Dramatic changes in farming occurred between 1850 and 1900. The end of the Civil War led into the Industrial Revolution, and changes resulted throughout the barnyard. Instead of performing field work by hand, farmers used modern machinery to cut hay, plant corn, and bind oats. Inside the farm kitchen, the wood-burning cook stove and the Mason jar made food preparation and preservation much easier.
The large barns were the center of daily activity on turn-of-the-century farms. Most farmers used the barn for multiple purposes, like storing hay and oats, stabling animals, milking cattle, and storing tools and equipment. Farmers harvested hay in June, July, and August, and then stored it in the barn to feed the animals during the winter months. The haymow, in the center of the barn, held more than 30 tons of loose hay.
By 1900, most farmers used draft horses for hard labor. The 1,800 pound animals plowed the fields for corn and oats, planted the crops, cultivated the fields, brought in the hay crop, pulled wagons of field corn, hauled manure. Farms would not have been as successful without the aid of the horses.
Technology had reached Iowa farms in 1900, by way of the hand-crank telephone, Acorn cook stove, and updated farm equipment, such the horse-drawn plow, planter, hay press, and more. Corn, oats, and hay were the most common crops on turn-of-the century Iowa farms. Commonly raised farm animals included sheep, chickens, hogs, milk-cows, beef cattle, ducks, geese, and turkeys.