Monday, December 9, 2013


We were married during the war. I was a city girl and my husband a farmer. Money was easy to get in those times, so we lived in town and my husband drove back and forth to the farm every day. To live on a farm was not one of my ambitions and I never dreamed that I ever would.

After the war, prices began to fall and it wasn't long before we saw that we couldn't live where we were and continue farming; so my husband got a job. He never said that he was lonely for the farm, but I could see that he was. We could scarcely live on his salary and he was getting so discouraged that I suggested that we move to the farm.

I'll never forget how happy he was when he knew we were going. And I'll never forget how I fought it out alone. I was determined that I would go to that farm and like it, in spite of myself.

We have been here for seven years and not an unhappy moment have we had.  We work together and plan together. To be sure we have had disappointments, but they are a part of life, so we meet them together.

My only fear is that this depression may take away our farm as it has so many others. I can truly say that I want to stay here where I have been so happy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SWEET THINGS TO THINK ABOUT; November 1932; South Dakota

A subscriber to The Farmer's Wife who lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota saves her copies and sends them nearly a hundred miles by car to my prairie home. Eagerly I unwrap the package--for there are always several. Immediately I turn to the special page for us farm women with new thoughts and fresh inspiration for the taking. I save them all for that daughter who may some day be mine.

As I stood ironing yesterday, my mind began to dwell on little troubles, misunderstandings, the slight of a supposed friend, problems which were beyond my control. And as my mind clung to such thoughts, each trouble, or misunderstanding, or slight, seemed to grow and grow and become almost unbearable till I was very blue and even wept a few tears.

Right there I turned about and placed the hot flat iron on the stove. These were not healthy thoughts for a woman to be thinking who is striving to be a wonderful wife and mother, with a sweet face and a true heart. My thoughts were dragging me down and in my mind huge storms were brewing.

Before any more ironing was done I placed my Bible before me open to Philippians 4:8, which verse I committed to memory as I worked. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on those things." It helped wonderfully. How many sweet things there are to think about!

I believe we farm woman must watch our thoughts to control them. For our thoughts are far-reaching in their effect on our inner selves, on our response to life.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Before I was married I was a city school teacher. I thoroughly enjoyed my work and thought that I would always be a school teacher. But as fate would have it, I fell in love with a young farmer-lad, near my own age. I had been reared in town and had always pitied farmers' wives. In my blindness I felt that they worked too hard, went few places and didn't get much out of life.

When my lover told me that we would have to live on a farm I was thunderstruck. I, a farmer's wife--I should say not! I tried to persuade him to leave the farm and get a job in the city. But he said he could make a success only as a farmer because his heart was there. So I made up my mind I had better teach school and put him out of my life. But I found I couldn't do that. I loved him and he loved me. I couldn't give him up. Finally I decided that I loved him enough so that we could be happy anywhere.

We were married just a little over a year ago. Oh, those first few months! Back from our honeymoon and into back-breaking work. How I hated the farm! I thought my life was ruined. I was so unhappy and I made life miserable for both of us. At last, wearied by my crying and unhappiness, my good, unselfish husband said we'd just have to sell and move to town. In my happiness at the thought of being back in town I didn't see the change in my husband. He was as kind as ever and began making plans for moving. Finally, I noticed that he was not quite his old self. His "pep" and brightness were gone. I began to feel as if I were transplanting an oak which had long ago taken deep root in the forest. But still I couldn't, no wouldn't, see any joy in being a farmer's wife.

Then one day in a friend's home, I chanced to pick up a magazine. It was The Farmer's Wife. In it were letters from other farmers' wives, telling the blessings and happiness they had. At first I laughed and thought they couldn't mean that they were really contented! The more letters I read the more I realized how good and wholesome they were.

"Perhaps I could be happy on the farm if I'd look for my blessings," I said. "I have the love of a fine whole-hearted man. That ought to make me happy."

Right then and there I had my eyes opened. I began looking for joy and now I'm finding it. Day by day I find farm life more interesting and joyous. My "blue days" are getting fewer and my happy days more frequent. When I'm just a little "blue" I get out my Farmer's Wife and soon I'm happy again. I wouldn't be without it and I say, "God bless The Farmer's Wife and its good farmers' wives. Let me be one of you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


My California home seems far distanced from my childhood's home of Maine, but your magazine is a "link that binds." The long evenings are with us and my husband and myself are trying to make our home as pleasant for our children as did our parents away back in "Old New England." Our evenings spent by ourselves in playing instructive and entertaining games are bright pictures to look back upon.

My father was one who seldom forbade us doing a thing, yet if we took a "youthful" notion to dance or play cards, or even play checkers, he had a way of never refusing or antagonizing; instead he would come home from town with games which he considered more proper and would enter into them with us in such a spirit that we would forget we had wanted something else. He did not empty our lives by forbidding us to go here or there, but on the other hand he filled them so full of going with us to places that he preferred for us, that we forgot we had wanted to go elsewhere.

Idle hands, or heads or hearts are Satan's best workshops. The youth of our children will soon pass, the long, blessed evenings when we may have them with us will soon have fled never to return. Can we not study more and more to fill their lives so full of good interests that there will be little or no room for bad influences?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

COUNTRY GIRL STORY; part 2; 1915; From Her "Beloved Southland'

It is evident that her share in the housework is not a small one. She does the sewing and much of the gardening, taking entire care of the flower-garden. She does marvels of canning; she keeps the accounts; she straightens up the rooms, and helps with the cooking. She runs the errands, waiting on the father, who is permanently disabled. To facilitate her work she has a sewing machine, an oil stove, a pump near the door, and a wheel-hoe. What she desires in the way of equipment in order to make her housekeeping easier are these only—her thoughts for herself have not flown very high!--a kitchen cabinet and a clothes wringer. Since they eat a great deal of cream cheese and lots of fruit and vegetables raw, she does not feel that they need a fireless cooker; but she does greatly need a canner.

The recreations of this hard-working girl consist of reading, going visiting, walking, studying nature, making a flower garden, and writing letters. She also naively includes going to Sunday School among her recreations. She takes an excursion to the shore once in a great while; but only seldom has she the time for that. In her community there are perhaps twenty-five young people. They have a dance once or twice a month and a picnic twice a year; and there is a school social every two months. The village has a hall with a platform, a two-roomed school house, and a tennis court, as facilities for a social center.

With delightful frankness this efficient County Girl recounts her financial endeavors. Her chief way of earning money is by raising vegetables for the table and by cutting down expenses by careful planning of the diet. During one year the family of four had only to pay out $71 for bought groceries.

