Great Depression Lessons – Grandma and Grandpa Were Preppers

Categories: Life Stories

My mom’s parents would be referred to as preppers if they were living in today’s world, but back in the day, they lived like many country people did.  Great Depression life wasn’t easy, but their daily choices afforded them more abundance than many, especially once rationing set in during the second World War. Mom used to tell me stories about growing up on their small diversified farm, and I always admired the ingenuity and determination of the two of them. Grandma and grandpa passed on when I was still very little, so I didn’t get a chance to know them well, but I will always remember these lessons, and pass them along to my children – and you.

Grandma and Grandpa Were Preppers – 5 Lessons from Great Depression Life

#1 – Raise Your Own Food and Store for Lean Times

Grandma raised large flocks of laying hens, which she replaced annually as production dropped off.  Some birds were canned, some were sold to neighbors as stewing birds.  She had a big kerosene incubator, and used that in combination with broody hens to hatch the different types of poultry.  Grandpa raised geese, cows and pigs, and had horses for farm work and other heavy jobs. 

They had a large garden, with a sizable area just for breadseed poppies.  Grandma was Czech, and you had to have poppyseed for kolache and other baked goods.  Although grandma and grandpa passed when I was just a toddler, I still remember grandma’s yellow raspberries, and grandpa with the geese. Grandma had bees, which they used for beeswax and honey, which was a real blessing during WWII when sugar was rationed.  Momma once showed me the ration coupons she’d saved from when she was a little girl.

They butchered and canned their own meat, and rendered their own lard for cooking.  Each summer and fall the cellar was stocked well with home canned goods.

When money was tight and food was rationed, the family was always well provided for off of their own land.

#2 – Live Within Your Means

It may not be polite to talk about such things, but mom’s parents acquired their main homestead because others defaulted on their loan and taxes and lost the property, and grandpa had the money to pay off the debt and take over. When they first moved to the site, they lived in an old granary that was overrun by mice and rats. It was pretty nasty to live in at first, but grandma made do and got the place clean enough to live in while grandpa built the house.

Mom said went she went to school, she could always tell the poor girls from the more well off girls, because the poor girls (like her) wore flour sack dresses. Her mom would take her to the general store and let her pick out the print she wanted for her dresses.  Nothing was wasted.

#3 – Learn Skills That Allow You to Tackle Jobs Yourself Instead of Hiring Everything Out

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