What Cowboys Built And Did Around The House To Be Self-Sufficient

James Walton
By James Walton November 27, 2017 10:23

What Cowboys Built And Did Around The House To Be Self-Sufficient

Sunrise on the plains can choke you up. Even in the unforgiving and unhindered spring winds the sky is alive with brushstrokes of the heavens.

A cup of hot coffee, sludgy and made from poorly filtered water, is the mornings second offering to you. Maybe you dip some hardtack in your cup to give you strength for the day.

In the back of your mind the list of concerns begins to build. This cut of the West is wild and its home to predators, Indians, criminals and God’s elements. All of which threaten your life and threaten the cattle you are herding. They are your livelihood as well.

In the 1800’s a cowboy’s morning on the range would look something like that. It was not a life for the faint of heart. As an old west cowboy, you would have laid your head in many places throughout the year. The most obvious being in a tent on the plains as you ran cattle.

There were other places that cowboys laid down to rest as well. These places were built for self-reliance. You must remember, this region of the US was mostly unexplored, and it was very dangerous. Everything these brave cowboys needed they had to provide from the land around them.

THE BUNKHOUSE

ther bunkhouse cowboysWhile most cowboys had a ranch that they called home, it was also common to find cowboys lumped together in what was called a cowboy bunkhouse

The cowboys would live in these communal, barrack style, lodges and they called them dives, dice houses and even ram pastures. These small communal homes were outfitted with the tools of self-sufficiency.

#1. Wood Stove

At the center of every bunkhouse was the wood stove. This stove was the focal point of the bunkhouse. Men sat around the wood stove and played music or cards. They used this wood stove for heat, cooking and even to dry clothes.

Without the wood stove the bunkhouse would be essentially uninhabitable. This was particularly true in the winter months.

#2. Outhouse

Another mainstay of the cowboy bunkhouse was the outhouse. While this structure was never actually inside the bunkhouse it was a permanent fixture at every bunkhouse. This was their self-sufficient plumbing operation. These were wooden structures that offered privacy and a minor respite from the elements.

Though it may sound primitive today, imagine what a little privacy would do for you after months out on the plains digging cat holes.

#3. Corn Broom

While it is not highlighted in many texts if you look close at these pictures of historical bunkhouses you will often see a corn broom in the background. This cleaning tool with bristles made from the tops of corn stalks, was an essential part of keeping the dive clean. This would be for the inside and the outside.

These brooms are very easy to make and should be a consideration in your own inventory. This is particularly true if you are a corn grower yourself. Take a cue from the cowboys of the past.

#4. Drying Poles

Another interesting addition to the bunkhouse were drying poles. These poles were hung from the ceiling at the center of the bunk house. The poles would run on all fours sides of the wood stove. They were high enough that they didn’t impede walking but low enough that they were easy to use.

Cowboys would hang socks and other garments on these poles and the heat from the wood stove would dry them. As you can imagine there were many ways that cowboys could get wet while out on the range.

Related: 15 Lost Survival Tips From The Cowboys Who Wandered The West – With Illustrations

THE RANCH

cowboy ranchA cowboy’s ranch was his solace from the plains. This was the place where the man who roamed could finally settle. On a cowboy’s ranch he would have his cattle and more of the niceties of a home. That said, this was as self-sufficient a living space as any pioneers’ homestead might be.

#5. Crude Wire Fencing

Without access to a hardware store these cowboys would create crude fencing. They would utilize fence posts of all sizes from full sized tree trunks to saplings that were sunk into the ground. These fence posts would be wrapped with wire or barbed wire.

This fencing was very important because it kept the livestock in and it kept predators out. Remember, a cowboy’s livelihood depended on the cows they took out to pasture and the horses they upkept. Cowboys were known and often hired by other ranchers for fence repair.

#6. Wall Hangers and Hooks

Storage was a big deal in the old west. It seemed like everywhere you could hang something, you would hang something. This was a critical part of keeping clothes, gear and tools in decent shape. The flooring in standard homes was primitive. Cowboys weren’t living on concrete slabs.

Outside the home and inside these hooks hung whips, hides, hats, belts, saddles and anything else of value. The life of self-reliance required these cowboys to hang their valuables and get the most out of them.

While this may seem like the simplest thing to have around your home it was a key part of their success. There was no cheap or easy way to replace essential gear.

#7. Work Bench

Life on the ranch required repairs and when you needed something it meant you had to build it. You would also have to build it using what minimal and raw materials you could get. The Old West workbench and space that contained it would be an area where tools were kept as well.

The bench itself would be incredibly sturdy. The legs would be fortified to endure the banging and heavy use required of it. Mallets, hand drills and hatchets would have been used on the cowboy’s workbench and this would have been a place the tinkering cowboy would have spent a lot of time.

#8. Wind Mills

Though you may think of wind energy as a new strategy in the game or renewables, it’s been around a long time. When pioneers would stake a claim on land without a year-round water source, you would quickly see a wind mill go up.

A cowboy ranch would be incomplete without a well for water and a windmill to help deliver that water. Hand pumping well water in the old west was an arduous task. It would take too much time and energy. The windmill changed all of that. It allowed the cowboy, the rancher and the homesteader the ability to put the wind to work.

While windmills would have no doubt made into onto the property of any cowboy or rancher it was no modern technology. In fact, most old-world immigrants had similar windmills in their country of origin.

The management of water has always been crucial to civilization.

YOUR INNER COWBOY

There is reason you are called to this culture. As Americans we are the truest form of pioneers, both socially and physically. It is in your nature to forge into the unknown but don’t forget there is something else in your nature, too.

Much of what we’ve talked about had to do with sheer survival. Surviving the heat and the drought was crucial. Today we find ourselves in a similar circumstance and those old cues are firing off again. Our survival instinct is calling. Its calling people to the homestead. Its calling them away from convenience and dependence.

