The Long Winter - Week 2 {Prairie Primer}

Day 1

We looked up DeSmet, South Dakota on a map and compared latitude and longitude and sunset times to our location here in Wyoming.

De Smet, SD: 44.39 degrees North and 97.55 degrees West
Sheridan, WY: 44.79 degrees North and 107 degrees West

We looked up Sunset times: DeSmet - 5:11 pm; Sheridan 4:47 pm.

But, since we are 10 degrees westerly of DeSmet, shouldn't our sunset should be after De Smet's?? this is confusing to me, and I'd love to hear an explanation if anyone knows of one.

Day 2

Wind Chill Factor

We did the Wind-Chill Factor worksheet together on page 65 of The Weather Report. For example, how cold does it feel when the wind speed is 30 mph and the temperature is 30 degrees? Using the graph, we found the answer to be -2 degrees. Pa said it was -40 degrees and the wind was whipping. If it the wind speed was 40 mph, the wind chill factor would have made it feel like a dangerous -116 degrees. No wonder Ma left the dishes undone and they went to bed early to not only conserve coal and kerosene, but to stay warm!

A Bit of Tea

"There is no more kerosene in town," Pa said. "And no meat. The stores are sold out of pretty nearly everything. I got two pounds of tea, Caroline, before they ran out of that. So we'll have our bit of tea till the trains come through." 
"There's nothing like a good cup of tea in cold weather," said Ma. "And the lamp is full. That's enough kerosene to last quite a while if we go to bed early to save coal. I am so glad you thought to get the tea. We would miss that!" 

I found this fox tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl at World Market. I bought it for a woodland themed tea table setting for the table I hosted at the Feast of Tabernacles in Big Fork. I had all little girls at my table and one other mom. :) We have been having tea almost daily these past couple weeks, so I was excited to see the holiday teas on sale here.

Light Deprivation

We talked about the effect of light deprivation in the winter and how to deal with it. I personally am affected by less light in the winter. Here where I am in Wyoming, the sun shines on average 208 days a year with less than half of the days sunny and the rest partly sunny. I like to say that I am solar powered because I am truly energized by light, so winter can be hard for me. The past two winters have been the best winters that I can remember because I am using Young Living essential oils - their citrus oils are like a bottle of sunshine! ☀️

Today is Election day, and I'm listening to Fox News' updates on the election results. The kids stayed up for a bit and hubby explained how electoral votes work (compared to popular votes).

Day 3
"Laura hoped that she seemed cheerful enough to encourage the others. But all the time she knew that this storm had blocked the train again. She knew that almost all the coal was gone from the pile in the lean-to. There was no more coal in town. The kerosene was low in the lamp though Ma lighted it only while they ate supper. There would be no meat until the train came. There was no butter and only a little fat meat dripping was left to spread on bread. There were still potatoes, but no more flour enough for one more bread baking."
We read about the importance of fat in our diet. {Please ignore the information in the manual about limiting fats and the role they play in cancer, obesity, and heart disease. This information is false, and the manual will hopefully be updated. Fat is just as important to us today as it was to the Ingalls in the 1800s!}

We want to avoid unhealthy fat like trans fat, but healthy fat plays an important role in our body. We covered why, how much fat, and what kind we need with Nutrition 101. We talked about omega fatty acids, what they do, and how much we need. Interestingly, "our ancestors are much better than we do today by growing many of their vegetables and fruit and raising livestock. A diet with a 1:1 ration of Omega-3 to Omega-6 was the norm." Today, we have a ratio closer to 1:15 and need to eat more Omega-3 fatty acids because they protect the heart, nourish the brain, skin, nails, hair, and support the immune system. And we need to eat less Omega-6 fatty acids because an imbalance can cause inflammation in the body and cause brain disorders.

I used to not eat healthy fats until I learned that I was starving my child's brain. I am deeply saddened that little Bo knew what his body needed when he was very little, and I didn't. I used to find him eating sticks of butter - he must have been craving fat.

I especially need healthy fats as a woman to balance hormones because cholesterol is the precursor to all hormone production in the body.

So, we now supplement with fermented cod liver oil/butter oil from Green Pastures and try to eat healthy fats like avocado, whole flax seed, chia seed, nuts, pastured eggs, organic whole and raw milk, creams, whole milk yogurt and cheeses, grass fed butter, wild Alaskan salmon, and bone broth and meats from grass-fed beef and free range chicken.

We all (except Bo) love avocados, so I try to keep them in the fridge (keeping them in the fridge helps keep them longer). If we take one or two out a day and leave them on the counter, they will ripen in about a day.

We had avocado, sliced, salt and peppered, and with chips and salsa for a snack today, but I want to soon make the Brain Power Guacamole recipe from Nutrition 101.

One of our assignments today was to shut off the electricity, light a kerosene lantern, and sit aournd and write letters, sing, or read. We have always used candles and flashlights at our home in Montana, but I bought an oil lamp this summer and we spent many nights reading in the lamplight.

We have a trip planned for next week, so I'll be sure to take a pic to share next time.

Another assignment today was to decorate windows using stencils and artificial spray snow.

Day 4

We started our survival study, and learned about dressing for cold weather, making shelters in snowy weather, and preventing snow-blindness. We will make snow goggles next week!

Ma blackens the stove, so I told the kids what this meant. We've have a wood cook stove at our home in Montana for the past 7 years, but I am just starting to learn how to care for it. From what I understand, a wood cook stove is basically cast iron. So, I started oiling it. It blackened it up beautifully! It smokes a little as the oil is being cooked off, so I can see why Ma blackened the stove during nice weather, but maybe she blackened it another way?

Well, maybe. From what I found, graphite was the main ingredient. Lampblack, a black pigment made from soot, was another ingredient. Another site said the stove was rubbed with a thick black wax.

I want to buy Never Done: A History of American Housework to learn more.

I'm so glad we are reading this in the fall! There hardly seemed enough time between blizzards to enjoy the sun before the next blizzard came. We have long cold winters in Wyoming, but nothing like The Long Winter! I am enjoying this book very much, but if we were reading this in the dead of winter, I would not enjoy it as much. I'm so thankful it is fall and we are still having an Indian summer! Though, I wouldn't mind if it snowed before we finish the book. :)


  1. Look at all those fun teas! We just got sugar cookie sleigh and candy cane lane :) Silas is my tea pal, so anytime we pass the tea lane he usually wants to try a new one. So fun! I must be solar powered too. Living in the woods is lovely until the winter light begins to wear on you. I definitely look forward to the spring around February.

  2. The different teas look delicious. We love celestial seasonings. Looks like you learned a lot of neat things. I bought the Prairie Primer but haven't started it yet. By the looks of it, this is going to be fun.