In her earlier girlhood her father paid her a salary of ten dollars a month for her household assistance. That first money she earned, she saved. She let it accumulate for a time and when she had a good opportunity she bought a lot with it. After a while she moved a house upon the lot and fixed it up. The family lived there for about a year and then she sold it, making a good profit. During that time they owned a garden and a cow. The garden was held to be her own special property; but her enthusiasm for the whole farm project was no doubt to a good extent the result of the training in responsibility she had received at the hands of her wise parents.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

COUNTRY GIRL STORY; part 1; 1915; From Her "Beloved Southland'

The following account is written by a single woman in her early twenties. She lives in her “beloved Southland” on a farm of two hundred acres, twenty-five of which are cleared. The nearest village, which consists of twenty or so houses, is three miles from her farm. This is the way the farm looked when she first saw it:

“Around the house was an old-fashioned flower garden planted years before. The woods and creek were beautiful. The day we arrived, after we had crossed the creek and were inside the clearing, what we saw made us forget the long drive through black stumps and fallen trees. The oaks were just coming into leaf. The dogwoods formed a semi-circle around the place and were white with bloom against the green of the pines, while the wisteria hung in great clusters and the bridal wreath was one heap of white flowers.”

This was the first entrancing glimpse. But any one who knows about farm work, realizes that this view of a run-down, neglected old place means a long struggle. Nature has reached out hands to pull the whole cultivation back into the wilderness. In that tangled fragrant clearing was waiting a severe test for a trained farmer, not to say, for a beginner. But this girl was determined to live on the farm, and she stood ready to face all difficulties in the attainment of her desire. That neglected garden was typical. She soon had it cleaned and the bulbs reset, and it was not long before there were flowers for every month in the year. All difficulties seem to have been met with a spirit of determination and of cheer. “We were crazy,” she declares, “to live on a farm and determine not to fail; but as soon as one problem was solved, another would bob up. There was never a day without some unexpected happening, and adventures were plentiful.”

An average day of her life on the farm is a busy one. She says:

“The sun wakes me up in the morning, or maybe it is the mocking-birds singing. I work in the garden gathering the vegetables, picking the flowers, or cultivating, until breakfast time. After breakfast I make the beds and straighten the bed-room; then I work in the garden again until about 9:30 or 10:00 o'clock. Then I come in and help with the dinner or sew or study or write, and if it is bread-baking day I always knead the bread and prepare it for the oven. As we have breakfast about five-thirty o'clock we get so hungry we have dinner about 11:30. After dinner we rest a half hour either by reading or by lying down. In the afternoon after a bath I study or sew until it is cool enough to work in the garden. For supper we only make coffee and warm over something left from dinner. We have supper at five o'clock, but usually have a bowl of clabber or a glass of milk before going to bed. I work in the garden until dark; then we talk a while and go to bed about nine o'clock. In the winter we talk or read after supper until bed-time. However, in canning time the study, the sewing, and a good part of the reading are put aside.”

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This is a follow-up to my last post. Missy Shay made a comment that she would like to read the original editorial. I do not own all of the 1913 issues, so I wasn't sure that I had it, but happily, I found it. The editorial was published in the October 1913 issue. I think many of us would like to join the campaign, but unfortunately we are exactly 100 years too late. What a pity! 

The Farmer's Wife feels like shouting glory halleluiah and grasping hands with every woman of whatsoever creed or color, in the campaign for wider skirts. If this campaign would please include longer sleeves and higher necks and thicker waists, The Farmer's Wife would like to take hold of both hands of every campaigner. May the good work go on. May every woman or girl in the country who has respect for decency and orderliness lend her influence to this reform. The lax, loose, at the same time hobbled style of dressing of the day is one of the blots upon 20th Century civilization in our country. If women refuse to wear indecent things, fashion makers will eventually be boycotted and stop making them. Manufacturing houses are not in the habit of making things they can't sell and if women refuse to buy, the question solves itself at once.

The point is to educate ourselves not to patronize these styles and not only ourselves, but our daughters, if need be our mothers, our aunts, or our cousins. If perchance the "gude mon" [good man?] does the buying, educate him, too. In season and out of season let the slogan be sounded "Decent Clothes."

I would like to close this subject with a quote by Tasha Tudor (1915-2008) that I discovered on this lovely blog: Thanks, Miriam, for posting it.

Why do women want to dress like men when they're fortunate enough to be women? Why lose our femininity, Which is one of our greatest charms? I'm very fond of men. I think they're wonderful creatures. I love them dearly. But I do not like to look like one.

Tomorrow,  I plan to post a "Country Girl" story.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Mrs. Annis Farnsworth wrote a column for The Farmer's Wife entitled, "Our Home Club." The following letters, published in the November 1913 issue, were in response to an earlier editorial piece written by her. Times have surely changed in the last one hundred years, but perhaps not always for the better.

 Please extend to me "both hands" this morning. I am in the fight for wider skirts, higher necks, longer sleeves and thicker waists. Our pastor says the form of dress today has a bad influence over everyone and cites how some cities have issued the mandate against slit skirts. He says we do not see the extent of it in the country. So narrow are some women's skirts in the cities that they fall on the sidewalk andthe policeman have to assist them "to foot" again.-- Mrs. E. T., Oklahoma

I was delighted to see the editorial screed about wider skirts, etc., in your last issue. Higher necks and longer sleeves are sorely needed, but so are more petticoats. If the country needs a reform of any kind just now it is on the dress question. I see the Minnesota Club women have endorsed a "two-yard-wide" skirt. Good! May the blessed work go on.-- Illinois Mother

Three cheers for your suggested campaign against narrow skirts. Let me join. And let every woman in the country get busy in the good work. My heart ached the other day when I met a sweet fifteen-year-old girl with a waist (blouse) cut so low that her busts were almost visible, unless she stood with the utmost rigidity. And her mother made the dress for her! When will mothers learn what such an influence on a young girl means to her future life?-- Mrs. L. A. C., Wisconsin


Saturday, October 5, 2013


Five years ago, I engaged to teach in one of the rural schools of my county. It had long been my ambition to become a successful teacher, and realizing that my first day at school would either make or mar my success, I gave much thought as to how I would begin.

A few days previous to the opening of the session I managed to get the names of all the children who were most likely to attend school the first day, also the names of their parents. Having secured these, I managed to see the parents and ask as many as possible to come to the school-house Monday morning and let us co-operate and begin work together.

At the appointed time there was a large number of parents and children present to greet me. First, I met and talked with each parent, asking such questions as I thought necessary in order to begin right. Upon seeing my interest and that I was going to work for the good of each and every child, they also became interested.

Then turning my attention to the pupils present, I tried to impress upon them what was right and what was wrong, telling them obedience and courtesy were necessary.
Next I turned my attention to the studies, taking one at a time, beginning with mathematics. That always seems to be a very hard study for children, they master it easier early in the day, when their minds are fresh. Next came spelling, then reading, geography, history, hygiene, etc. I tried to show them the best way to prepare the different studies to get the most from them--in short, I showed them how to study. Few children really know how.

At 12 o'clock, the time that all rural schools give recess, in which the pupils eat their lunch and play different games, I told two pupils to get the hats and lunch boxes and deliver them to their owners. Then I instituted a marching scheme for them to leave the building. This prevented much confusion.

After lunch came play-time. In this I took part, going out and being one of them.

The program for the afternoon was prepared with equal care and just before dismissing for the day I assigned the different little duties that must be done in the school-room,--such as sweeping, dusting, arranging flowers in the room, keeping the sash washed, bringing in wood and water, etc., each to do the work assigned for a week, when some one else would be appointed.

