Monday, February 8, 2010

A Peek at the Past

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.

23 comments:

carla said...

LOVED the past-peek BL.
now Im off to read what I missed while traveling.

damn conferences making me lose track of your life :)

solarity said...

Yes, more please! (None of my ancestors ever lived where sod roofs were common. Lucky them.)

Mary Anne in Kentucky

Marianne said...

I vote for more history, too! : )

the Bag Lady said...

Carla - how WAS the conference? Glad you enjoyed this!

Mary Anne in Kentucky - I was counting on you enjoying this! Settlers out west here lived in all manner of shelters some more primitive than others. Perhaps that will be the next lesson.....
:)

Marianne - thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Charlotte said...

Oh wow - this is so interesting! I love reading stuff about pioneers. They were so ingenious - love the wine bottle trick. Although when you got to the mud-rain it reminded me how glad I am to be living now and not then!

the Bag Lady said...

Charlotte - I know exactly what you mean! I find it really interesting, and it makes me so appreciative of all the modern conveniences we have now!

kcinnova said...

Wonderful stuff! (Well, as history -- I'm not a fan of personal hardship, LOL)
Putting the moose meat on the roof to keep it from the dogs made me smile.

Reb said...

Very interesting stuff Sis. I vote for more too. I can't imagine having to live in a soddy - yuck.

bunnygirl said...

I love this kind of stuff. Although I love our modern conveniences, I think something gets lost when everything comes easily.

Those who have never had a specialized device for every task often have very creative minds and a can-do spirit that we'd do well to learn from.

Sagan said...

Wow. That's amazing. I'm, um, really glad that I live during this time period.

messymimi said...

The ingenuity and self sufficiency of generations past always makes for fascinating reading. Please do continue to share.

Also, please remember that your life is interesting and fascinating, too!

Marste said...

DEFINITELY more, please! Wow, that was super-interesting! I love that kind of stuff . . . :)

Missicat said...

Thanks for sharing...makes me a little embarassed for complaining about my "hardship" with all the snow...

I love to hear stories such as this!

Conny said...

Yaay, and thank you. I'm glad you decided to include some of your town's history - I'm looking forward to further posts. I'm also glad to see a few more history buffs: we're in good company. :>)

the Bag Lady said...

I'm really pleased that so many of you enjoyed it (but I really had no doubt.... y'all are so intelligent and inquisitive!)
I will try to make this a regular feature.
:)

Hilary said...

Sounds like a fine blog addition. When do you start working there?

the Bag Lady said...

Hilary - soon. Not sure exactly when, but it will be soon.

JavaChick said...

That sounds like it's going to be a very interesting position! Hope you enjoy it. :)

the Bag Lady said...

Thanks, JavaChick!

CherylK said...

That's so interesting! Yep, more history would be a good thing.

Redbush said...

Yes, those were the days! I'm not so sure that any of us could endure the hardships that the old-timers went through. I'm glad you're enjoying your new position as curator! Congratulations!

Gena said...

Love to history! My great aunt (just turned 98!) tells us stories about staying home from school to pick the cotton, waking up early to milk the cows, and other such stories. I love hearing all about it!

the Bag Lady said...

Thanks, Cheryl! I'll work on finding more to share.

Redbush - thanks - I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to do half of what they did in those days!

Gena - I love hearing those stories, too! Especially first hand from someone who lived it! You're lucky to have your great-aunt in your life!