Making the Farm Pay

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, September 29, 1913:  

9/29 – 30: These days have come and gone. They ground me working on my job.

farm.book

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma must have been too tired to write anything a hundred years ago today (and tomorrow).  She was spending long days out in the field harvesting corn—but past entries have indicated that she was pleased to be making some money:

I’m on duty now out in the corn field. The beginning took place this afternoon. Somehow or other I imaged I would accomplish more than what I did. This is an opportunity to earn some money of which I always seem in need.

September 25, 1913

I assume that Grandma was working for her father—and that he was paying her.  She was happy about the money; but was her father happy or worried about the profitability of the farm?

Did he worry about rainy weather that might prevent completion of the harvest before the snow flew? . . . or low market prices that would prevent him from recouping the cost of growing the crop?

Maybe he read a 1913 book called Making the Farm Pay by C.C. Bowsfield.  Here’s an abridged version of what the first page said:

The average land owner has a great deal of practical knowledge, and yet is deficient in some of the most salient requirements. He may know how to produce a good crop and not know how to sell it to the best advantage.

Worse than this, he may follow a method which turns agricultural work into drudgery, and his sons and daughters forsake the farm home as soon as they are old enough to assert a little independence.  The farmers are deprived on the earnest, intelligent help which naturally belongs to them, rural society loses one of its best elements, the cities are overcrowded and all parties at interest are losers.

You may also enjoy reading (or rereading) a previous post that I did on the Country Life Commission. A hundred years ago the federal government sought to make farming more profitable, and to make farm life more appealing for young people, by appointing the Country Life Commission.

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5 Responses

  1. There’s a lot of worry in a farmer’s life….always has been, always will be. So many things over which they have no control!

  2. This is making me wonder about the origins of 4-H.

  3. I don’t think most of us realize to the extent we should, how important farmers are! If the cities were overcrowded then, they are even more so today. Yet I live in the city…go figure…

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