Taking it as a whole, I had a very successful school-year.

Monday, September 30, 2013

RAISING A BIG FAMILY; Part 3; by Maude Meredith, April 1912

Each boy, when he reached twenty-one, was given a two year old colt, one he had selected two years before, and petted and loved; a pair of two year old steers, and a heifer, and a pair of sheep. Quite a start, was it not? Often father kept the sheep and cows, saving the increase for the boy, and having the milk and fleece for the keeping, till the boy wanted to sell them, or needed them on his own place. Charlie had fifteen splendid sheep, I remember, when he married.

That mother of mine was very wise, in her day and generation. She would sit down to get baby asleep, and tell us the most wonderful fairy tales, while we sewed carpet rags. We picked out a good many carpets, but there was always a new one ready, besides we lengthened the lives of our carpets now and then, by putting together the best of two old carpets, and going over it, after it was stretched on the floor with a good bath of dark green dye. We softened our carpets, and added to the floor warmth, by using many thicknesses of paper beneath.

When Madeline was eighteen, the day she was eighteen, mamma had her go cut the web from the loom, that always stood in the toolhouse. Thirty yards, there was of it. I remember Mother turned to Phyliss and myself and said: “This gives me an idea, girls; we'll have a thirty yard web for each girl the day she is eighteen.” The “carpet-rag habit” as Madeline called it had been formed in those early days of fairy tales, so we always kept it up, and on particularly cold or rainy days, every now and then, we all sewed carpet rages in the kitchen, told stories, ate apples, and had oh, such good times. Phyliss had her web, at eighteen. So did I. So did all the girls. And each was given a heifer and a ewe lamb. If it had not been that we married, one after the other, I'm sure father's farm would have been eaten up bodily by the children's stock.

As soon as we girls could sew, we listened to more fairy tales while we made “quilt patches,” until we developed a habit of sewing quilt patches as a pick-up work. These tops we folded away, and as each girl was married they were brought out and quilted or tied.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

RAISING A BIG FAMILY; Part 2; by Maude Meredith; April 1912

A couple of years later Charlie had an opportunity to buy a shot gun, so he put his savings into it. How I used to peep through the pickets, my heart in my mouth, as my two big,--oh, very big brothers--so they looked to me, shouldered their guns, whistled up their coon dog, and went hunting. There was rabbit or squirrel stew sure to follow, and more pelts tacked on the back of the barn.

The girls were given the wee small pig, the "titman" out of every litter of pigs. As I remember it, they sold their pigs at about three dollars apiece, and their bank account grew apace.

The boys bought a few traps, and papa taught them to make "dreadfalls" and "figure fours," and our supply of fresh meat came largely from the fields and woods. We children were never forced to eat salt pork, or pork gravy. All the meat from the hunts went into the family commissary. The pelts were the boy's own property.

Father raised and sold a great many berries, and as each child became old enough we were turned into the berry fields. We were not driven out in the hot sun, and left to loiter, but were paid so much per box, just the same as the neighbors' children. There was a savings bank at the village, six miles away, and father seldom went to town that he did not have a little bank book and a small deposit for some one of us. Oh, the delight of that first bank book! I shall never forget it. I had picked berries all summer, for the twins were now old enough to amuse the baby, in that blissful side yard. You know babies don't need any amusing if they are allowed to be around with other children, and those twins were always a community to themselves.

I see now what a wise provision those bank books were. We children kept them all in one pigeon hole in father's desk, and counted over the amounts and compared accounts, and great was the rivalry between us. No one took our money away from us, and we were encouraged to make gifts, instead of buying them.

We were all taught to buy first class pocket knives, of papa's selection, and there was a tool box in the shed, and a carpenter's bench, where anything could be made.

We girls each had scissors, thimbles and work baskets of our own. Father said "poor tools make poor workman," so we had the best and how we did use them.

The boys bought fish hooks, and we girls helped them braid horsehair lines. In the tool shed, high up above the reach of the little ones, was our array of fishing tackle that would cheer the heart of any disciple of Issac Walton. Was there coming up a shower? Out went the boys and we had crisp brown fish for supper.

Those were jolly days, days full of work and fun, days full of tables, and thrifty gardens, and smiling fields. There were squabs for sale, and squabs for the table. Each girl was given six hens to care for, and was expected to raise, at least, fifty chickens each. I am sure mamma must have been a poultry expert because she kept an oversight over us all, and the poultry we did turn out amazed our neighbors. The boys helped also, particularly with the ducks and geese, of which we had very large flocks. Mamma took the care of turkeys, although we children did most of the seeing after them. If only you know how, and don't forget the little poults, turkey raising is very easy. We always had one turkey for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas, and had always from twenty to forty to market.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

RAISING A BIG FAMILY; Part 1; by Maude Meredith; April 1912

Part of it was done before I can remember, as I was the fifth in a family of ten, and at the time it did not seem a matter worth mention, but now, looking back, I realize what a big job it must have been, and how beautifully it was done.

First, in our family, were two sturdy good tempered boys, ambitious and energetic. Then two girls that father always called the "little housewives." Me, he called " Nursie," because I do think I was responsible for the bringing up of the twins. As I remember our household the two boys were bright little helpers on the farm, while my two older sisters saved mother a world of steps about the house. They set and cleared tables, washed all the dishes, the younger standing on a box in front of the sink, while I--"little old Nursie"--rocked the cradle, or trundled the twins in the little cart that father made for them, and that pleased them so much. We had a very nice level front yard, and a lovely side yard filled with trees and shrubs, and the babies and I lived in that from April till November. We did not know anything about "fresh air," or "sunshine cures," those babies and I, but we loved the flowers and the birds, and so, there we lived. When I was four, my sister next older had to desert us, as she was promoted to school age and by that time there was a tiny baby that mamma brought out to the little cart, to sleep in the shade.

I suppose I should explain that there was a strong, high picket fence all about that side yard, so when the gate was fastened we children could not get out of the yard, except we came through the kitchen. Oh, it was snug and safe, and no paradise of one's more mature imagination could ever be so wonderful and beautiful. From the first buds on the lilacs to the last late bloom on the althea, there was a succession of flowers. In this yard was a grand old apple tree, under which hung the hammock. Cost? Oh, it was made at home, papa made, first and last, a dozen of them, I would guess, from barrel staves, with a nice patchy old quilt over the boards to soften them, hung low, on purpose for its children. There were cherry trees, peach, pear and plum, a long grape arbor, cool and dense of shade on hot days, along the rails of which we children hung little bags, or nailed on little boxes, and seats for our rag dolls, and here we played at "keep house." In here we had little tables--ah, that good, nice father of ours who brought crackers in boxes, and the moment a box was empty, nailed in four legs, and forthwith had an individual table. We had stools for seats, always a stool apiece and one or two extra; these father made on winter nights, just as he made milking stools, just such, as later, people gilded and furbelowed with ribbons and set in their parlors. Ours were three legged, some short, some higher, all painted, and always handy.

Father had a way of making little carts, he would saw four circles from a thick board, fit in an "axle," nail a box across, and let us tie in a string. I think they must have been pretty clumsy, wide affairs, but there was always a cart apiece, so there was no bickering, and we were always happy.

