Monday, November 4, 2013

Pleasant Hours of Housework

Homemaker Vacuuming, USA, 1950

I was reading a bit from "Farmer Boy," by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I had already cleaned the parlour, swept the floors and did some dishes. I had fed grandbaby and settled him down for his nap.  As I read, I was intrigued and inspired by how Ma and Pa Wilder industriously kept the farm.

There was certain heavy work that happened at specific seasons.  Ice was carved out and stacked in the ice house.  This was the main work at hand, for days, in addition to daily chores.  When the men finished with this, the ice was all set for the coming year.

 Later, in springtime, the maple trees were tended to.  Here in Vermont, this is a common event. Much of life stops while the sap is "running."  The sap is gathered and boiled and processed.  For Mother Wilder, much of it became cakes of maple sugar.  The rest was saved in jugs as the year's supply of syrup!

Oh, then it was time for the entire house to be cleaned! The carpets were un-tacked and taken outside to be cleaned.  The rooms were emptied and washed and scrubbed!  They were also whitewashed and made ready for the next season.   

While Pa worked with the fields, in his workshop, in the barns, and kept busy with his chores. Ma made large, delicious meals and kept a lovely home.  Ma also had a workroom where she kept a loom and made the family's clothes!

Well, this all got me thinking. . . And all I wanted to do was dust the house, sweep the rooms and vacuum the carpets! I wanted to wash windows and then take a little rest before I started the great task of preparing the evening meal.  These were just little jobs.  These are jobs that are re-done on a regular basis. But as each task is "done," there is a sense of pride for the hard work being accomplished to make home a happy, special place.

These are the pleasant hours we spend at home, doing the housework. 

Mrs. White

From the Archives:

Days full of Good deeds for Mother and children - Mother's Benevolent Society.

Here are the details on the latest publication at "The Legacy of Home." - Mother's Book of Home Economics.

For the very bad days of Motherhood. - Trouble with Teenagers.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 



Rhonda said...

Thankfully we mostly use electric vacuum cleaners instead of having to untack and move the carpets outside. I am guessing they must of had to beat those carpets like crazy to clean them.

Even doing our housework with a minimum of modern things, our cleaning is much easier than it used to be.

The Momma Chronicles said...

We have the book, which is among my top five favorite books. I am always so inspired to get busy here in my own home whenever I read it. We also have the book on CD! We LOVE to listen to "Farmer Boy" on road trips. My son wants to be a farmer, so I tell him that listening to "Farmer Boy" is a great way to start learning the ropes.

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

I do adore Farmer Boy and Little House in the Big Woods. They both make me feel like nesting and enjoying homemakery tasks.

Blessings to you,
Harvest Lane Cottage

Dolly said...

Wonderful post! I long for the times of old (but it sounds like a lot of work!). Glad we have our modern conveniences, but there's a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you provide for your family!

Farmlife Chick said...

I like this post, a lot!:)

CountryGirl said...

How in the world did they do it all back then? I feel like I have accomplished the world if I get the few daily chores I've assigned myself finished. What did they do when they had toddlers? And where on earth did they get the energy? Sometimes I wonder if maybe it just looked like Mrs Wilder was so busy to her son, but, having heard other similar tales, maybe my millenial generation is just unused to hard work. I was raised, although in a comparatively traditional home, to study hard in school, learn a few domestic skills (the traditional part of my education), enjoy youth and have the most fun I could before I grew up, do well in school and college and get a lucrative, white collar job. Learning to work hard with what I had was something I wish I had learned before I was married with children, now I am teaching myself. It is not that easy to do!
Your posts keep me going and encourage me to stretch myself. I hate housework, but my scrub bucket and I are coming to terms!

Karen Andreola said...

I so enjoyed reading Farmer Boy aloud to my son years back. He wasn't much interested in the other books of the series. I thought the wall-paper incident funny.
Recently I cleaned the dust off the wooden chandeliers in our house for the upcoming holidays. Should I admit that not only were there cobwebs on some but I found an actual cocoon in the candle dish of one? (electric candle) Mrs. White would be understanding, I think.
I just finished reading The First Four Years to myself at night. I'd never read it before. It was gently eye-opening to the hardships of the pioneers.