I have lived the old-fashioned way

A Wash Tub to Bathe In

I was born in 1956 in rural Missouri.I was eight years old before we had indoor plumbing.I had electric for as long as I can remember.We lived on a major road so electric lines were nearby.I knew plenty of people who did not have electric or plumbing.They lived back in the sticks.We had an outhouse for a bathroom.A wood stove for heat.

The City

Living in the city would be a whole new set of challenges.My dad told plenty of stories about how people got by in the city back in those days.For now, I want to share what I remember about those days in rural Missouri.Maybe if you are thinking of homesteading or off grid living this might be what you could expect.Because I think it would be a lot like living the old fashioned way.

Grandpa and Grandma

You see I stayed with my grandparents a lot.My mom and dad were working hard to get all modern conveniences we take for granted today.My mom went to grandma’s on Saturday to do laundry because she had an old wringer type washer. We got the water out of her rain barrels. I remember when we had our well drilled it had a rope and well bucket set up on a tripod to draw the water out.Before the water well was drilled we hauled water from one of the most beautiful springs in Missouri. It is a tourist attraction today for trout fishermen.

My grandpa

Was a good fisherman we eat fish four or five days a week.He had stopped hunting by the time I came along.He did take me squirrel hunting a few times. I have eaten squirrel and rabbit.

My grandma

Would boil the old squirrel to make a tasty gravy and dumplings.The young ones she would fry.My grandparents always had chickens for eggs and fryers.We would sit by the wood stove and shell field corn to feed the chickens. Or we would churn butter out of fresh cream skimmed off the milk. Before my time they always had a milk cow. My aunt had milk cows so they brought milk to them every Sunday when they came to go to church. I think all my aunts and uncles came more for grandma’s Sunday dinner than the church.No, they were church people and they made sure me and my cousins were there in church right beside them.

Wild Edibles and a GARDEN

My grandparents were always out picking blackberries, blueberries, watercress, lamb’s quarter, black walnuts, hazelnuts, and a whole lot of other wild edibles.I remember going down the road and watching my great uncle plow a garden with a horse. I think he probably had a tractor but he liked working that old horse. They got enough vegetables to pressure cook and can them. We had canned vegetables to eat all winter.They would store apples and potatoes under the house on screen wireframes hanging from the floor joists.They would last quite a while like that.It was all about family and community helping one other.I don’t remember my grandpa having a garden but he had vegetables to can.

My Grandpa

My grandpa helped build our country church along with probably all the men in the congregation.They were craftsmen there was no such thing of hiring a construction company when you needed something built they just did it. I do not remember my grandpa hiring anybody to help with repairs on his house or farm.Sometimes a neighbor or family member would help him.My grandpa could build his own river boats. They were the flat bottom John boat type.He built them out of oak. When he got done with one he would take it to the river put in it the water and it would almost sink.But after a short time, he would go dip the water out of it and the oak had swelled up sealing all the cracks. If it had any minor leaks he would seal them with tar.Like I said he was a craftsman he knew how to pick the right lumber to build the boats.He could look at a tree and tell you how many board feet of lumber was in it.

He was a Business  Man

He had a river and fishing guild service. People would come out of the city and he would take them fishing.He also had a country store.Most of his customer’s had a charge account with him.They would pay him when they sold something maybe a hog, calf, or whatever they had.Lots of people worked in the timber and sold fence posts, lumber, or stave bolts. There is a place in town that builds whiskey barrels that is where they sold the stave bolts. It is still there today it employs several hundred people.I do not remember a lot of people having a regular job where they got a paycheck.

My grandma was a talented lady.

She did all her cooking from scratch no processed food and didn’t even use a recipe or measuring cups. To top that she was cooking on a wood cookstove.There was a lot of work getting wood split small enough to fit in the stove and build a fire. She always had a pot of brown beans on the table along with some cornbread fresh out of the oven for dinner and supper.Sometimes she would open a jar of green beans and new potatoes she had canned she added a little bacon in green beans when she cooked them. Boy were they good.I remember we eat a lot of fish, bacon, ham, and chicken.She made most of her own and grandpa’s clothes. She would make quilts and braid rugs from old clothes and scrap materials. She also had a home remedy for about anything when you would get sick.

I wouldn’t recommend

Selling your house and moving into the woods and living the off-grid without trying it first.Even with solar panels and windmills available at reasonable prices nowadays.Producing enough electricity to run A.C.units, hot water heaters, and water well pumps etc.would be expensive.It will take some forgotten skills and a lot of hard work to live the old fashion way. Although it could be a real healthy way to live. Growing your own food gathering wild edibles raising and hunting for your meat. Combined with all the physical exercise you would get might be what the doctor ordered.

I know that I have just scratched the surface of what it took to survive the old fashion way.

I hope you enjoyed reading.

Do you have any experience living the old ways?

Maybe some of your ancestor’s stories?

If you do, could you share them in the comments, please?

I and my readers would enjoy them and learn something.


