Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pioneer Woman, the History

The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple. ~Doris Janzen Longacre

I had lots of comments yesterday on the post -- most agreeing it's a good thing to continue to do the hard work and pass on knowledge. I absolutely agree.

It's amazing to me how many folks don't know you can bake or cook certain things from scratch (how exactly do they think the food companies MAKE things?). My SIL baked bread once, a kind of raisin bread that's a tradition in her family, and brought a few loaves to work. She had one worker comment, "I didn't know you could bake this at home!"

I admit to being lazy and not always WANTING to make things from scratch, but the fact is: I know how if I want to. I have recipes for bread, pizza dough, tortillas, etc. Mostly I buy them. Sometimes I make them at home.

The thing is this: I was raised by a mother who made everything from scratch.

Many, many years ago, my step-father decided we should "get back to the land" and we purchased 40 acres in a little podunk town called Mt. Aukum. I was nine years-old and we celebrated this country's bicentennial up there.

The land was undeveloped. There was an old, falling-down cabin that had been built back in the dark ages (and that we eventually tore down), and a clear spring that had been tapped and captured in a wooden barrel. That's it.

No electricity. No phone. No running water. No house. No... nothing.

My family (this includes one of my brothers and one of my sisters) lived in tents while we dug an outhouse and brought in a tiny trailer...little more than one of those pop-up campers folks use for their weeklong outdoors experiences nowadays. Eventually, a small shed was built attached to the trailer where we kids lived, while my mom and step-father lived in the trailer.

We put the trailer downhill from the spring, and a L-O-N-G hose was hooked up between the trailer and the spring -- our version of running water. We had a propane stove to cook with (I can still remember once, sitting at the table getting ready to eat when the stove did this 'WHOOSH' thing and flames shot out and singed one side of my head and hair).

It was here, with little money (my mom didn't work outside the home and my step-father ran an antiques refinishing shop) that Mom cooked.

We had a garden... a BIG one (an acre or so). We had dogs and cats and horses and chickens and eventually we got goats for milk, though that wasn't until three years later and on a different piece of property in Mt. Aukum that didn't even have a spring, and we had to haul water. I owned two pairs of pants, one long dress ala Little House on the Prairie, one pair of hiking books and a couple of shirts for each season. I wore one pair of pants for two or three days in a row to school, because my other pants had been washed by hand using a washboard and were hanging to dry.

I walked to the bus stop, just over a mile away (and it was only uphill in the snow one way *G*) every day, with my homemade lunch in hand. I usually had peanut butter and homemade jam on homemade whole wheat bread. Sometimes, my mom lucked into a big can of pie filling from our church and made homemade pies that were shaped to look like Hostess ones. I usually had a fruit of some kind, and I got free milk at school because we were poor. Mom spent her days weeding the garden, cooking, harvesting, caring for the animals, washing clothes and more. She was our Ma Ingalls.

I never felt poor. It was during a time where kids didn't really care what you wore (we didn't even have designer clothes then), or whether you listened to the right music or watched what they did on TV (after all, there were only four channels then, and my family didn't have a TV regardless).

My folks read Mother Earth magazine and lived that lifestyle. We took spit-baths in the winter, showered in the summer using outdoor shower with an Army portable shower hookup that only held five gallons of water (so... turn it on, get wet, turn it off and soap up, turn it on and rinse off).

And you know what? I never minded one bit of it. I didn't go hungry, even if I did eat a lot of beans and pea soup. I learned the names of plants and how to grow and harvest them. I learned about chickens and how to gather eggs. I learned how to raise a goat and how to milk one. I had a pony to ride and a million acres of land to tromp around on. I had friends to visit (I'd have to walk a couple of miles to get there... but it never seemed all that long then), and it never seemed as though I was deprived of anything.

And I know without a doubt if we suddenly lost everything, I could survive. It wouldn't be fun or glamorous, but I could do it. And THAT is the best heritage my mother could have given me. I hope I can pass that on to my daughter.


You Think Best While You're Driving

In order to be able to think, you need to be able to have time to think. Problem is, there isn't a lot of time for that in your life.

When you are driving, you are finally able to let your mind wander. And it wanders to some pretty interesting places.

Depending on the conditions, driving can make you feel elated, relaxed, or even frustrated. All of these varying emotions spark a lot of revelations.

While the thoughts you have while driving may have a lot of noise in them, there's definitely some insight to be found.

Hmmm... maybe when I'm driving alone, which is almost never anymore.



MomJane said...

I still make my own bread. Of course I have a breadmaker now. But I could make it without one if I had to. I think it's great that DD is learning so much from you and it has been passed on.

jmberrygirl said...

I know what you mean. My husband is shocked at least once a week that I've made yet another meal from scratch. His family wasn't a big fan of the home-cooked, family around the table meal. Mine was. Trust me, the old ways are the best ways. Survival is important, but there's character building in those physical chores that your daughter could never pick up except by doing them. And who wants to buy canned spaghetti sauce when there are home-grown, home-canned tomatoes sitting there, waiting to be made into chunky sauce? And I know exactly what went into the home canned ones, unlike the ones in the store...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's good to see that there is heritage out there.

My mom always made meals from scratch (not much these days). One year she made plum jam, omg there was sooo much we ended up selling and giving away a lot of it because it really got old LOL.

Dru said...

Well-said! Your daughter is getting the best education from you.

My mom also cooked from scratch and taught us well and despite the fact that I hate to cook, if I had to, I can prepare meals from scratch and besides they taste better.

You Think Best Outdoors

In order to be able to think, you need to clear your head. And in order to clear your head, you have to get moving.

There's nothing like getting your heart pumping and breathing fresh air to drive you to greatness. Exercising outdoors makes you feel on top of the world.

There's nothing more awe inspiring than the beauties and challenges of nature. Being outside really puts your life in perspective.

You feel powerful when you're moving through a natural setting. You're more likely to think boldly and trust your instincts.

No, I'm more of an indoor thinker.

Have a good Tuesday.

Brandy said...

My Mom made sure I knew how to bake bread from scratch and when I first had my Daughter I used to do that, when I had my Son I slacked off and started buying bread. I guess it would be nice if I taught both kids how to make bread. I make meals from scratch all the time. Yes, we do have microwave or quick items every now and then, but both know the hard work that goes into preparing a meal from start to finish.
You're doing a good thing. A very good thing.

As for the quiz? My results were the same as yours. And it's SO wrong. The only thing I do in the car is prepare for defensive driving and stress out. *G*

I hope you're having a blessed day!

Tori Lennox said...

I'm laughing my head off over the people who didn't know you could make your own raisin bread!