Are you going to heed to the call? Listen to the pioneer in you.

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James Walton
By James Walton November 27, 2017 10:23
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65 Comments

  1. ron November 27, 16:04

    Cant stand your video “game playing” of teaser statements and withholding the point/gist or name of the item you are pitching. Why not come right out up front like a man and say what it is. We can then decide if it is worth watching. I always shut them off immediately when you don’t.

    Reply to this comment
    • Bear November 27, 16:12

      I also shut them off. Irritating.

      Reply to this comment
    • Keepin’ it real November 27, 21:06

      I’m beginning to feel like this entire website is just another advertising vehicle for someone pitching their unknown book.

      Reply to this comment
      • CarmenO November 27, 21:41

        Listen to yourselves “website for someone pitching their…book”. Duh! People have websites to pitch their books, someone else’s products that help pay for the website, promote the owner of the site and etc. Every website pitches something.You DO NOT have to click on the website. Did someone force you? Did you read the information provided for free. Of course you did that’s why you are here complaining. I found the information interesting and you don’t have to be even remotely a genius to figure out the person has a website for their own benefit, In this case much of what is posted benefits others also. Just go away and find something else to complain about. I’ll keep clicking every time this site sends me a notice.

        Reply to this comment
        • keepin’ it real November 27, 22:33

          Bitter much?

          Reply to this comment
        • red June 14, 01:03

          Carmen: Good post! I second that. these whiners wreck everything. This site is for us all. It teaches. The know-it-alls waste our time with wet-diaper liberalism. niio

          Reply to this comment
          • Clergylady June 14, 14:51

            I enjoy the posts. Had to laugh to myself as the description almost feels like home to me. No dirt floor but
            1. We heat, cook, and warm our water on a rocket stove with the optional hopper for gravity fed pellets or wood chips.
            2. I’m blessed I guess. We do have one indoor bathroom including a shower if we ever get hot running water.
            3. My broom isn’t corn but I used to grow broom corn and made brooms. I’d guess most of them were wall decorations in California.
            4. I dry laundry on a folding wood rack and two fold down racks hung on doors. We were using shared clothslines but my friends have taken in 5 grandkids and a newborn greatgrandson. The lines are always full and through the winter with an injured knee inside was easier. I may put up clothes line but the racks are just fine for now.
            5. Most of my property line fencing is 4×4 ( hole size) welded field fencing hung on the old odd sized wooden poles. Post may well be 100 or more years old. A few have broken off at ground level and need a new t post for a repair. I have one row of barbed wire strung along the top of most of it.
            6. I use hooks for entry way guests jackets. Hooks in the kitchen for hotpads and other smaller items. Hooks in the closet for belts, scarves, et. It’s a small closet for two people.
            7. I have tools in the home but the real work bench is in a shop building.
            8. One Well has electricity. The other has a can and an old boat trailer hand cranked winch. I have most of what I need to go 12v solar on that second well. I’ll be using 2, 100w panels, 1, 50aph battery and a 12v pump and l, 230 gal water tank with a float shut off set up. Then a smaller pond pump for watering fruit trees and the gardens and berry patches from the tank. For now the house water will stay on the other well. I have 1, 330w panel and an inverter toward changing the first well to solar.
            I’ve been without electricity for almost 9 months in the home. Winds tried to turn my solar array into a kite. Totally destroyed it. Broke welds et. I’ve had it rebuilt with double the battery bank it had before. I had 3 full days battery back up (without a refrigerator moved in yet) I’m getting ready to move in a refrigerator and the array additional battery bank will be paid off today so they will install it soon. It will be a novelty to have lights or ceiling fans turn on at the flick of a switch.
            Thank goodness for good cross ventilation to keep a breeze through the main room. We open the front door and many windows when it start cooling off in the evening. That cools the bedroom. We can close all but two living room windows by bedtime.
            I haven’t used an electric mixer or blender in all this time and don’t really miss them. I have hand tools like whisks and old fashioned egg beaters. I have a hand cranked Foley mill that purees fruit beautifully. I have great great grandma 2, hand cranked meatgrinders and a newer one with attachments for filling sausage casings. I have a hand cranked flourmill. I have hand cranked kitchen tools designed for camping but haven’t even needed them in the home.
            As for the coffee I have a nice electric coffee maker but I love boiled camp coffee made in my old fashioned pot. Just drop in an egg shell to settle the grounds as it boils while breakfast is cooking. Somewhere still not unpacked from this move I have a glass perculator and my husband has a metal one for camping. I haven’t missed them.
            I like these posts. Actually this one is a good description of a very basic lifestyle. I enjoyed reading it.

            Reply to this comment
  2. left coast chuck November 27, 16:51

    What Cowboys BUILT. They aren’t building them any more. They BUILT them in the past.

    This list is a great source of information. This article is not. If this is the typical quality of Mr. Walton’s writing, he definitely should keep his day job. If this is his day job, he should seek employment within his capabilities.

    Reply to this comment
    • JP November 27, 17:40

      Clearly it was a typo. Geez…lighten up!

      Reply to this comment
      • Kurmudgeon November 27, 20:32

        Yup – a typo that got repeated three times: in the title of the article, plus the link to the article, and in the subject line of the email as well. Pretty sloppy proofreading, I’d say.

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck November 27, 20:43

          Yes, because it was repeated I assumed the author didn’t know the difference between the words “build” and “built.” Once is a typo; thrice is duhhh. Correct word usage is absolutely essential. Without correct word usage, the reader is left to guess at the author’s meaning. This was very clearly indicated in a prior article where at least two of the readers guessed at the meaning of the author’s error. One guessed that what he was listing was medicine for diarrhea, the other that he was listing medicine for constipation. Significant difference between the two medications. Having to guess at the author’s meaning in those medications in some cases could have fatal results.

