My favorite time period to read about in American History is the late 1800’s. I love the stories of pioneer life and what life was like on the new frontier and how the west was won. I love to read about a time where people worked hard because they had to. If you didn’t work hard, you simply didn’t survive. Neighbors helped each other, challenges were faced head-on, and no one expected life to be a bowl of cherries.
I have just finished Laura Ingalls Wilder’s last book, The First Four Years. She tells about the first four years of her marriage, while they still lived in the Dakota Territory. It is an amazing account of what farmers were willing to risk in order to make a crop. There were constant threats of wolves attacking their livestock, storms ruining a crop in a matter of minutes, and disease overtaking animals and people. There were no fences, no weather.com, and no commercial vaccines or pesticides. Life was hard, to say the least.
For a moment while I was reading the book, I felt guilty because I too, am a farm wife, but because of modern conveniences, didn’t think I had too much in common with a farm wife from long ago. After all, I rely pretty heavily on technology during my day to cook, clean, and communicate. And I have a grocery store, the internet and central heat and AC. But then I got to thinking about the similarities… I help the farmer as much as I am able; I make a hot meal at noon-time and call it dinner; I let the youngens get dirty and explore the woods; I am even willing to go to the extent of protecting my livestock from danger (anyone remember my snake story?); I worry about having a “bad year” and pray for the crops to thrive; I take chances on investing in crazy animal adventures; I learn to accept the good and the bad about farm life, and I also grow to embrace the realization that farming is not merely a job, it is a lifestyle.
I saw all these characteristics in the life of a farmer’s wife from way back when, and I was pleased as punch to know that some things just don’t ever change.