FARMS AND FARM COMMUNITIES
We'll start this section with a story about my Dad,who was born in 1930.
In the 1940 he, his Dad, and my two Uncles still plowed the land with teams of draft horses (Percherons). One year after plowing all morning with two teams, the salesman brought out their new tractor (an International H) at lunchtime. Now this wasn't a huge modern tractor but a smaller one just a bit higher than one of the horses (which considering the size of those draft horses was still pretty big). After lunch, my granddad started plowing with the tractor. In one hour he had plowed more land with the tractor that they had all morning with two teams. He told my dad to go ahead and take the horses back to the barn, they weren't going to be used for plowing anymore.
The point of this story is, that in 1933 a lot of people still used horses and mules to plow with, and there are limits on how much you can plow with horses (you may have heard the term 40 acres and mule, 40 acres is all you could take care of with just a mule to plow with). This means more farms because each farm was fewer acres. In addition, farms were the old fashioned kind (not the mono-culture ones we have today where all a wheat farm raises is wheat and all a cattle farm raises is cattle). Again, using my grandfather as an example, yes he was mainly a grain farmer (which meant a corn crib), but he also had chickens (henhouse), pigs (pigsty), cattle and horses (barn and a milk house to keep the milk cool), a woodshed to keep firewood dry in, a smokehouse, and (being a well off farmer) he even had a scale shed to weigh grain and livestock before sending them to market. Then there was the outhouse and, of course, a big stack of firewood for the stove. Like I said he was a successful farmer, so he probably had more out buildings than most, still all farms at the time will have an assortment of outbuildings. This means lots of cover for skirmish games.
Finally, you also need to keep in mind that farming with horses means smaller fields (not as small a British or European ones, but smaller than today). Since crop yields were lower it didn't pay to plow property line to property line, like they do today. Fields were separated by fence rows (usually single strand barbed wire fences about 4 foot high) and had brush and trees growing alongside them. These weren't as thick as a British or European hedgerow, but still good cover andoften an obstacle for vehicle movement.
I'd also like to mention something I ran into while hunting as a lad in the 70's, Osage Orange. Osage Orange is a kind of a tree valued by farmers in the 30's for fence posts (they didn't rot like most wood-remember this is before treated lumber). On the other hand they were covered in inch long thorns. My dad told me a story about a guy who tried to clear a fence-row of them. He got four flat tires for his trouble and ended up
having to use a bulldozer to clear that fence-row. I wouldn't use them everyplace, but they'd make a nice rude surprise for trucks and other wheeled vehicles.
In addition, the roads in the 30s were not that great. A lot were just dirt, and most of the rest gravel. Not everyone had a car or truck, plenty of people still got around by horse-drawn wagon. No getting in a car and driving 30 minutes to a Walmart 30 miles away. You picked up most of your goods at local general stores, usually within a couple miles. There were also a lot of small "towns". Really more places than towns (village
is a bit too European of a word to use, considering that many of them disappeared after WWII). I remember, as a kid, driving along a road with Dad. We'd turn at a crossroad and he'd say "I remember when there was two stores and a blacksmith shop here" (and there was nothing there). We'd go past a couple houses and a falling down store and he'd talk about the two story school, the Doctor's office, and two stores that used to be there. Also, you need to allow for one-room schools (the 30s were the end of the era for those), lots of churches (this America the religious after all), grist mills and sorghum mills (my Dad remembers taking sorghum to a horse powered sorghum mill so it could be squeezed for syrup, which was then used an
everyday sweetener). My mom grew up in a little town called Lancaster. It had two stores, two gas stations, a two story school, a post office/barbershop and a garage for car repair. I vaguely remember them tearing down one of the stores in the 1960s (my grandparents owned one of the stations, which also sold groceries). Now, all that's left is a restaurant in what used to be my grandparents gas station, and a post-office that isn't even open full time.
In AVACW the roads are often bad and there are plenty of buildings, houses and fence rows in the countryside. The New Deal and the post-War boom dramatically changed the landscape and you should allow
for it when setting up a gaming table.