisting, threshing, wrestling, chopping, flopping, and hopping, after the manner of “The Waters of Lodore.”
The housings for live stock are most admirably constructed as well as extensive, and all the great yards are well fitted for making and delivering manure. I noticed here the best arrangement for feeding swine that I had ever seen before, and of a very simple character. Instead of revolving troughs, or those that are to be pulled out like drawers to be cleaned, a long, stationary one, generally of iron, extends across the whole breadth of the compartment next to the feeding passage. The board or picket-fence forming this end of the enclosure, from eight to twelve feet in length, is hung on a pivot at each side, playing in an iron ring or socket let into each of the upright posts that support it. Midway in the lower rail of this fence is a drop bolt which falls into the floor just behind the trough. At the feeding time, the man has only to raise this bolt and let it fall on the inner side, and he has the whole length and width of the trough free to clear with a broom and to fill with the feed. Then, raising the bolt, and bringing it back to its first place, the operation is performed in a minute with the greatest economy and convenience.