When I was four years old, Hal, my oldest brother was twelve. Ah, what a wonder he was to me. He could do so much. He and Charlie, who was ten, weaned and raised all the calves, and "handied" all the colts. They began just as soon as the little colts could walk on their wabbly legs; they petted them till any colt would follow right into the kitchen for taste of sugar, if allowed. So papa never had to waste a minute "breaking" a colt. That was a great saving of time, he said, and how we children did love those colts. Colts were never wild or vicious, you know, if the mares are treated kindly, and the colts are tamed and petted while young. The boys could milk, which seemed very "grown up" to me, and were given the littlest calf each year. This they raised and sold, and the money belonged to them. It was Hal's first "calf money" that he spent for a double barreled shot gun. Then I was dumb with amazement, I heard mamma say, "Now, papa, you will take the boys out, yourself, and teach them to be careful, won't you? And I am sure he did, because we never had an accident. There were a good many woodchucks, some skunks, and coons on the farm; occasionally a mink, and lots of muskrats. Papa particularly wanted to rid the farm of woodchucks, so on rainy days he took the boys out hunting. I may as well add right here, that the yearly revenue from pelts was quite considerable. The gun, a good one, cost only ten dollars, as Widow Grangor had no use for it, and could not keep the rust out of it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I AM RICH; Wisconsin; 1937

I am rich. I have a home and no one there who can say to me, "Get out. You haven't paid your rent." The house is old, but I have such pretty new linoleum on the dining room floor and the sun is warm through the double south windows in the living room.

I am rich. I have a family. Son who is going on seven and full of the excitement of learning and living; Little daughter, sweet and jolly and almost five. There are dandy hills for coasting in winter and in summer the shade of big trees to play under.

I am rich. My time is my own to plan as I wish, to budget so there are moments for reading and writing. There is no more being just a little cog in a big wheel as I was before I married. Here I am the hub, though the wheel be small.

I am rich. I am young enough to plan for the future, but old enough to have learned to take life's bumps with springs that "give." I am young enough and well enough to fly about my work with light-hearted energy, but old enough not to fret at the inhibitions imposed by responsibilities.

I am rich. I have faith in God, hope for the future, the love of children, husband and friends. I have the necessities of life and few pleasures. What more could one want.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

OUR SUMMER VACATION; by Milton O. Nelson; part 2 of 2; September 1912

It is a short look from our front door to the snow line above the Boy Camp: but it is fifty long, crooked, up-and-down miles by wagon. During that week we found ourselves looking up from our work much more often than usual to the great mountain wrapped in its mantel of purple and white: and often in the middle of things the boy's mother would say: "I wonder what he's doing now"--just as though everybody had been thinking of Little Boy and would know who the "he" was. We couldn't stand this for more than five days so in spite of the certainty that the way was long and rocky and steep, dusty and mosquito-infested, we hitched up the road mare to the little buggy and in the cool of the morning started for the mountain and the Boy Camp far up on its shoulder. To Sue the way to Boy Camp was an air line and easily flown.

It was in the dusk of the evening with just afterglow enough to show the dead-white blanket on the old, dead volcano, that two tired, bumped, and dusty parents and one tired little mare drew up in sight of a little tent far up the steep, and one great, big, long-legged, sunburned, little boy came bouncing down the crooked trail to meet us.

"And didn't you get homesick at all?" his mother asked after the wonders of the week had been rehearsed.

"If I did, I didn't show it," he said stoutly. "But my! The other boys are awfully homesick."

"Would you have had a better time if we had been here?" (this from his fond mother.)

"Great shucks, yes!" But say, I caught six brook trout yesterday, and I found, Oh, such a dandy waterfall! Can you come with me tomorrow and see it?"

We staid ("stayed" was spelled this was in 1912) and saw the waterfall and his ma caught trout under his tutelage and explored the canyon and found the waterfall and took a photo of it. Then we came home by easy stages, exploring as we came. This outing took nine of his days and three of ours right out of the middle of weeding time. Yet six months from now the weeds will be as dead as though we had staid at home, and sixty years from now, if Heaven lets him stay that long, Little Boy will still keep the memory of the bivouac by the roadside, the campfire under the fir trees, the roaring, twisting, ice-cold streams in the deep woods, the far view over mountain ranges from the snow fields of the old volcano, the trout under the log in the brook, and the waterfall in the canyon that he found himself and gave his own name.

Life is not all for work, for the killing of weeds, and the raising of cabbages. There are places in it made expressly for the pure squandering of hours, for strenuous idleness, and for memories. These mix in well with daily work. It glorifies daily work to drop it now and again and get the view from the top of the mountain.

Friday, August 30, 2013

OUR SUMMER VACATION; by Milton O. Nelson; September 1912; Part 1 of 2

Did ever a farmer [or a farmer's wife!] have his work so well in hand that at each day's close he could say: "I have done nothing that I ought not to have done and have left nothing undone that I ought to have done and I feel as fresh and strong as a bull moose." I haven't yet met that farmer. I think Longfellow was on a farm when he wrote:

"Labor with what zeal we will
Something still remains undone;
Something unaccomplished still
Waits the rising of the sun."  

I think he wrote that along about July or August when haying, hoeing and harvest overlapped and sat in each other's laps.

Did you ever see a time during the summer school vacation when you could spare the boys--the boys that are just getting big enough to hoe their row and load the hay and milk? If any part of the year runs on winged feet it is the days between June and September when the children are home from school. According to my observation a vacation on a farm is a rare thing. It was on our old farm certainly.

We deliberately broke the old tradition this season. And this is the way it came about. Just before school closed the principal of our high school, who is a fine boy-man, invited the Little Boy of our farm to join a boy-camp in the mountains, there to spend a week. A week right out of the middle of weed-time leaves a big hold, and a Little Boy, (now nearly as tall as his mother) out of a family of three leaves a bigger hole. He had never been away as long as that. But it was inevitable. Sometime or other he would have to camp without his parents. It took about two weeks of deliberation to persuade us that this was the time.

When it was finally decided and the morning had come, we took him to the rendezvous of the expedition at the village, where a strong team [of horses] and a covered mountain wagon were in waiting. As the boys with their bundles of dunnage piled into the van, faces radiant with expectation, I'd have given a cookie to be a boy again for a week. For pure, unalloyed pleasure in large chunks just hand me the first day of an expedition of this kind. You don't get anything quite so high class in later years.

One of three things is essential to a first-class week's outing--water, woods, or high places. Clear, grove-rimmed lakes such as you find in Wisconsin and Minnesota are my choice. But lacking these, then high places with streams splashing down hill through tall, dark, leaf-carpeted woods will do pretty well. In any case it must be a place so different from the farm that weeds and skim milk won't occur to your mind once during the whole week. I have often thought this summer that if I could take a week at some quiet hotel in the city, get a room on the court where street noises don't intrude, sleep sixteen hours a day, eat once, and spend the rest of the time mousing round the city library, it would suit me. I don't know but I would recommend a city vacation for farmers' wives. It could be made much less strenuous than a week in the mountains or a camp in the mosquito-infested woods. Sue says she is going to try this next winter. But thus far this summer we have chosen the mountains.

