What Every Farmer's Child Should Know

Old-Fashioned Advice

October 25, 2017
Old-fashioned Children

Some things can be learned from experience, while others just need to be taught. Here’s what a farmer’s child was expected to know in the year 1867!

What Every Farmer’s Boy Should Know

  • To dress himself, black his own shoes, cut his brother’s hair, wind a watch, sew on a button, make a bed, and keep all his clothes in perfect order and neatly in place
  • To harness a horse, grease a wagon, and drive a team
  • To milk cows, shear sheep, and dress veal or mutton
  • To reckon money and keep accounts accurately and according to good bookkeeping rules
  • To write a neat, appropriate, briefly expressed business letter, in a good hand, and fold and superscribe it properly, and to write contracts
  • To plow, sow grain and grass seed, drive a mowing machine, swing a scythe, build a neat stack, and pitch hay
  • To put up a package, build a fire, whitewash a wall, mend broken tools, and regulate a clock

​What Every Farmer’s Girl Should Know

  • To sew and knit
  • To mend clothes neatly
  • To dress her own hair
  • To wash dishes and sweep carpets
  • To trim lamps
  • To make good bread and perform all plain cooking
  • To keep her room, closets, and drawers neatly in order
  • To make good butter and cheese
  • To keep accounts and calculate interest
  • To write, fold, and superscribe letters properly
  • To nurse the sick efficiently and not faint at the sight of a drop of blood
  • To be ready to render efficient aid and comfort to those in trouble, in an unostentatious way
  • To receive and entertain visitors when her mother is sick or absent

Talk about responsibilities! What did children of your day need to know? Tell us in the comments below!

Learn more about old-fashioned etiquette: Victorian Era Etiquette and Manners


The Best of The Old Farmer's Almanac: The First 200 Years


Reader Comments

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Then and Now

What you don't get is that back then they had to learn things to survive. I would also bet they had to know how to handle a firearm and hunt, also how to dress it and cook it. Cut firewood and so on. Where we are today is sad. We think our children can't learn anything til college age and then it is too late for them to learn anything because they have been coddled their whole life. I can see proof of that every day on the news. Safe Spaces, gender pronouns, etc what the heck have they done to our children? Time to take a stand and start homeschooling again.

Ah, the good ole days!

Ah, the good ole days!

teaching kids

Things change because people make advances. Kids know a LOT more than they ever did. Who do you think is making it possible for the self driving car, the automated commerce, medica; advances? Its the folks who wish things were "like the good ole days" that ensured the younger generation wouldn't have what they have. For goodness sake, we've destroyed air and water quality, tore down entire forests, etc etc. Man buns and proper gender id is the VERY least we should accept.

I agree

Thank you!

My daughter is pregnant with

My daughter is pregnant with first child due date September 9/2012 tomorrow is August 31 2012 and will be a full moon could she deliver