          Reply to this comment
    • CarmenO November 27, 21:45

      Strangely enough there are still cowboys left that drive herds of cows and live in bunkhouses. They are still BUILT even if they have more modern facilities such as bathrooms inside. I know some people are frustrated because they can’t find job, take it out on yourself for not finding one, not on others. You DO NOT have to read.

      Reply to this comment
    • Anne November 28, 07:20

      Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention.

      It was a typo.

      Thank you for the correction, I’ve made the appropriate changes.

      Reply to this comment
    • Sal September 24, 14:27

      I enjoy reading it. No complaints.

      Reply to this comment
    • red June 14, 01:08

      Chuck, come on. Have you been to a cowcamp? I have. Worked them on both sides of the border, Cooked in them. Did a lot of card-playing. Bunks were handmade and called racks for a reason. Places like these are common enough yet today, and when the coosie burns one down, they saw the logs for vigas or walls and roof, and it’s home again, for the summer and into autumn. Headquarters shack is modern, yeah, but anyone who works as a cowhand has lived in an old-fashioned shack or lineshack.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Rass November 27, 21:47

    What… really..some of your stuff is good but unless I’m a 7 year and want to be a cowboy we should know all this by now and it’s not1850s

    Reply to this comment
    • Lisa November 27, 22:06

      Be careful what you say. In my prepping, I’m calculating how far back in time are we going? 100 yrs, 200 years or back to the caves. A good volcano, anywhere in the world could wipe us back a ways. Knowledge to pass on is necessary to not have to reinvent everything. I can foresee the skill of reading to be an honored skill, and real books a valued asset. Of course, this is after you manage to survive and the riffraff doesn’t take you out.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck November 28, 00:39

        A super volcano or a world-wide CME event would set the world back to the early 1800s in my estimation. The most significant part of that is that we no longer have the infrastructure that existed at that time. There are no coal mines that operate with horse power. There are no open hearth steel mills. How many households possess a spinning wheel, hand loom, milking equipment, butter churn? How many men today know how to saddle a horse and ride? Hitch a team to a wagon? When was the last time you visited the village blacksmith shop to have a part repaired? Baling wire used to be the duct tape of the 18th century. Got a hundred feet of baling wire in your garage? Do you have a kerosene lamp? Do you know how to trim a wick in a kerosene lamp or is it more like “wick?” What’s a wick? I read a survivalist novel where the author wanted to put out a kerosene lamp. He had the hero throw it on the floor to put it out. I certainly hope he never does that in real life. The same author didn’t know how to light the kind of wood burning stove one might find in a cabin. Most of us in this country don’t have any of the every day life skills that were common among most of the population at that time. Books will have the same kind of value they had in the 18th and early 19th century. Most of the peppers talk about saving their electronics via Faraday cage and using re-chargable batteries without thinking that those batteries have a finite life, whether it is five years or eight years, at some point down the road that solar system is going to peter out. Oops! Back to kerosene lamps if we can manage to distill kerosene from natural oil seeps where they exist or vegetable or animal fat lamps. My first attempt at making lard did not turn out too well. I want to learn how to do it before I MUST do it. My next chore after lard will be tallow and then soap and the soap will be with natural lye from ashes rather than lye purchased from Amazon.

        Reply to this comment
        • Kangaroo November 28, 16:47

          I had to laugh at your milking equipment, its called two hands, everyone has a set, but there is a trick to the way you squeeze the teets, but you will learn it as you go. The only thing is a separator that takes the cream from the milk, I think dad still has ours in his shed, but the cream will rise to the top and you scoop it off. That was my job as a kid, to milk the cow morning and night. One thing some people don’t know is the cow has to have a calf every year for it to produce milk.

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck November 30, 03:27

            Well, Kangaroo, I really didn’t have an electric milking machine in mind. I more had in mind the associated equipment, pails, cans, butter churn — I didn’t think of a cream separator. When I was young before homogenized milk, the cream was always at the top of the bottle. On a cold winter morning if we could get away with it, we would break off the frozen cream and eat it like ice cream. My mother didn’t appreciate that because she would separate the cream from the milk and use it for her coffee and kitchen products. You are absolutely correct about a cow needing to be freshened, but how many folks today think that cows give milk just like a soda dispenser? I suspect if you interviewed 100 people in any city on the east and west coasts they would tell you that cows just give milk, that all you have to do is to put it into containers.

            Reply to this comment
            • Softball Umpire December 2, 21:34

              I loved your perspective. Having been a ‘Jugger’ through high school in the early 1960’s, the only thing I learned later was the use of an old hand crank cream separator and use of the old electric turkey roaster for making cheeses. I discovered no matter how careful we were about cleaning our hands before the cheese making, the remaining micro-organisms on the skin provided character to the cheese, depending upon which person worked it in the water bath. My oldest daughter’s cheese smelled like banana ester from chem lab and tasted awful. Rather than throw it away, it was set up on a shelf and forgotten about until it no longer smelled like bananas. It was then very dry and tasted much like Romano cheese. It was well worth the wait.

              The article was very polite when using the description of primitive flooring. Dirt was quite common on the prairie because the sod from the floor & foundation was rolled up like turf we can now buy to apply to poor areas of our lawns. today.

              Reply to this comment
            • Clergylady June 14, 15:23

              Fresh cream on a stack of pancakes is wonderful. So is real butter, buttermilk, cottage cheese and fresh milk for cooking and drinking. We made a lot of yogurt, quick cheeses and a few aged cheeses. Cooked fruit deserts with “clotted” cream cant be beat. That is cream so rich it separates and floats on top of the rich milk.
              A neighbor was caring for a friend Guernsey cow. She was giving an average of 7 gallons of milk every day. He was giving it away. Most folks didn’t want raw milk. I took all the extra every day. Mom grew up on a farm with a milk cow and she showed me how to use all that milk and even can some for drinking or cooking later on. It was an adventure but the fresh cream was wonderful.