Part two is planned for September 5th.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

SPENDING THAT "SUMMER VACATION;" by L.D. Stearns; August 1913

The following article was published exactly one hundred years ago this month. Although the specifics aren't timeless, the overall inspiration and ideas are. How many of us would not benefit from a week like this? One of my very favorite articles and I hope that you enjoy it, too.

It's time to think once more about vacation. What? Not going to take one this year? Can't afford it? Times have been hard—you've had sickness these last months, and your pocketbook is about empty?

But you need it, friend. How about that?

There are long weeks and months ahead when you must work; when you must not only give of your best, but make that best an efficient best. And you can't do it if you're not up to par physically, for however much one may push one's self there's a point beyond which Nature cries “halt!” You're like a machine, friend,--finely adjusted, delicate of mechanism, capable of great things; but you must see that the machine is in working order if you expect to turn out work that is satisfactory both in quality and amount.

A year or two ago, my pocketbook was empty, too. I'd had sickness; had done almost no work for a full year; and I, also, said--”There'll be no vacation for me this year.” And then I looked into the weeks ahead, and I saw the work waiting to be accomplished. I felt the need of recuperation, as you feel it now, and I said,-- “But yes, I'll have my vacation; and I will plan it so that every minute shall be rest; and best of all it shall cost me nothing, or next to nothing.”

In my room there chanced to be a long, wide window seat. I spread a rug over it, and piled it with cushions. I resolutely put my work out of my sight and out of my mind. I dressed the room in a holiday dress. A new fruit dish, piled high with fruit; a few magazines; a book I'd been wanting to read; one or two new articles—inexpensive, but seeming to make the room new,--and my vacation had begun. At the end I had gained in weight, in strength and vigor, and was ready to take hold of work with a new power and delight. You don't need to take a long trip, or spend money for such a vacation, and you will find it well worth while. Try it for yourself and see.

Whether you live in one or two rooms, or in your own home,--whether you work in factory, store, office, or are a busy housekeeper with your family about you, it is all the same. Make it your week.

Put aside worries. Forget work. Just relax, and live only in the minute as it comes and goes. Change your diet completely. I ate nothing but fruit. It's a wonderful tonic. After the first day, you won't want anything else; and even if you do, it will do you worlds of good to go for the full week without a mouthful of cooked food. Eat a few nuts if you like, and they agree with you, and drink much water. Be absolute and regular about it. At least eight glasses a day is none too much, and ten is better. Have certain times for it, and don't neglect it. Don't put a single article on throughout the week that is not absolutely fresh; and above all, wear your very prettiest skirts and under-clothing. Don't neglect the daily bath, either cold or tepid as you prefer; and I find a small quantity of Epsom Salts in the water gives the skin a wonderfully fresh, active feeling. Invest in a new kimono. You can buy for 59 cents almost any time at a sale; but see to it that the colors are soft and restful, and such as you are especially fond of. There's an inspiration in clothes. Try it, and see. Somehow, the sun seems brighter when one is absolutely fresh and dainty from top to toe.

If you are in the country, and can, instead of the window seat, or the couch, fix up a place under the trees,--either a cot, or a couch, or a blanket with a pile of pillows,--and spend the days there. But whether you are in the city and country, indoors or out, live idly; dream; watch the sky; breathe deep, full breaths many times a day; eat slowly; and in a week's time you will feel a new creature, with none of the work and strain incident to getting ready for some journey you cannot afford. Your pocketbook will be scarcely a bit thinner, and you will have no bills staring you in the face as result of your “summer vacation.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A STORY OF "BILL" AND "WILLIAM"; by School Teacher Pearl Chenoweth; 1913

To win the confidence of a child, give him something to do and let him see that you expect him to do it well. Then when he does, be sure to express your appreciation. I once got around a big difficulty by following this simple rule. Our County Superintendent of Schools had said to me, "There is a rough school over in District 14. Every teacher has had trouble there. The last one was routed completely. I would like to place you in charge, I believe you could manage it."

You see someone had confidence in me and I determined to be worthy of it. I secured board with a nice family who had no children in school. For a few weeks all went smoothly. I had kept good order from the beginning and my pupils had settled down to interested study.

One night at supper I remarked that I could not understand why that school had such a reputation. "Just wait till Bill Rawlins starts to school," I was answered. "He is the meanest boy that ever lived and he leads all the others, you'll have something to do when he starts, you may be sure."

Bill was fourteen. His cousin told me the day before he started to school that he said he meant to "put me out, body and soul," so it was not without some fears that I watched him come over the hill that Monday morning. It was quite an hour before school time. I was building the fire. He walked in with an important swagger, threw his books on a desk and spat halfway across the room. I quit shaving kindling, went over and shook hands with him, saying, "You are William? I am glad you happened to come early for I am out of coal. It is rather far for a woman to carry, you know."

He brought the coal gladly, then I gave him all my pencils to sharpen which he did more neatly than I could have done, and I took pains to let him see that I fully appreciated it. From that hour he was won. He was my knight errant to the end of the term. He did lead the others but he did not lead them astray. Bill told me on the last day of school that I was "one white guy," and because I understood him fully, I considered it a great compliment.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A PRECIOUS HALF-HOUR (Nappy-time!! :) 1939

Dear Editor: I have four active boys--aged seven, five, three, and one and a half. We do a lot of entertaining for business and social reasons. Ordinarily I do all my own work in a nine-room house. I do some of the family sewing; washings are naturally large, and ironings usually take two days and mending never seems to be quite done. I attend a reasonable number of club and society meetings and evening bedtime stories must not be neglected.

But no matter how busy I am, no one can take away from me my precious half hour after the noon dishes are washed. I relax, stretched out on my own bed, sometimes even dozing a little. The oldest child is in school and the five-year-old does his coloring or cutting during that time. I call him my little policeman, who won't allow anyone to disturb Mother, which praise seems to encourage him to respect Mother's little siesta.

I could find plenty to do in that half hour, but I believe the time well spent and I can accomplish more after a little relaxation of both mind and body.

(I just love this letter! Laurie)

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Dear Editor: My husband praises my cooking. He thinks I make a grand mother for our five children. He gives me a friendly hug or a pat once in a while. He tells me the news and the new jokes he hears. He never forgets me on my birthday and on other special days. In short, he lets me know by words and deeds that he appreciates and loves me.

I might add: He forever leaves his shoes just anywhere, his hat where it lands, his coat somewhere else and it is all right with me. What are those little things when compared to his thoughtfulness?   Contented in South Carolina

Dear Editor: Henry and Alice have been married about fifteen years. They have three children and have just finished paying for their farm. In a few months Alice will inherit a small legacy. Henry wants to use it as a down payment on an adjoining quarter section. He argues that he needs more pasture and that a larger farm will keep the boys at home.

Alice has planned to buy a power washer, and chicken-tight yard fence, paint the house, get a chest of drawers for the boys' room to help teach them neatness and order, some curtains and a rug for the living room and more trees for their orchard. Since no extra labor need be hired for this, she expects to have at least half of her little fortune left and this she would put in the bank for an emergency fund.

