Wednesday, February 3, 2016

TRYING TO BE CHEERFUL, 1932

Knowing that there was much sorrow in the world during the Depression, The Farmer's Wife magazine tried their best to print encouraging letters.

From Nebraska--
     We have worked hard the last seven years, worked early and late, and what have we to show for it? Nothing. Perhaps Mrs. M.A.M. (a previous writer) has not had the sickness and expense we have had.
     My husband worked at home till he was 21 to get the few essentials for farming, but had to sell everything and prepare for the army. With practically nothing at all, we married. Husband works by the day when he can get work. He had about $25 to begin with. How far would that go toward buying a farm or stocking it?
      By the time we saved a little money along came a baby and took it all. Five babies in six years, with one going on to the land beyond. Now don't think the babies were unwelcome. Far from it. There are things in this world of more value than mere possession of land.
     You don't know what it is to climb from the depths of poverty, you have never tried it. Does poverty hurt one? No, not as long as he puts his trust in God. It is a refining plant to bring out the gold that there is in us.
From Iowa--
     Dear Me! Everybody's talking hard times! Sometimes we feel sort of downhearted and discouraged about it. But I know one little boy who says, "Hard times are sort of cozy times." That's because the whole family works and plans together. It's like pioneer days when people had to build a new life in a new country. Most of us here wished we had lived in pioneer times. They seemed so thrilling and "cozy." Well now we've a chance to be pioneers.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A NEW COLORING BOOK


The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Coloring Book, with patterns drawn by the very talented Missy Shepler, is now available for purchase. To get a peek inside, just click the following link:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

NOT FOR A MANSION IN NEW YORK, 1932, by Thankful and Happy from Missouri

Dear Editor:

When I see so many country folks going to the city it makes me all the more thankful that my husband and I are farmers.

I was born and raised in a city tenement district. At sixteen I began working in a shoe factory and held my job until I was twenty-three. The spring before my twenty-third birthday, father bought a car and we began spending Sundays in the “great open spaces.” Even though I had never been out of the city, I loved the country and dreamed of being a farmer’s wife.

One day a new employee came to the factory. I learned that she was a country girl, and a flourishing friendship followed. I told her of my love for the country and desire to live there. Then my luck turned. She knew an old couple who wanted a girl to take care of them.

My friend helped me get the position, so I gave up my job in the city and started out light-hearted on my adventure. My employers were a lovely old lady and gentleman, who lived on a 150-acre farm, and my new job was easier and much more enjoyable than my city job.

When my work was done for the day I would take a walk in the sunset. Sometimes I would stroll up the hill and look down into the beautiful valley below, and off into the hills which completely surrounded it. It was while on one of these strolls that I met my husband, then a country boy of 24. We have been married now for nearly four years, and have a darling baby, who has just passed the year mark.

When I look out the kitchen window of my little home, and see the jolly, friendly sun shining over
our green fields, and hear the murmur of the creek rippling over the pebbles, and the birds singing, I am happy. Then in the evening when the chores are done and we sit on the porch, Husband and I, and I take Baby in my arms and read to Husband from The Farmer's Wife, and we hear the crickets and katydids, and all the other members of our little insect band, I am glad, so glad, I am a farmer's wife. I wouldn't trade the farm for a mansion on Park Avenue in New York City.




Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A NEW BOOK!! THE BIBLE SAMPLER QUILT

Greetings Everyone,
For the past year, I have been busy working on my fourth book (and not posting on my blog!) I departed from The Farmer's Wife theme this time and instead used the Bible in the letter portion of the book. There are ninety-six Bible passages and when taken in their entirety, give a surprisingly complete overview of the Bible with most of the major events and people represented. Each of the ninety-six passages is paired with a "Bible themed" six-inch classic quilt block.




Genesis 1-1:4                           Quilt Block: Heavenly Puzzle (the center blue and pink block)
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the water. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Luke 2:1-7                               Quilt Block: City Streets (the top right pink, red and green block)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

I have completed all of the paperwork and the quilt is done, so I am in the proofreading stage now. The book is due to be released in the fall of 2016 with its formal title to be decided in the not-too-distant future. It's been a blessing to work on this book and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in print!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

FOLLOWING THE SWEETHEART TRAIL; by Mrs. F. D. B, 1930

We borrowed  money at eight per cent for our wedding trip, and have never regretted it. The money has been paid back long since, and we still have the trip!

The year before we were married, my husband in partnership with another man, bought a small farm, borrowing heavily, and putting a mortgage on the place. When we decided to be married, we felt that the few dollars extra that it took for a trip would make little difference in the total.

