Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 21

Money Crop

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Feb 19, 1975 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
64 votes

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Episode Summary


A college-educated farmer named Joe Coulter moves to Walnut Grove with his wife, who is expecting a child. Joe tells the Walnut Grove-area farmers of a new hybrid of corn that would produce good crops, to which the farmers are very enthused, and he even agrees to collect everyone's money and take the trip out to Minneapolis to purchase the corn for everyone. After a fateful accident on the way home, Joe is unable to return on time, and while several of the men in town turn against both Joe and his emotionally strained wife, each member of the Ingalls family does their part to defend the Coulters' honor in the face of such confusion.


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  • Joe Coulter and his pregnant young wife are new residents of Walnut Grove. Joe has a never money-making idea, but, when things go wrong, it seems that only Charles will defend him.moreless

    Charles Coulter has a college education and knows a good deal about crops and things of that nature. When he and his pregnant wife arrive in Walnut Grove, he is quick to tell the farmers of an idea he has to plant corn instead of wheat, the price of which has decreased dramatically.

    Coulter, it seems, can get the seed cheaply through his father-in-law, who lives some distance away. The other farmers decide to jump on the bandwagon and give him enough money to travel a long way in order to buy seed for everybody's land.

    When Joe has an accident with his wagon on his return journey, the crows, literally, start to circle, but not as viciously as those in Walnut Grove who are convinced that he has run off with their money. Only Charles and Mr. Hansen believe that all will be well, while the others whine and complain a great deal.

    Finally, Charles sets out to look for him and finds him injured and the wagon upturned. When the shamefaced farmers realise what has happened, they all come along with their own ploughs to plough and sow his fields as he cannot do so due to a badly injured leg.

    Pretty dull as episodes go as not a lot actually happened when it's all said and done.moreless
  • After convincing the farmers of Hero township to try a new crop, a new local farmer takes their money to go buy the seed--and disapperars.

    The Coulters are the new farm couple in Hero Township, and there's a twist--Joseph Coulter is educated in the field of agriculture and tells the farmers of Walnut Grove that he can teach them to raise their incomes while raising a new crop--corn. The farmers all agree to give it a try and send Joe off to the big city with all of their money, where he'll order the new seed. When he fails to return within the estimated time frame, several of the farmers in town turn on his wife--a small, frail pregnant woman--verbally abusing her to the point where she collapses and nearly miscarries. Charles decides to head off to look for Joe, and finds him near death at the bottom of a gulley, where his wagon had crashed and flipped days earlier after running off the road. Flash forward to a bunch of thouroughly shamed, head-hanging farmers. To aleviate their guilt--and to keep the Coulters from leaving town--they plow his fields and plant his corn before doing their own. The episode teaches good lessons about jumping to conclusions and puting others before ones' self.moreless
  • Some boneheads in town think the worst when a man entrusted with their resources does not come back in a timely fashion. But have no fear: by show's end, they come to their senses and all is right with the world, yada yada, cue the swelling music...moreless

    Eh, I dunno--I was expecting more from this offering, having missed it the first time and seeing it yesterday. I am not going to rave about it because it didn't float my boat. Regarding the other review on here about this episode: why is it acceptable to have

    townspeople act like jerks and jump to conclusions and then plow a field (after finding out that they were wrong and yelling at a PREGNANT WOMAN!!!!) and we're supposed to think they are just wonderful human beings and smile at the show's conclusion? Sheesh...I guess I'm not that easily amused. I also wouldn't be too thrilled by a person yelling at my very pregnant wife, even if he did plow my field.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Karl Swenson

Karl Swenson

Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Alan Fudge

Alan Fudge

Joseph Coulter

Guest Star

Art Lund

Art Lund

Tom Jorgensen

Guest Star

Julie Cobb

Julie Cobb

Trudy Coulter

Guest Star

Ted Gehring

Ted Gehring

Ed Stacey

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Ted Gehring, who portrays an honest farmer in this episode, would later go on to play Ebenezer Sprague, Walnut Grove's first cold-hearted banker.

      Ted Gehring didn't play an honest farmer, if Charles
      hadn't come along he would have kept horses that didn't belong to him.

    • Actress Julie Cobb (Mrs. Coulter) is the daughter of veteran actor Lee J. Cobb, and she was married to Victor French (Mr. Edwards) from 1976 to 1978.

    • Notice how Mrs. Coulter runs for a long distance after taunted by the other men in town. For a pregnant woman, she sure does move quickly, and in fact, many women who are not pregnant would have a hard time running that fast.
      Reply: While this is true, it's important to remember also that Mrs. Coulter looks very young--probably in her early 20's--so she is physically strong.

