Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Little House in the Big Woods

When I was a very little girl my parents gave me Little House in the Big Woods. I LOVED that book and read it over and over. About a year later I was in the store with my dad and saw that it was only the first book of a whole set. I dearly wanted that set but knew better than to ask. However, my parents being the wonderful parents they are read my mind and bought it for me soon afterwards.
I loved those books and wore out two sets before I reached 20. I still love them. I've read most of them to my children who also love them. My children have them hard cover now - good thing because they're re-reading them as much as I did. My nine-year-old daughter is quite the expert on Laura's life.
I loved the lifestyle they embodied. Of course, as a little girl I romanticized the whole pioneer woman idea. I wished I could have been one having no idea of the amount of work those amazing women did. Now as an adult there are many reasons why I'm glad I'm not - electricity and modern medicine being two of them.
The other day though I realized that I do do many of things I so admired Ma and other pioneer women I read about doing. So I thought it might be fun to make a list to see how many skills I now have that I wanted to learn when I was a little girl thinking/pretending I was a pioneer woman. Here it is in no particular order. I can...
bake - bread in particular
make jam
knit and crochet

hang my laundry outside
dehydrate produce (although I will admit to using an electric dehydrator which is almost foolproof)
make my own sauces like spaghetti sauce
make my own chicken/beef/vegetable stocks
grind my own grains (Again, I use an electric mill. We did use a hand-powered one for a long time though. My children worked off a lot energy helping me grind wheat.)
use cloth diapers, but I don't wash them by hand ☺
have home births
nurse my babies
make my own hand lotion
make ice cream
I'll probably think of a few more while nursing my baby in the middle of the night. Here are a few skills I still want to learn. How to...
make soap
make candles
make jerky
smock - I really want to learn this one
milk a cow/goat and then make my own cheese
When we lived in the country we had a wood cookstove that we used to heat our main floor and that I did most of my cooking on. I loved that stove and leaving it behind was one of my biggest regrets when we moved. The first spring we lived in the country my husband had to cut a big limb off a maple tree. We noticed sap running out of the tree at that point so we hung a five gallon bucket and caught the sap. Then we cooked it down on our wood stove. We took it down to a couple of thin quarts of syrup. It had a bit of an earthy undertone. I loved it. I felt so Ma-ish. We also had chickens for a while, and the children loved collecting eggs - like a treasure hunt.
My list has encouraged me. I really am living my girlhood dream - a house full of children and many skills for making our home a home that Ma would have been comfortable in.
What were your childhood dreams? Have you attained or at least partially attained them.
By the way, this is my 50th post. I can't believe it. I promised a small book-related giveaway at #50, but I have to admit to not having it ready because I've been sewing quilts like crazy in anticipation of a visit from my nieces. I just finished them and my nieces love them. So now I can work on my giveaway prize. Stay tuned and hopefully I'll be announcing it before the weekend.

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