"I'd rather you were staying with Werner, Willi or Kunz."
"So they can keep a better eye on me? Don't worry. I'd imagine there isn't anyone inJena by now who doesn't have Watch Beulah duty. I probably won't even be able to lift a textbook off a shelf by myself."
Beulah carefully didn't share her suspicion that Johann might have an ulterior motive for having her staywith them. After all, it had also been Johann who had suggested that Gary Lambert come show them all how to set up a medical records system for the clinic and model public health department. Johann had taken a strong liking toGary . The fact that he had an unattached daughter aboutGary 's age had nothing to do with it. Yeah right.
"I'll be seeing Werner, Kunz and Willi almost every day while we work on the curricula and the public health project. I have no doubt that between the three of them and thestudents, they'll hover just as much as even you could want."
The public health project had come out of her discussions with Werner, Kunz, Georg and Balthazar.
They were going to have people fromMagdeburg and other towns come as well to see them set up a more modern public health system inJena .Jena would be the model for other places in the USE, which pleased the Jenaites enormously. In addition to helping disseminate infection control and sanitation methods, it would be teaching the students. She'd spoken to the mayor ofJena last week. He was thrilled with the idea. It was going a long way to repair some of the damage done by the last visit. He was also happy to be getting most of the town's medical community back at last. The town should be seeing an influx of more university students soon, which didn't hurt a bit either.Jena 's economic picture was continuing to improve and the mayor and town fathers were happy campers again.
"I'd like you to do a couple of other things while I'm gone." At Mary Pat's curious look and nod, she went on. "Keep an eye of Fritz for me. He loves what he's doing and is too apt to study and work without sleeping or eating. With all the pressure he's feeling as the first member of his family to go to university and being one of the down-timers admitted to the RN program, he may go a little overboard."
"Ah. In other words, make sure he doesn't follow in his role model's footsteps and wind up collapsed and rushed to the hospital."
"You're never going to let me live that down, are you? But, yes, that's basically it. Also, I want you to keep an eye on Hayes. I've asked him to drop by with the occasional meal using the excuse that I don't want you to be lonely with me gone."
"You're worried about him, too."
"He isn't looking too good. I hate to go behind his back like this but if he thinks he's helping you out, he may actually slow down a bit and take better care of himself."
"Gotcha.It certainly won't be hard to put up with the man's cooking. He's got a real gift there. I'll be happy to look out for both of them for you."
The sad part, Beulahthought, was that she didn't feel one bit guilty for playing matchmaker. Mary Pat needed a nice, reliable, smart guy. Hayes fit the bill beautifully. Besides, Mary Pat was, at best, a mediocre cook. At least they wouldn't starve if they got together.
"There's still a lot to do to get ready for fall, but I think we're going to be able, not just to pull something together, but to do it really well. I think that's everything I need. Let's get these bags downstairs. I can't wait to get started." A recharged Beulah reached for the smallest bag, already wondering what she'd find inJena this time.
By Rick Boatright
The most dangerous mammal inNorth America kills over one hundred thirty people each year, and seriously injures another twenty nine thousand. The most recycled material inNorth America was dumped in landfills until the late 1970s, but now, nearly 100 percent of that material contains recycled content.
The animal?The white tailed deer.The material?Highway asphalt. Things that are very important are often common and overlooked.
Prior to the 1970s the question "What's the most recycled material?" had a very different, but just as surprising answer: Iron. Nearly 100% of all automotive iron, nearly 100% of iron from construction debris, and over 80% of iron from consumer appliances is recycled. Iron doesn't have a memory. The girders and beams from the World Trade center were sold to iron foundries, and will appear as buildings, and refrigerators, and washing machines around the world. Over half of the iron used in the world comes from recycling.
