Like many girls, when I was young I loved the Little House books. I was enamored with the pioneer life and wished I could be Laura. I used to tell my mom that I was born in the wrong time. I should have been a pioneer! I’m pretty sure this is what led us to getting chickens. Needless to say, I was very excited to share these books with my own children.
Last summer, Henry and I started reading Little House in the Big Woods out loud because he was curious about maple sugar and I remembered that there was a great description of maple sugar being made in that book. What I had forgotten, however was all the other great things that the Ingalls family did.
For example, the book begins with the harvest and putting things away for the winter. In the first chapter Laura describes how the family smoked venison in a hollow tree. It was Laura’s job to run and fill the smoker with green wood chips. The method of smoking described is pretty similar to one that Rick and I have worked towards doing ourselves in our yard using an old oak barrel.
Next the family butchers a pig and Ma carefully makes the sausage balls and head cheese while Pa smokes the hams and the children roast the pig tail on a stick. The girls play in the attic on the pumpkins among all their vegetables that are stored for the winter. Pa goes on to hunt and make bullets (which Henry loved reading about) and Ma has her house keeping (every day with its own proper work) to keep the girls busy through the winter.
The more we read, the more I realized I have made my life very Little House. I wonder, just how many other people out there are like us? So I made this quiz…
The Modern Pioneer Quiz
How Little House is Your Life?
1. Has anyone in your house ever used an axe to cut a Hubbard squash or frozen meat?
a. What is a Hubbard squash?
b. No, but we do have winter squash stored in the attic.
c. Yes, it’s the easiest way.
2. Have you used a pig’s bladder as a balloon or roasted a pig tail on a stick?
b. No, but I would if given the chance.
c. Yes! Bladders make the best toys.
3. Do you butcher your own meat?
a. No, but my grocery store has a butcher.
b. Yes, we even have our own smoker.
c. Yes, we butcher every fall after killing the meat we hunted and raised ourselves. Then we smoke it in a hallow log.
4. Do you store food for the winter?
a. Sure do, my freezer is packed with deals from Costco.
b. Yes, I can and pickle and use my dehydrator.
c. Yep, I hang my smoked hams next to the hard cheeses and salt pork.
5. Have you made maple sugar candies in the snow?
a. What?! You can make candy in the snow?
b. Yes, and the kids loved it.
c. Yes. We tapped the trees ourselves, boiled the sap, and afterwards we had the whole family over for a dance to celebrate.
6. Have you ever harvested honey?
a. No, but we get honey from a local farm.
b. Yes, our beehive is so interesting.
c. Yes, from wild bees living in a hollow tree.
7. Do you churn your own butter?
a. I think we did that in school once.
b. Yes, once in a while it’s a fun thing to do.
c. All the time; in the winter we cook carrot sin milk to color it yellow.
8. Has your neighbor ever delivered gifts on behalf of Santa Claus or loaned you some nails?
a. Neighbor? Oh, we don’t really see our neighbors.
b. No, but he’s helped me with some DIY projects.
c. Yes, he’s like family now.
Add up the number of A’s, B’s and C’s you answered. Results are not scientific. So, just how Pioneer are YOU?
Mostly A’s: More modern than pioneer, you might try a little DIY if you have the right tools, but you are more likely to hire someone. Though you enjoy cooking at home, those foodie extremists will have to pry your microwave from your cold, dead fingers. You’re not sure what head cheese is and you don’t even want to think about a pig bladder. Baking bread is for artisans, you don’t really have time for that. You’ll support the local bakery and farmer’s market instead. We didn’t spend the last 100 years making advances so you could haul water from the creek.
Mostly B’s: A modern pioneer and proud! You use today’s technology to do yesterday’s work. Smoking, preserving, sewing and hunting are not lost skills thanks to the likes of you. When you read about the Ingalls family, you are inspired to experiment in your own life. But you don’t go overboard either. You’re not about to give up indoor plumbing in favor of a weekly bath on Saturday, whether you need it or not. Keep blazing the trail and those pioneer skills will be around for future generations too.
Mostly C’s: Grab your fiddle and don your bonnet! The pioneer spirits of Pa, Ma, Mary and Laure run strong through your veins! The Little House books are not historical fiction, they are a guide! Your friends are probably fascinated by your lifestyle, but you’d never know it, since you don’t have the internet. In fact, you can’t even read this quiz. You are too busy weaving straw hats, greasing bear traps and making bullets. You really were born in the wrong century. Good for you for making yourself a pioneer life in these modern times.