How well I remember that hot August day! The short run to the county seat, the embarrassment we both suffered at the hands of the good-natured clerk at the courthouse, the kindly old minister, and his motherly-looking wife, the laughing good-byes, and then, at last, together on the trail going south. What a wonderful week it was that we spent in the beautiful Ozark mountains, made even more wonderful by the fact that a few miles south of Garnett, we struck the "Sweetheart Trail." We thought is symbolical; still do.

"Let's take this same trip every year for our vacation," my husband said. I agreed, and we made our plans. Have we done it? Not once, but we still plan to!

The first year was so busy, that there was no time for a vacation. The second, when prices were falling in that awful post-war depression, our partner dropped his share of the farm leaving us the whole burden. Rather than lose all the money we had put into the place, we tried to shoulder it, but the third year, we simply had to give it up. Our farm was sold to satisfy the mortgage, and we found ourselves still owning over eleven hundred dollars on a farm we no longer owned! It's a great life, isn't it?

Well, the next two years were pretty full, paying back that money. The sixth, our first baby was born, and the years that had passed seemed quite peaceful in comparison to those that followed. Two years ago we made our first payment on the farm we now occupy, (please note, I don't say "own"), and last year our little daughter was born. So here we are, up to the present, and still no vacation in sight.

Discouraging? Yes, rather. But I can wait for that vacation for another ten years, yes twenty! Anyway, I'll never take the Sweetheart Trail alone.

Monday, October 12, 2015

ON "MANAGING" CHILDREN; October 1934

John was a neighbor's boy--sixteen, clean-minded, obedient, capable, industrious. He had a good home and he loved it, and he loved his mother and father.
But John used to say, "If only they wouldn't treat me as though I was still a little kid!"

In his sixteenth summer he "worked out" for ten weeks for an uncle down the road a mile. The money he earned was to be his own to buy himself some new clothes for high school. Through the summer, some argument arose as to whether John should do his own buying, or let Mother do it for him as she had always done.

Then came a day when Mother said, "Tomorrow we'll go into town and buy John his new suit and shirts and ties."

Imagine the family's astonishment when John said, "No use, they're bought."

Sure enough, they had been bought, and not a bad choice as John saw it. However, the edict was that John must take them back to the store.

But he never did. He left home that night. It was six months before they heard from him--a post card saying that he had been working on a California ranch and was just about to sail with a merchant ship for foreign ports. "All's well. I miss you and the farm. Best love."

Why do we tell this little true story?

Because we get a good many letters from young folks who protest that parents--mothers particularly--insist on managing them after they think that they are old enough to do a good deal of managing for themselves. Here is one of such letters:

Dear Editor: I wish you would print something that would help mothers to realize that when children are grown up they ought to be allowed to work out their own ideas. I've got a much-beloved mother, but she is so devoted to her grown children that I wish some one would tell her she ought to let her reasonably intelligent sons and daughters do their own originating. There isn't anything she wouldn't do for her beloved children, and the poor little adult urchins would rather do some of the doing without her managing and hindering. We want to work out our own salvation.

Most mothers, fortunately, do not need the preachment that lies between the lines of story and letter, and to those who do, we'll leave the task of finding it for themselves.

P.S. What ever became of John? Oh, he came home again after a year, still a good boy, and both he and his family were better off for the experience.

Monday, September 28, 2015

OUR PRINCE CHARMING; by Jean Hathaway; January 1925; part 2 of 2

LIKE FATHER (Second Prize Winner)

Dear Miss Hathaway:
An unknown future Prince
Charming--He would be
about 99 years old if
alive today

What must my Prince Charming be? He must be a man like my father: kind, honest and willing to earn a good living for his family.

Must he be a farmer? Yes, I think he must. What place is better than the farm? There is none. If operated properly, there is a good living in farming.

My Prince Charming must be educated, not necessarily in Greek and Latin but must be able to think intelligently and manage his business in an intelligent way. He need not be handsome, for "handsome is as handsome does," but must be neat in appearance, mannerly and self-confident. He must have religion, the kind that is with him seven days in the week.--B. M. L., Minnesota.




HE IS ATHLETIC (Third Prize Winner)

Dear Miss Hathaway:

My Prince Charming is not a dream person but a real live man. I can not call him a "red-blooded American" for his native land is far away across the sea but he is one hundred per cent American if there ever was one. His hopes of studying medicine were dispelled when the American college he was to have attended had to be taken over for war purposes.