              Reply to this comment
        • Lisa November 29, 01:23

          My first attempt at lard, is mildly yellow, but still usable, My skills are more kitchen. Really want a treadle sewing machine, will look for one, someone must be making them. As for looms, had a small one, know the theory of a large one. Spinning, i’ve never done, but yes i can quilt. How much more can i learn proficiency in? My aim is to still be worth my food post SHTF.

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck November 30, 03:32

            Lisa: don’t feel badly, that’s how my first attempt at lard turned out. I did two things wrong. First, I didn’t cut the fat into small enough pieces. Reviewing the article again, I noticed that one poster said he used a meat grinder to prepare the fat for rendering. Obviously I will have to put more effort into my pre-rendering activities. I also believe I need to use just a slightly higher heat in the rendering process itself.

            I believe you can buy a treadle sewing machine from Lehmans.com. Be prepared for sticker shock, however. You can buy a very nifty electric sewing machine from Costco for about half of the treadle machine from Lehman’s. OTOH, Costco probably sells more sewing machines in a week than Lehman’s has sold in the entire lifetime of the company. So comparing prices is apples to pineapples. At this late date I wish we had brought my wife’s treadle sewing machine from Japan when we came to the U.S. It would be worth a lot more money than her electric one is worth.

            Reply to this comment
            • Lisa December 4, 00:18

              Was gifted a treadle machine by the last owner of my new farm. Verifying it’s in good working order is on my list in the next few months.

              Reply to this comment
          • eric the red December 3, 16:32

            My mom collects sewing machines. An old treadle machine can be picked up quite cheaply at many antique stores. I bought her one for Christmas a couple years ago for less than $50. And it worked.

            Reply to this comment
          • Chele June 14, 06:52

            Lisa, Check out craigslist in your area. I found my very old Singer treadle for $50 there. No joke. And I see them often in my area. You might even be able to find a loom as well. Happy hunting and prepping.

            Reply to this comment
          • Miss Kitty June 15, 01:13

            Lehman’s had treadle sewing machines available as of last year, but they’re really expensive. Two, three thousand dollars expensive, but came with the cabinet. Don’t know how much for machine by itself. You might be able to get an old Singer sewing machine for a bit less, but make sure it’s still functional and you can get parts.

            Reply to this comment
        • red June 14, 01:20

          Chuck: sometimes I think you’re just too optimistic. Yes to much, but, where you gonna get the kerosene? When we couldn’t afford kero, we made candle lanterns. Make a candle, remove the bottom of a jar, place over the candle and have something to prop up the bottom of the jar. Wicks were made of cotton cloth, jeans being the best, longest lasting. Be happy if we only get knocked back to the 16th century. Without oxen and so on, we won’t be that advanced till someone gets fuel and then a car running. Electric shouldn’t be a problem, but what do we use it on? Don’t waste the lard. Any food-grade oil can be used. niio

          Reply to this comment
          • Clergylady June 14, 16:20

            I make candles. Sometimes I gather up the bits of wax left in containers, broken candles I find cheap or free at yard sales and broken crayons. I use any wick available and tie it to a pencil laid across the glass container I’ll be using. Pour in melted wax. Let it sit and cool and I have a new candle. Sometimes the partly used candle or broken candle is still intact so I pour the container 2/3 full of hot wax and let it cool till almost firm then stick the candle in the middle. If there is still a bit of room for more wax I’ll top it off.
            I also have 60 lb of soy wax, scents, colors, wicking, et for making new candles. I used to teach kids how to make candles. Our favorite with kids and teens were sand cast. You need a dishpan of just damp sand. Hollow out a choosen shape with either a flat bottom or poke holes to make legs for the candle to sit on. Then tie the wick(s) over the candle to just about touch the bottom of the open shape. Slowly pour in hot wax till the shape is filled. Check it in a few minutes so you can top off the wax as some goes into the sand. It creates a thick wax and sand shell. Looks like its in its own pot container. The teens liked to make “snow” screens on the candles done this way in free form shapes. We’d use whipped wax for snow and tiny dry weeds for trees and bushes. Sometimes we’d have tiny figures of people and things left from miniature train scenes and those would go on the candles. I also have shaped molds. Pour a candle in a wine glass or old drinking glasses. Use your imagination and have fun. Hubbys favorite candle was a very dark black cherry color with cherry scent in an old wine glass. It sat on an end table where he always sat. It was 2/3 recycled wax.
            Cotton string braided to the thickness needed for a wick and soaked in a bit of water and borax ( borateem) then dried makes a good wick. So does the side seam in old cotton jeans. I like large open bowls 2-3″ deep with several wicks in it. Makes good light and is pretty. Refill with wax and wicks as needed.
            A mirror behind a lamp or candles mulriplies the light.
            I’ve been saving the cotton string from the sewn feed bags for the chickens and rabbits. If I need to make wicks that will be just what I need to work with. I have borax on hand for laundry. If SHTF the open box or Borateem and new box ahead would be saved for candle making or oil lamps in containers. My friends here fire pottery for native pottery makers here. I may just make some oil lamps and get them fired. They could sit on the shelf with my old lamps. The lamps need kerosene or lamp oil. Real antique style oil lamps could burn any oil or softened animal fats.
            By the way I keep a few bars of very cheap laundry soap on hand. It needs to be grated to use. It a cheap prep. Stores easy. Doesn’t need special prep or storage. The bars sit in the bottom of my 5 gallon buck of assorted laundry supplies. If by some chance they got wet they would dry out in the sun and be unharmed. Just a thought… My old box grater in the kitchen would work just fine and soap sure wouldn’t hurt it.