In coming issues of theGrantville Gazette articles will discuss various problems facing the Granvillers, including the "Stainless Steel problem," the replacement of the power plant, constructing boats and bridges and barges, making the steam engines to power those, reproducing the machine shops and building new machine tools, the chemicals industry, c.o.ke, medicines, surgery, anesthesia, clocks, navigation and mapping. All of these face a common element in what the 1632 series authors and background researchers have come to call the "Tools to make tools" problem: iron.
In the early 1630s, just before the appearance of the Ring of Fire, the annual production of iron in the part ofEurope that interests us was about fifteen thousand tons. One hundred miles of main line railroad needs over twenty thousand tons of iron. The telegraph line from Grantville toMagdeburg needs almost fifteen thousand tons of iron. Small main line railroad steam engines need three to five tons of iron each, and "real" railroad engines run seventy-five tons. Barges, even small barges like the cla.s.sicUK narrowboat, run six to ten tons of iron per barge. A fifty by twelve foot barge runs around thirty tons.
Future articles in theGazette will detail the rapid increase of iron and steel production in the USE. The projections resulting from the projects named in the books published by early 2004 indicate that within two years of the Ring of Fire, European iron production will have to have increased by a factor of two to three, with a planned increase by a factor of ten by year five.
This leads to the question, what is so important about iron? There are other materials: wood, copper, aluminum, plastics, and alloys like bra.s.s and bronze are all common. Why make such a big deal about iron? This article will attempt to place civilization's use of iron in context historically, and physically.
* * * Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the earth's crust. The most abundant is oxygen, which isn't much good for building things. Next is silicon, which we use for computer chips, but not for bridges or boats. Third is aluminum. We do build stuff from aluminum, but winning aluminum metal from the earth's crust turns out to be a very difficult prospect that requires the use of ma.s.sive amounts of electricity. Most aluminum in the crust is bound up chemically in ways that make it very difficult to separate, even with twenty-first century technology. Iron, on the other hand, comprises about five percent of the earth's crust, and can be separated from its ore with little more than fire and charcoal. Other metals used by civilization are very rare. Copper exists in the crust at sixty-eight parts per million. Lead is even more rare at ten parts per million. One driving force then that makes iron an important part of civilization is that it is common, and easy to produce.
Iron has some very neat properties. It is very strong. Pound for pound, iron is the strongest material available before the twentieth century. It is very workable. Iron can be cast and beaten and rolled and formed into almost any shape. Because it is strong, thin sheets of iron can subst.i.tute for thick heavy layers of other substances. Iron can be flexible, and makes great swords and springs. Iron can be stiff and makes great cutting blades and hammers and tools. Iron melts at a very high temperature. Iron's melting point is more than twice the temperature of a normal open fire. Iron doesn't even soften in normal open fires, so it can be used to contain fire and form stoves and pipes and such.Even when heated red hot iron can retain much of its strength. No other single metal does all these things. Copper is ductile, it can be formed into all sorts of shapes, but it is soft. Bronze can be hard, but it is weak, and melts at a low temperature. Lead, gold, and silver are soft, and the latter two are so rare that we make money out of them. Iron is unique and has been the basis of civilization inEurope ,Asia andAfrica for over three thousand years.
How do you produce iron then? First, select a rock with lots of iron in it. The iron will be bound up with oxygen. The best iron ores are little more than iron and oxygen. They are rust rocks. Most iron ore isn't of this quality, and contains varying amounts of silicon, sulfur, manganese and phosphorus. Oxygen combines with carbon more strongly than it binds with iron. If you powder iron ore and charcoal or c.o.ke, and heat the mixed powders, the iron gives up a bit of its oxygen. The oxygen binds with the carbon to make carbon dioxide. In the simplest smelting process, crushed iron ore, crushed charcoal, and a little limestone or sea sh.e.l.ls are heated together until they are red hot. As this spongy ma.s.s, called abloom , cools, pure pieces of iron are intermingled with leftover charcoal and the other chemicals left behind. The parts that aren't iron are called slag. The bloom would be hammered and turned and hammered and turned, and the slag would be squeezed out, and the bits of iron would come together to formwrought iron . Wrought means hammered or worked. In the seventeenth century, there were hundreds of hammer mills scattered throughoutEurope wherever a seam of iron ore coexisted with a stream capable of turning a wheel and powering a hammer. All the iron available inEurope in the seventeenth century started life as wrought iron. Wrought iron has a carbon content of around 0.02 to 0.08 percent by weight. This is important because the factor that is the most important in describing the strength and brittleness of iron is the carbon percentage. A very small difference in carbon results in a huge difference in the properties of the iron. Consider the next type of iron to be smelted.
