Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Hardy Folk, Skills from the 1930s, and a much-too-long post

Cyrus & Rhoda
c. 1930

I know. You thought that was Kevin and me, right?

 (Amazing how happy they look, even though they lived before the advent of Facebook or Twitter, isn't it! And they didn't have to worry about recharging their cell phones.)

Before I get into this post, I must say a huge thank you to all of you for your wonderful comments and well wishes! Hip replacement recovery can get reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally long, especially when you look out the window and see nothing but snow mountains and temps that are way below zero, day after long day. It also seems like things will never change, little progress is being made, even though I plugged faithfully through 45 minutes of physical therapy twice a day...boring...boring...boring...owie...owie...owie.

BUT, someone told me that after week FOUR, many people notice a huge difference. Guess what. I am one of those people! Monday was the four-week mark. I can now see that I won't be stuck forever doing a poor impression of the Dowager Countess (of Downton Abbey fame.)

Now on to the show:

I'm pretty sure that if I have the date wrong on that photo, Eric will let me know. And I probably do have it wrong, but if I call him, he'll tell me that he's already told me, so you know how it goes...The photo above was taken in Vernon County, WI. It's of Eric's mom and dad - my husband's great uncle and aunt. As you can see, Wisconsin had a goodly amount of snow that year too, although I suspect it was less than what we're getting this year.

 (Note the patched wheelbarrow, used to haul in wood)

We have mountains of snow. I am not exaggerating. Mountains. This is why December 30th turned out to be a great date for a total hip replacement. It's not like I want to be out in this weather anyway.

My main reason for posting the photo is that whenever I see it, I'm reminded of the hardy folk who lived before this current age of technology. Those were people who were accustomed to daily hard work - often without complaining, and often out in the cold of the long winter or blistering heat of the short summer. Hard work that involved working in the fields raising tobacco or hay, growing a large vegetable garden to feed their families, raising chickens for eggs and meat, caring for dairy and meat animals, including how to butcher a cow, how to can chicken and beef, how to do their own machine repairs, how to knit, sew, cook, clean, etc. etc. And in many cases, it was all done without electricity.

And they didn't have social media. They had neighborhoods. They had churches. They had extended family.

 My amazing personal chef!
I think I'm ready to get back in the kitchen, but he has been wonderful!

I admire those people. They knew how to do stuff. If the grid went down, well, it would hardly have affected them because most of them in my neck of the woods weren't on the grid at that time anyway.

But to the point of this post, I was wondering how we could manage now, if the grid should go down. I don't know if it will, but I do think it's a good idea to be prepared, rather than be taken totally by surprise. And I know that I don't like being totally dependent upon something that may disappear without any warning. Even something as simple as a snowstorm can down the power lines for days, weeks, etc.

So, I was trying to take inventory of my useful skills: I can cook, sew, read aloud to anyone who will listen, knit a bit, raise a garden, make soap, make cheese, pet the dog, can vegetables (it would be a long time before I'd want to can meat), build a fire, pet the cat, and plan a vacation. Surely there must be something else after all these years of living, but I can't think of it. And actually, it might not be a bad idea to take an assessment of what you and your friends can offer one another, should this ever happen. I don't have chickens, but I do make soap. I don't have a cow, but I know how to make cheese. So maybe we could barter a skill or product we do have for a skill or product we don't have. Does bartering seem silly to you? How about trading someone a useless piece of paper for their skill or product. That seems a lot sillier to me.

Anyway, I think it's worth thinking about and brushing up on some useful skills. That applies to us and the under-30 crowd. Who knows how to butcher? Who knows how to use a pressure canner? (Who's heard of a pressure canner??) Who even knows anything about raising a garden? Who knows how to build a fire? Who knows how to get the dog off the couch so I can lie down and rest?

Okay, I've reached my limit for being at the computer. But what are your thoughts on what you'd do if the grid went down? It could happen, and we'd be back living the life of Cyrus and Rhoda. Are you ready?

Picnic anyone?

And by the way, I can't get over our amazing Creator who made our bodies able to withstand trauma and then heal, as long as we don't put road blocks in the way. We're designed to heal - everything from a paper cut to a bone dislocated, cut off, replaced with metal parts, and stapled shut. Praise God! And praise God that there are people who want to do orthopedic surgery. I suspect they're the ones who got bored with regular carpentry and wanted to kick it up a notch. (I saw the tools they use!)

Here's a cute cartoon that both Eric and Bonnie sent me:

Okay, I warned you that it would be a long post!  It's great to be back in blogland, my friends! Hope you all have a great weekend.

