Old ways and new with survival

On YouTube, amidst mountains of rubbish, you can also come across truly excellent historical information presented in a very entertaining  video format.  The above YouTube channel, Townsends, offers hundreds of videos exploring 18th century American living.  Along with fascinating historical information, this channel dishes up some amazing 18th century cooking, prepared as it would have been, back when bison roamed America’s fruited plains.   The Pemican video is part of a series of videos on this true early American survival food.

The Townsends YouTube channel offers dozens upon dozens of well-researched videos on 18th century cooking and living, presented in an entertaining and educational format.  These videos are like a walk back into early American life and you can almost imagine you’re living in George Washington’s time.  With my fascination with the American colonial time period, once I came across the Townsends channel, I wished I still had my cheap felt tricorn hat and quill pen.

In my last blog post, I took a pretty dim view of some of the “homesteading” videos I’ve watched on YouTube.  There seems to be a consumerist bent to how many of these people approach their “back-to-nature” lifestyle,  being motivated mostly by watching other popular YouTube homesteading “influencers”, then following advice gleaned via social media, embarking on moving into rural settings they are unfamiliar with and lacking financial plans and a means to provide for unexpected expenses.

The ground truth appears to be, their goal seems more to become quickly famous (popular) selling their beliefs about their back-to-nature lifestyle than it does to actually develop good working systems on their homestead and that bothers me.  Many of these people seem to spend more time working on their YouTube videos and social media than they do on finding practical ways to make their actual homesteading more productive.

Any home, requires food, water, heating, sheltering, waste disposal/sanitation systems.  Those are the basics anywhere humans live.  The more effectively and reliably these systems operate in a home, the more enjoyable everyday life becomes.  Absent dependable systems in the basics, the more stressful life becomes.  That’s just common sense, in colonial American homesteading or modern American homesteading.

Rather than be so negative about so much of the YouTube homesteading fad, here’s, the queen of common sense homesteader, Appalachia’s Homestead with Patara, who offers not only sensible homesteading advice, she offers the real deal homespun common sense advice, to people with no background in gardening or farming, embarking on a homesteading lifestyle.   Beyond all of the sensible things Patara says about finances and planning for her homestead, at minute 7:32, in the background is a simple clothesline.

I’ve watched another YouTube channel, of a homesteading couple, with a lot of young children, who have put out several videos where the mother laments about all of her off-the-grid laundry misery.  They choose to live with no electricity and this mother uses a ridiculously small, folding, wooden drying rack to try to dry clothes outside.

In a recent video, she praised her husband for helping her out with laundry… by carting some of their laundry to the neighbor’s, to wash and dry there.  How on earth this is being self-reliant, I have yet to figure out.  In another video, this father also talked about going to part-time hours at his retail job in a home improvement store, in hopes of being able to have more time to work at home… mostly, it seemed, on their social media video “business” ventures.

I kept wondering why on earth, living in the Ozarks and this man working in a home improvement store, he hadn’t put up some real clothesline outside, so his wife could make use of the many days of wonderful breezes there.  I lived at Fort Leonard Wood in the early 90s,  during my husband’s Army career and I had a clothesline in my backyard of our military housing.  On many clear, breezy days, I could fill up my clothesline, sometimes three separate times with loads of laundry.  I started laundry as soon as my kids left for school and got the first couple loads hung out.  Usually by noon, that was dry and I could hang out some more.  And if I had still more, by mid-afternoon, I could hang it out and get it dried.

I had a large capacity electric washer and dryer though, so on rainy days, laundry continued without any interruptions.  One time, living in MO,  the heating element in my dryer stopped working.  My husband went and picked up a new heating element and fixed my dryer when he got home, after working a very long day in the Army.

A clothesline is a common sense thing to have living a rural lifestyle, in most parts of the country.  It’s also one of those basics that could make laundry less of a trial with a large family and no electricity.  A sturdy clothesline doesn’t cost much to put together and for a family with small children, off-the-grid, it makes no sense to me why this mother spends so much time on YouTube lamenting about her laundry woes.

I kept wondering why her husband, who said he worked at a home improvement store, hadn’t put up some sturdy clotheslines, so she could make use of the great breezes that blow through the Ozarks.  Instead, this mother waxes on about amber teething necklaces, pricey amazon health food stuff and the kids, unsupervised, were mixing up batter with almond flour in one video.  I had priced almond flour for a recipe that called for it.  The Walmart store brand was $10 and some change for a 2 lb. bag.  The other brands of almond flour cost more than that.  I decided to stick with my all-purpose flour and skip trying this new recipe with almond flour.

As irksome as I found this couple’s laundry decision-making, it’s nothing compared to some of the YouTube preppers, like a lady waxing on about “dry canning” store bought rice and beans and claiming they have a shelf life of 30 years.  I wondered who on earth tested this “dry canning” method as a safe 30-year food storage method…  She did motivate me to go through my cupboards and discard some food that had long passed the expiration date, lol.  I have a bad habit of stockpiling store-bought canned goods and packaged food.  “Dry canning” store-bought beans and rice is advice, I’ll take a pass on, thank-you very much.

I suppose this sounds like my Three Little Pigs YouTube homesteading saga, so here’s another couple at Living Traditions Homestead (also in the Ozarks), who offer really solid, practical advice on planning and operating a family homestead business.  This couple planned for 7 years before moving to a homestead in the country.  They paid off all of their debt and appear to do their homework before making big decisions and changes.  They offer many interesting cooking and canning videos too.

My dream isn’t a family homestead, but to be completely debt-free and to eventually have a big backyard vegetable garden again and plant lots of flowers.  Whenever I browse seed company sites or walk into stores with gardening supplies and plants, my heart longs to buy, buy, buy, but I’m going to just grow some herbs and veggies in containers this year.  It’s the same response when I watch many homesteading and gardening videos, my eyes are bigger than my physical energy level and time.

For inspiration on container gardening, here’s another YouTube channel, a very nice couple at, Hollis and Nancy’s Homestead, who offer very clear how-to videos on container gardening methods.

You can learn many positive things from YouTube and social media, but often the “most popular” people or the videos with the most likes aren’t the ones offering the most sensible advice.  It’s best to take the time to wander through several YouTube channels when looking for “how-to” videos and think about what that channel is really selling before buying into  magical “healthy” products or lifestyles.

As the Appalachia Homestead lady, Patara, advises constantly, “Slow down and think before rushing into things!”  That’s sound advice on just about all aspects of life.

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Filed under American History, Food for Thought, General Interest

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