If you take iron and carbon and heat it above red hot (to about 1200 degrees Celsius) something interesting happens. The iron begins to absorb the carbon, and starts to melt. The iron-carbon mixture has a melting temperature far below the melting temperature of pure iron (which is around 1500 degrees C). If you make a tall chimney like structure, and layer charcoal, flux and iron ore init, and pump air with a bellows through it so that it gets above the critical temperature, molten iron would run out of the blast furnace. Sadly, the iron produced has three to five percent carbon in it.Castiron is very different from wrought iron. It is hard and brittle. If you hit it with a hammer, it will crack or shatter. Microscopically,cast iron is a mat of fibers of iron crystals, iron carbide crystals, and graphite. It is very rigid and very tough. It doesn't soften much before it melts, and it can not be worked by hammer and anvil into a shape like a knife, a sword, or a gun as wrought iron can. Cast iron was known inEurope in the middle ages, but was not used much beyond pots, pans, cannon, cannon b.a.l.l.s and bells. Casting iron was called founding and so businesses which cast iron are calledfoundries. Cast iron is perfect for making things that need to be very rigid.
Cast iron is not very expensive. Generally, items made out of cast iron are cast in sand. A wooden copy of the item is made, and sand is formed around the master. The master is removed, and molten iron is poured in. After cooling, the sand is shaken off and re-used. Grantville will use far more cast iron than the Europeans were using before they arrived. They know neat things to make from it, likeFranklin stoves, frying pans and the Eiffel tower. But for all its strength, cast iron is brittle. Guns made from cast iron fail because they are not elastic. They can't expand with the explosion of the powder and then spring back to shape. If they are not made very thick to withstand the pressure, cast iron guns explode after a few uses, so they have to be very heavy for their power.
Iron makers from themiddle ages learned to transform cast iron into wrought iron by burning the carbon out. They would use afining furnace, where they would break the cast iron into small lumps and heat the lumps with a stream of very hot air. The iron would melt, and carbon would burn out and the decarburized iron droplets would sink to form a bloom below the hot zone. Then, they would forge the bloom just like they would in a hammer mill. Wrought iron made this way was more expensive than iron made directly from the ore, but the two step process could be done with some iron ores that the one-step process was not effective for. This was expensive.
In the late 1700s, an Englishman, Henry Cort, developed another technique for transforming cast iron into wrought iron. Molten cast iron was poured into a stone basin in a reverberatory furnace and exhaust ga.s.ses from a hot fire were run over the top of the basin. A worker with a long rake stirred the surface of the puddle of iron, and carbon monoxide in the ga.s.ses would combine with carbon in the iron. The resulting pure iron melted at a higher temperature than the cast iron it was suspended in, so it would form semi-solid bits of wrought iron. At first, thesepuddlers would gather these into a single ma.s.s which would be wrought like any wrought iron. Later puddlers would keep mixing the ma.s.s of iron, as it became more and more viscous. Skilled workers would recognize when the hot iron had "jelled" enough to have had enough of the carbon burned out of it.
Blast furnaces produced bulk cast iron efficiently, but the puddling furnace was a major bottleneck. The process was slow. It required huge amounts of fuel. Only very strong men could stand the heat, and work the thick, heavy liquid metal and tell when it was ripe to be withdrawn. Many attempts were made in the 1800s to mechanize the process, but they all failed.