If they put the money into more farm land it means another mortgage, more hard work, hired men to cook for and wash for, no flowers. By the time they are out of debt again she will be too tired to care, the children will be grown and may not want to stay on the farm. If she is stubborn about it she may have a sulky husband who will not cooperate in her plans.

Alice wants this bit of security very much but she wants a happy home most of all. What shall she do?  Martha in Kansas

Monday, August 5, 2013

THE RESULT OF A TELEGRAM; by Maude Kannon; January 1907

"Oh! Mrs. Brown, do prove yourself a friend in need," exclaimed young Mrs. Elton, entering her neighbor's kitchen about ten o'clock, one bright summer morning.

"Here, read this," holding out a yellow paper, the like of which has struck terror to many a feminine heart.

"No bad news, I hope," said Mrs. Brown.

"Oh, no, only I am at sea as to the good dinner required," laughed Mrs. Elton. "You know Tom says 'Have good dinner'."

The telegram read, "Mother and Dolly till evening train. Have good dinner. Tom."

"Now, possibly, if I had time to go over my cooking school notes, and then had a good market, and plenty of time for preparation, I might evolve a suitable dinner, but--" the pause was expressive.

Mrs. Brown smiled. "What would be Tom's idea of a good dinner, an elaborate one?"

"Oh, no--three or four courses, well cooked and served. Tom and I have abolished cooking school menus, as being too expensive. I do not seem to have the knack of changing or adapting them to our small family, and limited marketing, and Tom hates to eat 'leftovers,' so we decided to live on plainer food. This gives me time for my painting, which, with my cooking, I did not get."

"I see," said Mrs. Brown, "now as to service, Jennie shall come over, and wait on your table--not a word", as Mrs. Elton began to speak. "One good turn deserves another,' and who came over and arranged the flowers, and tables for my last luncheon when Ruth had a headache? I'll not need Jennie tonight as Mr. Brown is away."

"I suppose it would seem nicer if I could sit quietly at table, and not be obliged to be up and down," said Mrs. Elton, gratefully.

"But the dinner--what had you planned?"

"Oh, I could not plan--I simply came to you. I have nothing to do with, but a large steak, (I bought enough for two days), a can of tomatoes, and some prunes. Oh, yes, and what was left of a chicken I was going to have for my luncheon today."

"Well, I'm sure you can get up quite a nice dinner," said Mrs. Brown. "Of course you have eggs and all such supplies--if not Jennie could go down town for you, as you will have not time to go yourself."

"Yes, I am quite well supplied, and I forgot to say Tom brought home two bunches of celery last evening, and there is plenty of that."

"Oh, how nice. Your salad, which I was wishing for, is assured now. Here is your menu: Soup, beefsteak roll, potato balls, breaded tomato, chicken salad, prune pudding. This with the jelly and pickles you always have, will be sufficient, I am sure."

"Oh, yes, indeed. I must not seem to have tried to make an impression, and if I can cook this right, I'll be so pleased."

"I do not think you will have any trouble," said Mrs. Brown, "you understand, your chicken and celery with a mayonnaise will make your salad--you can make that?"

"Yes, I have often made that; it's one thing I can do in the cooking line."

"The chicken bones," continued Mrs. Brown, "boiled in salted water, nicely flavored will make the soup, and here you can use bits of celery too tough for your salad, some kitchen boquet, etc. You can season to your taste. The leaves of your celery will garnish your salad. Strips of bread, buttered and crisped in oven, served with your soup adds much to the effect. Potato balls, you can--"

"Oh, yes," interrupted Mrs. Elton, "another thing I can make is potato balls. I often have them for breakfast."

"I spoke of them as being something you could get ready before, and heat in oven to a nice brown while dishing up dinner," said Mrs. Brown. "Now, your meat. Make a rich dressing of crumbed bread, butter and egg, season nicely, and spread over your steak roll, tie firmly and roast in oven, basting with melted butter, arrange on platter with potato balls around the edge. You can make a good gravy from the juice and melted butter left in the pan, thicken with browned flour. This, with your prune pudding, for which I'll give you my written recipe, is your dinner. Nothing difficult or expensive, and I'm sure all will be good, as you are painstaking in all you do, and that is more than half in cooking, as in other things."

"No, as in other things, genius counts, Mrs. Brown. I could think of nothing but broiled steak, and mashed potato, plain canned tomato, and celery with stewed prunes for dessert. I never dreamed of making soup and salad of that chicken--or of evolving a delicate pudding with prunes as a foundation."

"You have not had quite as long an experience as I have," replied Mrs. Brown; "besides, cooking is my strong point as yours is, in arranging your house and table in an artistic manner, yet, believe me, an artist can be a cook."

"Well, I go to prove that assertion, also to surprise my mother-in-law, whom I never saw, who firmly believes that Tom married a doll who knows nothing beyond a pencil and paint brush."

"If you need help call on me," said Mrs. Brown as her young neighbor flitted across the lawn, with her notes, which she had hastily scribbled down, flying from her hand "like a flag of victory" as she laughingly exclaimed.

Several hours later she again appeared at Mrs. Brown's door. This time she was attired in one of her pretty house dresses. With pink cheeks and shining eyes she said, "Don't you want to come over and see the results?"

"Certainly," said Mrs. Brown, rising and laying aside her sewing. "Jennie would better come, too, and you can show her where things are."

"Everything is ready to serve," said Mrs. Elton, "unless you think of something else which has been forgotten, it's worth all the work to feel that Tom will be satisfied, and I'm sure he will."

And he was.

Friday, August 2, 2013


After more than a four month's break, I have decided to return to posting. My new blog post should be up in a week, if not sooner. See you then!  Laurie

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Greetings to you all,

With sad regret, I have decided that for the time being, I will not be making any new posts on this blog. I have been very busy (overly so) since I began work on The Farmer's Wife Quilt book in May of 2007, and I  simply need to slow down my life. How long will this break last? Weeks, months, years? I don't know!! But I hope to be back posting again someday. Thank you all for your support and kind words.

P.S. I will continue to answer any email questions that you have. Good-bye for now...

God bless you,



Apparently in times past, not every Girl Scout was a part of a "Troop." This article was written for the many "Lone Girl Scouts" living in 1926.

Every Lone Scout will, I hope, take her younger sister or older brother or neighbor, or visiting cousin, out this summer to spend at least one day "in camp," in some lovely spot not too far from home--probably right on the farm, but seemingly very far away.

Those who have already had the delightful experience of camping out for a day or more by a lake or river, or in the mountains, or down by the creek in a corner of the orchard (away from the house), will never forget the rich flavor of a crust of toasted bread, or the tantalizing smell of bacon cooked on a sharpened stick over hot coals!
I look back with great satisfaction upon the memory of days spent on grandmother's farm. We youngsters used to cook out-of-doors a great deal. Almost always we went down to one certain pasture where there was a lovely elm tree and a creek.

