Ever wanted to live like the Little House on the Prairie books today? Curious about what we can learn from the books as adults and how we can apply it to our lives? Come dig into my Living Like Little House series!
Living Like Little House on the Prairie
We finally got around to starting to read Little House on the Prairie! Growing up this was my very favorite Little House book. Me and my sister would hook the little trailer up to the 4-wheeler and pull it around the land pretending that was our covered wagon. When we couldn’t be outside we would head up the hill to Granny’s house and create “wagons” in her basement out of couch cushions and folding tables. Granny was thrilled with that!
Back to the book….here are some things that I gleaned from re-reading Little House on the Prairie as an adult.
This weekend we’ve been reading through chapter 2, Crossing the Creek. If you’ll recall from the book, Pa and Ma thought they would be ok while crossing the creek but then mid-way across things changed.
“There, there, Caroline, ” said Pa. “We’re all safe, thanks to a good tight wagon box well fastened to the running gear. I never saw a creek rise so fast in my life.”
If Pa had not known what to do, or if Ma had been too frightened to drive, or if Laura and Mary had been naughty and bothered her, the they would have all been lost. – Little House on the Prairie
In any day and age, we will never be able to predict the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy or with the weather or with anything really. The only thing we can try to do is be prepared for what *might* happen.
Where I live, one thing we have to always be concerned about is the weather. In the winter we always run the risk of a whiteout blizzard or winds that make it so cold you can get frostbite in 10 minutes. In the spring we have to worry about flooding. In the summer we have to worry about fires and tornados. In 2 years, we’ve had all those situations arise right where I’m at.
This was just last fall. We had a lightning storm that sparked 4 fires. This was 2 of them that combined into one.
2 years ago. We had 3 bad blizzards in 2 weeks. Nothing melted in between. We were lucky at the time to have already borrowed the hubby’s father’s skid loader to dig ourselves out. During the blizzard though we were snowed in for about 4 days.
This tends to happen a lot when you live down a gravel/dirt road. This particular picture was taken after the blizzards from the picture above when things started melting. It often does this when it rains a lot. Last summer it got so bad the entire road just caved in.
A circling cloud. These always seem to happen when I’m alone at home! This particular one was right above ours and the neighbor’s houses and it scared me to death twisting round and round.
Those are just a few natural disasters. You really never know what you need to be prepared for. Something that we are working on right now is preparing a 72-hour kit. This is a bucket we are putting together with various items that could sustain us for 72 hours. We are going to put it in a bucket in an easily accessible area so we can grab it at a moments notice should we ever have to leave the house in a hurry.
Here’s a list of some of the things that will be going in our bucket. There are so many different emergencies to be prepared for that they can’t all be mentioned here. But I feel like at least putting together a 72-hour kit is a start and it’s better than nothing!
One other thing I wanted to touch on…in Little House on the Prairie in the passage I quoted it talks about how Ma held her nerves to be able to help Pa through the disaster.
In 2 of the pictures above, I was alone at home during the time. When the fire happened, the first thing I did was run to get the hubby to call the fire department. No one else had called it in yet. For the blizzards, we were prepared, even though we didn’t lose power that time, we were ready to. In the flood we had, I was alone all day while the water started rising up the steps to the house. I wasn’t totally sure what to do in that situation but I knew to start pumping the water out of the crawlspace right away and make sure the animals got moved to higher ground.(and then call my Dad to see what else I needed to do:) ) And the last several times when there has been swirling clouds overhead I’ve prepared the animals and been ready to head to the crawlspace.(I’ve already been through 5 tornados plus many many tornado scares so I’m getting pretty good at handling those!)
The point of this is: I kept my head on straight during all those times. I knew that I needed to act when something was about to happen so I was ready for it mentally and materially. Now I’m not saying that you can mentally be able to prepare yourself for anything that might come your way but just remember when it happens not to panic. Keep level-headed.
