Ideas from 1923 for making your home place look and function better
These five steps to a convenient and attractive home place are from a 1923 Agriculture textbook, (The New Agriculture for High Schools by Kary Cadmus Davis, Ph, D.) Dr. Davis's five steps are listed below in the order that they should be undertaken:
1. Clean up the place and put it in order as much as you can.
2. Study the current situation and think how it could be improved by re-planning or by adding new features.
3. Carry out the proposed improvements.
4. Add trees, shrubs and other plants to shade, beautify, delineate, and disguise.
5. Install modern conveniences.
Dr. Davis was writing about the improvement of a farm's home place, which would include barns, barnyards, chicken house, orchard, house, etc. However, his steps could be applied to any sort or size of home, anywhere.
I like his recommendation to make the most of what is there, first. Before you start spending money, put some elbow grease into it and really clean up the place. That can be a big improvement!
The "re-planning" he mentions in step 2 might include some "re-purposing", as we say today -- that is, simply thinking about the best way to use what you have to meet your needs and to improve the appearance of the place where you live.
I've watched Mennonite families set up farming operations in old farm buildings that weren't in the best of shape. It is interesting that they proceed much as outlined above.
First, they clean up the place, get the grass mowed, take care of the fences, nail down the loose boards, etc. Then, as money permits, they add the most necessary improvements first.
In the case of one of our Mennonite neighbors, he built a big machine shed for his tractor repair business as soon as they moved in. The old house looked pretty rough for a few years, but now they have put vinyl siding on it, and are in the process of building on a few rooms.
The modern conveniences that Dr. Davis suggested for step 5 were running water, bathroom equipment, electric lights and irrigation. That was in 1923. We think of most of those as necessities 85 years later!
In 2007, the modern conveniences we'd like might be a refrigerator with ice and water in the door, a home theater, or a hot tub. They're not necessities and everyone doesn't have them, but they'd be nice. I imagine that Dr. Davis would like us pay cash for our modern conveniences rather than purchasing them on credit, too.
The benefits of home improvement? Dr. Davis lists three:
1. For the members of the family -- better satisfaction with home surroundings, improvement and conservation of health, a valuable education for its younger members.
2. For the community -- good example.
3. For the place itself -- enhanced value.
Source: The New Agriculture for High Schools, by Kary Cadmus Davis, Ph.D. (Cornell). Published in Philadelphia by the J.B. Lippincott Company, in 1923. From the chapter titled "Improvement Projects" (p. 303).