The frontier special, on PBS : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

Dear Friends, Well how have you all been likeing the frontier pbs, special. I have to laugh at times, When I was young, my mom scrubbed on wash board, and you bet we didn"t change clothes everyday. And My mom's soap did not suds up like there's. And why aren't those older girls scrubbing some clothes too. Also the bread makeing, the girls should be doing that too.And they complained about being hungrey. How could that be, 3 cows giveing milk. Does any one relize how much milk a Jersey cow gives. Then there is cottage cheese, butter, butter milk, cheese, and just plain drinking milk. How could they be starveing, I would be a blimp in no time. What things did you all see, that just doesn't ring true.

-- Irene texas (, May 02, 2002


Irene, I didn't see what they were giving those cows to eat, but when I saw them milking I didn't think they were getting much milk out of each cow. From what I saw, maybe a gallon per milking, if that for a family of 4. Even with a calf to feed that seemed like too little:it wasn't a very large calf. I ALSO wondered what they were giving their chickens, it didn't seem like they were getting many eggs. Also, fish??? - they left out half of the good stuff!

-- Terri (, May 02, 2002.

Irene -- I have to laugh, too. If I didn't, I'd cry. I can't believe that those families were chosen -- with their whiney, lazy kids!

The one thing I really laughed at was the Moonshine Daddy throwing a hissy fit. My father had more respect for his tools than to chuck them in a fit of anger. Strange -- it made me wonder what criteria they had to meet to be selected.

That and the mother, Karen, complaining with a smirk on her face to the camera about her husband's "attitude" with her twelve year old daughter standing their nodding and lapping up every word. I honestly can't imagine that in 1883 that kind of disrespect would be tolerated.

Maybe I'm being naive -- but I honestly don't think that the experiment can work unless they're willing to live REALLY as people did then. And they seem to be more concerned with putting in time until they get out than anything else.

-- Tracy (, May 02, 2002.

Irene, I was wondering exactly the same thing. Why weren't they making cheese for themselves? They'd have had the cheese and still had whey for the pig. Cheese and butter could also be sold at the store.

I also noticed a goat at one point, but all they talked about was their cows. If I were to do something like this, I would have GOATS. They can give a lot of milk, and are easy to lock up safely in a small shed at night. They don't take as much feed. AND they prefer brush! They could scavenge for a lot of their feed, even in a bad winter. You wouldn't have to put up so much hay. Goats generally have at least twins, often trips or quads. Any bucks, or excess doelings could be used for meat at about 5 months, with very little feed or labor invested, and wouldn't have to be overwintered like raising a cow for meat.

Why would they raise ONE pig and butcher her for one "holiday" meal when they (supposedly) were facing a winter. That pig at 5 months should have been WAY bigger than it was, and at proper butcher size would have provided a lot of meat for the winter, as well as lard for cooking, soapmaking, etc. They also could have made their beans and such a lot more palatable by boiling them with some pork bones, and even adding bits of meat.

I couldn't believe they were wasting time, money and wood on fencing that rancher's cattle out. They should have been putting up firewood and hay. At the very least, the children and dogs could have herded the cattle away from the area. My grandma and her brothers had that job on their homestead from the time they were about 6 or 7. Personally, I'd have moved that rancher's cattle off with a rifle if need be.

The no hunting seemed REALLY ludicrous.

However, it was still an interesting show, if only to show how poorly modern man is equipped to survive on his own.

-- Lenette (, May 02, 2002.