As we start reading farther into Little House on the Prairie we read about the Ingalls starting to set up their house. They needed to create a house out of pretty much nothing on the prairie. The prairie isn’t always the most inspiring place. It’s flat…and that’s about it. I can hardly imagine trying to start from scratch in the middle of an endless prairie over 100 years ago. You would just have to learn to be creative and inventive to get your home going!
“Pa was on top of the walls, stretching the canvas wagon-top over the skeleton roof of saplings. The canvas billowed in the wind, Pa’s beard blew wildly and his hair stood up from his head as if it were trying to pull itself out. He held onto the canvas and fought it. Once it jerked so hard that Laura thought he must let go or sail into the air like a bird. But he held tight to the wall with his legs, and tight to the canvas with his hands, and he tied it down.” ~ Little House on the Prairie p. 72-73
In this part of the book Pa had built the house but at the time he couldn’t build the roof because he needed extra help. So he put the wagon canvas for the roof of the little house. In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about being creative and using something you already have to create something that you need.
Over the years, I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels and collected a lot of freebie soap bars. I’m not usually much of a soap bar user because I don’t like the sticky sliminess. But then it hit me, why can’t I make those soap bars into liquid soap? It’s something we use every day!
I dug out all the soap bars that I could find in my bathroom and came up with 8 of them.
I used an old cheese grater and grated up the soap bars. After a while, I got tired of it and just started breaking them into chunks. I don’t recommend this unless you want to wait several days for the soap to be done.
Put all the soap chunks in an old container. For my 8 travel size bars, I had to use 2 large cottage cheese containers.
Then add hot water to the container until it covers the soap. Stir. Over the next couple of hours or possibly days depending on the size of your soap chunks. Every time you remember, mix the soap around and mash it up a little. When the water gets used up and the soap mixture starts to get really thick, add more hot water and stir it around.
Just keep doing this until you have a perfect paste that you can add to a empty soap dispenser. It’s such a simple way to take something that I wasn’t using and turn it into something we can use! I also added a little essential oil to the mixture to make the scent better.
You might think this is a silly example, especially in light of the quoted passage above. But I just wanted to show a very simple way that you can make something out of something else that you might not think has much of a use in your home. Be creative and brainstorm all of the possibilities.
Going to Town
In our family, we are prepared to go a long time without having to go to town. While I was reading through Little House on the Prairie I came upon the chapter where it talks about Pa going to town. At the very end of the chapter it says this:
“Laura and Mary went back to sleep, very comfortable all over. Everything was all right again when Pa was there. And now he had nails, and cornmeal, and fat pork, and salt, and everything. He would not have to go to town again for a long time.” ~ Little House on the Prairie p.224- 225
In those days, people couldn’t go to town whenever they wanted. It took Pa an entire day to go to town and get the few things he needed and to come home. A few months ago I was talking to my mom on the phone and she was telling me about how she went to town once a week. They did what they needed to in town and got the groceries on their list and they came home and didn’t go to town for another week or longer. This was when I will still working in town part time and I had to go in at least 3 times a week, sometimes more.
Every time I went in I had to go into a store(for my job) and of course then I would see things for a good deal and on clearance that I thought I needed to buy. The same was true when I worked my job before last, I was at a store all day long and at the end of the day, I usually had a pile of things I couldn’t live without. I wish I had been keeping track of my expenses then because now looking back at it, it would have probably made me cry to see how much I wasted!
Now that I’m working exclusively at home, I’m lucky if I make it to town once a week. With gas prices the way they are I’ve been trying to stay home even more, only going in if we have an appointment.
Ok, now you might be thinking, “well I’m not lucky enough to stay home, I have to work every day”, or maybe you live in town and therefore can’t not “go to town”. This is where a good dose of self-control steps in. Maybe we do have to be in town every day. Maybe it’s unavoidable. That doesn’t mean we need to spend money in town every day! I read forums where someone will post a great deal and then people will post that they had to run and get it right then. I think this is dangerous territory. By doing that we are telling ourselves that we need that item right here right now.
