What Would Ma Ingalls Do?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

WWMID con't

I've been struggling the past few months over the SAHM thing....one of our priorities is living close to our extended family, but unfortunately our family live what is currently the most expensive county, housing wise, in the nation. Our farm is by no means a mansion, but to live here, we need two incomes. Our property taxes, which are average for this area, are 7K a year! I'm feeling more confident in our decision to have me keep teaching come December till June, and have our baby girl stay with her Grandpa and Great Aunt. Next year, once my dad retires, I may find a pre-school type thing for her to go to one or two days a week to give my dad a break - as it is now she'll be going to work with him three days a week, and they have on site care for when she can't be in his arms.

I wouldn't work if we didn't need it to live here, and as my husband's income grows, we both know I'll be home in a few years full time. But I can't help but wonder, is this the right trade off? I guess I'll never know 100%, but I do think having this place, growing up surrounded by a working farm that grows our food, eggs, milk, (and meat if we ever chose to start eating it again)...it's invaluable, And right now it's worth it to me to work so she can have that. God forbid, if peak oil and politics ever get crazy, she'll have land, a stable food supply, fresh water...all in very short supply in these parts, and certainly not readily accessable if we moved into an apartment so I could stay home full time. Prompted by Stella's joyous goat post today....

Friday, October 14, 2005


So two months later things don't seem as overwhelming. This blog has been silent for a few weeks, how about the rest of you? For myself, there is still this need to get things done, times are changing and I keep my eyes and ears opening and still shake my head in disbelief at the numbers of people who refuse to adapt to these changing times. My mantra has been "reliance on any one thing leaves you vulnerable" (thanks to Stella for that). My daughter and I have been reading the Little House books over the summer and in it's own way, looking to the past has given me insight for the future. Even the pioneers came to rely on new inventions and when nature's wrath made life unbearable they were at a loss to get by because of their reliance on modern inventions.

So, the answer seemed simple enough, learn to adapt to life with out mod cons should the occasion arise and the need is necessary. The largest adjustment that will need doing is moving away from petroleum dependence. It seems scary and overwhelming but if taken slowly, one step at a time I feel it's do-able. It all comes down to making that choice. We have the means nowadays to adapt, anyone with a computer has everything they need at their fingertips to finding ways to gain skills that will provide.

Recently I managed to stay up late and caught Letterman, on this particular show his guest was Woody Harrelson. I'm not very big into the lives of celebrities so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he lives off the grid in Hawaii. Plus he mentioned his site Voice Yourself . It looks very interesting and I will be taking time to look it over, I love what I am seeing so far.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Words of wisdom from the Little House

I found the following two quotes online this morning while googling "Ma Ingalls." I will write something soon, but wanted to share these:

Tip from Ma Ingalls:

If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care.
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.

~Caroline Ingalls
Nov 1881

It is easier, for a time, to go with the current; but how much more can be accomplished if we would all be honest in our talk. We all despise a coward, but we sometimes forget there is a moral as well as a physical cowardice...It is weakness to one's personality and moral fiber to deny one's opinions or falsify one's self, while it throws broadcast into the world just that much more cowardice and untruth.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lessons from our ancestors about the countryside

this is a bit further back than ma ingall's, but this article was a good read so i thought i'd share...some may have already seen it via pathtofreedom.com....

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Option to choose

I read the Little House books when I was a pre-teen, and then read them aloud with my son when he was about 7-8, so about 6 years ago. My most lasting impression is of the characters being plugged into an urgency and a practicality that most people never have to experience anymore. The frontier is closed. Our society has gone from farming families who are fairly self-sufficient, and who are dependent upon one another's good graces and skill sets, to families who live in insulated pods with earning as much money as possible in order to pay for entertainment a huge focus.

At this stage my main interest and ability is food supply, and my husband is the one who fixes the things that break. Most of us have no real concept of where our food comes from, and seldom have the time or the energy to give it more than a passing thought. We don't have to, or at least we've been conditioned to think we don't have to because of the ease and availability of mind-blowing selections of food. We hire specialists to handle most of the fix-it jobs around our houses because we haven't the time or inclination to learn how to fix plumbing, electric, appliances, replace shingles, erect a shed.

