Monday, September 25, 2006

Raising Homestead Children

This is for Lisa....
We ran a pretty tight ship when the children were young and still all home. We all had assigned chores and there was no slacking off, it just couldn't happen. No room for discussion on that one. It was simple as that. Nothing would have run right.
It took everyones hard work.
There were charts in that hallway, everyone had their jobs. The girls did the animal chores and helped me with the other duties in the house. The boys had their jobs too. Washing woodwork, mucking out barns at times, working in the garden and caring for thier own rooms etc.
We worked from sun up till sun down. Nothing was easy in this simple life. Sure they had play time, but there was more work than play.
We had family worship each night, and read a bit of a good book together.
Saturady nights, I polished 6 pairs of black shoes for church the next day and made sure the boys and Emery had a freshly ironed white shirt and black pants. The girls and I had a sunday dress all pressed and ready .
Other nights were spent on hand work or a game on the floor. No one had the energy to stay up late.
Your work was more than just a hobby, it was a way of life.
You weeded the garden because you knew if you didn't there may not be much food around.
You wanted a sweater, so you took care of the sheep, then sheered them, washed and combed the wool, spun it and then you could sit a bit to knit.
It seems all the pictures we have of the children shows them working at some task.
We did school work after breakfast was over, and before lunch. They had a classical education and both the girls had no problem with College when it was time for them to go. The boys chose not to go. Steven has a good job and Scott no longer lives with us, hasn't since he was 16, he is not a worker. Hated to work as a child and is not working now.
The other three are such hard working adults, they know to work no matter how you feel. They work with a sense of responsibilty not seen much today.
Not long ago Melissa wrote to some friends about what life was like on the homestead.
What she said gives a real up front and honest look at what life was like for the children.
It sounds like something from Little House on the Prairie days.
I'm not sure its the best way to raise children, but its not the worst way either. We are all close and loving and there is a real sense of value for what everyone has.
However, each child loves their modern technology and not sure they ever want to farm. Grow vegetables in a garden yes and maybe have an animal or two. But not work so hard each and every day doing things the old fashioned way.

Here is what Melissa wrote a year and one half ago when asked about growing up on a homestead...
Growing up living simply was, quite honestly, hard. I think a lot of times the simple way of life is idolized, and while there are many benefits such as a feeling a satisfaction from all the work you have accomplished, it really is quite exhausting and there are still stressors. We got up at the crack of dawn to go out and milk about 10 goats by hand and feed the rabbits, pony, calves, chickens, dry goats, etc. Just the feeding and milking took about 1.5 hours twice a day. If we wanted to take a little trip to the bank or store in the pony cart, we would have to get the pony out, brush him down, pick his hooves, get the harness out and put it on (not as easy as it looks!), hook up the pony to the cart, and then you're finally off...this takes about 15-20 minutes just to get started, and once you get there, one of us would have to wait outside the store with the pony and answer a lot of questions from curious onlookers! Then it was several hours of school work. After that, many hours outside gardening and trying to keep the bugs off and the weeds away without chemical pesticides and herbicides. Then we would begin making candles and soap, grating soap for laundry detergent (which took a long time and gave many cramped and scraped fingers!), and canning in 100 + degree weather with no A/C! There was also preparing food, spinning, weaving, knitting, etc if we wanted a new sweater or hat and cutting out and sewing dresses. It left very little time for us to get into any trouble at all! But it also limited some of our activities with friends because we had to be home twice a day to milk. Growing up that way was a great experience and I wouldn't trade it in, but sometimes I wonder if living that way is really so "simple" after all. There is still a lot of stress, it is just a different kind. For example, there is stress if a crop doesn't make it because of an early frost or bugs and all your hard work tending them has been lost and you have no crops to harvest. Or an animal may be sick and you have to spend all night long in the barn with it during the winter to care for it (that happens a lot, trust me!) and even though you have had almost no sleep, you still have to get up and work hard the next day; or you are out on the road with the pony cart and a 18 wheeler drives by and honks his horn and spooks the pony and you try your best to keep him from rushing into oncoming traffic. I think that by trading in the TV and the wireless internet and the cell phones, one is not simply doing away with all the stress or rushing. I think it is just a different type. That's my two cents on simple living!


Patti said...

Melanie has it right - there is nothing simple about that life. Hard work and "simple" don't belong in the same sentence! And there certainly is a different kind of stress. When I was a kid I used to tell my mother that I wish I'd been a pioneer. She always said "No, you just think that. You would not have liked it at all." As I grew I learned to read between the lines of all her stories of homesteading on the Arizona desert. All I had to do was look at her bent back from carrying a yoke and two buckets of water by the time she was five, and crippled feet that came from wearing shoes too small - no money for enough shoes for that many children. They may have had a donkey apiece, but they were not pets. There is no way I'd trade my life for that one. Yes, I have some stress but I've learned how to deal with it - that's what we all must do in order to stay happy and healthy. And yes - the kids learned to work hard from an early age on - but then so did we and so did my kids. The work was different - not damaging to ours or their bodies thank goodness - but it was still work and we were expected to do it. I know your children will raise their children with those values also, even if they never farm or have any animals other than dogs and or cats.

Thank you so much for your card - it came today. I'm looking forward to some pictures on you blog showing us what you do with what I sent you.

Patty said...

The children love talking the old days when they get together, all their animal stories and horse and buggy stories. But we are all happy to have moved away from that life and feel more intergrated into society.

Patty said...

Oh Patti, I am so insecure about working on that quilt, I need to get better before I try to do anything with it

Lucy said...

Hi Patty,

Yes those days must be hard and a great memorie at the same time! It is not that long ago that you lived that way.. In my mind people live "simple" a 100 years ago.

Your daughter wrote it very good! I can picture it all how it must be !

Rowan said...

You're right that the lifestyle might be simple in that there is no distraction from madern technological stuff like TV and mobile phones etc but there was no way that simple equated with easy, anyone who has had any experience of it knows that. Even just after WW2 we had only a copper for washing and my mum ironed with a flat iron and didn't have a vacuum cleaner and I don't ever really remember seeing her sit down and relax, she was always busy. Most people have no idea how hard and tiring it was to run a home in the 'good old days' - I don't mind playing at it occasionally but I don't think I'd like to live that way full time. Thanks for the info about the Comanche - I must look up and find out more about them.

plainandsimple said...

This was such an interesting post. Your simple life may not have been easy Patty, but it was very honourable.

Granny K said...

One good thing about 'today' is that we have the choice of how to live.
I love reading your blog Patty.


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