So far we've talked about two types of iron. Cast iron, with carbon content over 2%, and wrought iron, with very little carbon at all, less than 0.1%. What about iron in the middle of the range? We know that wrought iron is flexible, and can be forged into all sorts of shapes. We know that cast iron is rigid and brittle. It should come as no great surprise that iron between 0.1% carbon and 2% carbon is intermediate in its properties. It is stiffer than wrought iron, but less stiff and brittle than cast iron. It has a higher melting point than cast iron, but less than wrought iron. Clearly, this is what we want to use to make stuff.
Iron intermediate in carbon between wrought and cast is calledsteel .
Even today, the basic chemistry of iron is such that it is difficult to move directly from iron ore to steel. In 1632, we have to come at it from one end or the other. We can take wrought iron and add carbon to it, or we can take cast iron and reduce its carbon. Several techniques were developed in antiquity that resulted in steels of different carbon content and different microstructure. One common element is that allthese were small batch processes that were labor intensive. Steel was very expensive.
The oldest known steels were produced by cementation. Sheets of wrought iron were packed with charcoal or other carbon sources in a closed ceramic container and heated red hot (1000 to 1100 degrees C) for five to seven days. The carbon would be absorbed into the iron in the solid state. The process was very slow since the iron is solid, and the carbon atoms have to move into the s.p.a.ces in the solid iron crystals. The resulting sheets...o...b..ister steel had very high carbon content on theoutside, and very low carbon content at the center. The sheets would be forged and folded together to distribute the carbon more evenly in very fine layers. This process of heating and folding and heating and folding was very labor intensive. The result could be a blade which combined the best of both wrought iron and cast iron, with very rigid hard bits to hold the shape well, and very flexible bits to allow the weapon to flex.
But it was difficult to impossible to make large forms like guns and cannon this way. In the 1740s Benjamin Harrison (the inventor of the naval chronograph clock, but that is a separate story) developed a way to take the blister steel from the cementation process and melt it in a closed crucible with a special flux that grabbed up fine bits of slag to make a very purecrucible steel , but crucible steel is veryvery expensive.
Smiths inIndia developed a different method of heating wrought iron pellets with organic material in sealed containers for long periods at high enough temperatures to get the iron to melt and the carbon to mix with the iron in liquid phase. Thiswootz process resulted in ultra-high carbon steels (nearly 2%) with microstructures which mixed the pure iron and the iron-carbon complexes at a much smaller scale than could be achieved by the folding and forging process above. The resulting blades called "Damascus" steel had a combination of strength and flexibility that was unmatched until the twentieth century, but the process produced only small ingots suitable for knives and swords. The material could only be forged at low temperatures or the whole thing would literally fall apart as the steel turned into cast iron. This still didn't producea steel capable of being formed in bulk.
The other way to produce steel is to reduce the carbon in cast iron. Smiths in China mixed bundles of cast and wrought iron together and forged and heated them to diffuse them in a manner similar to the cementation process describe above. Puddling furnaces can be run without removing the wrought iron pieces from the molten iron, mixing the result over and over until it is of a thickness and carbon content wanted. This was the first process that could produce "bulk" steel. The amount of steel that you could produce was dependent on the strength of the puddler and the reach of his rake.
Still, technological civilization needs cheap bulk steel. The first railroads ran on wrought iron rails. The pa.s.sing trains bent and deformed the rails, and wore the edges so fast that on some busy stretches the rail had to be replaced every other month. What the world needed at the dawn of the railroad period, and what Grantville and the USE needs in 1632 and beyond, is cheap steel that can be cast into rail and cannon and other forms.
Enter Henry Bessemer.
In the first half of the 1800s, steam engines had become common, and it was possible to produce pumps which could move huge amounts of air at high pressures. Prior to this, smiths had been restricted to the air that they could move with bellows. Some of the bellows were very large, and operated by water wheels, but the pressure was limited and the flow intermittent. By the 1850s engineers had developed pumps that could be driven by steam engines and blow air continuously at high pressure. These were first used to increase the size and output of blast furnaces and resulted in a drop in the price of cast iron.