P.S. I proofread this and I'll admit it's a strange, rambling, disjointed post. Sorry, but I've got to get that dog off the couch and lie down.


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Paulette said...

I might be in trouble, I don't garden, can't knit, never butchered a thing in my life, but I can make a fire. Let's hope the grid never goes down! Glad to hear your feeling better.

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

Most of us would be in dire straits if the grid went down...without fireplaces or wood stoves to keep us warm...most people couldn't buy supplies as they use cards versus cash for the majority of purchases, and on the list goes.

The Cranky said...

SO glad to see you back!

The Great Scot and I conducted an experiment through October and without electricity at home. Other than places we could get WiFi that meant we did without the internet, etc.. and you know what? We loved it!

Hmmm, I should do a blog post about it one of these days.

I can build a fire, garden, cook (and bake) on a woodstove or in a fireplace, I'm brushing up on canning because it's been years. I know basic animal care and butchering, can make soap and candles if I have to, sew by hand or with a non-electric sewing machine, embroider, make moccasins, make wine, know some herbal remedies and have taken courses in First Aid and CPR. My hubby is handy with a slingshot and crossbow, as well as being an avid fisherman and is an expert at raising fish; he's also pretty handy with an ax.
Since he grew up in a city in Scotland he's playing catch-up with country skills, but he's catching on quickly!

Vee said...

Oh I really like it and I knew that John would really like it, too, so I practiced my skills and read it aloud to him.

Funny cartoon! Yay for healing and mending. Thanks for this wonderful post. Very thought-provoking.

Terri D said...

When I saw your post in my Feedly this morning, I smiled and opened you first!! So good to hear that you are doing well and are back in blog-land again! Prayers continue!!

Here in Florida, we have hurricane season to prepare for, and we were without power for three days, a few years ago, when three of those nasty things blew through central Florida, almost back-to-back. It's amazing what we can do when we have to. We have learned to "be prepared" with enough propane for the grill, extra gas cans for the generator, and food that doesn't spoil. A good supply of water is also necessary. Not sure I could start a fire without a match or lighter, but we do make sure we have what we will need - at least for a week or so (just in case). good to see you here! Hugs!!

NanaDiana said...

LOL-Judy- I read your "job description" twice and I think you left out CLEANING! lol Maybe you could barter that for some homemade soap?;>) Glad you are doing so great and that the four weeks was the magic mark for you. I need to send my friend, Jettie, over here when she gets home. She had a hip replacement on Tuesday.

I could survive, I think, if I had to-although I don't know if my hubby could. He is NOT very handy but he IS smart-so maybe he can barter his brains for food?

Our kids/grandkids have no idea, do they?....... xo Diana

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm sure glad to hear about your progress and hope you continue to heal and get your strength back. I know it's been a long winter so far. And no....I wouldn't make a good pioneer but if I had to I could survive without a lot of what I have. It hasn't been that long since I did just that! lol Sending you bunches of hugs! Diane

Diane said...

Love the top photo. I have a small collection of farm folk and their draft horses. Where would any of us be w/o them? No, I don't know how to can, etc. Could garden but probably wouldn't have much luck. Maybe I should stock up on Spaghettios! Glad you're doing better! Keep it up!

podso said...

Glad that four week thing worked for you. It's nice to "read" you again and your thought-provoking post. I think because of our years in Africa we learned how to function without utilities but as far as the other things you talked about, it is something to ponder. Your snow is beautiful even though I'm sure you are "over it."

MadSnapper said...

I do hope your hip replacement was the right part... LOL
and if you lived way back when, hubby would not be your personal chef... MEN did NOT cook...
we have been watching the series Revolution.. about when the grid goes down and what would happen... that means we have been discussing what you said today. i said this morning, if Atlanta was still driving horses and wagons it would not be shut down...
the problem is i have zero skills... i can take photos... and drive a car... can't think of a single thing i can do thati could trade/barter with.. but that doesn't matter because we have no friends.
we are covered.

Empty Nester said...

I've had this very discussion with my best friend in the world- because he and I talk about these things- and I won't go into the conversation because it would be way longer than your post...LOL...(which I totally enjoyed and didn't find too long at all) BUT- you make excellent points throughout. Now, a question about the map on the wall in front of Kevin and the cups hanging up there. Do y'all have some special reason for the map? Special places marked? I'm curious. We're a map family- all of us enjoy maps, especially old ones. Just curious. Glad you are still healing. Did you hear that we are on our SECOND snow day today?????

Grandma Barb's This and That said...

So glad to hear that you are healing and getting better each week.
I've often wondered how people survived back then. I guess they just did what they had to to survive. I think I would be in bad shape if I had to live like that.

