We’ve just started to read Farmer Boy in our Little House on the Prairie Year.
Farmer Boy covers the life of Almanzo, Laura’s husband, and his growing up years on a farm in Malone, New York.
In the official series it actually appears as about book three I think, but our Prairie Primer suggests reading it at this juncture – right after These Happy Golden Years about Laura and Almanzo’s courtship. It helps with the flow of following Laura’s life first, plus Laura probably heard most of the Almanzo-grows-up stories during their long courtship and marriage.
I’ve been infatuated with Laura Ingalls and her life and her words for decades now, but this is the first time that I think the book Farmer Boy might find us in a heap of trouble.
I love how when you re-read a book, you find yourself in a different place with each new reading.
As we read the lengthy, vivid descriptions of the foods Almanzo’s farming mother served the family in generous portions our mouths are watering. When we listen to the story of Almanzo being allowed to break his own calves in using his own new yoke on his ninth birthday, we all want to own calves and see them grow from curly-haired young ones to beef-producing bovines in our own fields. The farm fresh eggs and the homemade apple pies (served routinely at breakfast!) and crafted from apples in the family’s orchards might just be too much to handle.
If reading Joel Salatin’s Folks This Ain’t Normal hasn’t already pushed me to the frightening farming edge, I am afraid that this book might.
I look outside and see open fields and all I can think of is – how can I get some goats and cows to live right there?
This week we did try to sample a bit of an evening snack like the Wilder family frequently enjoyed.
We popped popcorn and served it with apples and apple cider and milk. (Plus, when you work hard, you have an excuse to eat hard. You earn those giant meals of stacked and steaming pancakes overflowing with warm maple syrup.)
We shared our feast with a few extra fellas – we had a friend visiting and the neighbor boys happened to pop over at exactly the right moment.
Our kids told our buddies about a trick Almanzo described as a favorite treat of his.
Pour equal amounts of milk and popcorn into two containers.
If you add the popcorn kernels one by one into the milk glass you will discover that every kernel of popcorn can fit in the glass and the milk will not overflow the cup.
Of course we had to try this.
And you know what?
Old Almanzo was right.
No milk overflowed.
In the novels, Almanzo talks about how much he enjoys drinking the glommy popcorn/milk combination.
Naturally, London had to try this. That kid thinks every food Almanzo Wilder describes sounds delectable.
She said it was pretty tasty. I took her word for it.
There was an audience you know so Piper Finnian boldly declared she would take a sip too.
She did not think it delicious.
And these days, what London does – Otto does.
Besides, he’s named after Almanzo and Laura Wilder so he’s gotta give it a good effort.
I think trying the food told about in these novels has been such a neat way to connect across the years and across the lifestyles with these characters whose names we mention daily. These people who really grew up and really conversed and really struggled and really endured and whose stories have drifted down to our family and we are finding ourselves changed and shaped because of the lives these people once lived.
In real life now we connect and celebrate and mourn over tables laden with food – gifts of time and love.
It only makes sense to me that we would do the same to connect with the past as well.