In 1856,Bessemer designed what he called aConverter . It was a large, pear- shaped vessel with holes at the bottom that the new pumps could blow compressed air into.Bessemer filled the converter withmolten cast iron and then blew air into the bottom, causing it to bubble up through the molten metal. The resulting reaction was very violent. The oxygen combined with the silicon and the carbon in the cast iron, and burned off into the air in just minutes. As the oxygen in the air combined with the carbon, the reaction gave off heat, and instead of freezing up from the cold air, the metal became even hotter.Bessemer converters are large. Small converters take charges of five tons of molten iron. This means that very large quant.i.ties of steel can be produced very rapidly.
Historically, it took twenty years to perfect the Bessemer process to deal with all the chemical intricacies of iron ore. Bessemer himself cheated by using pig iron from special phosphorus-free ore bodies inSweden . But by 1876, the basic Bessemer process could handle most anything that was thrown at it, and vast quant.i.ties of molten steel could be produced. Finally, with the Bessemer process we have the ability to produce cast steel items in bulk like railroad rail, cannon and beams.
The Grantvillers can cheat too. They already know about things like lining the bottom of the converter with limestone to scavenge the phosphorus from the iron. With the books and knowledge brought down-time, the Grantvillers should be able to skip over two hundred years of technical development and jump into the age of rail.
Iron production is very scalable. In theUS , in 1847 460,000 tons of wrought iron railroadrail was sold at a price of $83 a ton, and 2000 tons of steel rail at $170 a ton. By 1884, wrought iron rails were no longer made at all, and 1,500,000 tons of cast steel rail were made at a cost of $32 a ton. By 1900 the cost of steel rail was down to $14 a ton. Partic.i.p.ants in Baen's Bar in the 1632 Tech conference have been following this process for several years asa team of Barflies lead by John Leggett have doc.u.mented the growth of USE Steel in a series of monthly reports.
Informed readers will note that this discussion skipped over the Siemans open hearth furnace, which largely replaced the Bessemer process by 1900. The consensus of the iron folks in Baen's Bar has been that the Grantvillers do not have the details of the designs, or the material, especially structural firebricks and other refractories to successfully build and operate open hearth furnaces.
The Grantvillers will have several techniques to make steel in a variety of carbon contents from very low, to nearly cast iron. However, to get the most use out of steel it is necessary not only to create it with the right chemistry, but to treat it to the right temperature conditions.
Consider the following recipe: Take two cups of flour, two eggs, a one third cup of oil, three teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of salt and a one-third cup of b.u.t.termilk. This recipe can produce pretty decent biscuits, or pancakes, or waffles (if you separate the egg yolk from the white and beat in sufficient air.) On the other hand, over-mixed, dumped into a pan, and placed into a 450 degree oven, you'll get an inedible lump. Similarly, the same iron/carbon ratio can produce a wide range of steel products.
The room temperature normal form of iron is called ferrite. If you have ever studied crystals, you may want to know that it's a body-centered cubic crystal. If not, what's important is that ferrite has few gaps.
It's a "tight" crystal that can hold only a few hundredths of a percent of carbon. If you heat iron above 906C it switches to a face-centered-cubic structure called austenite. Austenite is a roomier crystal that can hold up to 1.7% of carbon. But you can't hold your tool above 900C forever. As the temperature falls, the iron atoms try to rearrange themselves into a ferrite structure, and the carbons get squeezed out and diffuse to carbon-rich zones. Eventually, as the temperature reaches 723C, the austenite crystals are as rearranged as they will get, and the carbon stops moving.What's left is crystals of ferrite, interspersed with fine layers of iron carbide (FeC3) This layered material is called pearlite and is the basis for highstrength steel wire and rope. The more carbon steel has, the more pearlite is formed, and the harder the steel is.
