Only in the forties could women be portrayed as hard working homesteaders…with wonderful fashion sense. But I don’t care; these are stunning portraits! Thank you Life Magazine for preserving this bygone era.
Cheese making has been a time-honored art on the homestead since homesteading began. If you had a dairy animal and more milk than your family could consume, then hard cheeses were a good way to preserve food for the future. Many of the hard cheeses did not require refrigeration; perfect for a homesteader of the past!
I actually gave this a try myself this past March.
When I had a good supply of raw milk available I made cheese and butter. It is work but the results are so worth it!
I was a little more than a little nervous about trying cheese making so I bought a kit I found on Amazon.com with good reviews. I am so glad I did! This lovely little kit included everything but the milk! Then it walked me through each step of the mozzarella making process.
When it was completed I had an awesome mound of cheese, the size of a softball.
However, to be honest, the texture didn’t seem quite right and it need A LOT more salt; but it was edible. It must have been good because it didn’t stay around long. 😉
I do hope to try again when the weather here in Phoenix cools down a bit.
I’d also like to give their 8 cheese kit a try – but don’t forget the wax! I’ll be sure to include my girls in the next venture. Not only for the home ec credit but there is quite a bit of science in the process as well.
So tell me your experience with cheese making in the comments!!
I have been thinking, nay dreaming, of skills our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had; I call them “vintage” skills. They are the skills that few possess and practice these days. I see them slipping further and further away from the mainstream way of life.
I think homesteaders, homeschoolers and those others who already think outside the box, are the ones that need to rekindle these lovely skills and pass them onto the next generation.
Lately I see, too late, that my grandmother tried to teach me these skills. I have knit…but nothing more than long strips. 😉 I have sewn a few things but only used a pattern under my mother-in-law’s supervision. I wish I had given those lessons the time and attention they were due. Oh what I wouldn’t give to have the amazing seamstress, knitting and crocheting skills my grandmother had!
But one advantage that we modern folk have is the internet. We have free instructions and the click out a mouse. I did a bit of searching and found this awesome video on beginning knitting. They also have a fantastic website full of help – KnittingHelp.com.
When I started researching this whole concept of “backyard homesteading” I spent a lot of time on the internet reading blogs, watching youtube videos and joining groups on Facebook. But one of the things I enjoyed the most was perusing the Gardening Section at my local bookstore.
This wonderful section has some treasures tucked in there on backyard farming, self-sufficiency and simple living. I would grab a coffee from their shop and then curl up in a corner with a pile of books. Tell me I’m not alone here! 😉
On one of these outings I stumbled onto Little House in the Suburbs by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskin. Now being a Little House on the Prairie fan since childhood, I simply couldn’t resist the title! So a sip of coffee and away I went.
They had me at “Did Your Backyard Just Bawk?”. I loved their chapters on why simple living in the suburbs was possible, gardening in your backyard (including composting) but it was the chicken section that kept me. Simply written for the novice, it made me feel like I could continue to pursue my desire to have backyard chickens. I loved the common myths section, pictures of their coops, chicken terms, how-tos and the awesome information on choosing a breed.
The book includes some fantastic information about backyard goats (wish I had the room in the micro yard), beekeeping, making your own personal products and much more. But the next section that I really loved was how we could bring small town life to the city. The authors talk about rebuilding interdepence through swaps and coops. A lot of what I had been reading up to this point was about independence and doing it all on your own. So this chapter was truly refreshing.
The appendix of the book is worth the cost of the book alone! From planting charts to resources for backyard livestock to a well laid-out gardening log. There is something for everyone.
You’ll be sure to enjoy the casual style of the author’s text; feels like you’re talking to your friend instead of being lectured by an expert. The pictures are rich and full of life, but not so perfect that you’ll feel they are out of reach for you (and me).
From recipes for your kitchen, gardening, backyard chickens, beekeeping for the rest of us, soap making 101, and the fun chapter on keeping goats – this book is a keeper!
