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Pioneering Roots and Traditional Skills

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

If you had the opportunity to have free land would you take it? The only catch is you have to live on and improve the land. The homestead act of 1862, which was signed by Lincoln gave free land, up to 160 acres to citizens who agreed to live on it, improve it and pay a small registration fee.

This is exactly what happened to my ancestors. They moved west in a covered wagon with all they could fit and settled in a little town in Wisconsin. America was built by the hands and hard work of pioneers. They had all kinds of skills that helped them survive in the great wide open. They built their own houses and barns, cooked over open fires, baked their own bread, grew their own food and raised their own livestock. They knew how to hunt, fish, forage and grow medicinal herbs. They would knit and sew and had good bartering skills and made friends with their neighbors. You could say they were a Jack of all trades. These traditional skills had been passed down to the next generation. At least for a couple generations.


The post WWII era brought a lot of modern conveniences we still use today like electric stoves, washing machines and indoor toilets. It may not seem like that long ago, but my great grandparents still had an outhouse and used a wood burning stove even though their home had been upgraded with a modern bathroom and electric oven. Somewhere between the baby boomers and millennials most of those skills had been lost. Lost, but not forgotten.

There has been an increase in young people wanting to learn these traditional skills. My 21 year stepdaughter has taken up knitting. Young moms have been mastering the art of sour dough bread baking. More and more households have started raising back yard hens for eggs.

In spring of 2020 there were more gardens planted than in the victory garden movement. Everyone was locked down because of the coronavirus. Maybe they were bored and needed a project. That may be part of it but I think another huge part is that people want to be more self sufficient. They have seen that they can not rely on solely grocery stores. They have experienced the satisfaction of growing their own food.

There has been a surge of people moving out of the cites in search of land with the desire to be more self sufficient and start their own mini farm. Traditional skills are making a comeback. Every family has some old world skills that you could bring back to life and pass on to your children or a friend. Whatever you choose, I'm sure you will find joy and satisfaction in learning something new and being a PIONEER to the next generation.

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