“A big company is getting ice on Round Lake three miles west, and I suppose they will sell you what you want,” said Thompson, “and our teams can haul it all right.”
“What do you suppose they will charge per ton on their platform?”
“From twenty-five to forty cents, I reckon.”
“All right, make as good a bargain as you can, and attend to it at the best time. When the teams are not hauling ice or wood, let them draw gravel from French’s pit. It will be hard to get it out in the winter, but I guess it can be done, and we will need a lot of it on these roads. Have it dumped at convenient places, and we will put it on the drives in the spring.
“Another thing,—we must have a bridge across the brook on each lane. You will find timbers and planks enough in the piles from the old barns to make good bridges, and the men can do the work. Then there is all that wire for the inside fences to stretch and staple; but mind, no barbed wire is to be put on top of inside fences.
“These five jobs will keep you busy for the next two months, for there’ll be only four men besides yourself to do them. I am going to set Sam at the chicken plant. I’ll see you before long, and we’ll go over the cow and hog plans; but you have your work cut out for the next two months. By the way, how much of an ice-house shall I need?”
“How many cows are you going to milk?”
“About forty when we run at full speed; perhaps half that number this year.”
“Well, then you’d better build a house for four hundred tons. That won’t be too big when you are on full time, and it’s a mighty bad thing to run short of ice.”
I saw Nelson the same day and contracted with him for an ice-house capable of holding four hundred tons, for $900. The walls of the house to be of three thicknesses of lumber with two air spaces (one four inches, the other two) without filling. As a result of the conference with Thompson, I had, before the first of March, a wood-house full of wood, which seemed a supply for two years at full steam; an ice-house nearly full of ice; two serviceable bridges across the brook; the wire fencing almost completed; and eighty loads of gravel,—about one-third of what I needed. The whole cash outlay was,—
300 tons of ice at 30 cents per ton $90.00
80 tons of gravel at 25 cents per load 20.00
Fence staples 19.00
The conference with Sam Jones, the hen man, was deferred until my next visit, and my plans for the cow barn, dairy-house, and hog-house were left to Nelson for consideration, he promising to give me estimates within a few days.
What shall we ask of the hen?