And All For Lack of a Horseshoe Nail…

I’ve been thinking about laundry lately.  Doing it by hand, that is.  I think I’d like to try it.  Thing is, I’d want to do it self-sufficiently: no tap water, homemade soap, air dried.  To do that I would have to go down to the stream a mile or two away with buckets–on foot.


Photo credit: Peter Griffin

Okay, on to the soap.  The recipe in my Foxfire book says I’ll need lye, lard and water.  Ooh, lye is usually store-bought.  To make lye I’ll need wood ashes and water.  To get the wood ashes, I’ll need to cut firewood and build a fire.  (We won’t delve into making our own axes now.)  Another trip to the stream procures the water.

Lard is rendered pig fat.  We’re gonna have to get a pig, raise it, butcher it and render the lard.  Oh yeah, we’ll need something to feed that pig with, like corn and mangels and veggie scraps and skim milk.  (Let’s leave the dairy cows alone though.)

Now that we’ve got lard and lye, we can make the soap.  Finally.


We boil the wash water, grate in some soap, and we scrub scrub scrub scrub scrub.  Rinse and hang to dry–on tree branches, lest we necessitate rope making as well.

The point of this long-winded post is this:  Do you realize how much work goes into everything?  See how nearly all activities require another job to be done first?

Sure, I’ll start hand work using premade conveniences.  But if I always use them, I’m not truly self-sufficient.

How much will I do for myself?  I don’t know.  But I will find out.

Kudos to the pilgrims, pioneers, and explorers who jumped headfirst into doing it all.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Photo credit: Vojko Kalan

This post was linked to the Homestead Barn Hop!


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