Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SEWING CLASS; 1919; by J. W. M.

Dear Friends:

On a hot June afternoon, a few mothers and daughters came to the ranch at my invitation, to consult about a sewing class which I had offered to carry on for the girls of the community. The two youngest who wished to join, were five and seven years old and had never held a needle or used a thimble. The two oldest had sewed quite a bit on their mother's machine but almost none by hand.

The sewing bulletins given us at the county adviser's office say quite emphatically, "have the meetings short." These girls came a mile or more through rain or shine so we could not afford to have too short sessions. We met at three o'clock, sewed an hour, then stopped for a recess of fun.

The first day, the girls dropped their sewing any where and any how. When they returned later, to the table under the trees to sew, I said pleasantly, "Girls! What's the matter here? What's wrong?" They looked around and one face after another began to look sheepish. The sewing was either in little mussy heaps or sprawled over the chairs or on the ground. The lesson went home with no further words from me. Also at the end of that first lesson, I asked how many would come next time with clean finger nails. These little lessons on the side I consider among the most important.

To return to the recess time, after an hour's lesson the girls ran and played. That first day they took turns riding the Shetland pony whose pasture field is the big yard.

Other afternoons the recreation quarter-hour was spent climbing the low-branched birch trees or dressing the dollies. Always they returned rosy-cheeked and cheerful for another hour's work.

On that first day, I told the mothers and girls in simple story form of early ways of weaving, of the time when people had no needles and no machines; of looms and warp and woof; of Indian rugs, and so forth, and brought it all down to the present time. It was not hard to hold the attention of the girls who sat open-mouthed but many of the mothers would whisper to each other, "Have you weaned the baby yet?" or "Isn't this weather awful to sour milk?" Their minds had been so long running in the rut of cooking and children only, that they could scarcely concentrate on outside subjects of interest.

One afternoon I showed the girls samples of different weaves, goods, textures and dyes.

The simple garments made by the girls, of course, did not amount to much as garments but their coming together was a character-forming influence.

During July, I, their leader, was away. In spite of hot days and busy hours, these girls came together at the call of their girl President. They had each bought muslin and with some help from a mother, each one had made a nightgown. The gown and the making of it were of less importance than their other training. For example: I asked each one to rip off the neck facing and let me show them the correct way to put it on. With no exception they cheerfully complied, although it took more than one long hot afternoon for some to complete the job. To undo the work they had done was a test of patience and good nature and trust in their leader.

These garments went to the County Fair. They received no blue ribbons nor honorable mention. The premiums will be realized in characters of the future.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

OUR HOT NOON LUNCHES; 1919; Putnam County, Ohio

Seventh grader, Odelia Konst, explains the simplicity of her school lunch program.

We have had hot lunches in our school for over two years. I think it is very good for the children. It helps the children to study their lessons. Many children do not eat much for breakfast and if they do not eat much for breakfast and if they do not get a hot dinner, they will get sick. Some children will not eat their cold lunch at school. The farmers will have warm feed for their chickens, pigs and cows. If the farmer takes good care of the animals, why should he not take good care of his boys and girls? Children should have something warm to eat at school.

In some rural schools there is hardly room enough to serve hot lunches but it does not take as much room as some teachers think. The only room needed is for the stove and cupboard. The parents of school children should help the teacher get the things together. We have had three chief cooks: They are the following: Emma P., Loretta W., and myself. We also have some waiters that bring the food to the pupil's desk. We have many things in our school. We have an oil stove, kitchen cabinet and another small cupboard. Our oil stove has three burners. We like it very well. We have a baker with our oil stove. Our kitchen cabinet is very pretty. The upper part is taken off and we use it as a table. In one drawer we keep the spoons, forks and knives, and in the other part we keep the dishes. We have three dozen dishes, large cups and small spoons, knives and forks. We also have pans, a dish pan, a water pail, a large and a small stew pan. All the things in school are bought with the money we received as premiums at the county fair.
Children of the New Cleveland School

The children take turns about bringing the soup meat. Every child brings a potato for the soup then one of the children brings beans, noodles, or whatever we put in the soup. When the soup is done the chief cook takes it from the fire and divides it into cupfuls for the children. The one who brought the meat divides it among his friends. By this way the children bring more and nicer meat. When we have mashed potatoes one of the children brings the milk. When we have baked potatoes or boiled eggs the number of the child is put on it so that each child gets its own egg back. The parents like it very well. We have no trouble in getting the soup meat. Almost every week we had soup three to four times. We have one hot dish every day. It does not take much time away from our studies to tend to the cooking.