TexWisGirl said...

no, i laughed. it was a good post! my skills list would be a lot shorter than yours - i can pet the dogs, horses, feed ducks. i'm a good firewood gatherer. it takes me way too long to thread a needle these days, but if you wait a while, i can do it. :)

SO glad you're getting to feel better!

Pamela Gordon said...

Judy, it's nice to have you back! Great post and definitely food for thought. It would be very scary to be off the grid for any length of time and unfortunately, there were thousands of people in that state here in New Brunswick and also in Ontario over Christmas. Friends of ours were without power for 11 days!! What would I do? Well, we don't have an alternative heat source but we hope to buy a generator which will keep the fridge running and allow us to cook and maybe heat one room. It would be terrible! I am chilly even with the heat on so I think I'd have to find a hotel or friends with power/heat. The power outage over the holidays sure gave us a lot to think about. I'm glad you are healing and getting stronger every day. Take care. Blessings, Pamela

Noelle the dreamer said...

Glad to hear you are back on your pins and loved the cartoon!
A personal chef sounds heavenly (mine can boil an egg but he is very good at passing the hoover!).
Bartering sounds the ticket in those circumstances (and by the by, I think your post was not too long!)
In this household the Boy Scout Handbook and the BSA Fieldbook happens to be our answer to ANY questions/skills we need in such circumstances!
P.S. 'Jacquelineand' pointed to a very good point: raised 'elsewhere' means we can handle the off the grid far better I think!
Keep warm and pet the dog!

Amy Burzese said...

Good to see you! I think my family could make due, although very unhappily, I'm sure. We are definitely a society of wusses.

Heide at ApronHistory said...

Thank goodness our town is not prone to power outages! We do have a back up plan though, we will all go camp out with my brother! He has a wood stove and a HUGE wood pile. Lol!
I am so thankful for central heating this year, can not imagine how our ancestors made it through a winter! Brr!

Donna Sexton said...

I would be in serious trouble if the grid goes down... I have MS and I need to do heat therapy throughout the day just so that I can walk across the room and lift my arm.

Good to hearthat you are feeling better! Loved the picture from the 1930s.

Carla from The River said...

LOL ~ love the cartoon.

Glad to hear you are getting better each day. :-)

Muffy's Marks said...

I am so glad that week four has lived up to its expectations. Its all uphill from here.
I think I could survive if the grid went down. Except I'd probably have to become a vegetarian, I don't know how to skin and clean critters!!!

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

I don't know how to do as much as my mother, and it's sad that she lives so far away.

SImple and Serene Living said...

I'm so glad that you are doing so well. I thought after both of my knee replacements that I would never get well, but we do heal and life without that constant pain is wonderful. Your snow is beautiful. Nice to see you back, my friend. xo Laura

Judy S. said...

So glad that you're feeling better, Judy! Years ago I did lots of primitive camping, but those skills would sure need dusting off. Not so good in the hunting/fishing dept., so we might have to go vegetarian! Good to see you posting again, too.

laurie said...

I didn't realize how much I take for having heat..until we had to turn it down to 60 for a few days!

Excel energy asked customers to turn it down to 60 because of the natural gas explosion in Canada last week.

It just happened to be 20 plus below outside,too.

It was VERY cold in the house at 60...I was surprised how cold. I guess we are just spoiled!We went to the store to buy electric heaters and we weren't the only ones....what a mess! We finally found one at the 3rd store!

Your post made me think of how reliant I am, and how I should learn some new skills. In fact it sounds fun!

I'll start with learning to make a fire at our cabin.I always leave it for my hubby to do!

Rachel said...

I have missed you friend! I'm sorry to hear about the hip replacement. I hope you are doing better!

Hoping to get caught up on some more of your blog- I've been so out of touch lately!!


Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Great post - and glad to have you back. Loved the cartoon too. You make some interesting points - I used to ponder that kind of thing when I was a lot younger and felt that the Destruction of the World As We Know It could happen at any moment. We lead such sanitised lives now - who has the skills to survive very long without the trappings of our comfortable lifestyles? My special skills? - I'd talk the hind legs off a donkey; or a zebra. PS Glad to see hubby's keeping you fed!

Donna said...

Great news on the hip feeling better! I told you that you'd turn a big corner at 4 weeks! Haha, right on time. (About time too, LOL.) I laughed out loud when I saw the cartoon and showed it to Mr. Jim. He laughed too!

We are pretty skilled at various tasks. Mr. Jim can field dress a moose, so I'm sure he could field dress a little Tennessee deer too if we needed it. And we certainly know how to grow food.

J_on_tour said...

Great to hear things are going well despite the weather and the black & white striped hip !


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