Caring for others-
Two key characteristics necessary to attend the sick and hungry were ingenuity and resourcefulness. Homesteaders often had limited access to medicines and doctors, and they learned to identify and use native plants for healing. Dandelions worked to alleviate liver problems when made into tea or wine. Carbolic water warded off infection. Tonics were used for aches and cramps and to get rid of parasites in children, and horses! Butterfly weed, the sweet flag root, sassafras bark, and boneset were among the plants used to alleviate illnesses.
A quick trip to a “convenience store” when supplies ran low might involve a half day or more of effort and time in a horse-drawn cart over rutted roads. The merchandise choices would depend on the size of the store, its proximity to its suppliers, and the kind of products it stocked for use on the homesteads.
Flour, lard, and potatoes stretched meals for many mouths when there was little else. If the flour was unrefined, it was a good source for the essential B vitamins and protein to help maintain strong bodies. A milking cow was necessary for calcium. Fresh curdled cheese would be hung on a clothesline in cheese cloth to allow it season, and could be used as a topping for kuchen. Chickens were needed for their eggs and meat, and they were used down to their pickled feet.
An Excellent Hair Dressing – 1 ounce of Borax, 1 ounce of Ammonia, ½ pint of whiskey, 1 quart water –from Women of the West- Helen Wiser Stewart
Homemade Lye Soap – 2 ½ pints water, 1 can lye, 6 pounds lard- warmed, ½ cup borax, ½ cup ammonia
This is very potent so do not allow children nearby, and wear a long sleeved shirt and old gloves. Use an earthenware pot in a well-ventilated area. Slowly mix lye with water using a wooden stick. Slowly add warmed lard. Add borax and ammonia and stir till thick. Have a cardboard box ready that has been lined with an old rag.
Pour the thickened soap into the box and cover it with a rag so it stays warm for a day. Then cut the soap into bars. -from “Food ‘N Customs, Recipes of the Black Sea Germans”- Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck, North Dakota.
MIRNA: A Life of Her Own is available as EBOOK
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