Heritage Village, East Grand Forks, Minnesota

Children’s Farm Chores

Hunting, fishing, and raising livestock were vitally important to the pioneers. Living in a remote location meant that the ability to raise livestock was of vital importance. A journey of several days to reach the nearest store would not have been unusual for the pioneers, so it was important to reduce your reliance on the store. Raising and caring for livestock involves feeding, watering, grooming, providing veterinary care, breeding, butchering, and preserving the meat.

The wood stove was very important for the pioneer family. Wood must be cut to the correct size and stored for a sufficient length of time for it to become seasoned. Seasoned wood burns effectively and produces the maximum heat. The early pioneers needed to understand what kinds of wood burned the best and were easiest to season. Homesteaders needed to know how to use, maintain, and care for woodcutting tools.

Pioneer families did not have much ‘free time’. Many chores had to be done daily: housecleaning, hauling water, gathering eggs, tending the garden, and filling the wood box. And some chores like milking cows and feeding livestock had to be done more than once a day. Fieldwork started early in the morning. Crops were important for feeding livestock and to sell the harvest.

Household chores included sewing, spinning wool, weaving, quilting and mending clothing. Soap was made by hand and clothes were washed by hand. Candles were hand made. Fruit, vegetables and meat were preserved (canned) for winter. The canning process meant spending hours over a hot wood stove in the summertime. Outdoor chores included gardening, farming, caring for livestock, maintaining equipment and the farmstead.