Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Big Adventure~Part 1

It is 1:30pm on this Sunday afternoon and I am still trying to process all of my thoughts regarding these past 2 days. I was thinking about what version to give you all. The "This was a really fun weekend" or "I'm a failure at Pioneer Living." I'm sure once I start writing, both versions will show through. :0)

Seven people took part in this experiment. Myself, Phillip, Grace (8), Emily (7) Benjamin(5), my sister Melissa and her little boy, Jacob (3).

Our first morning started while it was still dark. Even though we didn't get up as early the pioneers would have, we all were dressed and ready for the day by 7:30am. I really liked that part! Our breakfast table was lit with two mini oil lamps and candles. I loved the soft transition from dark to candlelight. Much nicer than the four bulb light fixture we usually turn on.

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

It looks like our chicken (pretend!) Henrietta layed four eggs this morning!

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

The girls, Benjamin and their cousin, Jacob got such a kick out of bringing the eggs into the house.

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

Before going to bed Thursday night I had set out a yeast sponge to rise in the refrigerator. Now I know why the cookbook said to put a plate on the top and bottom. It really expanded. I also soaked a pot of navy beans overnight. Confession time here: I have never soaked beans before. *blush* I would definetly do it again though. There is so much added salt in the canned ones.

Yeast Sponge
Originally uploaded by pwinn.

Another thing that suprised me was how dark my kitchen was. We have two doors in the dining room but they open up to the back patio where there isn't much light. My kitchen window is covered with plants. It was a good experience learning how to bake and cook in the dim light. My eyes adjusted to it fairly quickly. Only once did I accidently turn on a light. Grace was horrified! :0)

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

We had oatmeal for breakfast on the first day. Shortly after that, I would say the trouble started. The boys (mostly Benjamin) took a very strong dislike to Pioneer Living and let everyone know it! The wanted nothing to do with their wooden blocks, trains or the sandbox. They didn't even want to play outside, which they have been doing without a complaint, for the past 2 weeks! I tried to think what the Pioneer women would have done. I'm sure it involved a woodshed....hehehe. I cheated and got out my 21st century timer. A few timouts helped a little.

We started our bread early, but not early enough. We didn't pull it out of the oven until 1:09pm which meant for a late lunch. We used a third of the dough for rolls which we had with fried potatoes and sliced tomatoes. Yum!

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

The girls loved their new washboard. Of course it wasn't as fun after the 10th cloth needed washing! One thing I learned these past few days is that my children do not do enough chores around here. And they whine too much. Like their mother. ;0)

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

I was really suprised at how much time the meals took to make. I am used to making three meals a day, mostly from scratch, but making recipes from the Prairie cookbook took so much more organization and time!! You couldn't walk into the kitchen at 4:00pm and say "What shall we have for dinner?!" I was sure we would have lots of time to knit, embroider and quilt, but we didn't get to a thing! By 8:30pm, I was falling asleep. I'll bet there weren't any insomia problems out on the prairie!

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

Phillip had a great suggestion to make "bringing in water from outside" more real. We were only allowed to use the master bathroom located at the back of the house, and he thought it would be a good idea to use the bathtub as our "well." It was an excellent idea but I couldn't do it. If you have ever seen the PBS "Prairie or Victorian" Specials of the women crying about how hard all the chores were, I'd be crying right along with them! Back when we watched the shows, I remember saying to Phillip, "What are they crying for on day two? They have 2 months to go. They need to buckle down and get over it!!" Well, my sister and I will be re-watching them this week and I will understand, if only a little, what they are going though.

We had two chalkboard slates that everyone did some math and spelling on. Grace recited poetry from a 1800's schoolbook.
They liked working at the kitchen table, while Melissa and I tended to the bread and beans simmering away on the stove. I have some things to think about in regards to our daily schooling. It was nice having everyone together, rather than spread out all over the house.

Originally uploaded by pwinn.

My feet were very sore after the first day, I was on them from 7:00am - 8:00pm. I did sit down for a hot cup of coffee at 4:00pm, then it was off to wash more dishes. I really missed my dishwasher. I would much rather dust or vacuum than wash dishes by hand!

I can think of a lot more things to share with you but I will post Part Two tomorrow. We wrote in our prairie journals so I will share some of the entries, along with pictures of the food we ate for the two days, and finally a list of "Prairie Day" things I would like to keep doing.

For all of my complaining, I am very glad I did this experiement. It certainly wasn't a simple way of life. It was hard work and lots of it! I am very thankful for some of the technology of today, but at the same time there is so much wisdom to be gained from those long ago times. I will be looking for a good balance here in the year 2006.

Until then, I'm going to go give my bottle of windex a little hug. ;0)


Kris in TN said...

Oh, I've been waiting all weekend to see how this turned out and I think you can count this a successful adventure! I honestly am POSITIVE that my kids and I would have not even made it through a day - LOL! I'm looking forward to Part II and more pictures.


Rowan said...

I'm quite sure that life on a prairie homestead must have been extremely hard for everyone, it's a good lesson for your children to learn. You sound as though you did well even if lunch was a bit late, you have to remember that the women who lived this life in reality had lived that way all their lives and grew up knowing how long things took to prepare and cook and so on. I'm looking forward to reading more about your two days.

Janet said...

This was so interesting. I know I would be terrible at it. My son and DIL lived in Montana, in a canvas tent(!!) for several years. Both their children were born at home with a midwife. They had no electricity, no running water, and lived as people did back in the 1800's....and they did it because they wanted to!! I admired their tenacity and their courage. It was fun to visit but after a few days I was always ready for the comforts of home.

Amy said...

What a great post! I love the way you described your day. I find those television shows you mentioned so interesting, but it can never *really* be authentic. Women back then didn't know anything other than doing everything by hand. We, on the other hand, know what life is like with electricity, microwaves and that wonderful dishwasher :)

Patty said...

I am so glad you posted today I have been waiting to hear how your experience was. Nothing is simple in that life. It was almost painful for me when doing this to remember just how hard we all worked when our life was much like that. I couldn't go back to that life again, but I do love the things we have maintained, like wood heat, our chickens, soap making, and the choice of lamplight when we want it.

So glad you were willing to do this big adventure !

PEA said...

It sounds like it all went well but now you know how hard the lives were for the pioneers...women never stopped from the time they got up to the time they went to bed. I think it's wonderful that you and your family were even willing to try this...what an awesome experience for your kids!! Hugs!

Amanda said...

Oh man that was way too early to be up and ready....

Revee said...

What a great job y'all did, Kelli!! I loved reading about how you set your kitchen up and then all the things you had the kids do. The girls look so darn cute!!

Heather said...

I am so pleased that you shared your experiment with us - warts and all! Life in our time is in many ways so easy, but taking a look back at history really does help to put things in perspective.
I'm inspired by your family's experiment - I told our children and they were all set to start today! We'll have to do a bit more planning then that!