On the Farm
Iowa's earliest European-American
citizens came from eastern states and from European countries. Their homesteads
were little more than log cabins. Once families planted and harvested their
first crop, they had money for lumber and other supplies. A family then might
build a frame house, a barn and smokehouse. Eighteenth and early 19th-century
farm families lived and worked at the same site. Their lives revolved around
running the farm.
A farm house had to accommodate the needs of its inhabitants, and farming magazines often published house plans to help people decide what style of home to build. When these plans were too elaborate or too expensive to carry out, farm families followed their own designs.
The Whole Family Pitches In
A farm woman needed a large kitchen
and work area to prepare and preserve food. Fruits, vegetables and home canned
goods were stored in the cellar. A big dining room accommodated the large
threshing crews that helped with the harvest each mid-summer. In the evenings
the farm family relaxed in the kitchen. If they had company they gathered
in the parlor.
Well into the 20th century, children were valuable laborers. Boys helped the men in the fields while girls worked alongside their mothers in the house and garden. Women and girls cooked and preserved food; made, washed, ironed, and mended clothes; and made candles and soap. Both boys and girls helped care for livestock, hauled water and chopped wood. Farm chores took priority over recreation and sometimes school!
Change Comes to the Farm
Beginning in the mid-1900s, the farm was no longer the sole source of income for the family. Farm men and women often took jobs off the farm to earn wages. This changed the family farm and the home life associated with it.