Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ice Cutters

Good Sunday morning to you all. Today we feature a picture of ice cutters which was taken in 1910. In the days before refrigeration, ice would be cut from frozen lakes, and stored in ice houses. The ice would then be sold throughout the year for "ice boxes", a type of refrigerator which was kept cold with a block of ice inside. The men are taking a break at the soup house. I can not imagine anything that would be more enjoyable for ice cutters than a warm cup of soup. I really like soup, and when properly made, it is one of the best meals to have, in my mind.

Domestic Update:

I am pleased to let you know that things are going very well out in the bean barn. We harvested our first vegetables this week . . . a head of lettuce and a cucumber. To harvest the lettuce, you just pull it out of the nutrient tray. It comes out, roots and all. Then, if you keep the roots moist, the lettuce continues to be alive, and will stay nice and crisp. In fact, it looks so good it would make a pretty centerpiece.

We ate the cucumber, and it was delicious. Not a hint of bitterness, and the skin was smooth tasty, and not waxy or thick. Mrs. PJM was so proud of the head of lettuce, she took it into work to show it off. When she took it in, immediately, everyone wanted to buy it from her. She did not take it in to sell, but to show it off. She finally agreed to sell it, and got $2.50 for it. Then, everyone else wanted one, so she took orders, and basically sold out our entire first crop there all at once. 

Seeing how popular the lettuce is, and how well it grows in the channel trays, I decided to order a much larger system. My present test system has spots for growing 36 heads of lettuce. The new one I ordered will have 350 growing slots. A wise move, or just the latest incarnation of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Only time will tell.

If you remember last Sunday I showed you a little cucumber that was an inch long. Here is that same cucumber today. Notice how much it grew in one week! The cucumbers are grown in buckets that sit on the floor. The bucket is filled with perlite. Once an hour the system fills the buckets up with nutrients, and then the nutrients drain out the bottom, and are taken by a pipe back to the nutrient tank. By keeping the nutrient tank properly balanced, the cucumbers are constantly fed a perfect diet. Seeing that this system is working very well, I ordered the components to triple the number of plants I can grow like this. This system is also used for peppers, tomatoes, and pretty much any other vine like plant.

I have been experimenting with other vine type plants. I am having lots of success, and have found that just about anything will grow in these buckets. You can see below that a watermelon is coming on. Now, the days are getting shorter, so we will have to see if the baby watermelon can grow into a ripe fruit with shorter and shorter winter days.

With the successful production of cucumbers and lettuce, and with the successful sale of the lettuce crop, I feel I am growing ever closer to achieving my dream of being a gentleman farmer.


  1. Man that stuff looks good; especially the lettuce; if only we could get stuff that good in the store

  2. I would assume that you have grow lights on a timer that you could have come on for awhile at about sundown. Then turn off later in the evening.

    Well, you have my official vote as a "Gentleman Farmer" Good job PJM.

    I can't believe how much that cucumber grew in just a week.

    My brother-in-law lived in Forgo ND in the 60's, and he worked in the winter harvesting ice blocks from the Red River of the North.
    It was a very simple system they used. They start at the ice storage house and cut a channel out to the harvest area and when a block was cut free they were able to float it with ease to the conveyer that would lift it into the house. The had big long saws that looked a lot like a saw that a lumber jack would use.

  3. You are definitely a Gentleman Farmer already. You can add it to your resume now. The entire Bean Barn saga has been very interesting.

  4. Come on everybody.
    Let's vote on PJM status as Gentelman Farmer.
    Just a Yes or a not yet.
    Cast your votes now.

  5. Wow, Im so happy for your, here in Puerto Rico the climate is very tropical and all that can grow, but our dogs (two rotwieller and a little mix chiguagua)arent farmer friendly and destroy almost everything, lol, but how wonderful for you. It must be such a proud feeling to actually pick and eat your own produce, luck always, and jealous, lol,!!!!!

  6. PJM, plant some Black Diamond watermelons, so we can see them grow into 30# giants.

  7. Wishing my greenhouse would be up soon. Its taking longer to get built than I thought since its only 10x12.
    The test crop is very impressive and it sounds like you are beginning a new business...
    You have my vote for a "Gentleman Farmer".

  8. Beautifully done, Gentleman Farmer!

  9. Beautiful vegetables. Will you be taking mail orders?

    Re today's photo, my house originally had an icebox in the back hall. My refrigerator was in the same spot until I remodeled the kitchen last year.

  10. In Finland it was usual still in fifties, that there was a huge "iceberg" especially in the milk farms. It was covered with sawdust, which isolated it good to the next winter.

    The saw was long, like that one, which was used by sawing planks so that one man was standing up on the rack and the other under.

    When you were cutting ice, there was only one man - depending on the circumsdances :)

  11. For your personal-use lettuce, you can extend the harvest by not picking the entire head but just a select number of leaves at a time. That way you can have fresh lettuce almost constantly.

  12. Ok, let me see if I have this right. To become a Gentleman Farmer one needs a tractor and a greenhouse. Just how do you use the tractor IN the green house. tee hee. Just wondering. It all looks wonderful.

  13. I'm curious what that grey material is you have in the top of your dutch buckets> I am using them in growing tomatoes, and don't have anything covering them.

  14. It is like a styrofoam covering. It keeps moss from growing on the top of the perlite.


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