  1. Hello, Joe
    I just finished reading your story. I enjoyed your short bio’s about the members of your family. I’m sure you have a store of stories still to tell about each one. I would like to read more about each one of your family members.
    I find it fascinating you were able to experience this in your life. I can only imagine how much knowledge you have about living the old fashion way.
    My Father moved us to the sticks back in the early seventies. As you mentioned in your story, he should have taken a test drive first to see how we would all adjust to country life. He bought a 134-acre farm 80 miles from the nearest grocery store. The house was empty for two years, and the animals had overtaken it. The roof leaked and the grounds were run down and overgrown.
    It took about six months or so to clean up the farm just to make it livable. My Mother had to learn how to can vegetables and fruits. I and my brothers and sisters didn’t have a clue about gardening and raising chickens and cows. I can agree though with your story about our neighbors without their help we probably would not have survived our first year.
    Just like everything else life finds a way. My family did learn about how to survive on a farm. I enjoyed working with the land and the animals. So much, that I sometimes miss my way of life that I had there on the farm.
    I guess that’s why I bought a house thirty miles from town. It is sandwich between two farms. I have 300- acres on the left and 500-acres on my right. Behind me is a 200-acre farm. I can see thirty to forty Angus grazing on the hills while I eat my dinner. The deer walk through the yard early in the morning. When your working in the yard you can hear the gobble of wild turkeys. The birds are howling every day. There are a good size lakes that my neighbors let my family fish. It’s filled with monster bass and sunfish. All are within walking distance from the house.
    Ha Ha, I have all the amenities of farm life without working the farm. I am truly blessed. I hope to put in a small garden this year. I enjoy eating fresh vegetables, and the farms sell fresh meat. Raw milk is a short drive from the house. Yes, I have all the benefits of living the rural life without the ton of work that goes into farming.
    Like I said, I enjoyed reading your story. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors.

  2. I used to remember my grandparents telling my parents not to sell their property in the province when they are both gone. Both my parents are working in the city and they occasionally bring the family to our grandparents especially during summer and school break. I really have fond memories living with my grandparents and teaching us how to gather and break woods for cooking using axe and hunting bolo. They have no electric or gas stove so they only cook using woods as the source of fuel. They have a deep well and to my surprised, it is potable and clean.

    Life in the countryside is easy, relaxing and simple. As an adult man having a family of my own, I also impart to my children things I learned from my grandparents. I also told them that when I retired from work, I will settle once again to our old home in the province and live for the rest of my life. Thank you so much for your article and it really helps me remember the simple old things we easily forget because of the fast-paced and stressful life we are living in right now in this modern world. Great article!

    1. Thanks: Troy
      My sister still owns my Grandpa and Grandma’s place.I think your right kids these days should be taught some of the old ways before they are forgotten.I have a place in the country that I could move to. When I bought it there weren’t any neighbors within hollering distance but there is now.What is bolo?

  3. I enjoyed reading this ..It reminded me of the good old days. I remember as a young married woman, my ex husband ‘s Grandma making her own soap. It worked so well and I have the recipe that I will share on your blog later …lol I have to find the recipe !Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Thank you: Vera
      Remembering the good old days always puts a smile on my face.Glad you enjoyed it.I will be watching for your recipe.I want to try to make some soap myself.

  4. I have experience living the old fashioned way but not completely off grid.
    My grandma house is located in a small fishing village, I used to follow her walking along the coast to find cockle-like creatures that we later use it in our meal. Definitely need to work for food.
    So many natural resources around us, that we need to use it before it turns bad, for example coconuts and vegetables. But, since my grandma passed away, I have not go back to that place again. Good memories, thanks for sharing your as well.

    1. Thank You: M.Ramlee
      We always had electric. It only powered maybe 4 light bulbs and an old refrigerator. Is that fishing village in Malaysia? I bet you got some stories to tell. And I hope maybe you can share some here.
      Thanks again: JOE

    1. Thanks: Jessica
      I think the old ways are important to remember and pass on to the younger generation.
      If you have any questions drop a note in the comments.
      Happy Days to You: JOE

  5. Hi Joe,
    I absolutely loved your story about your memories and your family. It brought back some memories of my dad’s cousin and his family. They were the hardest working people I’ve ever met. They lived on a farm with no electricity or running water. But I always looked forward to going for a visit. They always had an amazing amount of fresh vegetables, creamy milk fresh from the cow, fresh butter and bread.
    I remember them taking their Saturday bath in the bath tub that was in the shed even in the winter. Water would have to be heated on the wood stove and then carried to the shed.
    They didn’t have some of the latest comforts but I remember them for their love for life and others. I think I can learn from them. Living a simpler life can help to keep your priorities straight.

    1. Hey Evelyn
      You know it had to have been a hard life but a very gratifying life.In this day and time seems there is many people feel they are entitled to the necessity’s to live.With very little gratitude when they are giving something for nothing in return.
      I and my readers would enjoy more comments about the old ways so if remember some old stories feel free to share them.
      Thanks: Joe

    2. I really believe there is lot to be said for a simpler life style ! More peace less stress! We love camping because we like to get away from it all!

      1. Vera
        We need to stop and smell the roses every once in while. It is easy to get caught up in the home to work, work to the home routine. A person has to do what you got to do to make a living.But when I get away and enjoy mother nature it sure makes the old 9:00 to 5:00 routine a lot more bearable.

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