            Reply to this comment
            • red June 16, 23:34

              We save all old bars of soap. We try to buy different colors so that when they get chopped up and ‘melted’ back together was bars, they’re all different colors. The grandkids love them. They can be formed and stored hanging in old socks, so there’s a way to recycling socks.

              Yo, yeah, very good idea, to make old-style lamps of clay. niio!

              Reply to this comment
        • Clergylady June 14, 06:08

          LCC
          That agenda puts you on quite a learning curve. I can cook on a campfire or a wood stove. I have kerosene lamps and can trim wicks as needed. I used my great aunts spinning wheel and 4 harness loom but don’t have my own. As for horses it’s been years but I’ve bridled and saddled my horse. Had a beautiful mare and Shetlands when my kids were little. As a teenager I rode bareback all the time. No I haven’t handled a team except to drive for a few minutes. I don’t have a churn but I have made butter in a jar. Not hard. I actually have had a blacksmith make parts to restore great great grandmas hall tree. I helped dad pull a motor and change out transmissions on a large truck using bailing wire since we didn’t have a lift or cherrypicker back in the 1950s. I have a treddle sewing machine. I’ll admit my mother in law was better with it than I am. I don’t have a faraday cage. I’m fine with batteries if available but I’m fine without too.
          Matanza is the rendering of a whole pigs fatty scraps besides a ton of food and a good time. Its traditional here. I only made soap once with home collected lye. Ashes, drip water several times through, until a boiled egg will float. That’s the lye. This I’ve done several times. Once for soap and several times for homemade Hominey. Soap was an interesting experiment. I should do that again to be better at it.
          I guess I’m an oddball in this world. None of the kids I grew up could do more than 2 of there activitiess. My parents were older and still have many of these things or encouraged me to learn about them. My kid can each do about half of these.

          Reply to this comment
          • red June 14, 15:33

            When he was a kid, Dad had a neighbor who was about 90, and crying because she couldn’t do anything to help the family. Her grandson built her a rocker with a barrel under it with baffles. They would pour in a few gallons of cream and she would rock for an hour or so, then they took the butter and buttermilk out. With that to encourage her, she lived five or 6 more years. We had a horse but Dad bought the first tractor the family ever had. Grampa was still hitching his Morgans every morning till he was in his 70s. Years ago, a book came out on how-to for farmers who wanted to learn how to harness and use horses. In PA, a neighbor took a sabbatical from college to live life as they knew it in the 1500s. Everything had to be done from scratch, even his oxen. He was cool, friendly and always polite. He spent hours talking to the old folks about life away back when, and did it. He did go against their advice when he bought the Jersey calves. The old-timers hook their heads. Jerseys are too flighty. Brown Swiss or Holsteins are the best. One day the calves did not want to work, and took off down the hill. They rammed a maple tree, one to each side. The yoke was chestnut and didn’t crack, but he had a time convincing those calves they were still alive. After that, they were a lot calmer and he swore his next yoke would be Brown Swiss, Ruby Reds, anything but Jerseys. niio

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  4. ellen November 28, 01:13

    I bought The Lost Ways and two other articles you offered, However the second two articles never arrived. Need to reimburse my charge card.

    Reply to this comment
    • Anne November 28, 07:36

      Hi Ellen,

      Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.

      Please check your email.

      We have sent you the info you requested 🙂

      Reply to this comment
  5. sher November 28, 05:30

    Hmm, opening myself up to criticism here.. but I have been prepping as much as possible for the last 6 years. Reading & researching as much as Possible. I am in 50’s & Liked to see the pictures & picture myself getting these things done asap.
    I also learned something I didn’t know before, ( I’m Sure many will think I’m stupid.. buut I always thought windmills were to grind flour. I have asked many people ever since I was little & Everybody just shrugged & said ‘ probably ‘. None, Honestly had Any idea.
    I Like that they are for the Well Water.
    So Please try Not to Be-little people for what May be obvious to Some.
    I enjoyed this page for those Two reasons. Also always pictured pioneers having sheds/barns for keeping work related tools etc in. Or at least a back corner.
    Just sayin’ , everything is Not useless.
    Please don’t abuse me, I’ve had a terrible life !
    1st & probably Last time I’ve Ever left a comment.
    Ps. Definitely Not a dumb girl, just too Honest

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    • Wannabe November 28, 13:19

      Normally grain was ground by two mill stones powered with running water from an active creek running over and pushing a large paddle wheel. Wind mills are generally used for pumping water from wells and of course today to generate electricity. The old grist mills are beautiful old buildings of which you can see on display in museums and still work. They even grind grains you can buy there just for the experience. Neat to see.

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      • left coast chuck November 30, 03:41

        I believe windmills in Holland were used to grind grain. Of course, the Dutch windmills were considerably larger than what we commonly think of as windmills in this country.

        I don’t believe any question is dumb or stupid. That’s how children learn. It’s too bad that adults develop a fear of asking questions. The only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask. Unfortunately, too many folks who are supposed to be teaching belittle questions. I don’t know if it makes them feel big to make others feel small. I will try to poke holes in some puffed-up so-called “expert” whose ignorance is glaringly blinding. But to the student who asks a question, I always try to answer without patronizing or ridiculing.

        Sher is absolutely correct. There is very little that is absolutely useless in the way of knowledge. Even a tiny bit here and there is helpful. Even if you think to yourself that what you just read or heard was a useless bit of trivia, it might surprise you someday to know that useless bit of trivia.

