There is much to do most all year around here at our small place but spring is especially busy. Since our 2019 history project is to study the years 1900 to 1939 concentrating on the great depression, we have had much reading to do. It has been more difficult to live in today's technology world and study and try to resemble the 1930's than it was the 1940's. I am not sure why other than this study is so much deeper. We are trying to live as an adult in 1930's so we had to study much further back to understand the things an adult has gone through to get to the 1930s. This years study has far exceeded what we thought we could learn. I am hoping when we get to the end of the year we can somehow share with you the things that have helped us the most to apply to our lives now.
Studying the diaries has given me much better insight than any history book or even the newspapers because it is real daily life.
Excerpts from Elizabeth's Diary 1934. Elizabeth lives in Iowa, she is a widow and her family comes in and out every day. She lives in a small town and her family lives a few miles outside of town. Her Grandchildren come and go and help her at times. Harold is 18 and helps her most often. In the winter some of the children stay with her while they attend school due to deep snow on the roads. This diary is very difficult to share due to the way it was written (direction) so I will share excerpts in some of my posts. Caroline is mentioned in the diary, this is one of her daughters that lives away and comes by train occasionally to visit. Mary is one of Caroline's daughters.
Very dark rainy morn. Early the sky all over a golden red, something unusual. I planted 2 rows of spinach and cut some berry bushes, made cake and quilted between times.
Rain, rain and more rain. Heavy showers and some hail about 7 a.m. Not enough to do damage. The old drought stunted lettuce is fine since being rained soaked.
Ocean wave quilt in frames and half quilted. (ocean wave quilt is the name of the pattern she is using) Good harvest weather today only real warm. First cutting of hay ruined by rain and hay so scarce from effects of drought.
Sophia stopped this a.m. brought washing and cream, took home for iris roots I worked in garden. Finished late planting cut brush and hoed weeds, quilting this P.M
The diaries bring me back to the way we did things in my past. I was not born yet during the great depression but my life would be considered old fashioned for sure compared to today.
The one thing that has become very clear to me reading my many diaries is the importance of growing and preserving food. They did not live with fast food places and meals were at home. Growing food and preserving food were extremely important but even if we don't grow it ourselves we can still preserve it ourselves and even if we don't preserve it ourselves (can or dehydrate etc) then we can keep a stock of store bought canned and dehydrated food to be prepared for power outages and such. There is always room for improvement, becoming dependent that it will always be "out there" available to us is a very scary thought for me.
I was soaping a drawer the other day and thought I would share how we would soap our wood drawers and windows to keep them sliding smoothly.
If you have a sticking drawer simply remove the drawer or drawers and simply rub a bar of soap over the wood.
Flip the drawer over and rub the bottom of the drawer edges. When I was growing up, one of my chores was to dust furniture on Saturday morning. I was also taught to soap the bottom of the drawers if they were sticking as this is what my mother did.
We always wore aprons while doing household tasks even as a child to protect our clothing from stains.
The diaries have made growing food very important this year and we are trying every way we can to grow our food. We do not have but a small lot and so we have to do things different but I hope we can have a better harvest this year.
Continued Excerpts from Elizabeth's Diary
Clear and warm again today, quite cool last nite, Cecil butchering a pig to put in Nowells ice house. Picked beans and asparagus for Estella this a.m.
Canned 13 1/2 pts of peaches. Sophia brought my clean cloths in they washed today. Fine weather but rain needed or there will be no beans to can.
Went to Dentist at 10 a.m. had a gold filling reset. Doing some cleaning in down stairs bedroom Pulling weeds and quilting. Weather partly cloudy.
Trying to shower a little at times doesn't amount to anything. Cooked 3 pigeons this a.m. took Mrs. Conner who has been and is still sick in bed some broth. Also took Mrs Ashton some.
Baby lemons on our lemon tree. It all depends on where one lives as to what we can grow.
Excerpts from Elizabeth's Diary
Very cloudy, warm still and air heavy. Picked up a few apples and pulled some weeds before breakfast. Later cut out berry bush, sweat like rain. Cecil and Alfred brought big load of cobs.
Went to P.O got letter from Mary, Caroline is to be Tama at 6:30 tomorrow morn. I have canned this a.m. 8 1/2 pts of peaches and 19 pts of prunes. Surely plenty tired.
Harold and Jennie took me to Tama to meet Caroline. Her train was on time 6:30 a.m. was raining hard most of the a.m. Harold took us to Estellas after Breakfast.
Caroline and I have been alone today. Have had plenty of motivation most of am. canned any old grape juice this morn Mrs Ashton gave us. also cold packing beans this P.M.
Our zucchinis are starting to grow very fast now and soon should start blooming.
Excerpts from Elizabeth's Diary
Very foggy misty morn, Flora stopped last evening and brought 1 pt cream and dressed chicken. Caroline canned 17 1/2 quarts of crab apples and few quarts of plumbs. Hot work.