What happens if instead of letting the steel cool slowly, we plunge the red-hot newly forged tool into cold water, or brine, or a mixture of water and oil? There isn't sufficient time for the carbon to diffuse and form carbon rich zones. The iron may "want" to switch to the ferrite form, but the carbon is in the way.
The crystal lattice becomesvery distorted. If you look at the resulting crystals under a microscope, the steel has a distinctive structure with interlocking needles of crystals. There wasn't time to form big crystals, and anyway, the lattice is so distorted that the big crystals wouldn't work. This series of interlocking needles was named after its discoverer, Adolf Martens, and is called Martensite. Martensite is very rigid, so martensitic steel is very hard, but stiff.
It is possible to just convert some of the pearlite ina steel into martensite by heating and then quenching just the working end of a chisel or drill bit. The technique of rapidly cooling a steel blade to make it harder has been known since ancient times. Swords, in particular have many myths about the proper solutions, temperatures, and procedures for quenching. Once a piece has been quenched, it may be useful to increase its strength and flexibility by reheating it and holding it at an elevated temperature long enough to allow some of the microstructures to realign. This is called tempering. A temper is followed by a quench, or rapid cooling to make sure the outside of the tool is hard. Tempering is an art and science all its own in addition to the chemistry of the steel. With a clever combination of heating, quenching and tempering, it is possible to make tool steels which can be used in laths and cutters and drills to cut steels of the same chemistry which have not been "hardened." Tempering in lead baths, hot oil baths, sand, and tempering ovens are all treatments which will be available downtime.
So far, we've just discussed iron and carbon. It is possible to mix iron with other metals. In particular, in 1912 Harry Brearley produced the first stainless steels. Stainless steels are low carbon steels with 10.5% or more chromium added. They are resistant to rust compared to steel without chromium. They stain "less" than plain iron. Chromium atoms combine with oxygen to form hard, stable clear layers of chromium (III) oxide (Cr2O3) on the surface of the metal. Chromium atoms and chromium-oxide have compatible geometries, so the oxide packs neatly on the surface of the metal and stays attached well. On the other hand, iron oxide (Fe2O3)(rust) has a geometry which does not pack well against iron atoms, and so it flakes, or falls off the surface, exposing more fresh iron to the oxygen. In chrome rich steels, if the chrome-oxide layer on the surface is scratched or disturbed, it quickly forms a new layer of chrome oxide, and protects the bulk of the metal underneath. That is why stainless steel is stainless. It's self-protecting, sort of. Note that the protection requires having oxygen available to form the protective layer. In oxygen poor environments, or in low circulation situations, stainless steel doesn't resist corrosion any better than plain steel. Also, in seawater, or in other situations where chlorine is available, the chloride ion attacks and destroys the chromium oxide layer faster than it can be formed.
The addition of nickel to the mix of iron and chromium can have even more interesting effects.
Specifically, adding sufficient nickel results in the steel retaining its austenite structure at all temperatures.
Among other things, chrome-nickel austenitic steels can be non-magnetic.
Stainlesssteel, and its corrosion resistant companions will form the center of a full article in a future issue of theGazette . For now, recognize that the Grantvillers know of only one source for chromium they can reach, it is going to be extremely difficult to mine, and lies near thearctic circle . Modern stainless steels may also contain nickel, manganese, niobium, tungsten and t.i.tanium, none of which the Grantvillers will be producing any time soon. * * *
Iron, and more precisely steel, is central to the industrial expansion of modern technology. Few choke points in the development of modern civilization are pressing on Grantville harder than the shortage of steel. The expansion of iron and steel production will stress every resource: transportation, mining, construction, chemistry, lights, power, water, and manpower. It is a challenge they have little choice but to meet. Meanwhile, stranded up-time, I'm going to attempt to avoid hitting a deer while driving on an asphalt road in my steel car.