In the morning when we come to school we peel the potatoes and put them in pans till recess. The teacher starts the oil stove and the chief cook puts the soup meat on the fire. At recess we put the potatoes in with the soup meat. At half past eleven we eat our dinner. Then we put some water on the fire so that it will get hot to wash the dishes.

Each child has a napkin which he puts on his desk. Then we take the soup from the fire and put it in cups. Each child gets a cup of soup. When we have mashed potatoes each child gets a place of potatoes with white sauce on them. When we have mashed potatoes each child comes to the table and gets his potatoes. We all go to our desks and eat our dinner. The children have to stay in school for twenty minutes while they eat their dinner. After they are through eating their dinner they have to bring the dishes to the table where they will get washed. Some times there are many dishes to be washed.

Oh, how inexpensive and simple! I wonder what Odelia would think of our present day school lunch program?!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I AM DAIRYING FOR DOLLARS; 1919; by Mrs. Warren Taylor of Springfield, Illinois

I have been running a dairy farm for three years and I have come to wonder why there are not more farm women in the dairying business.

There is nothing unusual about my dairy farm or my experience. My husband was for twenty-two years the principal of a Springfield grade school. This meant that we had to live in the city. I am a true dyed-in-the-wool farm woman. I was born on West Wood Farm. I dearly love stock. We bought our first cow when my oldest son was about nine as he persuaded us that he could make money selling milk to the neighbors. He paid for the cow and her keep in six months and bought another one which was paid for by the end of the first year. Finally we had four cows and the boys delivered the milk with the newspapers. Ten years ago we moved out to this, my father's farm, and my husband started in earnest to build up a dairy interest and when he died had a profitable retail dairy business in Springfield, Illinois. Neither the boys nor I wished to return to the city although friends and neighbors took it for granted we could not continue to run the farm and dairy and that, of course, we should have to give up and move to town.

Just at first, I was inclined to do this. I had taught school before I was married and I thought of taking up teaching again; then I considered office work of some kind but these means of support meant breaking up our pleasant farm home, giving up the healthy outdoor life and moving into a flat or city boarding house. My four boys were not old enough to provide for themselves and it was my duty as well as privilege to give them, not only food, clothes and a good home but the education and training their father would have given them had he lived.

If I taught school or worked in an office I could only be with my boys at night, and on Sundays and holidays. I have, I think, four of the finest lads in this country and I wanted to bring them up as upright, fine young Americans. (I am proud to say that I had two boys under twenty-one in the war.) I was afraid that if I took them to the city and could spend only a fraction of my time with them and could not share in their life and recreation, that they would grow away from me. I knew too they would feel caged up like the wild animals of a circus if, after their freedom on the farm, I put them in a flat or boarding house. Every cow, calf and pig on our place is a pet! Only recently when I bought a pedigreed bull from the University of Illinois Farm I had to give orders for one not only with a good milk strain but a good temper for I knew my youngest boy would be on the bull's back the first day it arrived! How could I coop up these growing boys in a city home?

If I carried on the dairy, I could stay on the farm, earn money, and our home life together would not be spoiled. Also the boys would have a chance to share in my work. I could think of no other money-earning business that would do this for me. So we stayed. I have not discovered any get-rich-quick secrets in the dairy business but I can say that I have made a comfortable living. I have increased the business and added to my herd and am now considering buying ten more cows. Last month I added forty-five new customers to my list and I have never advertised or solicited patronage. There is one physician, a baby specialist, who insists on his patients using milk from the West Wood Farm, as my dairy is called. I have seventeen of his baby-patients on my list.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


A Spring Coming-Out Party; April 1933
“We’re having our coming-out party this month,” said the Maple girls to Mrs. Oak, “and we want you to come.”
“Oh, my dear,” replied Mrs. Oak, “I haven’t a thing to wear.”
“That’s quite all right,” answered Miss Sugar Maple, “the Pines are coming and they haven’t worn anything but those dark green dresses since I can remember.”
The day of the party was a gorgeous April one, and the setting was perfect. Down in the meadow it was, along the banks of a brook. The dandelions and Sweet Williams acted as pages while the trilliums stayed in the background for color.
Two of the Maple girls wore dresses of tender red, while the other one had a silver gown that waved in the breeze.
One of the first guests to arrive was Weeping Willow. She looked very happy, however, in her frilly dress of light green. Along with her came her cousin Pussy in his little gray furry jacket that looked like it was ready to shed.
The majestic Elm and Sycamore came together and were humble on this afternoon as the Birches along the bank. The Poplar sisters, tall and graceful, were the talk of the party. They flirted continuously with the Wind boys.
Mrs. Oak came late with all her family, even scrubby little Jack.
“As soon as the Dogwood stops barking at Pussy Willow,” announced the hostess, “we shall have the brook sing a merry song.” The orchestra of robins, wrens and bumblebees played a few selections followed by a dance by the four Winds. The dance was beautiful until North Wind got so loud and boisterous that meek little Aspen trembled all over. He calmed down though when the Sun came out.
Most unexpectedly came April Showers who turned out to be the life of the party.

