Wide va­ri­ety of shop­ping op­tions now avail­able to the ru­ral community

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In the early 1900s, there were lim­ited ways for ru­ral fam­i­lies to pur­chase the items they could not pro­duce them­selves. Some of th­ese ba­sic food staples were sugar, flour, salt, pep­per, syrup, cof­fee, tea and spices for pick­ling and pre­serv­ing.

How fam­i­lies bought such things de­pended on the money they had to spend and when they could get into town.

Go­ing into town to buy sup­plies would have been by walk­ing, horse-drawn buggy or wagon, and some­times, train travel. The wide­spread use of au­to­mo­biles would only grad­u­ally come into be­ing af­ter sev­eral more decades.

Weeks of rain could of­ten turned flooded dirt roads into thick mud. Un­der such con­di­tions, a horse and wagon would have more trac­tion than the new au­to­mo­bile which needed bet­ter roads and drier con­di­tions.

Each trip, even to the near­est small town, could take most of a morn­ing or af­ter­noon and that would be time lost from farm work and chores. Such a trip was of­ten care­fully planned in ad­vance.

Some­times it was nec­es­sary to go to town un­ex­pect­edly, be­cause a piece of bro­ken farm equip­ment had to be re­placed or re­paired at the black­smith’s shop. Liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas was of­ten an iso­lated way of life.

Part of a farm fam­ily’s in­come of­ten came from the ef­forts of the mother and the chil­dren.

Mother was usu­ally the per­son who tended a flock of chick­ens and pre­pared the eggs for sale to a store in town. She also made cream or but­ter from the cows’ milk which she also sold the same way. The chil­dren helped gather eggs, milk the cows, sep­a­rate cream from milk and churn but­ter to sell, as well as for the fam­ily’s own use.

Fa­ther was of­ten work­ing in the fields with the horses, tend­ing the other an­i­mals or main­tain­ing the equip­ment needed to plant, main­tain and cul­ti­vate the crops on the farm.

At the gen­eral store in town, a fam­ily re­ceived cash or credit for their dairy prod­ucts and eggs. What was avail­able at such a store was not al­ways what the fam­ily needed or could af­ford.

Oh how times have changed, with farm­ing fam­i­lies now able to make the most of ru­ral de­liv­ery and pur­chase online, and most are within driv­ing dis­tance to their near­est town or city. Shop­ping today now of­fers a greater choice, wider va­ri­ety, com­pet­i­tive prices and con­ve­nience to its ru­ral cus­tomers.

Busy farm­ing fam­i­lies can also ben­e­fit from longer open­ing hours (late night and week­end shop­ping), in or­der to make their pur­chases. News­pa­per ad­ver­tis­ing and glossy flliers through the mail, add fur­ther as­sis­tance to the ru­ral shop­per.

With Christmas just around the corner, the busy farmer can make the most of the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to him/her to en­sure the fam­ily have a happy and en­joy­able Christmas sea­son. Get your wish list writ­ten, sort out where you need to go and or­gan­ise a trip to your lo­cal stores in or­der to avoid the Christmas rush. You will be pleased you did.

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