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Week 5
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Cutting bacon
  Susan Cain demonstrates the art of cutting bacon for the families. Read her bio.

Update from the field:
Micah Fink, Field Producer

Food is a critical issue on the frontier. Our three families arrived at Frontier Valley at a period that used to be known as "starving time," because food supplies used to dwindle during the winter months, and fresh vegetables were not yet available locally.

Sue Cain, our domestic life expert, prepared the initial supply list by poring through the sales records of a Montana mercantile run by George Bruffey, whose store thrived in southwestern Montana during the early 1880s. Bruffey's daybooks provided detailed lists of the foods and goods available, as well as the prices and quantities at which they were sold.

The families had to subsist, for their first five weeks, on traditional 19th-century basics: steel-cut oats, wheat flour, corn meal, dried beans, hard cheese, smoked bacon, salt-cured hams, lard, coffee beans, black tea, sugar, molasses, and honey. They also had a small supply of canned foods, including peaches, pears, tomatoes, corn, and oysters. This small larder quickly grew monotonous, and the families sorely missed fresh fruits and vegtables,

"There were grave concerns that the supplies would not last until the first visit to the local store -- a 10-hour trek."

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Nate and Rudy saw wood for the house.
Rudy comments on differences between life past and present.

The Way it was

and there were grave concerns that the supplies would not last until the first visit to the local store -- a 10-hour trek leading pack horses -- but vitals were horded and stretched, and everyone survived to witness the delivery of new supplies.

Fresh milk, drawn twice a day from their small herd of dairy cows, has been a valuable supplement to the frontier diets and provides the raw materials for freshly churned butter. A flock of recently acquired hens adds a few precious eggs to the daily diet -- as well as the occasional chicken dinner. And kitchen gardens, cut with great effort from the virgin sod, will soon provide fresh vegetables -- if the homemade fences can protect the tender shoots from maurading deer, mice, and other nibbling species of local wildlife.

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