Rural America: Farm Life as Photographed by Pete Wettach
10 views of farm country in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, through photographer's viewfinder.
A good day on the farm: This farmer had the complete package – his boy, his dog, his pipe and his Farmall tractor.
Grand champion lamb at the Henry County (Iowa) Fair. The boy’s hat dates the photo to the 1920s.
4-H in the 1950s, when projects were homegrown rather than purebreds. Dad and the kids went to the barnyard to pick out the best shorthorns from the herd and those became the 4-H project for the year. There was more to the project than a chance at a trophy. The focus was on the fundamentals of feeding, grooming, training and economics.
The family worked together in the garden as well as on the farm. Here, a late summer tomato harvest is shown. The tractor and denim cap date this photo to the 1930s.
Two eras overlap: Tractors and draft horses work side-by-side in this combining scene from the early 1940s.
Shocking rye. Bundles were set up with grain heads in the air. Here, the farmer is flaring the last bundle to form a water-repellent “cap” that goes on top of the shock. Shocks were left in the field to dry before threshing.
Livestock never take a day off. Here, the farmer feeds the “spring chickens” on Sunday morning before church.
Putting up loose, long-stemmed hay with a harpoon hay fork. Between 200 and 400 pounds could be lifted with one stab of the fork.
Putting up square bales with tractors. The boy driving the tractor on the hay fork gets the rookie’s job. An experienced farmer would place a 10-foot 2×4 on the ground in the driveway and explain the process. “Under no circumstance do you go beyond this point,” he’d say, “or you will pull the hay carrier right out of the end of the barn.” Clear instructions were an integral part of safety training on the farm.
“Pitching and loading” clover hay. The man on the ground was the pitcher and the man on the wagon was the loader. All slept well at night after a day making hay.