The Ideal Farm Home III

In the third and final installment of the Ideal Farm Home Contest, emphasis is placed on the size and functionality of a farm kitchen. As more and more men and women moved to the cities for employment during the 1920s apartments with small kitchenettes were being built. Wise farm women knew that that style of kitchen would never do for them. Important farm improvements were also listed such as good fences and neatly painted outbuildings. These ladies definitely understood what an ideal farm home was whether they had one or not. There is also a shout-out to the top eight prize winners of the competition. Happy Reading!

~Elaine

Part III

As the living room is considered to be the heart of the home, the kitchen is the farm woman’s workshop and greater stress was laid by our friends upon having the kitchen well planned than upon any other one feature, as it is through efficiency here that the farm woman saves time and strength for the greater task of homemaking. Our readers say that the kitchenette of the city apartment is not practical for the farm home. The farm kitchen must be roomy enough to prepare food for more than the immediate family circle but not be so large that there is great lost motion in daily meals-getting. The kitchen must be sufficiently compact so that one person can do the work most of the time in these days when help is so hard to find and large enough so that more than one can work there in comfort when there’s a “gang” to feed. And they say – these sensible, wide-awake women – that their kitchens must be attractive, pleasant, cozy, comfortable, cheery. The walls must be finished in harmonious colors; the woodwork must be so finished that it will be easy to keep clean; the floors must be easy to clean and comfortable to stand on (good linoleum is in favor). The working space must be planned to fit the particular need and sink, tables, shelves, stoves of a height to fit the woman who works. The work units must be grouped to save steps. There must be windows over sink and work table so that the workers can see the beauty of sky and grove, garden and orchard, distant hills, while her hands are employed.

Yes! They know what they need, farm women do, and, as the years go by, their fine, sturdy idealism and practical common sense are bringing better conditions about, not only in farm homes but in farm communities.

  • PLENTY of lights and lights where they are needed – in the kitchen over sink and stove and worktable; in the living room at the places where people want to read; in the closets and at the heads of the beds.
  • A dumb waiter from the kitchen to the basement; a dumb waiter to be enclosed in screen and lowered with its load of food to save many trips up and down the basement steps. Stairs that are wide and with low “risers”; also, wide stairways.
  • Running water – hard and soft; hot and cold.
  • Houses mouse and rat proof.
  • Good chimneys, for fire protection.
  • Plenty of reading matter.
  • Good pictures; music.
  • Plenty of closets, rods for hangers, shelves for hats and shoes.
  • Window seats, with drawers, chests or cupboards beneath for toys, magazines, sewing materials.
  • Good fences in good condition for “good fences make good neighbors.”
  • Buildings well painted and the painting kept up, for both economy and appearance.
  • Electricity, from power line or individual farm plant.
  • Built-in ironing board, in good light.
  • Power for washing machine, separator, vacuum cleaner, iron and so forth.
  • Clothes chute.
  • Lift to attic for taking up seed corn, trunks and so forth.
  • Place indoors to dry clothes in bad weather.
  • Closet for brooms, dust mops and so forth, some want such a cleaning closet on each floor.
  • Cross ventilation in bedrooms.
  • Porch upstairs for airing bedding.
  • Good outbuildings, kept in good repair.
  • Good water supply inside and out.
  • Rocker in kitchen with something to read nearby.
  • A location chosen with reference to good school, church, roads, community and marketing facilities.
  • Workbench or workroom for the men folks.
  • Full length mirrors in bedroom or sewing room.
  • Shower in washroom where men can take a quick shower when they come from fields.
  • Storage space for canned fruits and vegetables and also for root vegetables, apples and so forth.
  • Wood box and icebox that can be filled from outside.
  • Central heating plant.
  • Fireplace.
  • Radio both for business and pleasure.
  • Cupboard between kitchen and dining room, with door or slide that can be used at mealtimes and with long drawer that slides both ways.
  • The house wired for electricity even when service cannot be installed immediately.
  • Medicine cabinet in bathroom; if bathroom is on second floor, a second cabinet in washroom or kitchen for emergency and first-aid supplies.
  • Work table on castors in the middle of the kitchen.
  • Fire extinguishers.
  • Bathtub built in because easier to clean around it.
  • Playroom for children – several mentioned gymnasium in basement.
  • Smooth woodwork – no crevices nor grooves to be cleaned.
  • House that can grow with family.
  • House located and planned with reference to prevailing wind – either for protection from them or to take advantage of them in summer.
  • House planned for hospitality, not only to individuals but to community.
  • Orchard for home use if not for sale of fruit.
  • Garage under same roof as house.
  • Storage room for supplies bought in large quantities and for farm products.
  • Kitchen built so that windows give good view of farm lot and farm buildings and at least one window looking toward road. FWM

