In keeping with her about-to-commence position as curator of the about-to-commence museum, the Bag Lady has been doing some historical research about the area where she lives. The first settlers arrived in this area early in the last century, but the population was sparse for quite some time due to a difficult river crossing.
The Bag Lady found this passage interesting and thought she would share it with you because it illustrates the hardships faced and the ingenuity employed by our ancestors.
There were no fridges or freezers in those days, so the pork was salted and put down in a big wooden barrel. We often put a chunk of moose meat in the brine as well. We fried some of the meat and put it in crocks or cans and covered it with melted butter or lard.
We were short of jars for canning fruit, so we took the necks off large wine bottles by wrapping a few rounds of string around the bottle, putting coal oil on the string and burning it, then turning the bottle over in cold water. The bottle usually broke off quite even. A little rub with some sand paper made the top smooth. We cooked wild berries quite thick without sugar and filled the bottles. We then took a square of brown paper, dipped it in skim milk and put it well down the sides and across the tops of the hot jars. They sealed good and kept real well. There were lots of bottles left in a shack that was once owned by a Mr. B***
In 1937, we moved to a different location and put the crop and garden in. There was a beautiful garden spot there that would grow anything without danger of frost. We seeded the field by hand, broadcasting the seed from the back of the wagon. We got a good crop of oats.
In 1939, we homesteaded on a different quarter. We camped there for awhile and did some brushing by hand. There was a very small shack on it, so we ate in the shack and slept in a tent. I had no oven to bake bread, so often took it to a neighbour's to bake it. I even baked it in a trench dug in the ground. We never had baker's bread. We often made biscuits or bannock on the campfire. We always had a cow along, so had plenty of milk, cream and butter.
Another woman describes how she and her husband built a log shack with a pole roof, and covered the roof with sod. When it rained, the water (and mud!) would come through, so they would put the tent that they had lived in the previous year over their bed to keep it dry! They would keep moose meat on their roof in the winter to keep the dogs from eating it.
Hope you enjoyed this little peek at the past. The Bag Lady is thinking about making this a regular part of her posts here.