Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh to be a Pioneer!

I can't help it.

I'm totally fascinated with the Pioneer times and I want so badly to have been one.   Sure there are things about those days that are not exactly becoming, but I still would have loved to live in those times.

For one, I think people really did appreciate everything they had, they appreciated the hard work because they knew that it was contributing to their well being, they knew that any little extra thing they got was well earned.  Something which unfortunately is getting completely lost in this day and time.

More and more people seem to think that they are entitled, that people owe them good things..... and hard work?  Pfffttt, too much effort.


I've been surrounding myself with Little House on the Prairie, in the form of the TV show and in the form of books, recipes and anything I can get my hands on.  And every single time, I'm still amazed how much these families did, how the whole unit worked together doing chores, hunting, fishing, preserving, using their own hands to make sure that the family survived.

If I were to wake up my children at 4:30am and tell them to go milk a cow, they would throw such a fit, I think Japan would hear them crying.

I often tell myself that I'm extremely lucky to have the things I do, and that I shouldn't complain about certain chores, because when I sit and think about how everything had to be done in those times, it puts it all in perspective.

A normal day for the housewife was no easy task.  Water had to be brought in from the well, to wash dishes and food.   Some of that water had to be heated for laundry, then everything hand washed and scrubbed, hung to dry and ironed by hand with pretty heavy irons warmed on the stove.

 Source:  Google

Slicing, dicing, curing meats, preserving food, cooking meals, milking, and a watchful eye kept on the fire.  They knew exactly which wood to use for what temperature and how much of it was needed.  Today, we sometimes find it annoying having to turn a knob on the stove to get it going

Of course times have changed, things have been invented to make work easier, but I still would have liked to have lived in those times. 

Sometimes I think was born too late. I should have been a pioneer lady. I would have enjoyed traveling in a wagon train. I love the old skillets and pots and pans, I love old wood stoves and butter churners and grungy candles and the old way of doing things....and I do try to live it everyday.

Honestly, unless I'm really not feeling well or extremely busy and out of time, I actually go out of my way to do things the old way, to make do without reaching for the microwave, to wash dishes by hand, to really get in there with some elbow grease and scrub some clothes.

Why? Because it makes me happy, it gives me pleasure, it makes me appreciate the finished product that much more. Knowing that I put my all into a chore is rewarding.

One other great book I've read is Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth George Speare, and boy does that one put things into perspective as well.

"Many of the housewife's day was consumed in preparing meals. Every step of the preparation had to be done the hard way, with heavy, awkward equipment. Someone has written that the great kettles seem more suitable for giants to handle than for women. Yet in the course of her day every woman filled and lifted and toted and scoured them in her struggle to provide food for her family."

"Washday was a burdensome affair of hauling and heating water. The snowy white napkins and tablecloths which were a housewife's pride were only earned by painful scrubbing, especially in the days before forks. In addition, there was the daily cleaning of the kettles, the scouring away of grease and black soot with sand or rushes. The hearth had to be kept immaculate, and the floor swept and covered with a fine layer of clean sand which served in place of a rug."

"The longing for lovely things showed in the pride women brought to their daily work, the scouring to keep the pewter gleaming, the endless bleachings when natural linen would have served their families just as well, the hot hours over sticky, vile smelling dye pots to produce a bit of color. And somewhere in their unimaginably busy days, women found the time to create pretty things".


And this is the reason I do what I do for my home, and why I realize that even on those days where I'm more tired than usual, my household chores are nothing compared to what those women had to do on a daily basis. I can choose to not cook and know that we can just jump in the car and go pick something up, my family won't starve.

 It's why even at the end of a unusually tough tiring day, it will still never compare to their day.  So, I don't complain, I accept it and smile through it :)

Oh to be a Pioneer!!!!


Grandma, on her start of day
Milked the cows and fed them hay
Slopped the pigs, saddled the mule
And got the children off to school.
Did the washing, mopped the floors
Shined the windows and did some chores
Cooked a dish of home dried fruit
Pressed her husband's Sunday suit.
Swept the parlour and made some beds
Baked a dozen loaves of bread
Split some firewood and lugged it in
Enough to fill the kitchen bin.
Cleaned the lamps and put in oil
Stewed some apples she thought would spoil
Cooked a supper that was delicious
And afterwards, washed all the dishes
Fed the animals and sprinkled some clothes
Mended a basket full of hose
Then opened the organ and began to play
'When you come to the end of a perfect day'


Elizabeth Cummings said...

Love it! I always felt that I was meant for either the 50's or colonial era. :)

Jen said...

I love that Little House Cookbook. We use it all the time in our studies. We are re-reading the Laura's books again. As well as some of her less known writings.

My love of all things Pioneer is why we "live" at the museum in the summer. I really wish you could come here and experience the museum!!

suburbandigs said...

Hi Sandra, I love doing things the old fashioned way too - have you seen the show "Frontier House"? You can watch it on Youtube - I really enjoyed watching that show, I would have loved to be part of that experience. Take care, Michael.

Judy said...

I love The Little House books and T.V. shows. I too could have been a pioneer :)

gillyflower said...

Wonderful post! I've always had a thing about the pioneer days too, but only from the adventurous bit, setting up the homestead,making it pretty with quilts etc and growing food - but being a housework hater the reality of morning til night housework would've been too much for me!
Thanks for sharing all this, love that poem at the end too.
Gill xx

Susanne said...

I loved Little House on the Prairie but boy I think God sure knew what He was doing when He put me into this generation and not the pioneers! Yikes. I just cannot imagine how hard everything was for them. We sure are spoiled nowadays!

Suellen Roley said...

I've always said, if I was a pioneer I never would have made it to Oregon LOL. The first time we would have needed to ford a river, this old gal would have said no thanks I'll stay on this side!

I did spend a lot of time on a working farm when growing up (my grandparents owned it). It was a lot of hard work, but I really think food tastes better when you've grown it yourself, or canned it yourself.

One thing I've been so thankful for is that my grandmother taught me how to sew, knit, crochet, quilt, embroider, etc! I do wish however that she or my mother had taken the time to teach me how to cook, because they were such good cooks (I'm the former queen of the microwave--it died and i see no point in replacing it! LOL and the former queen of fast food--yes, I still love fast food, but walking a mile (or more) each way to buy some OR taking 2 buses each way...I don't love it that much!). The thought of cooking kind of overwhelms me, particularly when it comes to getting everything to be ready at the same time.

Krafty Girl said...

I love your post! I wish I had grown up in Pioneer times also. Although, I do not think I would have survived. The thought of it is great, but reality is I am spoiled in this time period. I do re-enact the 1812 era, and that is as close as I can get. I enjoy it greatly. Little House is my favourite series of all time.
God Bless,

autumnesf said...

Whenever we go camping we get a taste of past things. I swear I spent half my time in meal prep and execution. We love it.

Mahek said...

Very well written Sandra,
In India there are still some parts in villages who live the way you have described even now..
last week when I went to a holiday spot on the hills , while returning I saw ladies walking with large vessels of water on their heads from far off wells .. they have to do this everyday..
Your writing touches my heart.

Faith said...

I too feel like I was born in the wrong time zone. It was a simpler but harder life. Now it is just hard period. I try to find simple joys in things, and do as much as I can to bring joy in the crochet I create, to making home made bread, and cooking from scratch. I really like the period dresses,and lovely hats.