Friday, July 15, 2011

A New Twist On Pioneer Hay Sticks

None of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were more frightening to me than The Long Winter.  (Though the plague of grasshoppers On the Banks of Plum Creek was pretty terrifying!)  I could not imagine being cut off from civilization for so long that people became seriously malnourished!  Laura's future husband, Almonzo, and his brother fared a little better due to the fact that they had stored a large amount of wheat to plant in the spring.  Soon it became apparent that they would have to share with the other townspeople--a perfect example of the necessity of food storage.

In The Long Winter, the coal soon ran out since no train was able to get through the blizzard and Pa ingeniously began to use the hay as fuel that they had stored for their animal's food to last throughout the winter.  "Here is your breakfast fuel, Caroline," Pa said, laying his armful down by the stove.  "Good hard sticks of hay.  I guess they will burn all right."

Laura was a big help making the hay sticks with her father who was soon becoming seriously discouraged about their predicament.  My Little House Crafts Book 0439059585 is a fun little book of crafts that Laura describes in her Little House series.  The book shares how the hay sticks were made.  However, I chose to share a similar craft that we can more easily make and use today.

I found this idea in an issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Simply reuse newspapers to make firestarters.  "Tightly roll a sheet of newspaper, bend it in half, twist the ends together, and fasten with twine.  Keep a basketful by the hearth and you'll always be ready to heat things up."  These are very similar to the hay sticks that Laura and her pa made.

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