Farm Progress

Here's a look back at Prairie Farmer's Household Department section and a reflection on farm family columns over the years.

Jill Loehr, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

November 4, 2016

2 Min Read

The very first issues of Prairie Farmer published a Household Department section. The section, which underwent a few name changes, ran until the early 1900s and provided tips on everything from preserving ham and fattening chickens with turnips to baking chocolate cake and cooking curd pudding sure to please a “cross” husband.

“A farmer will find the above simple preparation anything but disagreeable, after several hours of labor in prairie dust, on a hot summer’s day. Let the wife see her husband has plenty of it. Should he be cross, it will keep his mouth shut (from scolding, we mean) for a little while, at any rate.” — Prairie Farmer, May 1841


Clothing patterns — dresses, skirts and children’s clothing — were also a regular feature. In the Sept. 28, 1905, Prairie Farmer, editors declared this “neat wrapper with a Spanish flounce” a must-have for every housewife. Readers could send Prairie Farmer 10 cents to receive the pattern.

Then and now: Farm households

Sometimes, content went beyond daily tasks, recipes and patterns. On April 2, 1921, Prairie Farmer ran an article spanning several pages that sought the answer to one question: Do farmers make good husbands?

Then and now: Farm households

Elliot Ross, Greene County, responded with a poem:

I know of what I’m talking
For over 40 years,
I’ve toiled beside my farmer
And few have been my tears.

I’ve had a host of comforts
While being on the farm;
And nurtured there my children
With all the outdoors to charm.

Of course the city husband
The farmer he does outdress;
But worth counts more than raiment
All wise ones much confess.

In the same issue, the Home and Household section discussed food, nutrition and well-balanced meals. The editors talked about the dangers of overeating, and suggested fruit instead of pie and milk instead of coffee.

Then and now: Farm households

Over time, the section evolved to reflect changing roles on the farm. Prairie Farmer published dress patterns through the 1970s, and today, the Prairie Life department is dedicated to farm family living. At different times through the past 20 years, Prairie Farmer has featured columns that celebrated home and farm life, including those from Delight Wier and Cherry Brieser Stout. The Farm & Fireside section also ran for several years.

The tone and topics have transformed over time to reflect the changing roles on the farm, including the idea that over the past 20 to 30 years, farmwives are more involved in farm business decisions, and farm husbands are more in tune to farm family decisions.

About the Author(s)

Jill Loehr

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer, Loehr

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