|My Grandpa and Grandma in 1948|
I do remember that her memories of the depression were ones of hardship. If I remember right their family lived as share croppers (they could live on a farm in exchange for a portion of the crop) in those days- living in Iowa. They had very little. It was interesting to hear some of her memories as a little kid during those times and then see how it probably influenced the rest of her life.
She believed in being prepared. She had bottles of water stored in her basement in case the electricity would go out and she couldn't get water, she kept plenty of food on hand, she liked to read about survival and things of that nature. She learned many skills to help her in many situations.
In more recent years when I would call to visit with her and I would tell her about our gardening, cooking from scratch, sewing, wild food harvests, canning, etc.- Grandma would say "That is good that you can do that- I am afraid that many young folks don't know how to do those sort of things." I would agree that unfortunately there are a lot of people that have lost these basic skills but then encourage her with my reports that I was seeing a reviving interest in them. She was always happy to hear that.
When my parents and I were traveling home from my Grandma's funeral we had fun talking about some of our memories of her. I have also had fun talking with others lately who also knew her and I decided it would be fun to write down a list of some of those things that I remember (or was told about) about her that are part of my homesteading heritage.
So here are some of the things that my Grandma did on her homestead:
- When my Dad and Uncle John were little she used to butcher 100 chickens in a day mostly by herself. My grandpa would chop of the heads and then she with the help of her two boys would do the rest. That was without a plucker too. I have to say I am pretty impressed and don't think I will ever be able to match that!
- When I was a kid Grandma would purposely come visit us at butchering time so that she could help. For someone that didn't enjoy the process all that much, I was very impressed that she was willing to do that.
- My Grandpa died before I was ever born so Grandma had many years by herself. She had her own chainsaw and she knew how to use it. She always heated her house with wood (though my uncle did help put up a lot of that wood).
- She had a pistol and knew how to use it and I remember one story about how she used it to "take care of" a skunk that was on her property.
- She always had a garden until her later years and enjoyed using the produce from it. I remember her coming to visit us when I was a kid (from Southern Iowa to Northern MN) and bringing big ripe tomatoes up to us before ours were ripe.
- She planted and cared for fruit trees and I remember peaches, apples and cherries from them. Pie cherries were a specialty that she would share with our family.
- She knew how to sew, knit and crochet and did quite a bit of it for us grandchildren. She also helped us learn to do those things as well.
- When I was newly married and living in Iowa near Grandma we had heard about possible problems that might happen in the year 2000 (Y2K- do you remember?) and so we decided to prepare just in case. We planted a garden again at her place and she got me started with some canning equipment and encouraged me in the process. We had decided that if anything serious did happen that we would go live with Grandma at her rural home. Nothing did happen but it was kind of fun to spend that year with Grandma - preparing.
- Grandma knew the wisdom of stocking up and being prepared. We had fun going shopping and buying in bulk from Amish stores in the area.
I would guess that I have just hit the surface of all the homesteading activities that Grandma did- but I had fun thinking about the heritage that I have in that area and I hope that you enjoyed it too and that maybe you will be reminded of some of the things that you have learned from your grandparents or other elderly people in your life.
I am linking this to the Homestead Barn Hop at Homestead Revival.