We were so disappointed with the whole could have been opportunity for folks to learn about homesteading, but it was a "psychobabble" thing, and a poorly done one at that. I got a kick on other forums of folks coming down on Karen as the wicked witch of the West, when at least she didn't teach her kids to cheat and cuss! And I think if my husband yelled at ME the way hers did in front of the kids I'd be tempted to toss a few barbs myself..they were BOTH morons IMHO..I personally wanted to shoot the Clunes one by one and blame it on rustlers....LOL....I felt so badly for the young man who cried over his hard work on the cabin for his new bride while she couldn't wait to boogie on down the mountain and leave it! Poor man.Did anyone notice that the only woman who was sad to leave was Karen? My husband pointed out that Karen and her husband are so much alike that their only trouble was that the husband refuses to ACT like a husband, giving her all the power and then being mad at her for taking it! We noticed that the scythes weren't sharp enough to cut cooked pasta, and where did they get all that hand-hewn stripped posts to build those fences from in less than a week? Neil said he sure would like to have the "fence post Fairy" visit our farm! One one hand, the Glenns complained they had no money after Karen had a doctor visit and in the next breath, here came the fence posts and tons of barbed wire! Also, we laughed and laughed over the Clunes "starvation" situation....the father and the one boy who were actually doing physical labor lost weight..those teenaged girls sure didn't lose weight! The one person I just wanted to hug was Karen's little boy...Logan..he was such a sweetie pie! Neil says Mr. Glenn should come to his senses, buy a farm, hug those two nice kids, take back the pants from his wife, and be a happy man somewhere in the hills of Tennessee.

-- lesley (, May 02, 2002.

Oh my goodness! I've been wondering this all morning as I frugally prepared three days worth of food, baked bread, etc.. I may be doing it with frozen garden goods, but nonetheless... we planted, weeded and harvested it.

What I wondered was--why did they pick people with little or no skills. O.K. it was true that the majority of homesteaders were not farmers, but still the women would have known how to can, wash clothes, keep a kitchen garden and a few chickens--even in town.

They would have been better off, shown alot more with people who at least garden in 2002, or know how to can.

What about composting? Ok. I was turning the compost today and had a lot of time to think.

They would have been more successfull had they done more together. Anyone who read the little house books know they not only built houses together--they broke sod and harvested together.

You had to. You only have a few days to harvest and you have the weather working against you. If your neighbor's crop comes in first-- well the whole "neighborhood" goes there. We still do this in our neck of the woods today. You share your abundance and it comes back from other's abundance. because you couldnt' throw things away.

Scavenging--my goodness think of the greens and the nuts and berries. At least the Calif. Dad saw something to do with the berries!

I thought it very sanctimonious of the TN lady to say that alcohol was totally wrong. I don't drink, but I know that you would have to have alcohol on your homestead for medicinal purposes and for sterilizing wounds. In the civil war, alcohol was all that was available for pain during surgery...

Were they making vinegar?

What did they grow? I thought they would concentrate on the garden first, then the house. For instance, build a roof and put the tent under it until they could get the rest built.

-- Ann Markson (, May 02, 2002.

The show wanted people with no experience in "homesteading" and maybe common sense .Plenty of people on cs sent in to be picked.Granted some homesteades may not have been farmers but they spend there lives living of the land .The knew how to cook on a wood stove , do laundry , bake bread, feed livestock, ect .They where asking for nothing but touble taking city folk giving them some training and dumping them off.Gee wiz drop me off in the city and I would be lost.

-- Patty {NY State} (, May 02, 2002.

I thought it was pretty interesting. What we must remember is that they only showed 6 hours of tape, and they were there for 5 months. So we saw very little of what actually happened. I'm sure the editors picked and chose what they wanted each person to be. I think all of them would have made it through the winter one way or another!! Those girls milked the cow every day, cut hay and wood, and did a good bit considering that before this they had probably never really done any work. I would have been more suprised if they had not complained!!! At least the Clune's had a happy marriage and semed to appreciate each other. I imagine a lot of people broke the law back then in various minor ways... Not that they should have, but there really was little ways of enforcing most of them. Like they said only about 40% of the kids went to school, and there were probably lots of little stills and people hunting whenever they wanted to... Also the Clune woman was the only one who did any canning. At the end they showed her fruit cellar full of canned goods. I am sure she was glad to get back to her real life. It had to be a lot of work to cook for everyone, can and garden, when you are not used to it. I am sure they all learned something from the experience, and we really don't know exactly how we would act under the same circumstances. I am sure there would be days when we were tired and might make a negative remark, and for sure that is the one they would play on the TV!!! I bet someone could get the original footage and show a whole differnt story...