PRIZES AWARDED

The cash prizes were awarded to the following women:

  1. Mrs. Foster Tyler, Licking County, Ohio                                        $50.00
  2. Mrs. J.H. Studley, Kankakee County, Illinois                                $25.00
  3. Mrs. Vera M Elliott, Medina County, Ohio                                     $10.00
  4. Mrs. George H. Sommers, Rice County, Minnesota                    $10.00
  5. Mrs. S.V. Barnes, Nobles County, Minnesota                                $10.00
  6. Mrs. George Leahy, Roberts County, South Dakota                      $5.00
  7. Mrs. Earl Frost, Wayne County, New York                                     $5.00
  8. Mrs. Clifford P. Lawrence, McLean County, Illinois                      $5.00

The Ideal Farm Home II

This post is the second installment in a three-part series on the Ideal Farm Home competition sponsored by THE FARMER’S WIFE MAGAZINE October 1926. Farm women were asked to describe what would make a farmhouse perfect. Running water was at the top of the list, along with a special washroom for the men, a well-lighted sewing room, a “living porch” and a sizeable dining area. The living room was considered the “heart of the house” at that time, and to be considered ideal it must have easy access to good books and music. As I have transcribed these articles, I have felt especially thankful for all the modern conveniences that I usually take for granted. Happy Reading!

Elaine

Part II

OUR readers, of course, practically are unanimous in demanding running water as the greatest single labor-saver – lifesaver indeed! – for the farmhouse.

An almost unanimous demand is for a special washroom for the men as they come in from their outside work. Usually, they suggest that this washroom be in connection with the laundry and so arranged that the men can go straight from it to the dining room or living room without having to go through the kitchen. It also provides a place for outside wraps, overshoes, mittens where they will be dry and warm and – out of the kitchen.

If farm women have pet peeves, the chief seems to be concerning the decoration of the kitchen walls with wraps and having men tramping the kitchen at mealtime.

A well-lighted sewing room is considered an essential and on the first floor so that the work can easily be picked up in odd minutes between other jobs.

Several women suggested a regular sewing cabinet built in the wall, with drawers below for supplies, a drop-leaf door which can be used for a cutting table, drawers and pigeonholes for small sewing supplies in the upper part. Of course, they say, the sewing room must have a good light.

Porches were discussed from all angles. Some farm women think their real living porch should be at the side of the house with only a small entry to the house in the front; others, wish the front porch for their summer living room. A back porch, fairly large and well-screened, is considered a real necessity. Many suggest that it be glassed in for winter use.

The living room was spoken of over and over as “the heart of the house” and farm women insist that it must be exactly what that name indicates, though they differ as to just how this shall be brought about. Nearly all of them do mention two things toward this end – books and music without which family life, farm women, are not complete. The value of good pictures is distinctly recognized. Farm women, almost without exception, do not consider home complete unless there are flowers, winter, and summer. So, they say they must have a glassed-in porch or fernery in front of the window in the living room, or give them wide window sills, even in the kitchen, for their beloved flower pots.

The dining alcove or the separate dining room – this subject was discussed thoroughly. More than 81% of the women who entered the contest say that the farm home needs a separate dining room large enough so that the table can be spread to accommodate guests and extra hands such as threshers and silo fillers. And they say the dining room should be big enough so that children need not wait until the second table or eat in the kitchen when the friends and relatives gather in for holiday celebrations. Some of them solve this problem by having an opening between the dining and living rooms sufficiently large so that the table can be extended into both rooms.

But while nearly all the women wish a separate dining room, they say it is handy to eat in the kitchen at times and opinion is about equally divided between the dining alcove and a kitchen arranged to accommodate a meal table. Some say the alcove interferes less with the routine kitchen work and makes less “mess” in the kitchen and that it is most convenient to have it fitted up so that it is partially set off from the main part of the kitchen and still a part of the room. It is used for the breakfast of those who have to rise very early and then for the breakfast of the little folks who sleep later; for men who come in late to meals or for the occasional guest who is served a lunch between meals. Several spoke of using the alcove as a play nook for the children, where they can cut, paste, sew and carry on their other small affairs and be “out from underfoot.” Several suggest that the seats in this alcove be built as chests or boxes to accommodate playthings.

The farm dining room is used as the informal sitting room of the family, so, our readers suggest that it should have plenty of room not only for the usual dining-room furniture but also for a couch where Father and Mother can stretch out when they have a minute and where Baby can have his afternoon nap. A number speak of a built-in desk here; of this room’s use as a study room in the evening.

Farm women are practically one in realizing that the farm home is – must be – the business center of the farm. Many of the contributors to this contest suggest a small office for the farm man so that he can transact the business end of things in a business-like way and further suggest that it should be possible for him to take his business guests straight to this room or office from either the front or back hall, without taking them through the kitchen or the living quarters of the family.

