Wit and Wisdom From Our Elders Needed

| 5/11/2011 4:12:50 PM

Tags: homesteading, self-sufficient, stories, reader stories,

Bruchmiller pigHorsepower, 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.

Please send email submissions to letters@MotherEarthNews.com,

or send mail to: attn: Heidi Hunt, Mother Earth News, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609.

bruce mcelmurray
5/25/2011 12:56:01 PM

One of my favorite sayings and it can be applied to many circumstances is "Always drink up stream from the herd". Not rocket science but most folks can figure r out...

5/20/2011 8:43:43 AM

@Lloyd - I totally agree. I'm not sure whether it's just a shift in my perception, or whether it's truly a shift in reality, but MEN seems to have become more marketing-driven in the past handful of years, rather than just being excited to share good solid info. Hey, I'm all for capitalism, but that also means that I get to vote with my dollar :) I'm saving my subscription dollars for when the MEN vibe switches back to something I can more closely relate to. In the mean time, I deeply appreciate the ability to pick and choose my way through it all online.

lloyd mcdaniel
5/19/2011 7:49:52 PM

And MEN will of course make all this free content available for FREE right? Not ten dollars for a slim publication???

elizabeth hollingsworth_2
5/14/2011 8:50:38 PM

i grew up & still live in rural N. Florida. growing up, we butchered our own hogs, using the fat for lard and coooking "cracklins" in a big black cast iron pot outside on the fire. our men hunted & butchered deer themselves, we had a huge garden, canned everything, and my grandparents stored red skinned potatoes in the sand underneath their off the ground house. the potatoes lasted for a long long time, and we kids enjoyed crawling under the house to get them. my grandparents had a couple of pear trees and a fig tree that we gathered the fruit from & preserved. we went on fruit picking days--blackberries, huckleberries, mayhaws, even down south to pick some strawberries a few times. and made jelly, jam and preserves out of the fruit. we fished in our own ponds and swam in the river and springs nearby. we went on drives in the country (when gas was MUCH cheaper than now!). for fun, we had potlucks and everyone brought a dish and a musical instrument and we'd eat and then sing for hours on end, with all generations having fun all at the same party. it was a lot of work, but it made us strong and healthy and close knit and i wouldn't trade it for anything.

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