Little House on the Prairie: Week 4

We have just finished week four of our ten week Little House on the Prairie unit study.  I was a bit concerned we would have nothing to post about as three of my five children are fairly ill with a nasty throat infection and very high temperatures.  But it seems we are more immersed in Little House living than we thought, for although not all of our goals were met for the week, much learning took place.  As T11’s and L10’s siblings were falling like flies around them, these two stoically went on, ministering to everyone’s needs.  T11 was in his element, figuring what herbal remedies he could make that would help each symptom the others were experiencing, whilst L10 (a natural caregiver) went out of her way ensuring everyone was as comfortable as possible.  She even got up over night to her twin to make sure her temperature hadn’t spiked again.  It was gratifying to see.

So how is the house looking?  Here it is at the start:


And here it is four weeks later:


As you can see the kitchen garden is coming along nicely and T11 has stacked a wood pile for the cold winters in the Little House.

Here is the inside of the house at the beginning:


And how it looks four weeks later:


This week the floor has been wood stained and a rocking chair brought in to represent the willow rocking chair in the books.

T11 had chosen to learn to chop and stack wood for the house and sharpen his axe.  Last winter we made one of the best financial investments ever in a wood burning stove for our own 200-year-old cottage.  I can’t even begin to tell you how cosy our little home feels in the winter, with a roaring fire.  It warms almost the entire house and particularly the upstairs bedrooms which get so cold over the winter.  Gary is blessed to work in an industry where logs are readily available and rarely do we need to pay for them.  T11 has been in charge of cutting the kindling for the fire ever since.  We bought him a small axe for the job and he has enjoyed this new responsibility.  Having always wanted to learn to chop wood with Daddy’s big axe, he thought this would an ideal opportunity to state his case successfully.  He was right and Gary agreed to teach him.  Here he is learning to sharpen his own smaller axe:

Daddy demonstrating

And here he is doing it himself:

Me attempting to sharpen my own small axe myself

Then, after Gary demonstrated how to chop the wood safely, he was away:

and having great fun!


He then stacked a wood pile at the front of the Little House:


The infection has hit the younger ones the worst and I did wonder whether we would be able to do any activities this week, but at the last-minute A4 perked up and did some label painting.  I had some large coloured lolly sticks which she painted white:


I then wrote the names of the plants we were growing:


And she stuck them into their kitchen garden:


A4 has only moved slowly through her primer this week.  She has been very willing but her concentration, which is not great at the best of times, has been abysmal whilst she has been ill.  We decided not to push and just let her do whatever she felt able.

I have been reading and rereading these books to B2 and am hopeful she will know her 1,2,3s and A,B,C’s by the end of the ten weeks:


L10, has of course been cooking up a storm in the kitchen making a particularly delicious blueberry pie:

My blueberry pie
Even my mum, who doesn’t really like sweet food, said it was the best pie she had ever tasted!


Whilst L10 was busy in the kitchen, C10 was quietly getting on with the business of making yogurt.  Now we have been making our own yogurt for years in a crock pot.  It is fail safe and consistently produces delicious yogurt and soft cheese.  However, for this exercise we wanted to do it the old-fashioned way, without the aid of a crock pot.  Last week we made our first attempt by simply leaving out milk in the sun.  This has worked remarkably well over the years, when babies milk cups were inadvertently left out.  It had always miraculously turned to yogurt (albeit the smelly, inedible kind) by the next morning(!).  However, last week we had no success with our very primitive efforts.  This week we decided to apply what we knew worked but using only equipment that would have been available in the 1800’s.

C10 boiled up the milk to kill any bacteria already in the milk.  She left it to cool to hand temperature and added some natural yogurt, stirred and covered it with our large ‘yogurt’ towel (this is the towel I use exclusively for my own yogurt making).  We left it to take and checked it before bed.  Absolutely nothing had happened.  Usually we leave the crock pot wrapped overnight so I suggested we left it until the morning and have another look.  We did and C10 found the most delicious looking yogurt awaiting her the next day.  She halved it and turned the first half into strawberry yogurt using strawberry preserve and the other half she placed into our cheese making cloth (muslin from their babyhood) and hung it to drain over a colander:


I had to include the flowers in the photo.  My lovely mum brought them round to cheer C10 up.  The cup they are in was one L10 saved up to buy her twin and whilst washing up it had got chipped.  C10 was terribly upset, so mum suggested she used it as a vase and provided some pretty flowers to pop in.

The yogurt made some lovely curd cheese, which she served with some oat biscuits as a snack:


Away from the kitchen T11 and I have been staining the rocking chair.  It naturally is a rather orangey colour so we thought probably it would look a little more authentic a darker brown:


Next week the girls will be trying their hand at patch working a cushion for it.

The girls and their Daddy began the laborious process of weaving a basket.  We had bought them basket weaving kits when they turned 8 but I had taken one look at the instructions and put the kits away for when they were older.  Knowing what the instructions involved I cajoled Gary into some father and daughter time to avoid having to do it myself!  I was so glad it was him and not me.


It is taking a long time to learn and the girls are only half way through:


As I mentioned illness has been spreading through our house and T11 and L10 have been making sure everyone is being looked after.  T11, in particular, is interested in natural healing of all kinds and has his own herbal garden and little area in our house where he researches and makes up potions of all kinds.  He has also acquisitioned some fridge space from his Granny next door, who has a spare fridge in her shed.  He is currently saving up for his own fridge to put in his science/herbal nook!

He has been busy making up lots of natural medicines.  First he boiled some hot inhalation water, infused with peppermint leaves, for A4 to breathe in to soothe her throat and help clear it from the gunge residing there:


He also made up a gargle solution for C10 to use on her throat stating that the salt draws the water from the phlegm making it a hostile environment for the bacteria.  She doesn’t look well does she?


Having grown Calendula (marigolds) for a while and being well versed in the antiseptic properties of the flowers, T11 made some delightful Calendula cup cakes from a recipe out of a garden book of herbs to aid with the girls’ healing process.  They contained the petals and the smell coming from that oven was heavenly.  The taste though was seriously out of this world.  They were literally melt in your mouth with a really wonderful yet delicate taste.  Really, really good:


We had a look in his book of survival and it has a whole chapter on health.  He has decided that this is what he wants to concentrate on next week.  In fact I may insist that we learn it all together because it looks like such an interesting and useful chapter.

Next week, in addition to looking at natural first aid remedies and the such like, the girls will be making a patchwork cushion for the rocking chair, finishing their baskets and I’m sure they will be producing some delicious food also.  T11 will concentrate his efforts on his herbal remedies as well as building a shelf inside the Little House to display some of the bits and pieces we have made already and he will also be making a wooden door mat/dirt scraper.

The younger girls and I will be making an animal book, documenting the animals Laura would have seen on the prairie and we will also make a name sign for our own little house.

For more details of recipes and how tos please feel free to pop over to the children’s blog which they are using as a way to chronicle their 2013 summer adventures.

If you want to see what we were up to on week one,  two or three please do click on the links.

I am linking up to some of these great parties