Haystack Farm

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A Salute to Prairie Heroines

My fixation with the homestead era on the prairies dates back to who knows when really. It has always been a period of history that has captured my imagination.  I often ask myself the question "Would I have wanted to live back then?" I think the answer is, if given the chance I would love to visit but not sure I'd survive living there.

These all too often overlooked women deserve a salute. I figure few of us today would make it through what these determined souls made it through. They worked themselves to the bone from dawn until dusk with little or no creature comforts to keep their families together, fed, and safe as best they could. They created meals from nothing, clothing from scraps, and homes from holes in the ground.

This is not to at all undermine the hard work of the men of the households. But their glory is more freely acknowledged. After all their marks still endure in many places. The land they cleared may still be farmed today. Their barns or houses still standing, their farm equipment and vehicles still dotting the fields.

Today as I go about my much easier domestic and farm chores I can sometimes still get discouraged by how quickly my own hard work is erased. The food gets eaten (by family and animals), the house dirtied, the clothes hampers filled, the shelves unstocked, the children re-injured or saddened. In fact some days I feel like setting up cameras just so I can see the socks spring forth from the cracks in the floor because I'm sure that is where they must be coming from. Now just imagine your clothes never getting quite clean as washing them often meant having nothing to wear until they were done, your meals never being done because by the time one is over you have already started preparing for the next, your children always being a little rough around the edges even the day after bath day, your house being one small step above the great outdoors when it came to dirt and dust.  Always babies and diapers, pregnancies, runny noses, maybe more severe injury or illness. Add to this the perfect isolation some of these women lived in.  I give them my whole hearted, utmost respect and admiration. It is now my mission to learn as much about these women as possible. Find a prairie heroine and share it with your children.

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