Quite cool, Caroline canned more apples, I made bread and pie, Flora and boys here for dinner, Herbert helping Edd filled silo. Joseph and Walter could only eat a cup of Ovaltine since having their tonsils out.
Fine day, worked some on dress and sewed outside. Herbert in for turn to bind fot tail hay on government ground. Caroline and Edith brought in near 2 bushels green map beans from Ediths.
A perfect day. I walked up to Church and S.S. then went out home with Sophia and Estella and Maddie. Had a good dinner and Ice cream supper in even took Sophia over to the old Sprog place to work.
Excerpts from Elizabeth's Diary
Rain, Rain and still at it, at 8 this morn. begun last even. Churning and making cookies today and doing a little quilting. Sophia here for supper, quite cool this even.
Clear and cold but light frost if any. Expect to go to church and s.s. then out to Estellas to help her over Monday wash day. am writing to Caroline and Louise this morn.
A beautiful and very busy day. Have living room nearly cleaned and rugs beaten mostly by myself. Harold plays football and gets home too late to help much.
There was a big circle around moon last nite and weather not so nice yet I had a line full of bedding out a good bit of the day and got bedroom down stairs cleaned.
Warm and showery like spring. Cecil and Herbert are bushing, I have ironed and churned and been up town. Payed interest on $70.00 note at bank. Mr. Stern read meters my bill $2.06
Elizabeth's diary has been good for me to help keep me focused on the past and not the present. We don't eat pigeons here at our house as Elizabeth did but we do eat food. I am going to focus on keeping less food varieties and more of the things we eat regularly. Our varieties have gotten way off track which makes it overwhelming to me anyway.
If I stay with the things we enjoy and keep them as healthy and balanced as I can then that is what is important. When we keep a pantry we need to eat that food that we preserve to keep it rotated and be ready for the next harvest with those empty jars. We need to have extra to overlap due to seasonal weather changes and crop failures. We need to have canned foods to cover us for illness. I will include in another post a very hard time for Elizabeth and her family during a very bad measles outbreak.
If we could slow down and embrace each season and not rush through them we can learn from them. Living today with fancy supermarkets and food available all year around most generations now have always lived this way but we need to know that there are different types of food grown in different seasons.
Our citrus comes in the fall, pumpkins and nuts and so much more and depending on where we live, what country and part of the world. There are early spring crops and summer crops and in the past people did not eat as we do now, they ate seasonal. They ate fresh beans while the beans were growing and canned some and let some dry in the pods then stored those dried beans to eat during the winter. They still ate the beans but could only eat them fresh during the season that the beans could grow.
There are summer squash and winter squash. Many grocery stores carry the same variety of vegetables all year around and have been shipped from all over the world which means it is not necessarily fresh and possibly something put on it to preserve it. If we eat seasonal and local we have a better chance of eating fresh. Canning our own local food, we at least know it was canned fresh.
Excerpts from Elizabeth's Diary November 1934
Very dark rainy morn. Not very cold yet, busy working up heavy sugar sacks into pillow cases and towels. Also have a new dress begun. Always plenty to do.
A brisk Northwest wind and I have a line full of wool comforters and Herbert carried downstairs 2 feather beds and put on line for me. Thomas Hadden called on me.
A real wintery day, ground white with first snow. Harold gone to school house again tonite. Am making some hot dish holders for the girls this evening. Got basket ready to send to Caroline.
Eighteen below this morn but clear. So glad it didn't snow when wind shifted past evening. Roads so terribly rough. Sophia is to stay with me, she will stay awhile with me.
We know that Elizabeth has a prepared home, she has wood and cobs and plenty of canned food. There was much canning of vegetables and meat throughout her diary. She has plenty of quilts and wool comforters. She does not have to worry about power outages and what to do when the roads are bad. She has fresh cream and butter from her daughters farm.
Recently I am slow many times responding to emails and letters because in the past there were no emails and letters were slow and I am trying to enjoy and resemble this time here at home so don't give up on me. People did not live instant and as you can read, most often they had a lot to do. They did communicate and visited one another in a much better way than most of us do now.
Today there are people that belong to quilting bees and sewing groups and to me this is a good way to somewhat have a sense of community that those did in the past. In the past many people just quilted at home but often neighbors would visit with one another and help to tie a quilt. At times they would bring their sewing and sew with another while having a visit.
I am trying to find balance and there is no way to have one foot in 2019 and one foot in 1932 and truly get the sense of how it was. We want to absorb their wisdom and determination and strip away the nonsense we have collected along the journey to today.
We have enjoyed this study so far so much that next year we will probably stay in the 30's. The 1920's was too loose for me and some parts remind me of today.
I have kept the month of June in my mind to start on more textile projects and part of me wants to take a break from my blog but at the same time, if I can share any kind of sense of the goodness that came through this time in history I desire to share this so I am going to just keep on the way I am and hope that you can take something good from it.
My blog post is my letter to you all such as a family letter to let you know what we are doing and how things are going here at our house. I do enjoy reading your letters too.