My family lives somewhere in the shadowy no-man's land between two worlds, learning to be more self-sufficient, but still woefully dependent upon modern conveniences. But we have the choice. We don't have to get it right the first time. We can afford to make mistakes and go back to the drawing board. The canning I do is more for the pleasure of it, than for the need. The savings helps, sure, but if I couldn't do it, or didn't want to do it, we'd be fine. I think of Ma Ingalls, and I start to panic. If she didn't get enough food put up for the winter, they went hungry. I can't even imagine the pressure on her soul to get it right. Add to that the fact that she didn't necessarily always want to be where she was, on the tattered edge of civilization, getting it done. I'm where I want to be for the most part, and I have the benefit of a husband whose business pays for most of what we need and want.

Part of the reason I'm learning as much about supplying our own food as possible is because I believe that in my lifetime we will see the food network shrink radically, we will have far fewer options than we have right now. Most of the people I know think I'm barking mad for thinking this, but I just smile and tell them to come see me when they need something to eat. I have a huge, long way to go— just barely scratching the surface of providing for my family without the help of a grocery store. If I feel overwhelmed at all, it's because I worry that I won't have enough knowledge in time, that I'll be caught with my pants down in the bean patch, and the clouds moving in. That I won't have built a strong enough network of people who have a variety of skills to fill in the blanks for one another.

I think Ma Ingalls faced things I'll never have to face. I imagine she often had a good, private cry then told herself to buck up and get on with it. I'm trying to learn to do the same thing, because I want to do it before I have to.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

For All Of Us...

... but especially Jeanne:

The Greek word oikos, meaning house, is the root of the word ecologist, which could be defined as, among other things, housewife. It's not that I'm so fixated on housewives, who are one among many categories of individual that have taken power to change the world, and it's not that I believe that the category housewife is so compelling a definition of women who have other lives before and after and often during staying home with kids....

From this article.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Yesterday I spent the day with my extended family, all farmers, children or grandchildren of farmers in northern New England. It struck me that it has been the women in my family who keep the families going, they were adept in the art of readiness. They stood as a reminder of how much WE can do. Though times have changed so much in the last few generations, poor farmer families are lured to all that mainstream America claims to offer. While many of my mother's cousins grew up knowing what to do they have turned their backs on it for the sake of convenience, therefore their children and grandchildren have no idea how to make do when the occasion arises.

So as with many things lately, I got to pondering what would Ma Ingalls do if she lived in today's society? Would she have been enticed by the lure of the millions of commercials and ads which bombard our culture every moment of the day? Promising an easier and more fulfilling life? Would she be living the the hills of (add state here) living off the grid and away from the mainstream?

I think Ma would be somewhere in between, like many of the contributors here, trying to find a happy middle ground that provides peace for herself and her family yet supplies them with the necessities they need without taxing the environment or their pockets. This is on my mind quite a bit now that winter creeps closer, my house is not outfitted to depend on anything other than petroleum products and that sickens me. My SO is the model of complacency, he lives in the land of denial and comes to reality only when bills grow overwhelming and then he is horrid to live with. Because of his denial I am the one who must take charge, prepare, plan, stock and ready this home and family for winter and high prices. I've lived very poorly before and struggling through cold New England winters struggling to make ends meet and not get too far into debt (if at all) until Spring comes and offers a reprieve is a rough place I care not to revisit.
So this all has me asking, once again "WWMID?" What choices would she make?

I think that she'd prefer being home and raising her children, modern society offers conveniences that even in an off the grid style, would free up time for Ma. I think she'd be enamored by the internet and would find a way to make it work to her benefit. Perhaps through an ezine to share her recipes, skills, knowledge and opinions. Or she would be a writer from home, for one of many magazines or newspapers out there. This last idea is actually one which came from a dear friend and one I cannot take credit for.

She would be proficient in home maintenance, home arts of yesteryear, she would use her skills in sewing, cooking, maybe gardening to provide a modest supplemental income. Perhaps she would teach herself basic plumbing, carpentry, etc. to do what needs to be done.

She would reuse old clothes that could not be tailored down to fit each subsequent child, they would then be remade into quilts, rugs or a patchwork dress. Worn sweaters would be unraveled and the yarn reused. She would be proficient at 'reduce, reuse, recycle'.

She would eschew prepacked, processed foods which offer convenience but also a multitude of health issues in favor of foods and ingredients that she has made ahead and prepackaged for cooking ease.

These are a few of my ideas, I'd like to see other's theories.