My grandmother always had plenty of tomatoes ripening in a row on the kitchen window sill. The dish we prepared most frequently was stewed tomatoes. We skinned and quartered the tomatoes, brought them to a boil, and then stirred in, for thickening, a little milk and flour mixed into a thin paste, some salt and pepper. When done we served them on toast. Buttered toast, if you please. Our bread was home-made and was toasted on sharpened, forked sticks before the fire. Sometimes we spread the bread with butter before we toasted it. This made it toast delightfully brown and taste particularly delicious.
I wonder if any of you have tried anything like this? A fork, spoon and cup, a small frying pan or a quart-sized stewing pan, and a pocket knife, are all the equipment you really need. You, too, can cook tomatoes, or you can toast bacon on peeled green sticks and scramble or fry eggs. If you are quite ambitious, you can try pancakes, with brown sugar syrup. It doesn't matter what meal you go out to cook. Simple dishes are best any way.

As far as I am concerned, I still think there is nothing on earth more fun than getting up when everything is dusky and dewy, and going off to cook a breakfast of bacon and eggs as the sun rises. Do try that sometime. Again, try gathering your equipment and food supplies together for a noon meal. Make a list the night before. See if you can get everything all ready before you start off so you won't have to go back for a single thing. Check with your list in hand. Then, leave the house promptly at ten o'clock and go down into the orchard by the creek for the day. Plan where you are going to put your things so they won't get messy. Here is a nice stump, or there a flat rock that will do for a table. Plan to gather your wood, build your fire, set your "table" and get your lunch ready by twelve o'clock.

After your fire has been going steadily for several minutes, put your skillet on with two or three strips of bacon in it. When the grease is melted out, lift out the bacon and drop in your eggs. Baste the eggs with the sizzling bacon grease. That will make them turn white on the top. I leave it to you to judge when a perfectly good fried egg is done, and to finish it by serving it on toast or making an egg sandwich.

After lunch, clean every dish and pot, and prepare to leave no trace of your occupation behind you. Burn all fruit or vegetable skins or papers in your fireplace. Girl Scouts are clean campers. Before you leave, see that your fire is positively out. One spark left might cause inestimable damage.

Now, lie down awhile on your back and watch the clouds go by. What shapes are they? Have you ever read any poems about clouds? How many colors do you see about you? Any birds? Walk over to the top of a knoll for a lovely view, if possible. Wade a bit, if the brook is shallow. Look closely at a handful of wet sand. What is it like? Model a little skillet or a bird out of clay, if your soil is clayey.

When it comes four o'clock, gather up your equipment and start home. Arrive home by four-thirty and put your equipment away in a suitable place, all clean and ready for next time.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


We live on a small farm, and I had tried various ways of money making, none too successful. While we usually had plenty of vegetables, chickens, fruit, and milk for our own use, and some to spare, we found no steady market for our surplus, and were often obliged to bring back our produce from the little town near home.

Last summer, my sister-in-law, who lives in a good-sized town, was telling me how disappointed she was at not being able to visit her parents in a distant city. It was not advisable to take her three step-children, and if she left them at home, she would have to pay some one to look after them, and leave her house to the mercies of an extravagant cook. Suddenly an idea popped into my head.

"Judy," I said, "would you like for me to board the children for a month? Then you can go."

I can't begin to tell you how delighted she was. She left on her visit, satisfied that the children were well cared for.

In this way our surplus of farm produce was taken up. The expense was nearly nothing, the work being the thing. True there were times when my nerves would get ragged at the racket those three children made, added to my own two.

The farm furnished most of their amusement. An occasional trip to town was provided for them, but they seemed to care very little for that. The old pasture was an excellent place for Indian forts, and many were the battles fought there. A ride on the old mare or wading in the brook was fun enough.

There was no coaxing of finicky appetites when mealtime came. All did full justice to the meal, usually consisting of vegetables, fried chicken, green salads, desserts of fresh fruits, or often ice cream, made from our generous supply of milk, leaving plenty to drink.

The night before they were to leave, the littlest one laid his head against my arm, as we sat in the swing.

"Auntie," he said, "I've been to the mountains, and to the seashore, but this is the best place of all."

I have had several mothers ask me to take their children while they go away for a vacation this summer, and I'm laying my plans to have "children boarders" most of the season. A little advertising would help, but I have not found it necessary. I charge $5.00 a week for each child. This gives me a good profit, paying me for my trouble. It also pays the mothers. They don't have to worry over the clothes problem, or taking children to expensive resorts, or staying at home with them.

A genuine love for children, patience to settle the little difficulties that have to be settled, the right amount of bedtime stories in reserve, and this venture will be a success.

This post has been shared with Simple Lives Thursday.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Early spring is moving time in the Midwest and all of us will have new folks in our communities.

Last year the Bryants moved in down the road a mile, but at first the roads were bad. By the time the roads were good, I was spending my time quietly at home awaiting the arrival of our new son. After that I hated to take four small boys to visit at the house of a stranger. She might not like children.

Later we heard they were attending the public dances which, in our community, are not desirable social affairs, and we thought perhaps we wouldn't care to know them.

This winter my husband traded work with Mr. Bryant, and I finally made my belated get-acquainted visit.

I found Mrs. Bryant a friendly, busy person. She likes children and never minds how much little folks play at her house. She and I like ever so many of the same things--sewing, reading, new recipes, psychology, visiting and not gossiping.

I learned that, in the community they came from, the whole family went to dances. When they found out the type of dances we have here, they stayed at home.

Already we are on the way to one of those rare "mutual benefit" friendships; it is my fault we wasted all these months.

This year I am going to call on all the new neighbors as soon as they are settled and no excuse.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A HOUSEKEEPING PLAN IN 1907; by Aunt Hannah

First, for the day's routine:

1. Before leaving your room in the morning open the bed and the windows.
2. Light the kitchen fire; put the breakfast to cook, fill teakettle with water, and place on kitchen table the things needed to prepare breakfast.
3. Sweep the sitting room.
4. Set breakfast table, make coffee and finish and serve breakfast.
5. Clear away breakfast, sweep dining room and kitchen and wash dishes.
6. Dust sitting room and dining room.
7. Make the beds and put sleeping rooms in order.
8. Do any special work, baking, ironing, washing or cleaning.
9. Prepare the noon meal.

When washing is to be done the boiler should be put over the fire before sitting down to breakfast, and the dusting and sleeping rooms may be left until after the washing is finished. Do not try to make washday cleaning day also, which is liable to greatly overtax the strength of the average housekeeper; wipe up the floor on washday with as little labor as possible, and give it a thorough cleaning on some other less trying day.
The Latest Fashions in 1907

The routine, which can be easily followed by the average housekeeper, will result in a well kept, orderly home, and leave the afternoons free for sewing, mending, shopping, visiting, reading and resting. The care of little children will, however, often overturn all plans, and the housewife must then just do the best she can. At our house the regular days for special work are: Monday, putting house to rights after the Sunday rest, getting the washing together and putting the most soiled articles to soak; Tuesday, washing; Wednesday, baking; Thursday, ironing; Friday, cleaning; Saturday, baking.

