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Thread: Maybe I should have been a pioneer woman

  1. #11
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Building a good fire is a skill indeed, one I dont have, so it is one of accomplishment.

    As for living in your cabin throughout the winter, sure that’s fine in a mild winter. If you have back to back extreme winters like they had, what was it, six years ago? five years ago? You might look at it differently. Do you even have snow moving equipment? I dont understand it, but whatever.

    I guess the key is being able to predict what kind of winter you’re going to live through, so good luck with that.

    Our good friend moved to northern New Hampshire and it’s all about the snow for her. She lives on 5 acres outside of a little berg, and she can see a couple of neighbors but the nearest neighbor is gone through the winter, they are snowbirds.

    So here she is clapping her hands in excitement about the idea of snow and her first winter in northern New Hampshire, and she has no snow moving equipment and she hasn’t lined up anyone to move it for her. I don’t think she understands what a real blizzard condition is that during those snows all the heavy equipment in the world can’t even get to her road or to her house. She also is from New Jersey/New York.


    I’m from Iowa and DH is from Northern Iowa and he has seen his share of blizzards blow across the plain. In one snow story he tells how he spent the night with Thousands of cute chicks. Driving home from work he had to pull over and spend the night inside the chicken hatching facility.

    I will not live north of interstate 80.

    But I think New England is gorgeous in all respects. The topography, the vegetation, the architecture. I would love living there April-December.

  2. #12
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    So here she is clapping her hands in excitement about the idea of snow and her first winter in northern New Hampshire, and she has no snow moving equipment and she hasnít lined up anyone to move it for her. I donít think she understands what a real blizzard condition is that during those snows all the heavy equipment in the world canít even get to her road or to her house. She also is from New Jersey/New York.
    We have two guys lined up for snow removal, and last year, I parked our car 100 yards up our road to the road they plowed and I shoveled out our car after the plow came through. Maybe because I come from Pilgrim stock survival is in my DNA.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  3. #13
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    I remember that show some years back where modern families were taken out into frontier-type conditions and had to live without all the modern conveniences. And one of the women said that she had never realized how much freedom her washer and dryer represented and I totally got that. I was born in a place without electricity or running water (there was a river nearby though), no cars, no hospital or medical services of any kind, etc... So I know that I could live like that again, but I sure wouldn't want to. Lugging dishes, pots and pans, and laundry down to the river to wash and then lugging back up... Using an outhouse or trudging out to the woods... Bathing in ice cold water... The danger of rivers rising during storms... Backbreaking labor just to feed a family and provide shelter... The sheer terror of having one of your kids get sick and knowing that a doctor was nowhere to be found. Taking your child to the doctor several towns away meant leaving the rest of your kids alone for several days. No thank you.

    I think it's easy to romanticize the lifestyle through our lens of modern conveniences. In the true pioneering days, you would be completely isolated. And no heat, no car, no internet! No water source because your lake is frozen. Hunting or foraging for food.

  4. #14
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    I remember that show some years back where modern families were taken out into frontier-type conditions and had to live without all the modern conveniences. And one of the women said that she had never realized how much freedom her washer and dryer represented and I totally got that. I was born in a place without electricity or running water (there was a river nearby though), no cars, no hospital or medical services of any kind, etc... So I know that I could live like that again, but I sure wouldn't want to. Lugging dishes, pots and pans, and laundry down to the river to wash and then lugging back up... Using an outhouse or trudging out to the woods... Bathing in ice cold water... The danger of rivers rising during storms... Backbreaking labor just to feed a family and provide shelter... The sheer terror of having one of your kids get sick and knowing that a doctor was nowhere to be found. Taking your child to the doctor several towns away meant leaving the rest of your kids alone for several days. No thank you.

    I think it's easy to romanticize the lifestyle through our lens of modern conveniences. In the true pioneering days, you would be completely isolated. And no heat, no car, no internet! No water source because your lake is frozen. Hunting or foraging for food.
    Yes, I agree. As razz said, she agrees with you--modern conveniences makes life easier and more pleasant. I probably am romanticizing a "simpler" life from that perspective, but too bad we can't marry the two. I love building a fire, but I'm so glad I have a little stackable washer/dryer, and a clothesline outside to dry the clothes on (I prefer line drying to electric/gas drying). I'm glad I have a dishwasher, but I choose to wash my dishes by hand. We have a hospital 35 minutes away, and our Rescue Squad is literally a 5 minute walk, but I love knowing there's only one blinking light in the town for the rescue vehicle to navigate through (have you ever been in NYC and seen ambulances trying to get through that traffic?? You could be 2 miles from a hospital, but you might as well give up and die).

