1. Is it technically possible?Before attempting to get anywhere with this, we must recognize that the mere presence of electric lines at a farmer's door does not always make it practicable for him to use the electrical energy for all types of service. There are economic limitations set by the cost of power, of apparatus, of service. It would not pay to try to heat one's house on "5-cent juice." The energy costs too much for that. It would not pay for a man with a very small dairy herd to install milking machines. The apparatus costs too much for the short time it is to be used. It would not pay for a farmer five miles from town to put in a line for lighting purposes. The service costs too much for the small amount of use.
2. Is it economically practicable?
3. Is it desirable?
Even after taking these things into account, we still have to consider many other angles. If I cannot heat my house on 5-cent energy, what can I afford to pay for it for that purpose? If I cannot get electric energy for lighting my house at 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, what can I afford to pay? How far can I go?
The latter question at once brings out a personal factor:
How badly do I desire the electric lighting? How much am I willing to pay
for the added convenience, serviceability, safety, effectiveness, etc.?
The question cannot be settled on the basis of cost only. for my pleasure
and desires enter in very definitely. Therefore. no one but a man's own
self can answer the question. "Can I afford it?" And he must expect to
answer it upon rather limited information as regards probable costs.
Suppose a service line is already run to A's farm. It will depend upon how much use A makes of the electric energy as to what its total cost will he per unit quantity. For. there are fixed charges to meet as well as charges made per kilowatt-hour. Moreover, this cost will depend upon not only the amount, but also the evenness of the demand.
Distinctly within the range of the practicable, however, depending upon the particular conditions existing in any place, a surprising number of rural applications are warranted. The instances cited below are taken from various standard installations and in their individual settings constitute good practice. Of course they cannot all he applied to Nebraska conditions, but many now are, and more will be.
Most universal application is made of electric lighting. This is standard usage wherever electric energy is available. It is convenient, inexpensive, effective, safe. It saves the eyes, if properly installed. It is always ready. It reduces fire hazard, especially in the barn. It has the same influence on the farm that it has in the factory, of increasing the amount of work which can be done in an hour. and improving the quality of the work. Good lighting pays.
In the house, there follow at once the electric washing machine, flat irons, fans, sewing machine motors, vacuum cleaners, pumps, emery wheels : small articles such as toasters, grills, water heaters, curling irons, heating pads, etc. The combined effect of a few of these devices makes a wonderful difference in that tired feeling which so many women mistakenly assume to be a necessary part of their lot. With electricity as a colaborer, a woman finds that these jobs lose much of their drudgery and killing power.
The electric refrigerator is a comparatively new development, but it will be of far greater importance on the farm than in town.
Then. too, the housewife frequently is the operator and attendant for the cream separator, the churn, the incubator and the brooder. Electrical energy makes these convenient and easy to handle. They are also economical, for uniformity of operating conditions lessens the losses in all of the steps.
As to the farmstead, we hive a ready. reliable, flexible, powerful source of energy. We can find electricity driving pumps, feed grinders, corn shellers, threshers, grain cleaners and hoists, hay hoists, grind-stones, wood saws, ensilage cutters and hoists, hand drills, workshop machinery, horse clippers, milking machines, churns. It heats the soldering iron. It lights the mow. It lengthens the winter day for the poultry.
But, merely naming these and other uses does not tell the tale. It is necessary to go into considerable detail in order to show the real significance of any one of these applications.
For example, let us refer more definitely to pumping.
With low lifts, up to thirty to forty feet, it is practicable to install pump irrigation. With particularly favorable conditions as to energy cost and type of crops raised, this becomes a great money maker. At least a garden might well be irrigated on nearly every Nebraska farm.
A dairy herd, stabled in the winter, with fresh water supplied continuously at a comfortable temperature, will produce more milk and cream than if the cattle are loosened twice a day to drink their fill of cold water.
An automatic water supply for the house requires only the smallest amount of labor, as it will continue to operate for a month or more without attention.
A motor driven force pump constitutes a very effective protection against fire.
Several of the items could be expanded similarly.
A general utility motor may serve many of the power applications mentioned. It may be mounted in such a way that it is easily portable, and therefore be available at any place it is needed.
We could continue almost indefinitely to point out applications
of electricity to farmers' problems and tasks, but that is not necessary
in order to show that we may expect a rather rapid development of electrical
equipment and practices directly aimed toward the final result of making
rural life more satisfying and and rural communities more appealing. Such
results will repopulate many places which are now being depopulated.
• 0. J. FERGUSON