I was sitting here last evening thinkin, which alas has a bad end for me, and got to wondering about our forefathers and the pioneers that settled this country. I did a google search on "pioneer life" and found several interesting sites to pacify me for a time. One was this one. I read the essays there and continued to explore.Food was mentioned in the essays several times but not in any detail. So I found some info on food that shed some light on the foods available and how it was prepared. Even some of the methods used back then could still be used today if the need arises. I was impressed with the method of smoking meat. Very simple and effective. Any way just some food for thought on a cold winter day. I guess being able to stay in and kinda idle this time of year I think some silly things. Well maybe not too silly. As ya know I am 4th generation here on our family farm. Most thing we do today are still done by old methods, we may or may not use modern tools. Wouldn't it be neat to preserve all that history and all those methods, recipes, and knowledge that was passed down and keep things like they "were back then". Then it struck me, we do kinda do that. Really it is all I know, the things I learned from my dad and knowledge passed down thru 4 generations. It would make one think we are so far behind in the times, but the old ways work very well. Sometimes old methods require a lil more labor but the end result is the same. Only difference is the old ways are less expensive. I know I have enough knowledge of the olden ways that if I were transported back in time 200 years that I could survive and thrive just fine. People freak out over minor things these days. Such as happens when the power is off. Don't get me wrong, I do like some of the modern conveniences. But I can live without em. If the power is off, light kerosene lights, or have tallow candles, easily made from beef tallow. Yeah I know how. How to cook without power? I have cast iron cook ware that can be used over an open fire. To clean the skillets, just wipe em out with dry grass if thas all that is available. Well seasoned cast iron needs no other care that to be kept dry. As for water, draw up a bucket from the well, As for putting food on the table, simple as far as I am concerned. Hunt, fish, raise ya own. Butchering, no problem we still do our own, the old fashioned way. And preserve the bounty. I do know how. How to bathe or shower? In the warm season, there are creeks, in winter, heat water to fill a big ole bath tub. Most people generations ago did not take a bath or shower every day. After all it is really bad for your skin which in the long run washes off good bacteria that can protect you from other pathogens. Before indoor plumbing, which by the way I was raised without, people washed up every day in the wash pan that was kept on hand for just that task. In summer it was on the bench on the porch, in winter it was on the wash stand in the house. You heat your water on the wood stove and bathe. Although growing up I did wash my hair every day and used the water to wash up, it takes so lil water to feel and be clean. Long before washing machines, even wringer washers, there was the trusty wash board. I have 2 of em. I know how to use em. I know how to make the soap and have done it. I made and used lye soap for everything when my kids were little. Everything from baths, to dishes, laundry, mopping floors to washing windows. Great stuff by the way. People get all panic stricken when they think of how to make the modern stuff work in a primitive setting. Most of the modern stuff can be replaced in a heart beat with just a lil thought. The washer for example, think of the actions of the washer. It swishes clothes up and down in the water to which you have added detergent, right? So why not fill a large tub or similar container with water, wet a bar of lye soap and rub it on the spots on the clothes and toss em in the water. Let em soak for a bit then use a stick even to swish em around in the water. Take em out, rinse em in clear water and hang to drip dry. Even in winter clothes will dry outside on a clothes line. They may freeze but if the wind blows it will soften them like no fabric softener can do. And they smell soooo good. I have helped mom wash on the wringer washer and hang out laundry in winter. Not a pleasant task, but a necessary one. Here on the farm we did have electricity when I was growing up but it got here shortly before I was born. I remember at the table after dinner dad would turn off the dining room light. It got to be one of those "what did ya do that for " questions from a lil girl that warranted this response. " turn the lights off and save electric" I am sure that was a thrifty habit he learned from living thru the depression years and having the mind set that things are limited. Gosh what a change in how people think these days. Dad was one of those people who saved everything. Now as a wife and mother and living here walking in his shoes I can clearly see why. If only If I could make my family see that way now. But life is good and can only get better. I hope that maybe my ramblings can inspire you to take a look around you and see things for what they really are. Just "things" that have been invented to "try" to improve on old things. Mostly with not much success in my opinion.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.