The ImpactOf Mechanization On German Farms
By Karen Bergstralh
What will happen when Grantville introduces nineteenth century farm equipment to seventeenth-century farmers? Will there be a rapid adaptation of the new machines followed by a similarly rapid increase in productivity? Will this in turn lead to an equally rapid decrease in the numbers of farm laborers? What factors will shape the mechanization of USE farms and how will mechanization shape the USE? All these are questions that occur in the background of the 1632 series. This article attempts to explore these questions and make my estimates at the correct answers.
The seventeenth-century farming methods were labor intensive and time consuming, requiring large groups of people to plant, care for, and harvest the crops. Despite this, in normal times, the farming villages ofGermany were producing enough food to supportthemselves and had extra produce for sale to the cities. Economically these villages ranged from very poor villages that barely managed to stay above subsistence level to quite wealthy surplus farming villages.
One thing to remember always is that the early modern German farmers were not ignorant, stupid, illiterate, or superst.i.tion-ridden. Books and pamphlets on farming were very popular and widely read.
While translations of Roman texts on farming were consideredthe authoritative texts, farmers did not slavishly follow the advice found there.Three Field Crop Rotation, not mentioned by the Romans, hadbeen practiced for centuries by farmers throughoutEurope . In this method each field was left fallow every third year. The village livestock grazed on the fallow field, fertilizing it with their dung. After harvest the village animals were set to graze on the remains of the harvest, again fertilizing the fields. Farmers might not know why it worked but they could see the results. The German farmers will be interested in Grantville's knowledge and machinery.
Disease and destruction has reduced the available labor in many areas. Add the pressures of the growing industries around Grantville competing for what labor exists and the farms will remain short of people to work the crops. This lack of farm laborers will be a driver for mechanization.
At any time farming is a balancing act. The difference between successful harvest and starvation is dependent upon numerous factors. Bad weather and insect invasions may destroy the crops. Outbreaks of disease could remove enough manpower to make planting and harvesting difficult to impossible.
Diseases among the livestock might kill off or debilitate enough animals to edge the farmers into starvation. During the Thirty Years' War, additional stresses were added when scavenging parties from one army or another would steal or destroy crops and animals. Farmers who fled the armies could not tend their crops, leading to losses. When the farmers did return to their villages, often they did not have sufficient manpower to plant or harvest.
A few things need to be made clear about German farming villages in the seventeenth century. Unlike theUSA model of single family farms, Germans farms consisted of a village-known as the Gemeinde-farming as a whole. Physically, the German farming community more closely resembled a fried egg on a plate than the USA model of neatly laid out individual farms of rectangular fields bounded by straight roads crossing at right angles. Consider the yolk to represent the village and the white to represent the fields and land around the village. Village land sizes ranged from roughly six hundred and forty acres to nearly six thousand acres with the average size around one to two thousand acres. This average village would have roughly two to three hundred acres in crops and about another one hundred acres in pasture and hay growing. Villages also had fishponds, forests, and meadows held and used in common. Villages normally ranged in size from ten to ninety households.
The village was run as a communal corporation, complete with elected officers. The farmers decided communally what to grow in which fields. Each farmer had a strip of land a.s.signed to him fromwhich he took his profits and food. The amount of land an individual farmer had the rights to could vary in size.
Also, each farmer had the rights to pasture a certain number of cows on his share of the village commons.
A farmer was by definition a person who held enough land in the village corporation to support himself and his family by farming, using a combined work force of his own family members and a couple of hired men or girls. Afarmer who held this kind of share in the lands had a full vote in the village Gemeinde, was expected to do his share in holding local offices, etc. The average farmer leased around forty to eighty acres of arable land. Finally, draft animals might belong to individual farmers but they were used communally.
