Pioneer kids

After a near week of being snowed in, I’ve often wondered how the pioneer families did it. How did they tackle chores — feeding livestock, birthing calves, loading carts — with the burden of children? I think I’ve found the answer.

They left them alone.

I’m not equating our rural property with a Little House on the Prairie western outpost. But certain tasks — chaining and towing a vehicle, prying open a frozen barn door, and heaving hay and water over snow drifts — are two-person jobs.

Fortunately, we have something that Ma and Pa Ingalls lacked: a Tivo-ed arsenal of Dora and Diego episodes.

When possible, Martin and I plan our excursions during the kids’ should-be-napping time. Then we employ a backup system: usually a breadcrumb trail of Ritz crackers that leads to the TV. In most cases it stops them in their tracks and keeps them out of the knife drawer (see photo of toddlers captured in natural habitat after parental absence). Worst case scenario to date: a half-naked Hadley emerges outside in search of us.

Tonight, after my first full day at work and a dreadful commute home, the Big Rig got stuck in the frozen drive — a normally straight path now plowed in the shape of an “S” around two snow drifts. The truck got stuck uphill, in the belly of the S.

I summoned Martin, who was in the house with the kids. In the dark we debated hitching Chitty and possibly entrapping both trucks. Or fixing the tractor’s blown hydraulic hose and using it as the tow vehicle.

Ultimately, Martin miraculously unwedged Big Rig and it dropped to the bottom of the drive like a pinball in a machine. We left it there, where presumably our neighbors can squeeze by and try their luck with the S.

What were the kids doing in our absence? I don’t know but I’m pretty sure it involved a nerf gun and a battery-deprived Star Wars light saber. At least they weren’t wielding knives.

I’m sure this blog post disqualifies me for any Parent of the Year award. And it probably flags me for a visit from Child Protective Services. Well bring it on, CPS.

Good luck getting up the driveway!