Today we visited an historic old homestead here in central Florida to learn more about the self-reliant lifestyle of the early settlers. The old ways have been mostly forgotten, and now we see the value of them in light of difficult times we may be facing.
How did people survive before electricity and supermarkets? We are preparing by learning more about the old ways.
The house was a replica of the Crowley family’s home. They had thirteen children living in that little two-story structure. The main part of the house was fifteen feet wide by approximately 30 feet long, with two rooms on each floor. The front porch ran the length of the house as did the back porch, only each end of the back porch was enclosed to make two small rooms, one of which was a schoolroom.
In the back yard near the house was a small wash house for doing laundry. There was also a smoke house, an outhouse, and at one time an outdoor kitchen.
In Florida heat is more of an issue than cold. A fireplace with a small woodstove in the front room downstairs kept the family warm in winter. Covered porches on each side allowed for cooler breezes to flow through the house in the heat of summer. They built their house with heart of pine, which is so dense that it self-insulates (and is naturally termite resistant). We were surprisingly comfortable in the house in spite of the outside temps being in the 90’s.
At this old homestead most of the family’s food was raised and processed right there, or came from neighboring settlers. This family raised sugar cane and milled it in their backyard, using horses to run the mill. A large brick oven cooked the cane juice. We bought a jar of cane syrup that a nearby family makes, and we hope to learn more from them about the process, as nutrient-rich sugar cane grows easily in Florida.
Food was stored under the house where the temperatures were considerably cooler. Of course back in the old days folks knew how to ferment their veggies to preserve them (like well-known sauerkraut; not with alcohol).
We are excited about learning more of the old ways from current residents. We dream of someday practicing some of these things ourselves on our own homestead.
Linked with Homestead Revival