Think about things you need. Not things that you think you need, things that you really need. Shelter, food basics, heat, and clothing. Most of us already have those things on hand all of the time. Yes, we may get low on food from time to time but it’s so easy to plan a shopping trip twice a month or even once a week to get what we need and be home again. (This is where an excellent Meal Plan comes in!)
I feel like I rambled on a little in this post so I’m going to stop before you start falling asleep at the computer. The main point from the paragraph in the book that I wanted to get across is just this…think about what you really need, train yourself to stay away from the temptation of the stores and shopping and going to town as well as you can. If you think you are going to miss out on something by not going to town, learn how to do other things to keep your mind from it, take up a hobby or a craft, have family game nights, plant a garden. There is so much that you can do at home!
When you are sick, sick enough to feel awful but still feeling ok to eat, what is it that you turn to? A box of Twinkies and a can of pop? Of course not! You want something good, something that will make you feel better, and most of the time that means grabbing for some water and chicken noodle soup.
Whenever we are sick, we crave a good chicken noodle soup. However, more often than not when we are sick and wanting that soup we end up grabbing a can instead of homemade. In the Little House on the Prairie, we read about when Ma, Pa, and the girls were sick with malaria.
“Laura did not exactly go to sleep, but she didn’t really wake up for a long, long time. Strange things seemed to keep happening in a haze. She would see Pa crouching by the fire in the middle of the night, then suddenly sunshine hurt her eyes and Ma fed her broth from a spoon.”
“I want a drink of water, please,” Laura said. The fat woman brought it at once. The good, cold water made Laura feel better. She looked at Mary asleep beside her; she looked at Pa and Ma asleep in the big bed. Jack lay half asleep on the floor. Laura looked again at the fat woman and asked, “Who are you?” “I’m Mrs. Scott,” the woman said, smiling, “There now, you feel better don’t you?” “Yes, thank you,” Laura said, politely. The fat woman brought her a cup of hot prairie chicken broth. “Drink it all up, like a good child,” she said. Laura drank every drop of the good broth.” ~ Little House on the Prairie p.186, 190-191
So what’s up with this broth? Why do we crave it and why have we been craving it for so long?
“Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.” ~ Broth is Beautiful
So how do we make this miracle food? It’s pretty simple. Put the bones, fat, and some meat in a pot with water or in the slow cooker. (I just use a whole chicken). Add vegetables to taste if you want. (I usually don’t and just stick with the chicken) Make sure the water that you add to the mixture is cold so it can heat slowly. Add in a splash or two of apple cider vinegar. Heat the broth slowly and let it sit at a slow simmer for a while. After a while you will want to skim the top from the stuff that rises up. A fish broth should simmer 2 hours, other meat should be left all day, beef should be simmered overnight. You can use a slow cooker for any of these meats which is what I like to do.
After the broth has been simmered you will want to stain it and remove any bones, or meat particles still in it. It will store for days in the refrigerator or you can put it in bags or containers in the freezer to save for later.
You can use bone broth the same as you would use any other kind of broth or store boughten broth. We like to put it with chicken and noodles in the crockpot to make soup. I like to make extra chicken noodle soup and freeze it in individual servings so I have it for a quick meal when I need it. The kind of bone broth also makes an excellent soup base, and it’s very tasty when you cook pasta in it that you are going to use for another dish. It gives some amazing flavor to an otherwise flavorless pasta!
If you want to use Little House on the Prairie in your homeschooling or as part of your children’s education, I highly recommend this study guide: A Guide for Using Little House on the Prairie in the Classroom. This reproducible book includes sample plans, author information, vocabulary building ideas, cross-curriculum activities, sectional activities and quizzes, unit tests, and more.
I think that it’s fun for us to go through the Little House series as adults and see things that we never saw before when we read them as children. It puts Laura’s entire life into a new perspective and helps us to appreciate what we have today.
Make sure you read the entire Living Like Little House series!
This series was originally published on Little House Living in 2011. It has been updated as of December 2018.