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, May 02, 2002.

The politically correct "no hunting" thing threw a big monkey wrench into the whole project. Those homesteaders would've been getting meat all summer, no problem, with hunting. I think the real problem with the Clune alcohol was not the alcohol itself, but the fact that MR. Clune did not get the license to make it, thus breaking the law. I guess that's easy for me to say - my grandfather made bathtub gin during Prohibition, so maybe I have to be in their shoes.

Nate was the sweetest guy. I liked him and his father, Rudy.

-- Christina (, May 02, 2002.

So why was it illegal for them to hunt? I didn't see the first show. I din't see them doing much fishing, either. Did they make their own soap/lye?

Oprah had them on for just a short while. They all said they would love to back and do it again. Seems like out of 5,000 applicants they could have found at least one family that sincerely wanted to learn/do what needed to be done without the mouth or illegal stuff.

-- Cindy (S.E.IN) (, May 02, 2002.

I was going to tape this show, but the first night was so pathetic that I stopped taping it. We've been trying to comprehend what was so mind boggling hard to these people. I guess just the fact that they weren't used to this type of work. They would have had time before doing this to do some research first, don't you think? My husband had a big problem with that Glenn guy. Yeah, his wife was lippy and fiesty, but Tom said she had reason to be. How could this fella not really cotton to her children? The little boy was adorable and the girl was so good with the animals and didn't really complain that much. I would have left him at home.

It's a shame that the kids had to leave just when they were starting to enjoy it. Did anyone notice how much the one room school house was like homeschooling. More personal and spontaneous.

Does anyone know what is to become of the cabins and the land? It's certainly beautiful there isn't it.

-- vicki in NW OH (, May 02, 2002.

I think that the biggest problem for any of these people is the change in lifestyle. When we moved out of the city it was a long-held dream come true for me, but the adjustment was tough as I had to stop and think about everything that I did, because everything was so different from what I was used to, and at least I still had a job and a stove! I's a tiring thing to change your entire life. I believe it is called culture shock. I expected everyone to get tired and cranky, and everyone did, sooner or later, exept for Nate and his father. As it turns out, Rudy grew up on a small farm so the work was familiar to him, and Nate taught at Outward Bound, which teaches teenagers outdoor skills.

-- Terri (, May 02, 2002.

High marks, if you were looking for fantisy entertainment, and political correctness.

If you, are looking for a reality check it failed....

-- Ed Copp (OH) (, May 02, 2002.

Well, y'all may want to take me out and shoot me, but I think they did a good job in picking the families they did. Think about it--if they picked "true" homesteaders, they'd make it look easy. {grin}

We live out in the country and garden/raise animals, but I dearly love my modern conveniences like my washing machine, toilet, refrigerator and, of course, air conditioning. Honestly, watching those families struggle with everything makes me appreciate just how much work was involved in daily living back then. Since we all have access to a computer, I'm assuming we don't all live as if we're in the 1800's. Even if you eschew most modern conveniences, imagine how difficult it would be to start off with food for a month or so and a roof over your head (if that), and not much more. It takes time to get used to living under those conditions if you haven't had to do so before.

Yeah, there were times when I wanted to take some of those folks by the scruff of their necks, but all in all, I enjoyed the show. I doubt I could have been unfailingy pleasant for 5 months, and I'm sure the editors picked footage that wasn't completely representative. I mean, come on . . . how can you distill 5 months into 6 hours and not loose something?

-- Julie in NC (, May 02, 2002.

The frontier show is supposed to be shown (all 6 hours) on Sun. on PBS. I don't know if it will be in all areas. I haven't checked to find out the time yet. The date listed was Sun. May 5th. so if anyone missed it hopefully you will get a second chance. jennathome

-- jennathome (normaj3@iwon. com), May 04, 2002.

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