Hello, again History Lovers,
Today we celebrate the accomplishments of hardworking farmwives from Valley County, Montana in 1920. Members of the local farm bureau focused on four areas of development for the year– sewing, gardening and canning, cheese-making, and establishing clubs in which the boys and girls learned gardening and poultry raising. The amount of meat, chicken, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and cheese preserved by these busy women was phenomenal. They even produced over 1,500 pounds of homemade soap; all while keeping up with daily meals, dishes, laundry, and housework.
Hardworking Montana Farm Women
Long distances, a dry season, and the fact that they must share their Home Demonstration Agent “fifty-fifty” with another county have not discouraged the Farm Bureau women in Valley County, Montana, nor kept them from accomplishing splendid results through organized effort.
In 1920 the women of this county started four definite lines of work: Clothing, gardening and canning, cheese-making, and boys’ and girls’ club work. There are 250 women members in the 25 communities of the County Farm Bureau and the work of the year has been carried on through county and community project leaders, with the help of Miss Gertrude Erickson, Home Demonstration Agent.
The gardening-canning work did not assume such large proportions as was expected because the extremely dry season made it difficult to raise good gardens but even so, the work done, was most worthwhile. In one group of twelve homes in the county, the families are having a more varied and healthful diet because of the 1,278 quarts of vegetables canned by the farm bureau women who entered the county garden contest.
Four clothing schools and one millinery school were held during the year. One woman was so ambitious and so eager for the work that she drove miles to attend the millinery school in one community and then later in the week drove 15 miles to attend a dress form demonstration being held in another community.
Six poultry culling demonstrations were held. In one community the members of the boys’ and girls’ poultry flocks club went out in relays and culled the poultry flocks throughout the neighborhood. So successful were they, that the women in that community report that they have not killed a single laying hen since the flocks were culled.
Altogether the Farm Bureau women in the county report:
- 6,702 quarts of vegetables canned
- 4,488 quarts wild and other fruit canned
- 884 quarts of chicken canned
- 1,488 quarts of other meat canned
- 632 pounds of cheese made
- 10,092 pounds of meat cured
- 39 dress forms made
- 1,075 dozen eggs preserved
- 1,608 pounds of homemade soap
- 24 schools serving hot lunches
This remarkable group of women, with the help of a Home Demonstration Agent for halftime, reported organized work amounting to $15,171. This is, of course, a minor part of the total value, for the big result of such work is in community service, better health, getting acquainted with each other—all those things that go to make the best homes and the best communities.
The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, May 1921; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.