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!

click photo to enlarge

Chic on a pony. Chicklet's was even smaller. (all photos can be clicked for enlargement)

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.

Chicklet making her corncob doll

Chicklet making her corncob doll

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.

Using a coffee grinder to grind wheat. (In about 25 turns, they got a couple of teaspoons of flour.)

Using a coffee grinder to grind wheat. (In about 25 turns, they got a couple of teaspoons of flour.)

Next was rope-making. I think this might have been their favorite.

Chicklet twisting to make her rope while Chic holds it.

Chicklet twisting to make her rope while Chic holds it.

They each got to help the other make their own rope. The ropes were long enough to use for jump ropes.

Their finished rope was heavy and durable.

Their finished rope was heavy and durable.

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.

6.DrivingCoveredWagon

The schoolhouse with a wonderful prairie sky behind it.

The schoolhouse with a wonderful prairie sky behind it.

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.

Learning about Laura while dressed in pioneer clothes.

Learning about Laura while dressed in pioneer clothes.

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.

Silver Lake is now a slough.

Silver Lake is now a slough.

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.

9.Pa'sGrave

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!

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Last week I showed you a little of what we did in DeSmet, SD, with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society. I forgot to mention, however, that Laura did not move to  South Dakota. At the time it was the Dakota Territory.

This week we are going to the homestead site. I’ve decided to break this one up because there was so much to do there.

We only had a couple of hours at the homestead. It was enough to do everything, but I would like to spend more time the next time.

The site has many building reproductions and is very informative. Some of the buildings are full of displays, but many have people to help make the experience more real and interesting, especially for children.

The first building we went to was a school house. You can tell the girls are excited. (There is nothing quite like running children on the open prairie.) Inside was a stationary covered wagon on which they could place and LOTS of displays with photos and information about the Ingalls family and their travels.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

We then went to a dugout house and a small shanty.

Imagine six people living in this space.

Imagine six people living in this space.

The above photo is a “half-shanty” which is what was usually built for a homestead claim. When Laura moved here, there were six people in the family. The quilt on the bottom right is the one bed. I cannot imagine living in such a small space, but definitely the bright side would be that one would not accumulate as much crap stuff.

We then went to a larger house. It was a full shanty (two bedrooms were normally the next addition), and it had a large sitting room added onto it. The sitting room was larger than the rest of the house combined. The Ingalls built a room onto their house for Mary’s organ.

Nothing in this room is original Ingalls Family possessions; it just gives as idea of what it might have looked like. I was particularly drawn to the "what-not" in the corner. I remember that vividly from the books.

Nothing in this room is original Ingalls Family possessions; it just gives as idea of what it might have looked like. I was particularly drawn to the "what-not" in the corner. I remember that vividly from the books.

At this house there was someone to show the girls how the Ingalls girls made paper into decorative designs for shelves, let them play the organ, and asked them to help with the laundry. First she sent them to the pump to get some water.

Pumping water was hard work for two little girls!

Pumping water was hard work for two little girls!

They had a tough time getting the water to come and wanted to quit, but their mean Mommy made them keep trying, and finally they were successful. (Though it would have taken a LONG time to get enough water for laundry at this rate of drip.)

Success at last!

Success at last!

After that they had to get their lye soap wet and wash a dish towel on a washboard.

Chic washing her towel.

Chic washing her towel.

Next was the wringer to get out the extra water. (I was grateful the helper pushed the cloth through.)

Chicklet turning the handle of the wringer.

Chicklet turning the handle of the wringer.

Then they hung their linens on the line to dry.

Chic's linen drying on the line.

Chic's linen drying on the line.

I loved seeing that crisp, white towel drying on the line. We were not there to take it off the line, but my guess is that after it dried, it smelled so clean and fresh!

The girls were amazed at how much time all of this took.  They were beginning to realize that pioneer girl life did not involve as much play as they are accustomed to!

Next week I’ll show you more of the homestead.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!