Friday, August 5, 2011

Homestead Experience: Hands on De Smet SD

Our afternoon visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead was a complete "hands on" experience.  While our morning was full of Wilder history, our afternoon was an opportunity to try out pioneer life on the prairie and on the same land that Laura's family homesteaded.

But before we headed to the Homestead, we stopped off at one of the "postcard" locations the spot where Pa planted Cottonwood Trees.  Five of Pa's trees still remain. 

The Homestead Site has a replica of the types of homes the Ingalls lived in before building their home on the land.  They had both a sod house built in the side of a hill and dugout.  We decided that we would have wanted both, one for summer heat and the other for winter cold.  The smell in the sod home would have been a little bit too much for me.

At the replica of the Ingalls home, the girls got to try their hand doing Laundry Prairie Style with a wash bucket, plunger and a clothes line.  Miss A said she could have stayed here all day trying to do laundry.  Miss M was in agreement and both girls even came back later in the day to do a few more "loads."  If only I could get them to do the real wash at home.

I'm thinking I might adapt Ma's Weekly Routine at home.  If I can just convince Miss A to do both the ironing and mending, I'll be golden.  Miss M can handle the wash and hanging the shirts on the line.

Next up was our Wagon Ride to the Schoolhouse.  It was a pretty smooth ride thanks to gentle mules and nice wheels.  I think the Ingalls ride into town was a much bumpier one.  The girls got to "drive" the mules on the way home.  They loved holding the reigns and talking to their charges.  What fun.

Our schoolhouse visit, complete with a teacher, was a treat.  Not only did the girls get to dress up in adorable little smocks and bonnets, they sat at desks like Laura and Carrie would have and learned all about the one room schoolhouse and what that meant for a student.  At the end of the "school day," there was even a spelling test which both girls passed.  Miss A had to spell Cat and Miss M spelled Prairie.  She missed the first time due to the prompt that there were a lot of "i's" in the word, just not that many.

After school, it is was time to try our hands at some rope making and corn husk doll creations.  Who knew how much fun it is to make your own rope, poor P even "bleed" a little in the process of making one for Mr. C.  Thankfully, it was already a deep red rope!  Miss A again was fascinated with the machinery and loved shucking the corn cobs. 

Pioneering is fun.  With sundown still a few hours ahead, our fun wasn't over yet.

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