Don’t forget to leave a comment today to enter Melissa’s giveaway..one print copy of her book!
With my first book, A Bride for Keeps, one of the things I wanted to focus on was actual homesteading—the day to day, dawn to dusk labor. I think in many prairie romances, it’s easy to miss the daily toil homesteaders endured.
My husband and I bought 14 acres because some day we want to practice subsistence farming, basically homesteading. The dream of living off an acreage felt really romantic . . . until we started doing it.
Time! Homesteading takes so much time, doing the same things over and over. And we’re very lax homesteaders at the moment with my husband’s extraordinary amount of overtime and me with a newborn.
And just the thought of taking care of a newborn while having no choice but to milk a cow, make bread from scratch, cook three meals with a woodstove, wash clothing by hand, preserve food, and keep my soddy clean daily with no vacation to look forward to makes me grumpy.
And becoming cross at enduring such toil isn’t just a problem modern women face. This is one of the “Commandments for California Wives” written for the women who came out to marry men lured to California by gold.
Thou shalt not substitute sour looks for pickles; nor a fiery temper for stove-wood; nor cross words for kindlings; nor trifling talk for light bread; nor tart language for dessert; nor excuses for anything. Neither shalt thou serve up cold looks or cold meats for breakfast, nor scoldings and hard potatoes for dinner, nor what remains of the other two meals for supper – no, not even on washing days. Neither shalt thou allow hard feelings or unwashed dishes to accumulate; nor withhold either secrets or shirt buttons from the bosom of thy husband; and NEVER omit LITTLE KINDNESSES of any kind.
Thinking about how easy I have it, getting to sit with my baby while frozen pizza bakes in the oven, having a dryer when I’m behind on line-drying, choosing to butcher one of our chickens or buying one from the deli, forgoing a garden to concentrate on writing instead . . . I’m convicted over the times I let unwashed dishes AND hard feelings pile up.
Some people have it better than me, but plenty have it worse. There were times I wanted to shake my characters in A Bride for Keeps for letting their hard feelings and secrets pile up….but then, I look at myself and realize I need just as much shaking sometimes for not doing the things I know ought to be done and treating my family poorly. All the while I have air conditioning, grocery stores, household appliances, Jane Austen movies, and chocolate to ease the toil.
Have you ever gotten mad at fictional characters for not fixing their faults fast enough and then realize you’re worse? What modern convenience would make you the grumpiest to lose?