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What Every Farmer's Child Should Know | The Old Farmer's Almanac

What Every Farmer's Child Was Expected to Know

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Old-Fashioned Advice

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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—with a boy’s list and a girl’s list. Growing up on farm is still like nothing else, so we’ve added some more handy and unusual things you might not know if you didn’t grow up on a farm!

Judging from these tips from 1867, the expectations of children between then and now have certainly changed quite a bit!

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

2023 Almanac Club