 As children grow old enough, teach them to open the beds and windows before leaving their room, and assign each such share of the household tasks as they are capable of assisting with or doing alone.
The Well-Dressed Girl in 1907

Very little tots, of two and three years, may learn to pick up and put away their playthings, to assist in clearing away the table, doing the dishes, and may sweep up with their own little brooms any litter they make in their play.

The mother should be queen of the home, but if she has no system her sovereignty will be unhappy and troubled, and her subjects will be restless and quarrelsome if she does not learn to rule them wisely and firmly, though lovingly.

This post has been shared at Simple Lives Thursday.

Monday, February 25, 2013


My home: four walls of an ugly and old-fashioned farmhouse. A group of buildings in need of paint and repairs. A scraggly grove of trees that has suffered from the drought and a lawn invaded by thistles.
My home: Within these four walls I have known childbirth and child-death, sickness, worry, and hardship. Disappointment and frustration make bodily weariness doubly hard to bear.

My home: It is all of these, but oh! so much more. It is a shelter from the elements, from the heat of summer and the snow and cold of winter. It is a refuge from the unkind world. It is a sure haven in this time of chaos.
My home: Though I rebel because I am a prisoner here, I would not be free for anything in the world. Though sometimes the drudgery and monotony are hard to bear, I would not leave them if I could. Here I am necessary to three whom I love. Here I know I am loved and needed. Here I can be utterly myself, free from pretensions and subterfuges.

My home: It is sweet to hear my children laugh and play. There is still the romance in waiting for Daddy to come in from the field. There is deep content in having someone to quarrel with, to love, to take care of, to scold, and to forgive. There is still joy in a freshly-scrubbed floor, the smell of a freshly-baked apple pie, the crackle of the fire in the funny old heating stove.

It is the best place on earth to me--my home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

QUILTING IN THE 1910s & 1930s

The evolution of craft patterns in The Farmer's Wife magazine is quite interesting. The 1920s saw almost exclusively crochet patterns until the very late 1920s. In the 1930s, many of you will not be surprised to know that quilting became much more popular, and the magazine published at least four separate quilt pattern booklets during that time. What did surprise me though, was the quilting patterns that were published in the 1910s. The first set of pictures below are of patterns published in 1913, all in black and white. At the bottom of this post are patterns printed in color in 1934. Sometime in the future, I will post some pages from the 1930s Farmer's Wife quilt booklets.
The following letter was printed in the 1913 issue:

My young daughter was not strong and the doctor prescribed sleeping in the fresh air, so she had her cot moved out on the porch and when it began to get cool and a quilt became necessary my inspiration came. We had plenty of nice, sweet hay, and I knew that hay was warm, so, why not a comforter of hay? I had never seen one, but I experimented, and this is the way I did it: I got enough dark blue flannelette for the covering, cutting it a little wider than the cot it was to cover. First I sewed across one end, down one side and then across the other end; then quilted across from side to side making the distances about twenty inches. Through the open side the hay was then packed in smoothly and evenly, and the remaining side sewed up. My daughter declared that this quilt was warmer than two or three blankets, and lighter. When the hay became limp, the quilt was hung out in the sun, and it soon became as crisp as if fresh. After the hay became worn and thin from constant use. I took it all out and refilled the quilt with fresh hay. With such a filling at hand there is no excuse for the farmer's wife to go without plenty of good light covering. Mrs. R.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

THE GOOD EARTH; by "Driven Back to Eden," Ohio; 1934

Four years ago my husband was an office man, holding a position that to us seemed as solid as the rock of Gibraltar itself. The "rock" was sandstone, I guess, for when the waters of the depression ran steadily over it, it wore gradually to nothingness.

So here we are with our two kiddies, an aged grandfather, ourselves, two hundred baby chicks, a cow with the grandest "hat posts" on her back side, a half dozen hens, and a shepherd pup; living in a little shack on a few acres of poor land, trying to raise our food. Seems easy, does it not? However, we are finding it a hard struggle, with no income at all, and all our nest egg gone. After the pay check twice a month and city conveniences, it is rather bewildering, and now and then we get frightened.

This is the black part of the picture. But the black is only the frame that serves to show off the picture to better advantage. Before, I used to watch my husband's weary form start each morning to hitch-hike from a small town to the near-by city, knowing that he would tramp the streets all day searching for work, and that he would come home at night discouraged, weary, and worn out, not from hard work, but from daily watching his family drop deeper and deeper into the pit of the unfortunate. Now he gets up in the morning, eager for the work of the day. Through the summer, when evening came, and the milk was bottled and cooled, we went arm in arm to our garden, to glory in the rows of green lovely vines and plants. Every new row was hailed with delight, and each tomato counted as soon as it formed on the stalks. The whole family went into raptures over each new thing that pushed its way up.

No longer do we sit beside our radio, and by the light of electric lamps, have a game of bridge or listen to our favorite program, for ours is rather a primitive farm with no luxuries; but instead, no beautiful sunset ever escapes us, each lovely moon is watched, and at night when we have earned our rest, we fall asleep with happy visions of the next day. Best of all, we are strong and healthy now from our rugged outdoor life. The Good Earth has meant much to us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Have you read about the Iowa lady who claims to be the champion dishwasher? With all the pride of an Olympic hero, she avers [to declare positively] that for thirty-four years she has done her dishes promptly after every meal.

How much the poor dear has missed by not learning the art of stacking the dishes and saving them for later! Now, honestly, wouldn't you be ashamed to admit that you had such bossy old dishes? That they let them run you? So much can be lost in the way of accomplishment, health and happiness by allowing any task to tyrannize over one.

It often proves a real saving of time and gas to accompany the husband on one of his hurry-up trips to town and do the family shopping rather than make an extra trip, even though the dishes must sit. Although you do not need to buy, the ride may do you good, give you a new slant on life and renewed vigor. Perhaps when the car goes it will be a good chance for you to make that long-promised call on your new neighbor or have a delightful visit with your old friend.

Front Side of Small Antique
Cardboard Needle Holder
It means so much in the way of accomplishment to do work when the spirit moves you. On certain days I just love to sew. At such time, if my family meal is not too large, I stack up all the dishes and just sew. On such days I sew well.

At other times, I will obey the call of the out-of-doors. On bright, blue October days I will hie [to go quickly] me out into the sunshine to rake the yard, dig up the cannas or plant tulips. Dishes can be done when the shadows are falling and I am the gainer in every way.

Then there are those stifling summer days when after rushing through work all morning, dinner is finally stowed away and dishwashing looms up. Have you not then had a very real attack of dishwasher's colic, when it seemed as though that job were the last straw? Of course, you could make yourself do them but at the cost of feeling fagged all the rest of the afternoon. An hour's rest immediately after dinner would put you in good trim for the rest of the day's work. Indeed, doctors tell us it is actually necessary to good health.

Reverse Side of the
Needle Holder--Measures
2.5" x 5"
Perhaps reading rests you. If so, proceed to get a new line of thought. What does it matter if some one calls and the dishes are unwashed? Don't apologize! Your reading should at least enable you to talk intelligently about other things than neighborhood scandal.

Live your life to suit your own needs instead of on the basis of what other people will think.