Farmer Boy, Chapter 5

Science
Trees 
The sled was made of hickory. The shingles were made of oak.

Hickory (Carya) – The hickory trees found in New York include shagbark, shellbark, mockernut, pignut, and the bitternut. They are slow growing deciduous trees with compound alternate leaves. The nuts are nearly round and split into four sections when ripe. The wood from the hickory is most often used for tool handles, and farmers highly value it for fuel and for smoking meat.

Oak (Quercus)– There are over 60 species of oak trees, including white, chestnut, scarlet, black, and pin. They are found all over North America. Most varieties are deciduous with simple, alternate leaves. They all produce acorns, some of which are sweet to eat. The oaks are divided into two groups, white oaks and red oaks. The wood from the oak tree is used for flooring, furniture, railroad ties, barrels, and construction. They are also planted for shade trees.

Obtaining Water 
Almanzo had to pump his water by hand at the well house. All living things need water to survive. How do you get water?

If you live in the country, you most likely have well water. A deep hole was dug with a drill down into the earth until it hit water. The water deep in the ground runs in what are called aquifers, which are like underground rivers. The depth of the hole will vary from place to place. Once water is reached, it is pumped up to a holding tank with an electric pump. We no longer need to pump water by hand due to this electrical convenience. There are then pipes under your floors, all through the house, that carry the water from the holding tank to each of your faucets and toilets. The electric pump works as needed, keeping the tank full.

If you live in town or in a city, you probably have public water. Water can get to the city in two ways. If your city is below the water source, such as a mountain lake or river, the water will move down to the city by gravity. If your city’s water source is not above your city, the water is pumped in. The water then moves through pipes to a facility that treats the water to make sure it is healthy to drink. After being treated, the water moves through underground pipes, called water mains, and through the pipes that enter your house.

Research how water gets to your house. Look in your basement for your water pipes. Visit your local water treatment facility if possible.

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