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 How The Pioneers Did It 
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Post How The Pioneers Did It
Day to Day Living the Pioneer Way

Outhouses. A pail of lye was kept in the outhouse. One cup a day is thrown down the hole to help keep odor tolerable. Pieces of died corn cob was used for toilet paper.

Torches. Find pine trees that have fallen, which are full of sticky resin. Chop into logs. Split logs into "sticks". The resin makes the torch burn bright and slow. Pine knots can be used on their own, or put into a iron basket called a jacklight. To make torches burn longer, extract the resin. Start pinechips smoldering, the prop a kettle upside down over the fire. As the black smoke rose it left resin in the kettle. Any stick dipped into the resin could be set alight. Old brooms were often used. Caution. Torches can drip hot resin, and sparks can start grass fires in dry conditions.

How to estimate the height of a tree. Drive a stick into the ground next to the tree, where full sunlight will hit it. Measure the length of the stick from the ground up and the length of it's shadow. Next measure the length of the tree's shadow. Stick shadow length divided by stick length equals tree shadow divided by tree height.

Geese. Geese can be plucked two or three times a summer. "It doesn't hurt the geese, it just makes them angry". To keep a goose from pecking, slip a sock over its head, then hold the body between your knees. Use the quills for pens, pillows, quilts, and mattress filling.

Homemade ink. Mash walnut shells and boil them until the water is a deep brown. Add vinegar and salt to the boiling water to set the color. Add lampblack for a black color. Lampblack is made by holding a small dish over a lit candle, and collecting the soot.

Fencing. Split rail everyone knows. But you can also use tree stumps. A wattle fence is made with long willow branches woven between fence posts.

Dry corn husks to restuff mattresses with once a year. They can also be braided to make floor rugs. Burn the cobs to a white ash to use as baking powder or thrown on the fire while hams are being cured. Cobs can be cut to make bottle corks.

When oak leaves as the size of a squirrels ear...it is time to plant corn.
A few weeks later, when the first leaves have sprouted, it is time to plant pumpkin/squash/beans. Assuming you have planted heirloom seeds, save the best ears for next years seed supply. Peel back the husks, braid them and hang the ears in the barn to dry. When dry, scrap kernels off the cob and store in sacks or barrels in cool dry place.

Finding a Honey Tree This is done early in the year, just as spring warms up. You will need a peice of honey comb, a flat stone, a very small box with a lid, and a pail of hot coals. Some kind of marker, like a scarf, will be helpful in relocating your tree later. On a warm sunny spring day, find an open grassy meadow. Heat your stone in the pail of hot coals. When hot, remove the stone with two sticks used as tongs and place on the ground. Next, smear a tiny amount of the honeycomb over the rock. Bees can smell the melted honey from quit a ways away. Next to the rock, place the small open box, partially covered with the lid, with more honeycomb inside. ...and then you wait. When the bee comes, be ready to quietly and quickly close the box. Let the bee eat its fill of honey, then let it out and follow it. When the bee is released it will make a beeline for home, and you will know in which direction to proceed. If you've lost your bee, repeat process. He will return to get more food and this time will bring friends. Eventually you will locate their tree. Mark it for future reference. To harvest the honey, put wet leaves or cedar boughs on hot coals in a pail to make smoke. You most likely will still get stung, so this may be a caution for ppl with allergies. Please remember to leave plenty of honeycomb for the bees to survive winter with. Bee honey has antibiotic properties and can be used as a salve for cuts and burns. Swallow some for sore throats, or put a Tablespoon of honey into 1/2 cup of hot tea.

Weather forecasting. Signs of good weather are birds flying high, smoke rising quickly, cicadas singing loudly, and heavy dew at night. Watch the clouds, the higher they are, the better the weather will be. Bad weather is forecast by smoke curling downward, dark cumulus cotton ball like clouds, overcase cirrus (or long stringy) clouds. A halo around the sun means rain within ten to twelve hours.

Storing Fruits and Vegetables.
Potatoes, turnips, and other root vegetables ideally are stored in a root cellar. For storage, before a root cellar can be built, you will dig pits. In the fall, dig pits 5' deep and 3' wide. Line the pit with straw, about 12" deep, on bottom and sides. Fill half of the hole with potatoes. Pack more straw on top, about 12" deep and then fill remainder 2' of hole with dirt. Stick a hollow basswood tube, or equivalent into the pit to get rid of gas that might otherwuise build up and rot the potatoes. Halfway through winter, when fresh vegetables have been used up, open the pit. If the pit was deep enough and warm enough, the potatoes will be firm.

To store apples, they must be handled with care to last. When they are ripe, pick the best ones carefully, twisting, not pulling, each apple from the twig. Pack each apple in its own straw nest in a barrel to keep it unbruised for winter eating. Store the barrel in the root cellar.

Eggs buried in salt would stay fresh enough for baking, although not for boiling or frying.

Homemade yeast. Boil the flowers of the hop vine. The resulting liquid is called barm, and is kept in a stone crock. Two cupfuls are added to each batch of bread dough. If you don't have hop vines, use a bread starter. Mix a little salt and sugar into a cup of mashed potatoes and water. This is kept in a warm place to ferment or bubble up. Every time a cupful was used, the starter was topped up with a mixture of flour and potatoe water. Homemade yeast didn't always work. Bread was often hard or soggy. Anyone who could consistantly make light fluffy bread every time was well known throughout the community.

Toothpaste. Fray the end of a small twig, dip in salt, and scrub.


Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:23 pm
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Post Re: How The Pioneers Did It
Interesting tips here Gen, lets hope we don't need them anytime soon :scared

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:15 am
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Post Re: How The Pioneers Did It
:clap Gen!

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:05 am
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