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Little House in the Big Woods Recap: The Long Rifle

Maggie Mae


The Long Rifle

Laura and Mary are schooled in the art of bullet making. Every night, Pa makes some bullets for the next day. I want to know why he doesn't plan ahead. The food will last. The woods are plentiful. This isn't like living in Huslia or Kobuk or Shungnak, where it's all hands on deck when a caribu herd comes around. He's got lots of food stored up. He can spend a day a month making bullets, which would likely save some resources. 

Also, let's talk about the fact that bullet making involves melting bits of lead, pouring it from a spoon into a mold, and telling his daughters to stop touching the still hot bullets. Lead. I hear lead is delicious, maybe that's why they keep touching them and then sucking on their fingers. 

After the bullets, Pa cleans his gun.  The illustration of Pa, Mary and Laura looks more like Mr Olsen (best character in the show), Nelly, and a brown haired toddler.  But I digress. Oh, nope... I just noticed he is NOT following basic gun safety in this illustration, but I'm not going to share it because I'm not sure sharing every single illustration falls under fair use. Sorry. He's holding like a cane, with his hand over the top. Never point the gun at anything you don't want to shoot! This must mean he wants to shoot himself through his hand and into his chin. 

Pa also keeps the gun loaded at all times. In my world, guns are always unloaded and locked in a safe, not hung on a hook across a door. The ammo is kept in a different safe. My coworker, however, just keeps hers in her purse. I dislike that immensely. She has kids. I don't. 

Also, what a pain in the ass. Pa has to stop after firing and reload by measuring gun powder, putting in a "patch" and then a bullet and a fresh cap. I just make sure the shell ejected and then slap a new one in. Technology! I also don't shoot animals. I shoot clay things with a shotgun and the target at the biathlon range with my biathlon rifle.  

Pa is a very good shot, and he always kills bears and panthers in one shot. I don't have panthers, but I always carry bear spray for bears because it's safer and more effective. I also don't think I would hit a bear that was charging me. I saw The Revenant. 

After the bullet making, Pa tells the girls a story. 

The Story of Pa and the Voice in the Woods

Pa was once young and his job was to track down the cows. One time, he got distracted by all the other creatures who lived in the woods and pretended he was an "Indian" until the birds started doing bird things. He called for the cows and they didn't come. (I can't imagine cows coming when they are called, but also now I want to go pet a cow. I used to have a great aunt in Northern Michigan (not the UP) who owned a dairy farm (not a factory type place) and I was SO shocked when I learned that dairy cows aren't black and white like on the package of milk (in the 90s). I was so shocked and upset that I didn't want to pet the depressing brown cows. I am sad now, because all cows have such big dumb eyes and soft fur. 

Look at this guy. 



Or these guys. 



Other cows also deserve love. 



I don't know how I can reconcile my love of cows with my love of carne asada, skirt steak, beef bourguignon, bolognase sauce, sunday gravy, steak, and beef wellington. UGH the struggle is real. I want to be ethical and a good person, but there is nothing like tenderloin wrapped in mushrooms and puff pastry. Or a corn tortilla with grilled carne asada, cilantro, chopped onions, and hot sauce. I also really like pigs and would like to stop eating them, but then there is pasta e fagioli. 

I should blog more on Feed Jinger. 

Oh, right. Pa is out in the woods being racist against Native Americans but it was well before the civil rights movement and I'm not entirely certain Wisconsin was even a state yet, and he lost his family's herd of cows. It's after dark, and he's in the woods. He's running around calling for the cows, and I'm not going to lie, I'm a bit amused by a small child running around aimlessly yelling "here cows."  He thinks he hears a panther, but it's only his own breathing. He yells "Sukey! Sukey!" and then a VOICE from the woods starts yelling "Who?" back at him! He runs and runs. 


1:10 if the embedding didn't work. 

Anyway, spoiler alert, it's an owl. 

All of the cows had already come home on their own (or Grandpa had brought them home, It's unclear), and Pa had torn off his toe nail. 

Pa gets a thrashing at 9. His dad also makes fun of him a bit for being scared by an owl, which tells me he had his eye on the kid the whole time. 


I liked the glimpse of Pa's early childhood. The story had lots of adventure and excitement. I am less interested in bullet making and gun cleaning. However, I do like that these books are giving a very interesting and not - textbook approach to learning about day-to-day life in a bygone era. 

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Aw, you made me miss “my cows” We bordered a big old thousand acre field of cows. It had a pond and creek. We were allowed to play back there. There were horses that liked apples. The cows would break free, and wander the street.

This is all the happy Kansas stuff. Cows are big and doofy. Now that field has been McMansioned :( 

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I’ve read that lead has a sweet taste, which is why small children eating chips of peeling paint on old buildings has been such an issue(there was an episode of Forensic Files where a 2-year-old Ethiopian refugee died from lead poisoning).

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 textbook approach to learning about day-to-day life in a bygone era. 

She really does go into such detail about random daily life! 

It seems I read somewhere or heard an explanation as to why Pa made the bullets each night but now I can't remember it and Google isn't showing me the answer. But if I recall correctly there was an actual explanation for that. 

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