He can speak several foreign languages and is now devoting his time to the study of English and at the same time endeavoring to obtain a business education. Between times he works saving what he can for his future home.

He is kind and generous, always has a happy smile for everyone and is ever ready to speak an encouraging word or lend a helping hand.

He is polite and courteous at all times and to all people but is especially devoted and respectful to his parents and the aged.

He is a member of a Church and the "Y."

He is entirely at home on the athletic field having won many prizes there in competition with men from Yale, Harvard and Columbia Universities.

I have visited in his home and discovered that he is a Prince Charming there also. He is his father's right hand man--his mother's pride and joy and the adviser of his younger brother and sisters.--L. B., Massachusetts.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

OUR PRINCE CHARMING, by Jean Hathaway, January 1925; part 1 of 2

Miss Jean Hathaway directed a column devoted to young women. She writes:

Sometime ago I asked the girls of The Farmer's Wife to write us about their Prince Charming, believing that their letters would give an interesting word picture of the young man who ranks high in their esteem.
A rare color picture in the January 1925 issue

The tall, dark--no, not handsome, but athletic--man received decidedly the vote of approval as to looks and yet, when it came to a final choice, many agree that other qualities rank above looks.

His occupation, our girls decided, is not of prime importance if it is the occupation at which he is happy and the one for which he is best fitted. All admire the man who is ambitious, thrifty and willing to work; they say that wealth does not count.

No "sissies" if you please! This does not mean that a man should lack culture and refinement. No indeed! The way to most girls' hearts is a courteous way. Most of the girls emphasize good manners and an appreciation of the finer things: beauty, music, good books, and poetry.

Religious? Yes, he goes to church and practices the Golden Rule seven days a week. "If you could see him when he brings his mother to church, how he helps her out of the car and up the steps, you would think him a Prince Charming indeed." The girls all agree in their admiration for the boy who is thoughtful of his mother. I like very much the true story in one of our letters of a lad who quickens his steps as he nears home, "for Mother is usually on the porch waiting for him and when he turns the corner in the road he has a wave and smile for her."

Is this ideal man impossible? Not at all!


The following is the first of three prize winning letters about their ideal "Prince Charming:"

Dear Miss Hathaway:

He should have been tall and dark with wonderful brown eyes. But, Miss Hathaway, he has come and our little home is being built. Just after the New Year, the most wonderful honeymoon that ever happened (to us) will be in progress. My real Prince is as little like my dreams as anything could be. His light hair and blue eyes (which are always shining with kindness and merriment) are more wonderful to me than I ever dreamed anything could be. I dreamed of a rich man who could furnish me with a magnificent home. My merry farmer lad is giving me a tiny bungalow with everything modern and convenient, if you please, which no one would call magnificent, but every one would say is adorable; they couldn't help it. And in it with Christ's help and blessing, we shall be happy, forever and ever, because I know I am getting the world's truest and best.---Alice Robinson, Ohio.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

CONTEMPLATION CORNER--GRATITUDE!; Part 2 of 2; by Ada Melville Shaw, November 1916

I can best answer by telling you an incident that came to my notice while living on my homestead...

By reason of illness, change of location and storms, John H--had had no crop for three years and the family's cash resources were at low ebb. This year the wheat was growing well, the vegetable garden would "help out" and there would be hay. Frost had spoiled the corn and the potatoes were a failure.

In one night, in an hour, hail threshed out all the tender wheat and ground the beautiful bluestem grass into pulp. A summer's work and a year's provision gone!

I saw John and his wife early the morning after the disaster. They were smiling when they met me and their bright calmness made me weep. What they said to me, out of honest hearts, they had said to each other while the storm thundered on the roof and they guessed what was doing in their fields, "We are so thankful it was no worse. We have each other and the children, unharmed. The stock is not injured. The land is there. There is so much to be thankful for!" Then the dear farmer-wife and mother, turning to me, the older woman, said tremulously, "Don't you think we ought to be thankful of all of it? Surely there must be a good reason or it could not have happened? I'd be afraid to feel too badly!"

I looked thru tears over the stricken fields and the sun was smiling on them. I watched John carefully after this to see if the spirit of thankfulness was born of the hour's emotion or was deep-rooted. What I saw was a deepening of the accustomed reverence toward the Power that is above ours, even more tender watchfulness over wife and babies, an increase of industry and economy, a tightening of bonds between himself and neighbors who had suffered common loss. In short, by the exercise of humble gratitude in the face of the storm, he was a greater, finer man and every quality in him necessary to worthy success in life was made to develop faster and more fully by the presence within him of the fruitful spirit of thanksgiving.

