“All But the Buffalo,” Ensign, July 1976, 39
In commemoration of Pioneer Day last year, our family decided to put aside our modern conveniences and live as our forefathers did. Early that morning we awakened the children and assigned them the task of gathering firewood to cook breakfast. Although we live in an urban area, their determination and excitement made them successful wood gatherers.
After an exciting breakfast of wheat cereal, milk, and eggs fried in grease, we helped Dad till the garden soil. Then it came time to do the laundry. There were Mom and five little ones by a stream (an irrigation ditch by a fairly busy street), each washing an old shirt. Despite the bewildered expressions of onlookers and the fact that our laundry ended up dirtier than before, we had an enjoyable time.
When it was announced that we must hunt for something to eat for lunch, our eight-year-old asked with a peculiar look on his face, “Are we going to have buffalo meat?” To his relief, but not without some wild imagination, we ate barbecued beef, wheat bread, and milk.
Since it was agreed that we would both play and work as did the pioneers, we engaged in cooking and pulling molasses candy. The first taste brought cries of “Oh, no! Is this really what the pioneer children ate for a treat?” The candy tasted different from what we eat today, and it certainly lasted longer.
For a more restful activity, we decided to sit awhile to tell stories and darn stockings. Each child’s mended sock was a treasure to behold.
By now some were beginning to wonder if being a pioneer was all that much fun. When it was time to eat again, assignments were made to fire the pot, peel the vegetables, cut the meat, add salt and water, and set the dishes (tin cans) on the grass. But the stew was delicious, and everyone repeated, “I helped make it.”
After dinner the children pitched the tent. They even wished for rain to add more adventure and excitement. But the stories shared that evening were memorable, even without rain.
We talk frequently about our holiday and are looking forward to it again. Next time we hope to churn butter and try some old pioneer recipes, such as Mormon pancakes, wheat cakes, and beaver tail stew.
Our Pioneer Day experience has taught us to appreciate our modern as well as the pioneer way of life, and we hope to make it an annual family event. Barbara B. Seegmiller, Orem, Utah