31 Things We Learned From Laura Ingalls Wilder

For those who didn’t grow up in America in the Olden Days, the Little House books were rife with fascinating information.

1. What an autograph book is.

It’s sort of like an old-school sticker book.

2. How to find things in a blizzard.

Just feel around. Or tie a rope from your house to the barn.

3. Maple sugar dropped in fresh snow makes awesome candy.

4. Hay can be twisted into sticks as a substitute for wood.

It cuts your skin open though.

5. How to make smoked venison.

Just put some deer meat in a hollowed out tree.

6. Grasshoppers are the devil and will eat all of your crops.

7. You can still hang your clothes out to dry when it’s below freezing.

They will just literally freeze dry.

8. Use your walls to hide valuable posessions.

Like the seed wheat you don’t want your neighbors to find because everyone is out of it.

9. Cutting your bangs at home is a good idea.

Even if your mother refers to them as that “lunatic fringe”, you can cut them yourself and curl them with a heated pencil. It’ll soften your face.

10. A family can live in a house that’s built into side of a hill.

It’s called a dugout. If an ox steps through your roof, just plug the hole with hay.

11. Churning butter is A LOT of work.

But you can color the butter with carrots or press a pattern in the top and then it’s really pretty looking.

12. Ice can be stored all summer long in sawdust without melting.

You know, the ice you harvested by cutting it out of a frozen lake or pond using a saw.

13. Corn husks make great dolls.

14. Men should have beards.

They should also play the fiddle.

15. Anything that happens in town is more fun than what you’re doing at your claim shanty.

Even if town is like, three streets long.

16. Some people’s dads just move them all over the place all the time.

And they have to roll with it, even if their mother is exhausted and wants to stay put.

17. You can just show up on some land, and if you live there long enough, it’s yours.

Because “Uncle Sam” says so.

18. Buttonholes are really hard to sew.

19. Almanzo Wilder was the perfect man.

Even if he was a lot older than Laura, she called him “Manly” because that is what he was.

20. Blonde girls wear blue ribbons and brunette girls wear pink ribbons.

That’s the rule.

22. If you get stung by a lot of bees or hornets, just wrap yourself up in mud and rags until the swelling goes down.

23. It is totally normal not to kiss your husband until he has proposed to you.

24. How to make a house.

Without using very many nails.

25. Getting scarlet fever makes you go blind.

Oh wait no it doesn’t!

26. Bonnets are the worst.

You lose all your peripheral vision when wearing one, which means you can’t really look at the prairie in all its glory.

27. Ditto corsets.

Also: you should wear them when you sleep if you don’t want to lose your figure (but don’t mind not being able to breathe). And when you get married, your husband should be able to (as Pa did) span Ma’s “waist with his two hands.”

28. A fur wrap and muff is the best Christmas gift.

29. When you go wading in ponds, beware of leeches.

30. Santa Claus can come even when you live in the middle of nowhere.

31. Playing with a pig’s bladder is a lot of fun.

Illustrations by Garth Williams, Helen Sewell and Mildred Boyle.

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