This week I will show the rest of our time at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead.
After doing some laundry (last week’s post), the girls headed to the stable. Chic was in heaven. She wants a horse more than anything in the world. Chicklet was dubious. (The one time we let her have a pony ride, we got our money back because she did not even last one circle of the ride.)
But all was well. Chic rode a pony while Chicklet rode in a pony cart. And when that was finished, they traded, except Chicklet got a tiny pony just her size. She liked it!
The girls then moved to a big shed which housed farm equipment and many other things. They first learned about twisting hay. (Remember in the book The Long Winter when they had to twist hay to burn to keep warm because the train with coal could not get through the snow and trees are scarce in the Dakotas?) Twisting hay makes it more dense so it burns a little more slowly. But still, it took the pioneers the bigger part of a day to twist hay enough to keep warm.
They also used a machine to take dried corn off a cob and made corn cob dolls. Why people spend money on toys is beyond me. They loved these dolls so much, and realized it would not take a whole lot of effort to make more at home.
In this shed they also used an old coffee grinder to grind wheat. They quickly learned that the part of the day that was not used to twist hay would be consumed in grinding wheat, for the output was slim.
Next was rope-making. I think this might have been their favorite.
They each got to help the other make their own rope. The ropes were long enough to use for jump ropes.
After this we headed back to the stable where someone had hitched up Skip and Barnum to the covered wagon. Both girls got to “drive” the wagon across the prairie to “school.” This was great fun for all of us except our dog (“Jack” for the day). We hit at a slow time and were the only ones on the wagon.
At school, a teacher was there to teach them about school life in Laura’s day. They wore appropriate clothing, pledged allegiance to the flag and wrote on slates. They learned about the kind of lunches that Laura might have brought to school. (A slice of bread with butter, for example.) After school, we headed back to the stable and off to the gift shop where we refrained from spending too much, but it really was a nice gift shop.
On the way out of town, we made sure to get a picture of Silver Lake, which has been drained. We did not have time to go to the twin lakes, Henry and Thompson, but we will definitely return.
The last photo is Pa’s gravestone. I include it because it reminds me of letterboxing. We had so much fun visiting all of Laura’s haunts in DeSmet that after the first letterbox we found, we completely forgot about it. There were clues to three others, and if they were still there, we were within meters of all of them, but until we were driving away, we did not even think of it. This is a really worthwhile place to go. And the fee for the homestead was minimal. Our family of four cost less than $25 to spend as much time as we wanted there.
Just a note, at the bottom of these Laura Ingalls Wilder posts, I have noticed links to someone else who is a big fan and has some great posts about this place and others with a little different perspective and pictures than I have. If you are a fan, it is worth visiting her links!