Farm Progress

Heartfelt farm life with Delight

For 50 years, Delight Wier captured the hearts of a generation of farm families with her column, Letters from Delight's Farm. Here's a look at how she shared the heart and soul of the farm with Prairie Farmer readers.

Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer Senior Editor

October 21, 2016

3 Min Read

Delight Wier’s career with Prairie Farmer began simply enough: She mailed a letter.

"I admired the magazine, and I thought I had a story to tell, so I began to send letters," Delight recalled during a 2003 interview with Prairie Farmer. "I was really amazed when they published the first 'Letter from Delight's Farm!'"

Readers took to the Lacon farmwife and her letters immediately, responding to her stories of farm life that spilled across the pages of Prairie Farmer for more than 50 years. Her first column was published in 1951, and "Delight" quickly became a household name on many Illinois and Indiana farms. 

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Over the years, she helped readers rejoice in the simple joys of farm life: canning tomatoes, planting flowers and admiring nature.

And those same readers rallied around her as she sustained the harshest farm life had to offer — the deaths of a little boy in an auger, a little girl in an electric fence and then her husband in a tractor rollover. Readers, and particularly farmwives, marveled at how she kept going. Yet for Delight, it was just "one of those things that happened.”

"Life went on," she reflected. "With children to care for, you don't just stop.”

Her start

Born to schoolteacher parents near Monroeville, Ind., Delight grew up in the heart of farm country. After graduating from Ball State University, she studied opera in Chicago and worked for the Lutheran Church of America. There, she conducted field surveys and taught vacation Bible school in ranch areas of North and South Dakota. On assignment to appraise the mission of the Rural Youth of the U.S., she met her husband-to-be, Ralph.

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They set up housekeeping on the Wier family's Illinois River farm, and began raising seven children. Along with the typical farm products, they tapped maple trees in late summer and sold maple syrup treats in their sweets shop, and Delight gave private voice and piano lessons.

Over her career, Delight was a sought-after speaker at farm meetings, and she published five books of her columns. Donning her signature hat, she was a perennial favorite at the Farm Progress Show, where readers showed up in droves to meet her and buy her books.

Even at her column-writing retirement, she knew this to be true: "Once a writer, always a writer," she said, laughing.

At her retirement, Delight still lived in the same farmhouse where she and Ralph began their married life. She had family just down the road who stopped in frequently to see Grandma Delight and dip into her candy jar.

Delight passed away this year, on July 13. Her indomitable spirit lives on in her children and grandchildren, to whom Delight was beloved.

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Her parting thought in her last interview with Prairie Farmer still rings true as she quoted an old hymn: "Life is worth the living!"

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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