The villagers werenotserfs. The village lands were held by written lease from the landowners. A common lease ran for 99 years or three lives, whichever came first. A village usually owed rents to several landowners, as land rights could and often were subdivided, leased, sold, inherited, etc. Think of it as somewhat equivalent to the landowners as shareholders of stock and the rents as dividends. Thus a village mayor and council would collect the revenue and send 1/16 to X, 1/8 to Y, 3/32 to Z, and so forth.
The harvesting of the 1631 crop using up-time machines to replace the missing farm labor would have given the down-time farmers a glimpse of what mechanization can do for harvesting. The use of Grantville's machines to aid in the following spring's planting would drive the lesson home. Mechanizationallows you to farm with fewer people and, as many of the machines do not require adult strength, you can now use younger family members. By the fall harvest of 1632 those farmers around Grantville know that mechanization does reduce labor requirements and costs. Some local down-time farmers may begin to see how Grantville's machines and knowledge also improves the yield per acre.
Grantville brings with it practical and theoretical knowledge, mechanized farm machinery, and up-time livestock. The introduction of Grantville's farm machines will by-pa.s.s, to some degree, several centuries of slow development and mechanization of the farm which were required in our time line. ("Our time line"
will be henceforth abbreviated as OTL.) That does not, however, mean that farm mechanization will necessarily develop very rapidly or evenly. In OTL, mechanization of farms in the United States required around one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty years-and even now, in the twenty-first century there are still large areas of the world where farming is not mechanized at all or is only minimally mechanized. Before galloping off with grandiose ideas about how fast mechanization will spread in the 1632 universe, we should look at why it took so long in OTL and why it has not completely spread even in the twenty-first century OTL.
One reason OTL mechanization did not spread faster was that the equipment itself developed slowly. As Grantville has examples of fully developed draft animal and tractor-powered mechanized farming equipment, this developmental phase will be by-pa.s.sed. Time factors on the machinery side will primarily be how fast the horse-drawn equipment can be copied and adapted for manufacture with available resources. Tractors must wait until the tools and materials are available to manufacture engines. Still, farm machinery at least to an OTL 1930s level should be available by 1650-1660.
Aside from availability the major factor r.e.t.a.r.ding mechanization was the cost of the new farm machinery.
To a single farmer, the OTL model in theUSA , cost was often the biggest problem in mechanizing. In modern OTL examples of non-mechanized farming it appears that cost remains a major factor for the lack of mechanization.
Usually the speed of mechanization comes down to costs, infrastructure problems, and some social factors. Farm costs, regardless of the time period, include the cost of the land, of labor, of livestock, of the farmer's subsistence, and the purchase and upkeep of any implements or machines. Against these costs are the profits from each crop or animal raised. Profits must exceed the operating costs or the farmer loses. Farmers tend to be very fiscally conservative because of these factors.
The cost of the land is something our down-time farmers obviously already know. The farmers have been able to produce sufficient crops and livestock to pay their land rents. Baring sudden increases in rents the down-time farmers have no incentive to mechanize from land costs.
Land costs can be considered as a neutral factor for mechanization. Labor costs, the number of people required to raise and harvest a crop using down-time methods, are also known.
Infrastructure costs include those concerning the initial machinery costs, maintenance and repair costs of the machine, the power source and its fuel, maintenance, repair, and upkeep cost, and costs a.s.sociated with storage and shipping of the crops.
Social factors tend toward the universal desire to not be seen by neighbors and relatives as backward and unfashionable. This factor has led OTL farmers into financial trouble and will undoubtedly ruin some down-time farmers also.
Farms are businesses and you cannot afford to farm at a loss. A money trap OTL farmers encounter iswhen that shiny new tractor costs $100,000 and raises gross profits by 15% but, between the cost of the loan, fuel, and maintenance, it costs 25% more to use it. A net loss of 10% will quickly put a farm in a financial hole. To quote a farmer cousin, "People romanticize the family farm and forget it is a business.
You must at least break even and the idea is to make a profit. It's easy to only count the money in your hand at the end of harvest and forget what it cost you to make that harvest-at least until the bills come due."