Friday, March 11, 2016

AT SOUTHVIEW; by Emmy Lou, Minnesota; 1932

Dear Editor:

I look out of my south living room window and behold a beautiful view--trees, meadows, grazing cattle, wooded hills, a river bed, green grass, and cars passing on the highway.
It is all mine. I do not mean that I own it. But the view,--I do not mean that I own it. But the view,--I own that as much as you or anyone. True, Old Skinflint who owns the land might put up a stone wall and shut off that part of my view, but it would have to be a pretty tall one if it did not add to the beauty, for I could see over it from my hill and soon wild vines would cover it and it would be lovely.

The view has been free to me for years and years--as free as the air I breathe.

I do not need a picture on my wall. I have only to look out of my south window to see a most beautiful natural picture. It begins at my very window, takes in our own yard, pine trees and pasture and continues on and on for miles across the farms of my neighbors. A west window close to this south window and just around the corner of the house affords a continuation of the view to the westward without getting up from my easy chair. Many a time from these windows we see a beautiful sunset.

I watch for the mail. New neighbors have moved on Old Skinflint's farm across the way. I see their light at night in the poor old ramshackle house which stands empty so much. A car flits by on the highway, then maybe a truck load of baled hay, or a load of wood, or the road drag drawn by horses, or a cream truck, or a horse and buggy, or wagon and team, some farmer hauling hay, or some one on foot, more cars.

Even the view itself has changed with the years as the land has been cleared, fenced, buildings put up and land cultivated. But the wild beauty remains. The change has been so slight and gradual that it seems the same shifting scene it has always been--the scene I love from my south window, that soothes me with its beauty and rests my eyes with its color, that gives our dear home its pleasant name--Southview.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

FOR ALL "HOMESTEADS," from Minnesota, 1930

Dear Editor:

I was a town girl before marriage; nevertheless I loved the country. So it was a happy day when my husband, tired of clerking, decided to go back to the land which was his by birthright.
The lonely winter view from my"Old Home"
I shall never forget the day we went to look things over. It was in mid winter. Drifts blocked the roads, necessitating detours across fields. The house stood on a knoll, and was badly in need of paint. Just the old fashioned upright-and-a-half to which, as an after thought, had been added a small lean-to kitchen. Nearby was a summer kitchen.

In spite of the dreary appearance it made, standing there in deep snow with tumbled down out-buildings in the background, I was not dismayed. And the man of the house, satisfied with his wife's attitude toward her future domicile, rented the place.

It would take some time to describe the interior which had been bachelor quarters. My husband admonished me not to speak about paper and paint to the landlord.

"He's a close-fisted fellow," he said, and we mustn't ask for anything this year."

So I scrubbed and made the little house clean. It was dreadfully cold, so cold that we had three stoves burning up all the oxygen that crept in around the doors and windows, and still I wore overshoes while doing the morning work. Small wonder we had so much sickness each winter.

Secretly I did some figuring as to how I could change my home. We had a fine flock of Barred Plymouth Rocks (chickens). To them I turned for the solution, and they never failed me. How proud I was of that flock,--nucleus of so many things that followed.

Ten years we lived in the little house. During that time four babies were born, and one was taken by death. We had our joys and sorrows, like so many others. My health was never very rugged so we had a sale and decided to move West thinking it might prove beneficial.

There's so much that I miss. In winter I think of "the old home" as we all call it, standing bleak and deserted on the knoll, its old comrades, the maples, stripped and broken, guarding it like staunch friends.

Again in May I see a garden; close by an old orchard popped out pink and white. The maples are alive with birds. On a spacious lawn little children are romping with a collie. And on a sandy hilltop a flock of Barred Rocks are scratching in the sunshine, and brood hens are teaching their young chicks to look for food...All this and more we left.

I'd like to make a plea for all "old homesteads." Often they go out of the family into strange hands. How much nicer if they could be kept as a sort of shrine--"the old home" forever.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


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.

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


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!