Monday, May 20, 2019

PLAYING THE BLUES; by Carroll P. Streeter; 1933

To say that a depression can cause more communities to have more fun than they have had since the days of our grandfathers may seem ridiculous. And yet that's just what is happening, according to many reports coming to The Farmer's Wife.

"We began to realize that sitting at home, moping over interest and taxes, and thinking about low prices wouldn't help us any," writes Mrs. Sadie Sybrant of Minnesota, "so we decided to get busy and create some amusement."

"At the next meeting of the P.T.A." Mrs. Sybrant says, "we simply announced that we were going to have a chorus and asked all who felt like joining to come to the schoolhouse next Tuesday night. Twenty men and women turned out, the director brought song books, we used the school organ and--we sang."

Spelling bees, checker and domino tournaments, quilting contests and twenty-four other kinds of fun are making life more interesting in several West Virginia counties this winter.

Take the West Milford community in Harrison County, for example. At spelling bees the grown-ups have their own contests, using old McGuffey texts, and the youngsters have theirs. Groups of three or four families get together in various homes for long winter evenings of dominoes and checkers, with plenty of cookies and apples on hand. Then along toward spring there are community tournaments, county contests and finally an inter-county competition.

The quilts are made the old time way with quilting parties in homes. To be eligible for the contest, a quilt must be made by not less than twelve women, who must meet to work on it together. They bring covered dishes for lunch and stay nearly all day. And we'll leave it to you to guess whether they have a good time.

Monday, May 13, 2019

GARDEN CUTS GROCERY BILL; by Mrs. A. T., Iowa; 1927

What is a home without a garden, especially out on the farm? Yet, when I drive by some farm homes, where there are beautiful locations for a garden, I do not see a sign of one anywhere. Many of these gardenless farm homes have big families to feed and it seems a shame that so little is thought of a garden. Is it any wonder that you can hear on every hand. “Oh! It takes all we can make to provide a living,” or, “We are trying our best to make both ends meet,” or, The grocery bills are something fierce”? I hate to hear any of these expressions, because I know that we on the farms can raise most of our food in our own garden or in the field.

We plant a good many string beans and navy beans, usually by leaving an open space for them here and there in the field, while planting corn. It does not matter how hot and dry the weather is, the beans are shaded by the corn and they always bring a sure crop. This method takes only a little work because you can plow them with the corn plow. We always plant them after the corn is plowed twice. By this plan we have more room for other vegetables in the garden.

We also grow cabbage, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, radishes, lima beans, parsnips, kale, rutabagas and turnips. The latter do well out in the field after the last corn planting. Kale makes nice greens in the early summer and when fall comes, after one or two frosts have killed the bugs, we run it through the food chopper and put it down in dry salt. Tomatoes are made into preserves and green tomato pickles. Carrots, rutabagas and turnips, even beets, are stored in boxes, with first a layer of dirt, then a layer of vegetables, and stored in the cellar. Lima beans are either dried or canned. Some of the string beans are dried, some canned. We always have fresh cabbage up to February or March and from then on we have plenty of canned to last us till our next crop. We do not care much for canned peas, so we always have plenty of dried peas for pea soup.

With all the other things besides vegetables on the farm,--I mean cream, milk, butter, eggs and meat,--I don't see why any farm woman should have large grocery bills. Of course there are some things that we must buy, but not so many that eggs will not pay for them, let alone the cream check. Surely, there is plenty of time on every farm to make gardens if every one of the family lends a hand, even if only an hour after supper, or a few hours after every rain.

So, my dear farm sisters, if you are in earnest to help hubby make both ends meet by making the egg and cream checks stretch farther, instead of just paying unnecessary grocery bills with them, let us resolve right now to cut down the living expenses by making a garden.

Monday, May 6, 2019

THAT HELPLESS SMILE; March 1930; Tennessee

I wonder if every farm woman ought not to have a nice long spell of sickness once in a while. She needs to be reminded that no matter how willing a servant she is for her family, she must take some care of herself and demand some care, or suffer, and cause her dependent ones to suffer.

I was so glad to keep my family happy and contented that till lately I made myself a servant for each one. Baby knew no other hand. Husband not only took my outside help for granted, but failed to see that an exchange of help would be sporting! Not his fault. I was glad to help, and too often said, "Oh, I will. You'd like to do something else."

Each child had a dislike for a certain duty. It was my pleasure to see that the job was done and out of the way. I picked up books and coats and caps, scrubbed hands and faces, put away toys, hunted lost articles, brought kindling for one little son, coal for another, drew water and dug potatoes. I took on myself a hundred duties that would have benefited the family to do, just through love of serving, and of having a smoothly running institution.

Naturally, they let me carry all the load I shouldered. All at once I went down, unable to carry any of it. My husband had to get a neighbor woman to cook supper. He didn't know how to do one thing, though the winter before I had taken care of every member of the family through flu, fed all the stock, and run the house myself.

It's hard to pick up outside help in the south in tobacco stripping time. When we finally got a girl, the baby wouldn't even let her wash his face because "Mother always does." Nobody could find his clean clothes for all were used to having them laid out ready. I saw that I had not only hurt myself waiting on them but I had hurt them by taking their responsibility instead of teaching them to care for themselves.

I was sorry for them, but I turned on a helpless smile. When I got up. I kept it on! There are such a lot things I can't do, and everybody seems to take pleasure that they can now do these things for themselves.