TO BE CONTINUED

The above article was originally published in THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN, October 1926, Page 472; Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Ideal Farm Home Contest–1926

March 1926 THE FARMER’S WIFE — A MAGAZINE FOR FARM WOMEN launched a competition for its subscribers — Describe Your Dream House and Win a Prize. The rules were simple. 1. Describe your Ideal Farm Home in a letter. 2. Keep your letter within 1,000 words. 3. The letter must reach the publishing office before May 1st. Submissions must also include a list of the ten points which you consider most important to include in planning any farm — ten items that simply should not be left out. The top prize would be fifty dollars cash! Hundreds of women responded. The “data” was analyzed and the results were published in the October issue. The number one amenity the farm women desired for an “ideal” farm home was electricity.

The original article summarizing the information gathered from the letters is quite lengthy so I have divided it into three sections. Each section will be published as a separate post. I hope that these farm women got to enjoy most, if not all, of these luxuries at some point in their life. Happy Reading!

Elaine

PART ONE

Last March The Farmer’s Wife offered substantial cash prizes for letters from farm women describing their Ideal Farm Home. We also asked each contestant to list ten important points in the arrangement of a farm home.

This proved to be a subject on which many hundreds of our readers had clear-cut ideas and the letters received were at the same time very difficult and very delightful to grade and judge: difficult because, being sincere expressions on a subject concerning which our readers are well informed they were all uncommonly excellent; delightful, because they once more confirmed our established opinion of farm women as the finest and best and most know-how women in the world. Their judgement is good. ~The Editors

FWM 002

“A REMARKABLY large number of those who entered The Farmer’s Wife Ideal Home Contest, expressed their feeling that the building of the farm home does not begin with the actual house but includes the entire farmstead as the beauty, convenience and success of a farmhouse depends on its location and surroundings. Many spoke of the importance of the wood lot, from both the economic and the aesthetic viewpoints; shrubs to tie the house to the ground; flowers; shade trees for shelter and beauty. Many who live in the northern parts of the United States mentioned the need of a windbreak for shelter. Some whose “dream houses” are still in the future have already started by planting trees and shrubs on the chosen site. The one outstanding thought in the contest letters is the fact that farm women consider the farm home as a place for children and feel that any feature not suited to happiness, health, and development of children has no place in a farm home. Many mentioned the fact that windows should be low so that wee folks can see out; that there must be a place for children to play and a place for toys and childish treasures; that each child should have some nook or corner that is really his, even though it be only a drawer or a shelf or a bit of closet; a number spoke of gymnasium equipment in the basement; and many of the workbench for the boys as well as of the workshop for Father.

But the physical development of the child does not receive all the attention in the letters our farm women readers wrote on this fascinating subject, for over and over again came the demand for a place for plenty of books and magazines and almost everyone desired some provision for music and musical instruments – piano, phonograph, radio; some even are planning whole home orchestras.

THE contest letters show that farm women have done a lot of real thinking about the ideal house and home.

As to the type of house described in the contest letters: The plain square house still leads any other type in popularity because it is the most economical type to build. Other types are rapidly gaining favor. The bungalow and the story-and-a-half house both received many votes from farm women who feel that they save much time and strength which has in the past been spent in climbing stairs. Many mentioned the fact that the house which is low seems to fit better into the farm landscape, than one which stands higher and on a smaller foundation. Many spoke of the Dutch Colonial as being especially attractive in a farm setting and still giving a floor plan which meets the needs of family life on the farm.

The frame house is a leader but there is a distinct tendency toward brick and stucco as they are more resistant to fire and also because of the lower cost of upkeep even though the first is somewhat higher. Fireproof roofs are mentioned again and again.

It is the consensus of opinion that the farm home should have at least one bedroom downstairs for the reasons that the farm mother must be nurse as well as housekeeper and that there are often either old people or small children in the farm family and the downstairs bedroom saves much time and strength.

The location of the laundry is a question on which there is much disagreement. Of the women who expressed themselves, 56% feel that the laundry in the basement is most practical; 23% would have it on the same floor as the kitchen; 3% want it in a building separate from the house. Those who favor the basement feel that it takes the “mess” away from the living floor; those who wish it on the first floor locate it near the kitchen so they can attend to the many other things a farm mother has to do while working and avoid carrying clothes up and downstairs. A place undercover for the drying of clothes in winter is considered essential.

The laundry room, these practical folk point out, whether in the basement or on the first floor, can also be used in canning and butchering seasons and the laundry stove should be of a type adapted to these needs. There should be in the room a table with a very heavy top to be used for laundry purposes and the oven for baking use on hot summer days. They suggest that baking can be done here while the fire is going for laundry work.

TO BE CONTINUED