Simple Sunday

Just a quiet day for us today. Emery planned a nice long drive around our area, taking in the sights and sounds of the countryside. Narrow winding roads, fields full of freshly cut hay, cows and horses grazing in the pastures, and the hum of summer all around us. It was refreshing to my soul to see the things that I love, country life, farm life, the simple things.
I am longing for fall time, longing for fires in the wood stove and the smell of woodsmoke as I do my chores. For the cool morning air kissing my face as I head outside to greet the morning.
Last year I wanted to spend at least a weekend without all the modern conveniences. A personal challenge. We have lived pretty simply for years but there has always been modern life right close at hand. I want to see if we are strong enough mentally and physically to step completely out of modern times. Emery spent much of his childhood without electricity and running water, so its really not a challenge to him, he knows well what that kind of life is like. This fall, probably in October, I want to try once again to spend the week or at least a weekend, stepping back in time to learn about myself, my life and to appreciate the generations before me who had the strength to endure life without the modern conveniences. Last year when I wanted to do this, something came up making it next to impossible for me to go through with it.
I was thinking this weekend how much society has changed the way we deal with things. When I was growing up, if I cut myself, my mother, rather matter of factly, summed up the nature of the wound and if it was not life threatening, she told us to clean it off and put on a band-aid and go play. It made us tough. We were told early on that life is not fair, its good, but its not always fair, and that you just pull yourself up by the boot straps and get on with life. I used to resent this, thinking how much I wish my parents had been a bit more "tender hearted" or touchy feelie emotion wise, but I have seen first hand that being all mushy and bearing all your children's griefs for them, doesn't fit them well for real life. I am hoping you the reader, can read between the lines and see I am not trying to be mean hearted but looking for that balance of reality parenting, nothing like the new "helicopter" parenting that is making the news so much these days. When I think about my own families stories of life in the 1700 and 1800's
I am glad they were strong people, that had the umph to endure hardships, its the very stuff that made this nation what it is. I wonder if life became difficult today for some reason, if people could endure life without all the gadgets and such.
I read recently the list that James Fergus wrote down for his wife when she was to come out to start a new life with him in Montana. Seeing the list, made me certain I would need to have all the strength in me to embark on such a trip and new life.
Talk about being own kitchen is sadly lacking in many items they had and overstocked in lots of things that even I wonder why I purchased them ! I am beginning to remember how easy it was in the past for our family when we ate more simply and didn't bother with fancy meal times. For years we ate simple meals, carefully prepared but without all the fuss of fancy recipes.
From a letter James Fergus wrote to his wife Pamelia Dillin Fergus listing the things she should bring to Montana. Reprinted with Fergus' spelling preserved.
3 good covered waggons
9 yoke of good cattle
1 cow
1 tent
600 lbs. flour
300 meat
50 beans
100 rice
2 crackers
300 bacon
200 ham
50 dry beef
50 cheese
50 butter
400 sugar
20 gallons syrup
50 lbs black tea
100 lbs coffee
400 lbs dried apples
100 lbs dried peaches
20 salt
40 dessicated veg.
One suit of good clothes for myself [James Fergus]
including hat and boots
1 everyday coat
2 pr. everyday pants
2 good prs. shoes from L.F. same as I brought with me
1 pr. good boots
1 pr. good undershirts
1 pr. good woolen undershirts
2 pr good drawers
2 pr woolen mittens
12 pr good everyday shoes for [Pamelia and her three daughters]
1 pr good boots for each
2 pr boots for Andrew [the Fergus' son]
Shoes for Lillie [the Fergus' youngest daughter]
Stockings for [Pamelia and her three daughters]
Stockings for Andrew
Stockings for Lillie
Woolen shirts for family
Woolen drawers for family
dresses or dress stuffs clothing or cloth stuff for Andrew
1 good strong sewing machine with an assortment of needles
saleratus pepper spices vinegar to use on the road cod fish
Your feather beds (packed)
2 Indian Rubber Spreads to lay on the ground nights and to pack your bedding in day
Good blankets, quilts, bed ticks, pillows, etc, etc.
Camp stove Camp kettles
Tin reflector
Frying pans
Large cook stove for use here
Gold pans
Bread pan
Milk pans
Table Dishes Matches
1/2 dozen good brooms
1 wash tub
1 wash board
2 flatirons
concentrated lye to make soap
1 pr gold scales
candles 1 box
5 gallons kerosene oil
2 lamps with durable chimneys and some extra chimneys
side saddle
5 boxes pistol cartridges for my pistol
1 pr spectacles for myself
some padwilks from house
looking glass
garden seeds
flower seeds
2 half boxes
window glass
2 kegs assorted nails
a few papers
assorted screws
1 lb. shoe tacks
assorted thread
assorted yarn
assorted Buck skin
Pins assorted
2 reams good white letter paper
1 ream fools cap letter paper
1/2 dozen memorandum books
$5 worth stamped envelopes
2 large bottles ink
2 gold pens for girls
box steelpens and holders
school books and slates
form book (plus forms)
reading books
one or two good maps
2 doz lead pencils extra for use on road
ox shoes and nails
tongue bolts
yoke and chains
waggon grease
spirits of turpentine
whiskey for poisoned cattle and to make vinegar here
My tool chest and tools.
The chest may be used as a mess chest on the road
1 shovel to use on the road
1 pick to use on the road
1 hoe
1/2 dozen hand saw files
1 flat file
1 buck saw (not wood)
shot powder
candle molds
candle wicks
sausage cutter


Rowan said…
What an interesting post, the people then were certainly much stronger and more resourceful than nowadays. Presumably Pamelia had to purchase everything, get the waggons loaded and then join a waggon train and make the journey out alone with her children, two of whom must have been old enough to drive a waggon. I'd love to know more about these pioneer women. As for helicopter parenting - the less said the better! Children need some freedom to explore and play and use their imaginations without their parents hovering over them every second. Hope Mei Ling is getting strong enough for her surgery, I do think about her daily.

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