Horsepower, root cellars, slaughtering and butchering of animals — this is just the beginning of a long list of skills that homesteaders from the early 20th century mastered to maintain their self-sufficient lifestyles. Today, many of these skills are on the brink of extinction. These talented family farmers have a lot to offer modern homesteaders looking to go back to the land and live a more self-reliant lifestyle.
Some of these homesteaders from the 20s, 30s and 40s might be your neighbors, grandparents, parents or even you! Have you ever asked your great aunt how she learned to can tomatoes? When your grandfather refers to the fridge as the "ice box," do you know why he uses that term? Did you live on a self-sufficient farm and bury cabbage in an underground root cellar for the winter? If you know anyone, or if you yourself, have any stories, tips or skills to share with a community of modern homesteaders, please send them to us!
The stories can be personal memoirs, down-and-dirty DIY projects, the real ins-and-outs of livestock care and slaughtering, or even cooking and canning over a woodstove. We are collecting this Wit and Wisdom From Our Elders to gain further insight into how people took care of their homesteads in the past as ideas for homesteaders today and in the future.
We plan to collect all the submissions and post them here, in this blog dedicated to Homestead Stories and Wisdom. Check back to see what others have posted, and to get ideas for advice and tales from your own memory. The threat of losing this knowledge is growing as more time passes us by, so don’t hesitate to seek out family members and neighbors who might have good information to share.
Please send email submissions to letters@MotherEarthNews.com with the subject line "Elder Wisdom"
or send mail to: attn: Heidi Hunt, Re: Elder Wisdom, Mother Earth News, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.
Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely working in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or Google+.