Sunday, May 10, 2015

Depression Era Sustainable Ways

Sometimes there are people
who impact our lives in unforeseen ways.
A dear friend will be 95 next weekend.
As you can imagine,
he has seen quite a few changes 
over the course of his life.
I thought I would share just a few of the tid-bits
that I've gained just by "swappin' stories."
When he was about 4-6 years old,
his bed was really a frame with a short lip around the edge.
This shallow 'box' held a mattress
filled with cedar bows.
To me it doesn't sound that comfy,
but he said though he was a child,
he remembers it as being pretty cozy.

There was no refrigeration growing up. 
To keep their butter and cream cool,
they had a wire cage that they wrapped well with gunny sacks.
They would set that in a large pan or tub
with a couple inches of fresh cool water in it.
As the water wicked up into the burlap,
evaporation kept the contents cool.

And lastly,
When they butchered something in summer,
they would hang the pieces (like a quarter of critter)
at least 30 feet high, up in a tree.
He said that is above the fly level.
It will "skin up" and have a skin on it as thick as the hide.
You cut that off and the meat inside is good.
He said he's eaten meat that has hung in a tree for a month,
and it is tender and delicious.

Okay, maybe if I had no other option,
but that one might worry me just a little.
I think the gunny sack cooler is brilliant,
and I bet that cedar smelled fabulous as he fell into slumber.

These are the kinds of things
I consider gems of knowledge.
Maybe that's part of the reason I love talking 
with elderly folks.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches


  1. SOMEBODY had to climb that tree the first time!

    1. And I'm sure it was the young'ins who were assigned that task:)

  2. please try to post more of his knowledge.

    1. I'll see what I can do. I was just going on memory; maybe I should take notes.

  3. my oh my how life has changed, I can well remember life without a fridge but not hanging meat from a tree etc, wonder who had the job of climbing up and down that tree! Such an interesting blog you have shared today and I can almost smell the cedar branches.

    1. Times sure have changed. I love the smell of cedar too. When I mow the lawn, it smells good when I near the tree and catch some low needles.

  4. Just came across your scribings via Mr. Smythe's link, I hope that you don't mind if I hang around for a tad.

  5. We can learn so much from our elders :) love the stories!

  6. There is a lot of knowledge that will be lost if we don't make sure to collect it. We try to buy very old books and store them away. I'd love to know more about this person's life. I did not know there was a fly level!

    1. I didn't know there was such thing as a fly like either. I'll have to keep a little notebook or something so when I think of the things that have been shared, I can jot them down.

  7. Goodness! Mind you, 'hung' beef or rather as it's now called 'aged' beef steaks, bring a pretty penny on the restaurant menu. I don't doubt for a moment that it was tender and delicious. What a wonderful post. Mimi xxx

    1. I know we hang game meat for a few days before cutting it up & it sure makes a difference. Our laws demanding meat to be chilled within 1 hour doesn't do us any favors:)

  8. Came over after reading your comment on Leigh's blog - I totally agree with what you said and by the end of my own childhood I could do so much more than sit and play computer games (although I could do that as well!).
    I lvoe your words of wisdom here as well. I have an old neighbour who lives two doors down and he's lived here his whole life. He knows the land so well and all that's been on it in the last 70 years so can advise really well on what will do well and where.
    As for your keeping things cool someone told me they used to have a clay pipe about 4ft in the ground and a long pole with a flat bottom on it. They'd leave a bottle of milk down there and pull it up on the pole when they wanted it. Great if your water table is low enough!

    1. Thanks for coming over. I love the idea of the clay pipe. We are right on the river so that would probably only work for a few months out of the year here, but he might be able to offer other wisdom as well. I really think our elderly folks are a wealth of knowledge if we take the time to listen.

  9. Love hearing these stories too. My folks grew up in the depression so I know first hand how they lived as mine continued a great deal of what they learned. It has made me pretty miserly....ha!

  10. I love learning from our Depression Era friends. We are loosing so many of them, and along with that, their knowledge base. I just lost my 97 year old Granny 2 years ago. I will forever cherish what she has passed on to me.
    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  11. I really appreciate this kind of information too! I am actually surprised that they even butchered something so big in the summer. This is interesting... Thank you for sharing these nuggets!

  12. P.S. I lived with our Depression Era aunt for 2 years and boy, do I have stories of her frugality!!! I can't waste anything in our home. She really did her job with me :)