Thursday, January 30, 2014

THE SIMPLE LIFE; J. M. L.; Ohio; April 1931

Dear Editor:

When I think of leisure I think of two classes of people, those who become so absorbed in their work that they forget leisure, and those who become so absorbed in their leisure that they forget work.

In the first case, I have in mind the nervous, fretful, eternally-driven people who refuse to take time off to gain control of themselves by thinking their way through. And in the second case I have in mind the selfish people who must have their rest, must have their recreation, in fact must consider themselves first.

Then I remember a certain Nazarene who gave Himself wholly in service, yet often went alone to the mountains to think through life's problems. I believe that the safe-and-sane course even for the self-sacrificing farm mother is to take time "to have a minute to herself."

Then I am face about to the question, What is leisure? It is one thing for one person and another for another. It may mean just a simple half-hour rest a day. It may mean a certain time each day to give wholly to the children, or to get out-of-doors, or to attend a social gathering, or to read The Farmer's Wife. It may mean many different things but whatever it means to each individual, I'm sure it will mean one thing to all--better wives, mothers and homemakers.

I realize what an almost impossible thing leisure is to some homemakers. Sickness, little children, financial responsibility, all are robbers of leisure. And it is not an easy task for some women to so manage their work that leisure will result, and yet have a clean, well-ordered home and family. There are many homes where lack of equipment, lack of strength, or sheer inability to group, make the matter of leisure a real problem. Then the housewife must weigh values.

Certain standards of living have made us believe that many things are necessities. We can hardly bring ourselves to the point of taking them off the schedule. But for the sake of the balance, poise, and efficiency, that leisure brings, life should be made simple.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I THROUGHLY BELIEVE IN BUDGETS; 1920; by Louise G. Blankenship

During the seven years of our married partnership my husband and I have kept farm and household accounts. For the former we use a farm account book obtained from our Agricultural College at Fargo, North Dakota, at a cost of twenty-five cents. For the household accounts we use a fifteen-cent note book.

Our farm expenses and income are recorded in the farm account book. Our living and personal expenses we keep in the note book. We allow two pages of the note book for each month and have the pages ruled for the following headings: Food, house, doctor and dentist, clothing, postage and incidentals. Incidentals include church and lodge dues, stationery, newspapers and magazines, charity and everything not included under the other headings.

During the past few years hail, grasshoppers and drouth have shrunk our income and the high cost of living has made our expenses heavier. After consulting our account books, we know practically what our income will be and have made our budget to fit these conditions. So here was our


Beginning cash income               $1,600

Food -- $120
House -- $72
Doctor and Dentist -- $24
Clothing for two -- $96                   
Postage -- $12                              
Incidentals -- $72                          
Life Insurance --$130                      

SUB-TOTAL                                  $526

Farm expenses:

Taxes -- $270                                
Telephone --$12                            
Seed --$155
Feed and salt --$200                        
Labor --$20                                
Machinery & Equipment --$50            
Permanent improvements -- $200
Threshing -- $167

SUB-TOTAL                               $1,074


FINAL TOTAL                           $1,600


We live well on a cash outlay of less than $120 for food. We raise a large garden and we can 500 jars of vegetables, fruit and meats each year. We have our own sugar-cured hams, shoulders, bacon, lard, butter, cream, milk, chickens, turkeys, guineas, beef, eggs, potatoes, currants, gooseberries and rhubarb. The largest items we buy are: 200 pounds of sugar, 10 gallons of pure sorghum molasses, flour, cereals and fruits.

We dig our own coal and haul driftwood from the river for fuel. My husband does all of his own blacksmithing and repair and carpenter work. The allotment of $96 is not very much for clothing but I do all of my own sewing excepting my suits and coats and an occasional waist (blouse.) We always try to buy good things and they last several years. At present we have shoes, coats and suits and other essentials to last some time.

We have the dentist look over our teeth twice a year so our dental bills are not large.

Keeping ahead of our budget is a most exciting and interesting game. It restrains us from careless and unnecessary buying and keeps us constantly alert to find a substitute for an intended purchase and to increase our cash income. By using the budget we are playing safe if we have another bad year; however, if we have a good year we will be way ahead of the game.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

THEY PAID THE MORTGAGE; by Harry Botsford; c1910

After the sudden death of their parents in a railroad accident, Alice Tucker and her sister Mildred faced the world with a $1,500 mortgage on the 60-acre farm. There were three horses, four cows, a flock of chickens and two pigs. The house was well built and roomy.

The girls' equity in the farm was less than $500 and for a miserable week they almost decided to sacrifice the equity, sell off the stock and go to the city. Mildred was seventeen. Her sister, a trained nurse by profession, would have to be away from the rooms they intended to rent and hesitated to leave her sister so much alone in the large city.

The girls "put their heads together" and disregarding the comments of free advice givers, went ahead with a plan of their own.

The two horses and such part of the farm equipment as would be used with a team, were sold. This money was spent at once in putting in a bedroom and clearing away several unsightly buildings. Then a tennis court was built. Alice, the nurse, made a trip to the city and called on two or three doctors who knew her work and to them she explained a plan which met with their hearty approval and promise of support.

The girls were going to be ready to board convalescents who could afford to pay a good sum weekly for room and board in the country and attention from a registered nurse.

Before long, six convalescents were sent to the Tucker homestead. They found a large airy house comfortably furnished. The yard was shady and the rooms cool. There were plenty of good chairs and lounges, magazines and books; those who felt strong enough could play tennis.

The meals were a constant delight: delicious country ham and chicken, fresh crisp vegetables, home-grown fruit, good milk, cream and butter. The food was prepared by Mildred who was an excellent cook.

Alice, in white uniform, gave special attention to such convalescents as needed counsel--or comfort.

The expense of the establishment was not large. A neighbor's boy did the errands, milked the cows, fed the pigs and went to town for supplies and mail.

The first year proved very successful from every standpoint. The girls made money and the convalescents were full of praise for the enterprise. It was not long before there was a waiting list.

Part of the profits of the first year were used in improvements. The house was painted and two new bathrooms were put in. A man and his wife were hired to do the hard work. The man does the work on the farm and puts in a large vegetable garden which cuts down the food expense. His wife does the cooking under the supervision of Mildred.

Last year, there were twelve guests all summer, and before winter came, the "Tucker girls" drove their car into town and, at the bank, paid off the mortgage on the farm. The free advice givers have nothing to say and all their friends rejoice.