Flag Herbert Hoover Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Home Exhibits Hoover

Students Educators Laura Ingalls
Research Links

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farmer Boy

Barns and Farm Animals

Return to Farmer Boy main page

Three Wilder barns
The Barns on the Wilder Farm
--Photo courtesy of the Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Association, P.O. Box 283, Malone, NY 12953-0283

There were three barns on the Wilder farm. The Horse Barn, the Big Barn for the cattle and oxen and the South Barn with the feed-room, the hog and calf pens and the threshing floor. On the east side of the barnyard was a high board fence. The barns are being rebuilt using plans that Almanzo drew for Laura when she was writing Farmer Boy.

A Morgan horse on the Rocky Ridge Farm
One of Almanzo's Morgan Horses
--Photo from the collection of the Herbert Hoover Library. Photo #186

Almanzo loved horses and often went into the Horse Barn. All of the horses knew him and pricked their ears when they saw him. Almanzo's father would not let him help break the young colts. He would not even let Almanzo touch them for fear he would frighten them.

Almanzo's father raised Morgan horses and gave Almanzo a Morgan colt when Almanzo told him that what he wanted most was a colt of his own to break. This is a photograph of one of Almanzo's Morgan horses on Rocky Ridge, the farm in Mansfield, Missouri, where he and Laura lived for most of their married lives.

The Big Barn had doors large enough to let in a loaded hay wagon and there were stalls for cows and oxen. There was a machine shed and a tool shed, a shed for young cattle and a sheepfold.

Two horses in a barn
Work Horses in a Barn
--Photo courtesy of the Living History Farms, 2600 111 th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322 http://www.livinghistoryfarms.org/

Almanzo was allowed to brush and currycomb the gentle workhorses and drive them on the harrow.

harnesses hanging in a barn
Harnesses Hanging in a Barn
--Photo courtesy of the Living History Farms, 2600 111 th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322

Harnesses and other farm equipment are stored in this barn. Can you find the fly nets that are used to keep flies off the horses? Mary Ingalls learned to make these nets when she was a student at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School.


An Ox Yoke haning on the side of a barn
Ox Yoke Hanging on a Barn
--Photo courtesy of the Living History Farms, 2600 111 th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322


On Almanzo's ninth birthday his father gave him two calves. Almanzo trained them to wear a yoke and pull a sled so they could help pull supplies such as firewood around the farm.

This is a yoke for full-grown oxen. Oxen were used to pull wagons, plows and other farm equipment.

White pigs standing behind a fence
White Pigs

Almanzo also had a Chester White pig that he bought with a half-dollar Father gave him. He named her Lucy and he kept her in a pen in the shade because he thought she would grow better in the shade. Once, after Almanzo and his brother and sisters made candy, he fed a piece to Lucy and it stuck her teeth together so she could not squeal to tell Almanzo what was wrong. Almanzo and Alice had to hold her down while Royal scraped the candy out of her mouth.


Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
P.O. Box 488
210 Parkside Drive
West Branch, IA 52358