    • While Mary is usually depicted as a very shy and reserved girl, this is an episode where she really loses her cool and dares to call a group of grown men names, telling them that God will punish them for their cruelty. For a child like Mary, especially, this is a sight to see, and it's one of the few times in the series that Mary gets in someone's face and lets them see what's behind her sweet, gentle smile(refer also to Season 2's "Troublemaker" and Season 4's "Whisper Country").

    • Normally the first to be the gossip-spreading rumormonger, Mrs. Oleson is defensive about the Coulters, whom she hardly knows. She calls the men gathered on the steps of the mercantile, who are loudly complaning about Mr. Coulter, "a bunch of animals," and falls all over herself to accomodate Mrs. Coulter and the Ingalls girls when they come into the store, and she later chases the men off with a broom. Though fairly kind and even reserved in the first season, Mrs. Oleson would eventually evolve into the kind of person who would be the first to criticize people in the Coulter's position.
      Reply: While it is a good example of how the character was still developing in the first season (honestly, it is shocking how friendly she is to Mary and Laura), it should be pointed out that Mrs. Oleson did mention the affect the cursing gang of men was having on the business. This is perfectly consistent with her character, who is so often just out for her own best interest.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Charles: I see you're all packed. There's no way to change your mind?
      Mr. Coulter: Charles, after what my so-called friends and neighbors did to my wife while I was out busting my leg for them, no. No, I want nothing more to do with them or this part of the country.
      Charles: (to Mrs. Coulter) And you feel the same way?
      Mrs. Coulter: I most certainly do.

    • Man: I know when I've been robbed!
      Mr. Kennedy: Not only us, but it's our wives and our kids. Food right out of their mouths!
      Mr. Hanson: Listen. When you get scared, you strike out against your best friend! You call him a thief! You pick on a pregnant woman, and you make her sick so she almost loses her baby! Now tell me what kind of a man does that! No man! Cowards! Cowards without backbones! You don't deserve good luck! You don't deserve--
      Boy: (runs up to the group on horseback) Mr. Hanson! Mr. Hanson! Mr. Hanson! Mr. Ingalls says Mr. Coulter is back. The seed is out at the Coulters' place. Mr. Coulter is hurt because his team ran off and broke the wagon, but he's all right. I've got to go get Doc Baker! (rides off)
      Mr. Hanson: (to the men) Well, what are you waiting for? Your precious seed corn is here!

    • Mary: (to the men who taunted Mrs. Coulter) Look what you did! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, talking to her that way!
      Man: Now, hold on--
      Mary: And she's gonna have a baby! You're awful!
      Man: Now, look here, young lady--
      Mary: God will punish you! You'll see! You'll deserve it, all of you! He'll punish you! I know He will!

    • Charles: Well, lookie there! I'm a few minutes late, and all the supper is gone.
      Mary: You always say that if you don't make it to the table on time, then you don't deserve your supper.
      Charles: Well, I never should have said that.

    • Laura: Mrs. Coulter is nice, isn't she?
      Mary: Yeah.
      Laura: She's pretty, too.
      Mary: She sure is.
      Laura: It would be awful if she wasn't really gonna have a baby.
      Mary: What are you talking about?
      Laura: Well, if you just had a giant stomach forever and ever!
      Mary: That's silly. She'll have the baby, and her stomach will go away.
      Laura: Mrs. Ledbetter has a big stomach, and it doesn't go away.
      Mary: Mrs. Ledbetter isn't gonna have a baby. She just eats too much.
      Laura: Well, how can you tell the difference? I mean, how do you know when it's a baby or too much supper?
      Mary: Doctor Baker can tell.

    • Mary: Ma says the baby kicks inside.
      Laura: Yuck! I know I don't want to have a baby.
      Mary: Why not?
      Laura: Well, it hurts enough when Willie Oleson kicks me from the outside. It must hurt twice as bad when you get kicked from the inside.
      Mary: No it doesn't.
      Laura: Why not?
      Mary: Because the baby doesn't have shoes on.

  • NOTES (4)

    • v Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley, Baker Ranch, Tuolumne, and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.

    • The camera cuts to several different angles during the scene where Joe Coulter is careening down the hillside atop his wagon; initially, he is wearing a hat, then he loses the hat, then miraculously the hat appears on his head again in the seconds before he crashes.

    • Ted Gehring plays a hard scrabble farmer who finds Joe Coulter's team of horses after they bolt. He would return in Season 2 to play town banker Ebenezer Sprague.

    • Like so many others who have been the focal point of an episode, we never see or hear of the Coulters again.