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      • red June 14, 01:28

        Down here, Arizona, it was a metate or a ‘moon’, a hollow log a large club was rammed into to crush the grain. In Europe, there are still purists who use a quern, The was rejected around here centuries ago in favor of the metate. But, those water mills were great. We used to take our grain to one to be ground for feed and food near Bowmanstown, Penna. The turnpike took it and bulldozed the place. niio

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        • Clergylady June 14, 15:11

          The metate is great for meal sized grinding of corn or other grain. Wish I had one. I have the long stone to use but not the base piece. Here I have that stone, a war club head stone, and the remains of a bow drill. All ancient finds here.

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          • red June 16, 23:49

            The ancestors blessed you. A metate is simple. A flat piece of stone, not sandstone, but something hard like black lava. Put it over an old sheet and git ‘er done. Wash, give thanks to God for the food and stone, and set aside to dry till next time. niio

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    • MTU64 June 13, 18:38

      The windmills in Holland were used for grinding grains & dried corn – they used the constant wind to their advantage. Then we have the electricity creating windmills and they kill about 500,000 birds every year. They need to be redesigned with screens, or whatever. But nothing has been done to save a half a million birds.

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    • Miss Kitty June 18, 00:46

      Windmills were used for both grain and water pumping. I think I read that they were used for powering some kind of tools as well, but I am not 100% sure.
      We’re never too old to learn new things, but some people are too proud to admit it.
      Best of luck.

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  6. Rass November 28, 19:40

    This is coming from the same man who said a 45 single action and lever action were not good for home defense last week but if you’re a cowboy it’s fine..I smell a rat..or uninformed person..

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    • Wannabe November 29, 01:50

      I looked up the author and I think it said he is Canadian. That might mean something. Lol. Anyway, neat to hear about history, and might be able to glean something from this. You never know.

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck November 30, 03:49

      Watch cowboy action shooting some day and that will quickly cure most anyone of the silly notion that single action revolvers and lever action rifles are not suitable for self-defense. You know the old saying, beware the man who only has one gun. I really don’t ever want to get shot, but I think I would rather take my chances with a 55 grain .5.56 fmj than a 150 or 170 grain soft nose .30-30. I read a paragraph by a doctor who had served in the sandboxes and he opined that he would rather get shot with the 5.56 than the 7.62 that the other guys were using. He felt the .30 caliber round left a far more damaging and significant wound than the .22 round. True, only one man’s opinion but with far more hands on experience than I.

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      • Clergylady June 14, 13:20

        I kill dogs on the run with my husbands old 5 shot 38 revolver. At fairly close range it kills just fine. I’m not hunting dogs. But if they are killing my chickens or rabbits, I kill them. Of course I may never live down “killing” the metal chicken water container. I was following the dog and pulled the trigger as he ran behind the container. Next shot got him.
        The deputies asked what I shot him with. I told them. They just shook their heads. “We have shootouts now and then and with our old 38s”. We just sometimes hit anyone on the run”. A man is a bigger target. “How did you hit this dog?” I just laughed. “You lead a tiny bit to allow for the running speed”. “And I’ve been shooting longer than you two are old”.
        At close quarters I’d still be happy with the old 38 for ease and accuracy. But my 45/410 revolver would do more damage. The 410 round is designed for home defence. At 27 feet a round demolished a head sized target. It has 3 copper discs then BBs behind those. For longer range I’d one of the rifles or the 12ga shotgun. I keep the 38 out of sight, but loaded, near my bed.

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  7. keepin’ it real November 30, 15:35

    I hit the button that said “follow this post” but now cannot unsubscribe to it. How can i stop it from e-mailing me every time someone comments?

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  8. red June 14, 01:34

    the only things I do not agree with is that sunrise comment. I’m up at four and working long before sunrise. If I had taken the time to admire the view, I would have been cussed out by a foreman who can make drill sergeants look like l’il angels. You forgot something vital to every day living, the beer crock.:) And, I’ve never been a cow, and it’s been a lot of decades since I was a boy. In addition, plenty of cotton batting to go around broken arms and legs, and short sticks used to hole the broken bone in place. niio

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    • Clergylady June 14, 16:48

      Lol I broke my right arm or perhaps I should say my late husband broke it. I was holding something for him while he swung a sledgehammer. It bounce and hit my arm. It sure looked funny all bowed up. I walked over to the porch and grabbed the railing. Stepson held the hand in place by holding my wrist. Husband hugged me and helped pull away from the railing. I’d feel of it with the left hand till it was straight and smooth. We had antique theater seats donated to the church and there was a spare armrest. I fit my arm on that and curved my fingers around the end. A perfect fit. I wrapped it all with an ace bandage as a younger son held the wood on my arm. Then carried it in a sling for 3 weeks and used it gingerly a few more weeks. I didn’t have insurance back then and it healed just fine. It did hurt though! Probably close to 30 years ago. Still no problem with it.
      I know Drs would have a fit. Have you seen how bones are set today? Still much the same only they see inside the flesh now. If your squeamish they may let you sleep through it or curtain it off so you don’t have to watch.

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      • red June 16, 23:42

        Major ouch. I understand too well. Left hip and left shoulder out of the socket, not at the same time! But, had no one to help, either. Thank God someone was there for you. I had to go it alone. Well, with the hip, there was the horse, but I was unarmed so he survived what i wanted to do to him 🙂 ‘Hand or soldier, the ability to sleep on commend is a must. I always drift off when the docs are carving out pieces for the kitty in the operating room 🙂 niio

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        • Clergylady June 18, 00:24

          For the surgery on my arm I choose to stay awake. There was no one my husband could stay with if I was kept overnight. Dr wanted me asleep but that would mean an overnight stay. Neighbor drove us to the city, sat with my husband then when I was released he drove us home.
          Dr cut a section of bone out of my forearm and pulled the bone down out of my hand where an injury had jamed it. I now have a long metal plate and 7 screws holding the arm together. It’s out of the sling and being used but still I’m not supposed to lift more than a gallon of milk with that hand. I’m moving more but can’t hold much more than that for now.
          Sleeping through that would definatly have been more comfortable. But it was ok.

