From The Memsahib: Lessons from the “Little House on the Prairie” Books

All of the books in the "Little House on the Prairie" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder are great reads for all ages. Many lessons can be gleaned from their pages. (The books are much better than the sappy television series.) Laura’s "Pa" was an eternal optimist. When he saw the luxuriant prairie grasses he assumed the soil was rich and good for farming. But he did not realize that those plants were designed to survive in the Dakota territories’ weather and its pests and and that cultivated grains were not. He did not foresee the devastating storms and pests that would wipe out his crops. Like other homesteaders he took out chattel mortgages on his oxen team in order to buy lumber to build the required house on the homestead. He figured that the wheat crop would more than cover the mortgage. Pa had his crops destroyed one year by a hail storm. Another year his wheat was shriveled by searing winds. Gophers ate half of his seeds as soon as he planted. Another year enormous flocks of blackbirds ate all the ripening corn and all the oats. Twice a plague of locusts ate every green thing on the farm.
As you make you preparation plans, you must plan on the worst. Do not think like Pa that a harvest is a SURE thing. Have a food storage program to get you through crop failures! Diversify your crops. A disaster may wipe out your corn, but you could still have potatoes. Plant way more than than you think you’ll need. Insects and birds will devour more than you think. Pay off your land so that you don’t get foreclosed on when the economy turns bad. Farming doesn’t often “pay” so be sure you have another plan for making enough cash to pay your taxes. The sayings of the old farmers are still applicable today: Don’t count your chicks before they hatch. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. And nothing is sure but death and taxes.