Most farm women follow in the footsteps of their mothers, learning how to do household and farm chores as young girls and teenagers. By the end of the 1800s, most women also have at least enough education to be able to read and write. Schooling stops at the primary level, at age fourteen, unless a girl has shown a particular aptitude and the family can afford to send her to a convent school. Employment opportunities for rural women, even educated ones, remain few. Some might become paid servants for another family, move away to work in a factory or textile mill, or, if they have the education, become teachers. In each case, they hope that after a few years they can contribute some of their earnings towards starting their own households. Most women, however, stay in their parents' home until marriage.
Family and parish events provide opportunities for young women and men to meet. If sufficient interest and affection develops between a couple, a courtship might last two or more years, always carefully monitored by parents. It is not unusual for rural women to marry in their late teens and most will have done so by age twenty-five. Farm families are large, it being common for women to have ten to twelve children.