    Maybe choice is the answer, but sometimes that leads to the path of least resistance, and perhaps it makes it too easy to forget the more primal ways of life that lead to peace. At the same time, it's great to hear from people who have lived lives of drudgery and survival, so that we don't overly romanticize that experience. I like my middle road.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  5. #15
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Sometimes I think our appliance dishwasher is just dumb. At the moment it is caked with greasy grain and it needs its biennial scrub down.

    We don’t have a dishwasher in Hermann and I’ve lived there for year and a half and do not mind doing dishes at all. I still have to put them away which is always a chore for me in either scenario.

    But the washing machine and the dryer – I would not live without those.There are days when I do four loads of laundry.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    I hate washing dishes so wouldn’t be without one. Especially when we have company and I am entertaining 10 -20 people. If I had to wash all the dishes I probably wouldn’t do it.

  7. #17
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    But the washing machine and the dryer – I would not live without those.There are days when I do four loads of laundry.
    Another "nouveau-pioneer" habit: I create my laundry schedule based on the weather report. that way I can hang my clothes on decent days with a decent amount of sun, even in the winter. I just have to keep on top of the laundry so I don't wind up with four loads.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  8. #18
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    I figure there are skills people used to have which are no longer necessary for everyone to have and common skills people have today about which folks from a couple of centuries ago would be clueless.

    For a few months I found myself watching Westerns on TV -- Bonanza, The Rifleman, etc. I found it fascinating to watch people with very different skill sets and expectations in their lives. Yes, granted, it's TV. But I think it was accurate in showing that, if you lived far from a bigger city and someone got sick or injured, the doctor could be days away. There was no ambulance and the doctor's horses really couldn't run faster than your own did.

    I don't think people expected to live as long as they do today, with today's advances in life support and multiple sources of chemo/radiation treatment and the like. That such high medical expenses are incurred by many people just before they die speaks, I think, to our shift in attitudes toward the deaths of people we know.

    Ditto with even less-skilled work: you repaired your own wagon and equipment; while there were people who specialized in making wagons and shaping metal, etc., you still had to know how to do some basic repairs. Of course, the wagon was simpler back then. You attached the powertrain (the horse) and off you went, protecting yourself from the elements and the lack of paved roads as best you could. There was no need to attach a computer to your wagon to adjust how well it ran.

    On the other hand, today we think nothing of managing a vehicle going down the road at better than a mile a minute -- a speed that can maim or kill us -- and mentally composing a shopping list or fiddling with the radio. It's a skill most of us have that probably would scare the whee out of "us" from 150 years ago. We sleep nightly in noise and light conditions which probably would feel like daylight to our forebears. I would guess that Americans today on average have much bigger vocabularies than they used to and can recollect a far wider amount of creative work (books, recipes, popular speeches) than people could back in the day. We may not know how to tie a set of reins but we know how to operate a washing machine and dryer. Or an ATM.

    Just different skills for different times.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  9. #19
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    I totally get the appeal of rustic surroundings. We spent our honeymoon at a cabin in Yosemite in the fall and it was just beautiful. Big fireplace and lots of walks in the woods. Fresh clean air. But I was always really aware of how much modern luxury we had as well. I think when you've lived without it you can't help but see it.

    Totally unrelated - or somewhat related? - has anyone seen Holiday In The Wild? I'm a big Rob Lowe fan, he's just so yummy, and this was a cute movie.

  10. #20
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Yes, but nothing wrong with knowing different skills. I remember the time I asked one of my male coworkers to help me jump my car which had a dead battery. He didn't know how. I found this astounding. My DH knew how to jump-start a car--why didn't everybody?

    I also remember when our VT neighbor was talking to us about the former owner of this house and he said, "He didn't even know how to frame a window!" DH and I looked at each other pretty sheepishly. We know NOTHING about framing a window. But our other neighbor offered to build us a whole new porch to keep us from falling and hurting ourselves. So then you talk about being able to rely on neighbors and that's a whole other topic.

    I so respect people who have this foundational skills. Another one of my neighbors, a female, shot her first buck last week. To me, especially as a former vegetarian, it's a little "icky" to think about, but I so admire her skill and her ability to shoot what she eats.

    We have lost so many of these skills. I'm not a prepper, but I worry about the days when these skills will be called upon again..
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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