What a Western Woman Did in a Day – 1877

What was a typical day like for a farmer's wife over a century ago? Find out in this "Almanac Throwback" taken from the pages of our 1877 edition.

What a Western Woman Did in a Day

From the 1877 Farmers’ Almanac

Tasks of a “farmer’s wife” of Dwight, Illinois:

Rose at 4:30, skimmed the milk, fed the chickens (has 33 young ones and 150 eggs nearly ready to hatch), got breakfast, which was eaten at 6 o’clock. The baby was dressed, the dishes washed, the beds made, the floor mopped, the settling hens fed, chickens killed and prepared for dinner, cookies baked, the baby put to sleep, and the dinner arranged by ten o’clock, when the wife took the lunch and went to the field to relieve her sister [who was to relieve her at the house].

After dinner there was the usual routine work to do, after which watering plants and other garden work occupied her until three o’clock; then she went to the field and dropped corn until night. After supper she milked, fed the chickens, baked bread, ironed, sewed buttons on the husband’s shirts, watered the houseplants, crimped the ruffles on the baby’s Sunday frock and the lace on her own best dress, besides other things not enumerated here, forgetting nothing that should have been done except patching the hole in a mitten.

If the husband has anything like the energy of the wife, there is a wealth in store for that couple which, it is to be hoped, the baby will inherit.

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Do you have a question or an idea for an article? Contact us!

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Elizabeth Clements

Whew, that was an incredible day. I was always under the impression that the man of the house or hired hands did the milking and feeding the pigs. No wonder she was exhausted. I was exhausted just reading about her day. Great article.

Robert Wordell

My great Aunt lived with us when I was t kid. Every Saturday apple pies. cakes, sugar cookies and other things were baked from scratch.


My mom remembers her mom making bread and desert fresh each day in the 20s and 30s. They were not farmers but county folk. Once winter snow rolled in her mom and the youngest kids did not get out and about till spring. A hard life.


In answer to Kimberly: growing up we fed everything twice a day. Nowadays, we use automatic feeders and they can eat when they want. Mom a d grabdna made bread every day. Not just on Saturday. Just like they made desserts (mostly pies) every day.

Lara Newsom

That sound almost like the way my mom done around our farm, cept she got up at 4 am. Started breakfast for dad he went to work, she would get us kids up at 6-6:30 to get ready for school, milk the cows, all 88 and then the chickens hogs, goats. We would get home by 4. At 4:30 she was milking cows again

Kimberly McFarland

Baking was done on Saturdays not everyday and who feeds chickens twice a day.


#INeedFeminismBecause I got exhausted just reading that.

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