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  9. Clergylady June 14, 17:37

    Well red. I’m retired. Drs choice. Not mine.
    I love the pastel colors or intense colors depending on the weather. Colors you’d see at no other time of day. I’m an artist so I notice color.
    A cup of something warm to drink and something to eat and watch as the sun comes over the horizon is a good way to start the day. I like 6 better than 4 as a get up time now that I don’t have to be anywhere early except on Sunday. Sunday we leave home by 8AM to drive 100 miles to church. Husband gets around more slowly these days so I get him up early. His reward for getting around on time is 2 sausage biscuits and a med coffee at McDonald’s before we get on the interstate. If he’s late there is nothing ’till we get to church and there is a doughnut and coffee waiting for us there. We get there in time to go over the music for the day. So we have an hour before church at 11 AM. I play the piano and he’s the drummer for our little group. 2 guitars and a base guitar are the rest of the music group.
    I like sunsets. Again it’s about color but also in summer it beginning to cool off. I planted two plum trees and drug hoses to water scattered trees. We started about an hour before sunset and finished in twilight. It was just right for working outside. This evening It will be the dozen raspberries and 25 strawberries getting planted. This morning I have some chairs to set outside so my electronic piano can be moved in. Chairs will go to the shop till we decide how to dispose of them. They were just here till we had furniture. Someone gave us a loveseat and matching rocker and I bought my husband a recliner that looks like new. These chairs are dinning room arm chairs. Upholsterd and on rollers. I’ll probably add them to a big yard sale this summer. Lots of things have to go. Were now in just under 800 sq ft and have the put together of 4 homes. He had a home. I had both a home out here and a town apartment where I stayed to work. Then my parents small home here. We’d put a lot together and had a home twice the size of this. Now were back here on my old property. All that excess must go. I’ve been getting rid of some along. As someone needed it, I just gave it away.
    I may find pallets to set furniture on so its out of the dirt and cover things with tarps and have my own flea market. :). There is plenty, just no old tools. Most of those were stolen.

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    • red June 17, 00:01

      Same, docs decided for me, and because they won’t let me return to work, no one wants to take a chance and hire me. But, 4 AM is perfect for me. It gives me time to cook, if I have to, to do laundry and so on and then out in the garden by 5 or take the dog ‘hunting’ (he hunts, I watch these days). By 8, it’s getting too hot out to do much. by noon, emails and then siesta, then near sundown, back out in the garden.

      The house came fully furnished, which saved hauling stuff from Penna to here. In fact, most of it is nicer than the old stuff. 🙂 There are still bail top canning jars (good for high-acid foods) and tools I want, as well as things the brother-in-law said t share with me. He was addicted to working wood. Pretty much everything we didn’t want or need went to charity places or just gave away to neighbors. Enough of it came from them and Good Will and so on (hey, that’s my brand! 🙂 niio

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  10. Clergylady June 15, 04:42

    Treddle sewing machines are well built. They do need to be cleaned and oiled now and then and once in a great while they will need a new leather belt. That is what turns the machine to sew. It is between the foot rest and the sewing machine. They are still available as are most parts. I have two machines here. One treddle and the other just like the machine in a treddle stand but it has a motor on the side and a foot pedel. I need the long round early style bobbins for them. For everyday sewing my favorite is a 1950 singer in a nice sewing desk. I have all the attachments for that machine. The machine I learned on is about like the early machine but with a motor on it. I still have my moms button hole maker set that will fit those machines and an odd attachment that is powered by the machine and cuts a pinked edge for as long as you want to keep cutting. It’s the only one of those I’ve ever seen. Of course the treddle will be important if power is gone.
    My solar array is nearly ready to come back. The builder took my suggestion and has redesigned it with the panels nearer the ground and doubled the capacity of the battery bank. Insurance only paid about a third of cost but I’m getting the new design and increased battery capacity so I’m happy anyway. I’ve saved for months and sold a few things. When they came back with the final cost I can just cover it. That is a relief. The panels and unit were attractive but very vulnerable to winds. The new configuration should be more stable. We’ve been without home power for nearly 9 months. Good practice for a SHTF situation.
    Solar battery charger for small flashlights. A different charger that could also charge my laptop so it also charges my camping lantern. That saved using the kerosene lamps. I buy ice if we have a bit of meat or milk to keep cold. My husband with Alzheimer’s forgets there is no power but day to day he’s handled it well.
    I’m looking forward to haveing a refrigerator. It will feel like a special blessing. I’ll have ice cream in the freezer for my husband. If I buy ice cream now we eat a serving and call the neighbor to come get what we don’t eat. They’ll finish it. We’d loose it.
    I was thinking about the men who were cowboys. Hard workers. Had to learn the country and the animals well. They had to be ready to face anything without a moments warning. They figured out how to repair, replace and fabricate new things to meet needs. They were fiercely Independant yet worked well with others on the job. Life wasn’t easy yet few would change it. Impressive men.

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    • red June 17, 00:15

      I remember when Dad bought a used freezer and ran a line from the Kitchen down to the basement for it. We then had electric in two places. Still used lamps upstairs. Then, getting real modern, he put a line in to the parlor so we had the radio (an aging Philco AM) and a year later, a TV with a 6″ screen. TV to me is still as boring as it was then.

