What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Pioneer Girl

on July 20, 2012

Growing up my two favourite literary heroines were Jo March from Little Women and Laura Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie books. Today to that list I would add Mattie Ross, the young woman in the True Grit novel. All three girls show great spirit, determination and strong character through difficult circumstances, even more so when you realise, as I did as an adult, that Laura Ingalls was a real person who passed away at the age of 90 only 8 years before I was born. At a time when most young ladies her age were squeezing into tight corsets and having the vapours at the inadvertent flash of an ankle, our Laura tucked her skirts into her boots and got on with the hand that life dealt her. My kinda girl.

This is a photo of the real Laura, not the one we all remember from the saccharine sweet tv series of the 1970’s. Laura and her family had a really tough pioneering life, moving across America firstly in a covered wagon, threatened by severe winter, drought, prairie fires, Indians, grasshopper plagues, illness, helping build new towns and then moving restlessly on. After her marriage at 18 Laura’s life with Almanzo Wilder was no bed of roses either. They lost their home to fire, Almanzo was left partially disabled after serious illness, after a time of plenty they invested heavily in the American stock market, only to lose it overnight in the Crash of 1929. Laura’s only son died shortly after his birth, but her daughter Rose encouraged Laura to write down the stories of her childhood, which grew into the Little House series.

I still adore these books, having read the whole series again back to back a couple of years ago, stunned by the cruelty and harshness of living off the land, which of course so many many people all over the world do today.
As well as keeping hens this spring I planted some peas, beans and pumpkin seeds. The results, probably due to the poor weather, have been less than fruitful, not enough to get a family of six through one meal, let alone an entire winter. I ate two pea pods straight from the plant last night, delicious, and pumpkin flowers have yet to appear. I hope to have some spectacular carved pumpkins for the doorstep for Harvest and Halloween. (Ever the optimist).
The girls have virtually stopped laying again, there have been a few soft eggs with no shells, it is very frustrating and I feel entirely to blame as it must be a dietary problem which I thought had been sorted. Some one was clucking up a storm this afternoon, I thought there was sure to be an egg after such a loud proclamation, however there was none to be found, just a mad flurry of feathers as they spotted me approaching. It does make me smile. And at least I have the option of heading to the supermarket to supplement our egg supplies.
In reading more into the later life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I discovered that she herself was a poultry farmer. At last, something in common! And in her time as a child living on the prairies of Dakota, the grassland was populated with millions of prairie chickens, whose numbers now are very limited as their natural habitat is all but gone.

If you haven’t already I would encourage you to read the Little House books, perfect for rainy day reading or if you are having an under the weather day. I will leave you with words from Laura herself:
As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that the things that are truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. Courage and kindness, loyalty, truth, and helpfulness are always the same and always needed.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

PS. The blog title of “Pioneer Girl” was the original title of the Little House series.

2 responses to “Pioneer Girl

  1. I love Laura’s books – and, my, isn’t her life an inspiration. Her books were aimed at children, so she missed out some parts that she considered unsuitable for such stories. That said, her descriptions are real and a fascinating insight. I have really enjoyed two biographies of her too: Laura by Donald Zochert and Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson- have you read them? If not they are worth seeking out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: