The new year opened full of all sorts of interests and new projects. There were so many things to plan for and to commence at the farm that we often got a good deal mixed up. I can hardly expect to make a connected narrative of the various plans and events, so will follow each one far enough to launch it and then leave it for future development.
Little snow fell in January and February ’96. The weather was average winter weather, and a good deal of outdoor work was done. On the 2d I went to the farm to plan with Thompson an outline for the two months. I had decided to make Thompson the foreman, for I had watched him carefully for five months and was satisfied that I might go farther and fare a great deal worse. Indeed, I thought myself very fortunate to have found such a dependable man. He was temperate and good-natured, and he had a bluff, hearty way with the other men that made it easy for them to accept his directions. He was thorough, too, in his work. He knew how a job should be done, and he was not satisfied until it was finished correctly. He was not a worker for work’s sake, as was Anderson, but he was willing to put his shoulder to the wheel for results.
“Wait till I get my shoulder under it,” was a favorite expression with him, and I am frank to say that when this conjunction took place there was apt to be something doing. Thompson is still at Four Oaks, and it will be a bad day for the farm when he leaves.
“Thompson,” said I, “you are to be working foreman out here, and I want you to put your mind on the business and keep it there. I cannot raise your wages, for I have a system; but you shall have $50 as a Christmas present if things go well. Will you stay on these terms?”
“I will stay, all right, Dr. Williams, and I will give the best I’ve got. I like the looks of this place, and I want to see how you are going to work it out.”
That being settled, I told Thompson of some things that must be done during January and February.
“You must get out a great lot of wood, have it sawed, and store it in the shed, more than enough for a year’s use. The wood should be taken from that which is already down. Don’t cut any standing trees, even though they are dead. Use all limbs that are large enough, but pile the brushwood where it can be burned. We must do wise forestry in these woods, and we will have an unlimited supply of fuel. I mean that the wood lot shall grow better rather than worse as the years go by. We cannot do much for it now, but more in time. You must see to it that the men are not careless about young trees,—no breaking or knocking down will be in order. Another thing to look after is the ice supply. I will get Nelson to build an ice-house directly, and you must look around for the ice. Have you any idea as to where it can be had?”