"I thank you!" The simple, gracious words are like a prayer. Shall they not stand for a prayer-habit of our minds, sung gaily in the sunshine, whispered in the storms, heard always by the One who, the heart of the storm and sunshine, understands? The prayer will bring reply!

Monday, September 14, 2015

CONTEMPLATION CORNER--GRATITUDE!; Part 1 of 2; by Ada Melville Shaw; November 1916

I have come to greatly admire the author of this article, Ada Maud Melville Shaw. She was a Canadian immigrant to America; a widow at a young age; a writer of prose, poetry and at least one hymn; a homesteader in her middle years and the editor of The Farmer's Wife magazine from 1919-1928. There is no record that Ada had children or remarried after the death of her Christian evangelist husband. She died in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1937, at the age of 74.


Wisdom from Mrs. Shaw:

I had been telling a friend the story of my venture in pioneering and when she had heard me thru she asked, "Can you tell me what has been your leading thought or feeling thru this whole experience?"

I answered quickly in one word, for my unique experience had left me with a clear-cut impression:

"Gratitude!"

"For what?" pursued my friend.

"Everything! For the privilege of entering upon so difficult  an undertaking; for strength to carry it thru; for the sense of being protected by a Higher Power when, for reasons of solitariness and remoteness from neighbors, I was unable to protect myself; for the whole wonderful experience and what it has taught me of self-reliance, courage, patience."

She looked at me earnestly and then said, "That very quality of gratitude on your part made it possible for you to have those things for which to be grateful."

When I was a little girl I fell into the habit of saying briefly in response to courtesies of friends and playmates, "Thanks!" A saving reprimand came from an elderly woman who said to me, "If a thing is worth receiving at your hands it is worth three words from you. Cannot you take time to say, 'I thank you'?"

Perhaps if I had not been given the first simple lesson to ponder and practice, I might not have been ready for the greater suggestion offered later, to wit, that a grateful spirit invites and even brings to pass further causes for gratitude!

When a farmer's wife hurries thru the morning's work, bathes and dresses two babies, hitches up the team and drives several miles on a hot day, opening three gates en route, that I, her neighbor, may not be lonely, my answering gratitude is in proportion to my understanding of what she has done and my own unselfish desire not to be a burden to her.

When I meet her and her babies at the door, if I have this understanding of what she has had to do in order to be generous to me and if I have truly desired that my burden of loneliness should not be a burden to her, my answering gratitude for what she has done will be the genuine article and have a wholesome reaction upon my own heart. I will not be able to hide my appreciation of her kindness; I will resolve to try more than ever to meet my condition of loneliness so cheerily that it will not be a burden to this little mother; I will find my heart and thought seeking for ways in which to give kindness for her kindness; and as I try to be a better neighbor to her I cannot but be a better neighbor in the community and so a better woman in every way.

The law of continuance of influence sees to it that the good begun by my visitor, who generously gave of her time and strength for me, continues to spread, to act and react until the farther waves of influence have passed beyond our ken [one's range of knowledge or sight.]

Shall we look at the reverse of the shield? Let us suppose these conditions to exist: I was lonely indeed and in my loneliness turned my thoughts inward in self-pity. I looked out toward my neighbor's distant home with the feeling that "Surely she might come to see me! It is a shame I am left alone this way! It is little enough for any one to do. She has horses, she can hitch up. She might!

Either I do not know or do not care that this neighbor has limited strength, more work than she can well do and that it is no small undertaking to manage two babies and two horses and three heavy gates.
The view from our local post office and bank
One day she comes. Do you suppose for a moment that I can receive her with an honest heart of truly sweet and humble gratitude? The very attitude I have been holding of self-consideration, self-pity and criticism, kills gratitude in me as surely as the touch of flame shrivels the petals of a rose. My outward pretense of appreciation might deceive my caller and even myself--for a time--but the end of genuine unthankfulness is the loss of genuine reasons for thanksgiving. People may continue their kindly acts to me for one reason or another but the bond between our spirits is not a living, loving bond and must naturally in time cease to operate. When people are friendless in this friendly world there is a reason not far to seek.

This is the Thanksgiving season of the year. It follows upon the harvest time. Not so few and far between as we wish are those homes that, in the golden autumn lull between summer's work and winter's cold, are looking upon a harvest of disappointment instead of the prayed-for fullness. Can they be grateful? Should they be grateful? What will genuine gratitude in the face of bitter disappointment do for them?

I can best answer by telling you an incident that came to my notice while living on my homestead...