The first thing to do, I told them, was to move the large farm-house to the site already chosen, about two hundred yards distant, enlarge it, and put a first-class cellar under the whole. The principal change needed in the house was an additional story on the ell, which would give a chamber eighteen by twenty-six, with closets five feet deep, to be used as a sleeping room for the men. I intended to change the sitting room, which ran across the main house, into a dining and reading room twenty feet by twenty-five, and to improve the shape and convenience of the kitchen by pantry and lavatory. There must also be a well-appointed bathroom on the upper floor, and set tubs in the kitchen. My men would dig the cellar, and the mason was to put in the foundation walls (twelve inches thick and two feet above ground), the cross or division walls, and the chimneys. He was also to put down a first-class cement floor over the whole cellar and approach. The house was to be heated by a hot-water system; and I afterward let this job to a city man, who put in a satisfactory plant for $500.
We had hardly finished with the carpenter and the mason when we saw our wagons turning into the grounds. We left the contractors to their measurements, plans, and figures, while we hastened to turn the teams back, as they must go to the cottage on the north forty. The horses looked a little done up by the heat and the unaccustomed journey, but Thompson said: “They’re all right,—stood it first-rate.”
The cottage and out-buildings furnished scanty accommodations for men and beasts, but they were all that we could provide. I told the men to make themselves and the horses as comfortable as they could, then to milk the cows and feed the hogs, and call it a day.
While the others were unloading and getting things into shape, I called Thompson off for a talk. “Thompson,” I said, “you are to have the oversight of the work here for the present, and I want you to have some idea of my general plan. This experiment at farming is to last years. We won’t look for results until we are ready to force them, but we are to get ready as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will have to do things in an awkward fashion, and not always for immediate effect. We must build the factory before we can turn out the finished product. The cows, for instance, must be cared for until we can dispose of them to advantage. Half of them, I fancy, are ‘robber cows,’ not worth their keep (if it costs anything to feed them), and we will certainly not winter them. Keep your eye on the herd, and be able to tell me if any of them will pay. Milk them carefully, and use what milk, cream, and butter you can, but don’t waste useful time carting milk to market—feed it to the hogs rather. If a farmer or a milkman will call for it, sell what you have to spare for what he will give, and have done with it quickly. You are to manage the hogs on the same principle. Fatten those which are ready for it, with anything you find on the place. We will get rid of the whole bunch as soon as possible. You see, I must first clear the ground before I can build my factory. Let the hens alone for the present; you can eat them during the winter.