Little house

Right now I am re-reading the Little House on the Prairie books. Like many youngsters, I read and re-read the Little House as a child. Perhaps that formed my impression that I was born in the wrong era; that I would be much better suited to life on the farmstead than life in a 21st century technociety.

Reading them again, it strikes me that pioneer life was really HARD but that when you don’t know the luxury of central heat and HDTV, you can be pretty happy even though your windows have frosted up ON THE INSIDE of your house, your toys are composed of a corncob for a doll, and your favorite weekly activity is churning butter.

I am only into the first few chapters of Little House in the Big Woods. It has struck me, reading it after all these years, that gender equality was much more of a matter-of-fact thing in pioneer days.  The descriptions of what constitutes ‘women’s work’ or a woman’s place being in the home carry little weight when faced with the huge amount of skill and learning that it took for women to complete their everyday tasks before the advent of electricity or labor saving devices. I mean, do you know how to make butter? Or cheese? Or use up every part of the pig that your DH slaughtered? Would you even know how to slaughter a pig or how to smoke the meat? Do you even know what ‘crackling’ is?  I had to look it up, altho I had a vague idea. 

And your DH is out all day plowing or planting or harvesting or hunting and comes back with icicles dripping from his beard and warms up in the house before going back out to do the outdoor chores like mucking and so forth. And Jack the brindle bulldog chases off everything from deer to bears to wolves at night.

It was a team effort, that is for sure.

Anyway. Good times on the prairie.  Makes life seem pretty easy but I feel sad for the loss of such skills that once were a part of everyday life.


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