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Hoping to survive with grace

I am currently reading a true account of a woman from the early 1900s and her life on the Canadian frontier.

Boy, am I a wuss!

Page after page I am baffled by the obstacles day-to-day life brought this woman. The book told of a time when she and her husband were forced (due to starvation) to make a 25-mile hike in 65-degree-below weather with a toddler to a “nearby” cabin for help. Oh, and she was seven months pregnant! And they survived!

Stories like these are the norm in this woman’s life. After giving birth to her third child, she got word that her husband had drowned. Now she and her three young kids were on their own. There were tales about moose hunting — all four of them — from a crooked canoe. And more times than not there wasn’t enough food. There were wolf attacks and very vivid descriptions of nature and the majesty and terror that life on a homestead can bring.

I love reading books like this. It might seem weird, but reading about women who have had it worse — and most do — than me brings comfort and strength where I might lack.

Because since moving onto the farm, I have never been so humbled. There’s nothing like this type of life to make you see where you lack in physical strength and mental knowledge.

Like a few weeks ago when the kids and I went to check the chickens. And then one got out.

“No big deal,” I thought. I was just going to grab the fishing net we use for this type of situation and collect the bird and place her back inside.

And the kids were going to help …

Which meant that our little fix turned into a half-hour trek through the pasture, back and around all sorts of nooks and crannies.

Finally, I surrendered. We went back inside to eat dinner and let the bird deal with the consequences that might befall her. But when Matt got wind of the events, he told me (he was at work) that I needed to try harder to save his blessed hen.

So every 15 minutes or so, I went out into the dark, cold night trying different scenarios to catch the already spooked bird and lead her back to captivity.

I’m thankful you didn’t see me that night. Because in the light of the chicken house, I could be seen running — with Matt’s too-big-for-me knee-high work boots on — chasing the winged creature around the entire back of my yard with the fishing net. A ridiculous, and unfortunately accurate, display of my farming abilities.

See, I gave up my pride a long time ago. Situations like these forced me to. Whether it’s trying to free my beloved bottle calf from his own stupidity (and mine) or attempting to help wrangle our entire herd of escaped cows. A life of pride simply does not go with my reality.

So reading these books of women who encountered actual life and death situations and handled them with what seemed to me as poise and grace, is inspiring.

And although I wasn’t able to save that stubborn hen — Matt had to catch her — I gave it my all.

Hopefully, one day all of my predicaments will amount to a story about a young city girl who survived this life with a lot of joy and, hopefully, a little bit of grace.

As seen in the Lawrence County Record

Categories: Frugal homemaking on the farm Uncategorized


My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.

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