Needless to say I bought the book that day and I still find myself pulling it off the shelf on a regular basis…
This is an unpaid and unsolicited book review.
Vintage skills – are they all but lost?
I was watching an episode of Lark Rise to Candleford last night and it got me thinking (gasp). In the episode Queenie brings her handmade lace (bobbin lace) to sell at the local dress shop. The shop owner tells her they will no longer need her lace because they’ve been convinced that is antiquated; machine lace is the future. Later we see Queenie making some lace when the dress maker pays her a visit. The dress maker is motherless and Queenie had no daughters, so she begins to share stories and skills on bobbin lace.
For some reason this scene brought tears to my eyes. I thought about it for the rest of the night and found myself still thinking of it this morning.
Skills like knitting, sewing, cooking from scratch, canning, gardening and, yes, making bobbin lace seems to belong to a bygone era
In a generation full of technology are we watching the slow death of vintage skills?
I hear more today, than ever, about the trouble with children and teens. Could it be they, we, lack a sense of connection? Not just to one another (don’t get me started on families eating with phones at the table) but to a purpose. Have we a connection to creating the world around us?
Let’s start with education. There was a time where parents, mainly mothers, educated their children at home. Not only out of necessity but because it was expected; it was the norm. Children learned to read on the laps of their mothers or around the kitchen table; all the while watching and being part of her day-to-day life.
Now our children spend more time at school than at home during their week. They spend more time with their peers than any generation before them. They lack the connection to wisdom and maturity that once existed.
I am not saying today’s modern homeschooling could perfectly model the past, or what fix what ails our society. But I will say it is a marvelous start.
I’m a homeschooling mom…but more about that in another post.
See my book Homeschooling Fundamentals.
What about cooking? We eat out more than any other country in the world and any other generation in time. Convenience food lines the shelves at the grocery store…even the ones considered “health food stores”. According to Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Americans spend 27 minutes or less a day cooking…. We have lost an art form in the preparation of food; not to mention our health. I for one can admit there was a time where 2-3 meals a week contained Cream of Mushroom soup from the can. Since going Paleo/Primal I have cooked a lot more from scratch than I have in years. But you don’t have to go Paleo to bring back the vintage skill of cooking real food. Check out fellow homesteader, The Elliot Homestead’s book, Cooking From Scratch.
But I know all to well how a busy schedule can keep us from a home cooked meal eaten around a table… Skills that have nearly disappeared in the kitchen – canning, fresh baked bread (machines don’t count), making delicious stocks.
Not to mention sewing, knitting and crocheting! I remember my grandmother making me pretty sundress, pillows, even dolls as a little girl. She could sew, knit, crochet and embroider! I still have a blanket she made me when I was in high school. I know all too well how much she wanted to pass these skills onto me but I didn’t see the value in them then. I sure do now. I have tried picking up the skills, I sew, but not well. My knitting and crochet skills are still lacking and I’d love to embellish a shirt. Even more, I would give anything to have that time with her; and to be able to pass those skills to my 3 daughters.
And then there is gardening… A garden used to be the life blood of communities and homes. Everyone grew and ate from their garden. During war times we were encouraged to keep gardens and chickens as a means of patriotism! Families spent time tilling, planting, tending and harvesting from the soil. I call it dirt therapy. Sure it was work, hard work; but in replacing it was factory farms and grocery shopping what have we lost? Nope, no soap box on GMOs today. There was a time when we relied on each other. There was time when we were connected to each other and our food – as families and as communities.
BUT! I see a revival!!! Homeschoolers. Backyard Farmers. Crafters. Survivalists.
Homesteaders. These movements are growing and beginning to cross paths. They are cool, hipsters, conservatives and hippies. This “vintage revivalism” is gaining momentum. I am glad to be a part of it in my small way. I hope to only grow in my skills and pray my kids will find some enjoyment and enthusiasm in joining me in them.
There is a saying that every old is new again…what do you think? Can we agree to share our vintage skills with other and continue to learn vintage skills from other? YES! Let’s do this!