      Yeah, when the bill money was hooked into the kid’s arm, we went a winter, in PA, with no heat or electric, and no stove. A neighbor, a dominican, ran extension cords from his house to ours so we had some space heaters. That shack was so bad if you lit a cigarette, you could follow the smoke from one room and out the last one thru the wall. 🙂

      I remember Mom teaching the girls to sew on a treadle that had been my grandmother’s, who got it from her mother. It still worked fine, not like the thing my Great-Grandmother bought because it was electric. That barely lasted 20 years and kaput.

      If a cowhand, you still need to talk horse, to understand everything around you. Quick on the brain or quickly dead. That’s true of aggie and war. The brand-spanking new scientific innovation in cattle ranching is called in-herding. Old-times called it wolfing the herd, trailing with them to new pastures and water. It’s, as you know, still common in Africa and Asia 🙂 What was old, is new, again.

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      • Clergylady June 18, 00:06

        Funny isn’t it? What’s old is new and what’s new is old on many levels.
        I’ve been cleaning up and repairing sewing machines again. I now have a total of 6, all in working order. Treadle stays as will a couple of the electric ones. I think most stitches on the machines are a waste of time. Straight stitch is a must. Zigzag is useful. Beyond that most stitches are seldom if ever used. A few sewers use the pretty stitches but most aren’t all that useful.
        Newer machines will cut threads and sort of tie up loose ends. The old basic machines will sew over thick seams and hem jeans. Until you buy the higher end, newer machines, they won’t do any heavy work.
        The old treadle machines will sew up to medium weight leather or vinyl. You can make clothing with the thinnest and shearest materials. Not many sewing machines have that range of capability.
        The sewing machines and boxes of sewing material and leather will go to a nice shed. I have solar panels, a charge controller and inverters but need a few connectors and wire to hook it up. I have insulation but need sheetrock for the walls. I haven’t decided how I’ll finish the ceiling yet. Plenty of insulation is a must. I laugh at folks going tiny home then trying to figure out how to still keep all the space consuming stuff…. Usually Either buying or renting storage sheds. My personal answer is to organise it in a shed where I can also work or just bring in a project at a time in cold weather. Heating or cooling less that 800 sq ft is enough. I’ll keep what I actually do want or can make money with. I sell art, painting classes, and crafts. I sew clothing and things for my home. I have another shed that with finishing the inside will do nicely for a sales and class space. I already have the sheds and shops. No buying or building. Certainly no renting a shed.
        I don’t need an office anymore. A bookcase, desk with a file drawer and a supply cabinet in the corner of the bedroom are enough. Other books can go in the living room near the piano and music stuff.
        We stayed at a friends home last night. A cookout with 15 friends after church was fun. We stayed and helped clean up then spent the night. I bought an early lunch for us all then we headed home. Critters were glad to see us come in. I enjoy visiting but I’m glad to get back home.
        I have furniture to get moved. I can can work on that a bit now and then on these summer evenings after dark. I’ll need help getting somethings. Cool of the day will be gardening time. A shelf in the hall will have to be unloaded and moved so the office furniture can be put in the bedroom. I’m tired of camping in my home. The injuries stopped all moving. I’m anxious to get back to getting settled in. Clothing is mostly still packed or still hanging in the unrepairable doublewide that I gave up on. I just have 2 plates, a few plastic cups and a bit of cookware. It’s plenty really but not if we have company. I have plenty of dishes et. Husband can’t help much anymore so I’ll just do a bit as I’m able.
        Saturday I moved most of the starts for the garden out to the shade under the apricot tree. Today’s it’s cloudy and cooler. Actually pretty nice for the plants getting used to being outside. It’s raining on the mountains above us. It was sooo dark you couldn’t even see the mountain as we drove home. Tomorrow it’s back to work on the garden.
        I bought a pot of lemon grass to go with the new rosemary. The new pots of lemon balm are beautiful. I lost a lot of my herbs this past winter. Most I’ve started new from seed. They are an important part of any garden. Usually I manage to keep many different herbs growing over the winter.
        My neighbor is getting one of repaired sewing machines. Hers has been in a shop being checked out. They were told it’s unrepairable. I think they were trying to get the native family to buy a new machine. They can’t. I have a nicely repaired machine in a good cabinet. I got it and repaired it for free. If the shop had wanted to find the part they could have. I’ll get her grandson and his girlfriend to take the machine to her tomorrow. It’s disgusting seeing shops trying to use poor folks.

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        • red June 18, 01:35

          When’s the yardsale? I’ll try to come buy some stuff 🙂
          I have balsam, but put it in the sun and it starts to fry. What’s insulation? 🙂 When this place was built, about 1952, no one needed to use it about here. Still, when the windows are closed in the morning, the place usually stays cool enough till noon.
          the new fig needs planting tonight. It’s close to sundown, so it should start to draw roots thru the night, then a lot more after sunrise. Figs are like that.
          I have an aunt who collects old cast iron coffee grinders. Half of one wall is about covered with them. She keeps telling me to take one, but I can’t as they look better there, I tell her. niio

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      • Clergylady June 18, 01:18

        I remember the tv’s with the tiny screens. Neighbors has the first one I ever saw. I don’t think it was even 6″ square. The first one we had was was a small round screen in a large cabinet. Used. .Zenith I believe.
        Mostly we watch the Gillette fight night. There wasn’t much on the neighbors tiny screen. It was 1957 when we got our first used tv. By then I was able to watch Rin Tin Tin, Lone Ranger, and a plethora of good and bad cowboys. Then of course the singing cowboys and lots of fake Indian movies. Mom and Dad also watched Laurence Welk. Not sure TV has really inproved in 62 years.

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        • red June 18, 01:37

          We got ours in the early 60s. Boring. I think there was a news show and Lawrence Welk and not a lot else. The mountains kept us from getting much. Snow outside is more fun than a snowy screen 🙂 niio

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