Farming with Dynamite

O.M.G.

It’s real, and you can read the entire 1910 brochure right here.

Thanks to Fourmillab for scanning, to BoingBoing for linking, and an extra special thanks on behalf of Mother Earth to Du Pont!
 

p.s. They sure knew how to design a brochure back then…

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22 Comments

  1. I have a similar pamphlet on all the uses for lye on the farm. Washing pigs, buildings, even adding it to the drinking water. It was jammed in a soap making book that was my grandmother’s. Entertaining stuff!

  2. @Rose: Thanks for sending the link! Your garden looks gorgeous–I’m glad you jumped in and did it, even late in the season. Take good care of your soil and it will just give you more and more every year. And yes, it is addictive!

  3. Never heard of that before and had to look twice to make sure I was reading correctly… maybe if I bring this to my wife she would give cart blanch to every other crazy project I have… in order to leave the dynamite alone ;o)

  4. Wow! What a sales job!…..especially calling it “Red Cross” dynamite…..

    It is the same kind of thinking that lead my grandfather to eschew any kind of manure or compost on his fields as ‘they were the cause of weeds’. Weeds must be prevented and killed at all cost and were the target of many chemicals……

    Need I mention that he was not a very successful farmer and that they nearly starved to death?

    To this day, my father sees farming as a lost cause, a source of poverty and deprivation. But he loves me, and so, humours me and my agricultural endevours :-D

  5. My friend in this hoarding post below told me tales of his childhood. He was born in 1933 and was old enough to remember the Great Depression and WWII. John told me he and the other boys in this town were too poor to afford firecrackers, so they used dynamite instead. Only wealthy children ever got firecrackers.

    I was laughing so hard and telling him it was absurd. And, how did he get dynamite? He said it was sold in various stores, just not grocery stores. Now, I have tears I am laughing so hard, assuring him no one would sell dynamite to a little boy. He assured me that anyone could buy it. Firecrackers were just too expensive! He said no one ever got hurt. But, his mother would not have approved. His father knew. He was only about 7-yrs-old, and he was using dynamite.

    He assured me farmers used it all the time. Sometimes a farmer would just them each a stick just because.

    If I had not heard this from him for over 20 years, I would be completely shocked by the brochure.

    You just had to know my friend!
    http://practical-parsimony.blogspot.com/2010/10/hoarding-literally-killed-my-best.html

  6. Actually, fishing with dynamite is done regularly. It is illegal and highly effective. It destroys the ecosystem as it bursts the fish bladders, killing them. I would not recommend he try this. Google “fishing with dynamite.”

  7. The comment by Practical Parsimony brought to mind something we saw at Old Sturbridge Village in MA a couple of years ago (think of a small Colonial Williamsburg, but in 1830 New England). We visited on a holiday weekend, so the place was filled with school groups and naturally, most of the activities presented were things children at the time would have done. One of these things was making hot air balloons of tissue paper then filling them with hot air, courtesy of a small charcoal burner. It was tremendous fun to watch, but as the mother of three (now adult) sons, I immediately thought of the mayhem and danger that my own offspring could have created with such raw materials. At OSV, the burner was operated by an adult, no doubt for insurance reasons, but in 1830 children would have been in charge. The other ordinary children’s activities demonstrated were only slightly safer – we should all thank our lucky stars that enough of these kids survived their childhood long enough to have children of their own. Or we might not be here.

  8. What kind of mentality spawns this? “Hey, George.. wanna see if we can blast that stump outta the ground?” “Sure!” “Oh, that was fun, I wonder if we could sell farmers on doing this… sell it like a convenience.”

  9. We moderate our comments primarily for spam, but we also do not like name calling, and try to keep a lid on it. It gets everyone’s backs up, and lowers the level of discourse.

    A comment came in on this thread that we’re not going to publish because it contains name calling. It was anonymous. If the anonymous reader who commented yesterday disparaging the intelligence of those who disagree with the practice of clearing land with dynamite would like to resubmit his/her comment with more reasoned opinion and less invective, we’d be very happy to publish it.

    In general, folks, address the issues, not the people. Thanks!

  10. Thought you’d be interested that I’m reading a New York state farm diary from 1912 which mentions using dynamite. It appears the first attempt didn’t explode. They tried again with success. The account book puts the cost at 20¢. Getting your horse shod was 60¢. Puts it in perspective.
    BTW, winter eggs sold for 25¢ a dozen – that’s over $7 in today’s money. Eggs were seasonal and valuable!

  11. It’s possible to do many of the things dynamite does, with a lot less noise and significantly less danger, using absorbent materials.

    Stone and concrete can be broken up using a mix of Portland cement and aluminum sulfate. I think superabsorbent polymers (most famously, cross-linked polyacrylate: the stuff of diapers and moisture-retaining “crystals” you might buy in the gardening section of a home-improvement store) could do the same thing for materials with more give to them, like wood.

    The process of boring a hole, adding energetic stuff, and sealing off the hole are all basically the same as for dynamite. I think for polymers, you could use drip irrigation tubing in place of a fuse.

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