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Update: November, 2001

Continued from previous page.

But Linda, the less practical, more daring half of the partnership, was gripped by the idea the minute she heard of it. In fact, she briefly conjured herself not as one of the historical consultants but as one of the "lucky" persons chosen for the experiment itself -- an idea immediately vetoed by Ursula, who, having briefly been a part of the back-to-the-land movement of the early 1970s, no longer harbored any romantic illusions about life on a 160-acre homestead.

If she couldn't be a homesteader, Linda was determined to be a consultant on the project -- but equally determined not to set out on this adventure alone. In the midst of our debating the pros and cons of the matter, an interview visit with Micah at our home here in Vermont began to persuade Ursula that involvement in this project was something we would definitely enjoy -- and might possibly benefit from. With the final decision yet to be made -- on our part and that of producer Simon Shaw and his Thirteen/WNET and Wall-to-Wall associates -- we were invited down to New York to meet the covey of bright, creative people who formed the production team. Their enthusiasm proved to be highly contagious. Thus after a day of brainstorming with the crew and after being assured that we'd be helped in our work by other historians and by specialists who would bring to the project the expertise we clearly lacked -- Bernie Weisgerber, the outdoorsman who knew all about building nineteenth-century log cabins; Rawhide Johnson, the wrangler who knew about the types of livestock and farm equipment that would have been available in 1883 Montana and knew where to get the animals and items in 2001; and Sue Cain, the living-history expert who became our closest ally in questions of hearth and home, steeped as she was in the domestic arts of that bygone era -- we came down with a virulent case of Frontier House fever and took the only available cure. We signed on the dotted line and gave ourselves totally to the project.

And totally, it turned out to be. From that session with the production crew in New York in January until we actually met the participating families in their Virginia City "boot camp" in May, we were daily immersed in another time, another place. Without swinging an axe or plowing a furrow we too had become a part or the journey.

The Homesteaders
Animation of homesteaders
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