Have you ever wondered what life was really like for pioneers living in the American West during the late 19th century? How did they fare without the modern conveniences we take for granted? Could a modern-day family handle a pioneer family's lifestyle? .
In 2000 PBS television producers selected a beautiful valley in a remote corner in which to locate their project. There, each of the selected families took over their own 160-acre plot of homestead land. Through late spring, summer, and early fall of 2001, they observed their complete immersion into the lifestyle -- how they fared with building their home, tending their livestock, planting food, catching fish in the creek -- all without the assistance of modern technology.
All of which was filmed and presented as Frontier House.
Thanks, Shawn. I, too, loved this program :) Two things I remember from it are the fact that they couldn't hunt, a major handicap for the 'pioneers', and that the California teenagers were bored back at home, there was 'nothing to do'.... compared to their important work at the homestead. Also, this picture of the 'pioneers' leaves out the 'original pioneers', probably necessary for their cinematic purpose, but something to keep in mind while watching how Europeans did 'it'.
The modern wife's renewed appreciation of the washing machine reminds me of Ha Joon Chang's claim that it changed the world more than the internet has ("23 Things They Didn't Tell You about Capitalism" :) (They also did a program of moderns living a 1900 London Victorian lifestyle - another eye-opener.)
It's time to get positive about negative thinking -Art Donnelly
Meh. I really found this series disappointing. The amount of time spent playing up personal conflict, temper tantrums and relationship dynamics vs. actually providing useful information like how to build a cabin roof or what to feed a cow makes it feel much more like another reality show than a documentary series.
For something with a bit more meat check out Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm, two documentary series produced by the BBC and freely available on the TV Ontario website.
I had a hard time gettting through the first episodes. I was assuming that it would be like the BBC's edwardian, victorian and wartime farm series. Instead it was a bunch of shallow trumped up conflict and petty nonsense. I would have assumed if they wanted to do a real good job portraying this time period, they would have found people who would have an idea as to what they were getting into. Episode 1 was primarily about women and girls worried about make up and forced conversation about how miserable everyone was.
Once I saw a guy in a bulldozer "editing history" I was pretty much done watching it. The only realness in the whole thing was when that kid went flying off the wagon. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he was ok, but everything else was so staged that there really wasn't a reason for me to continue with the series.
If anyone has a reason for me to keep watching, please let me know.
It was one of the original immersion reality shows. Not as much manufactured drama as, say, The Colony, but definitely reality TV and not documentary. The BBC series came off as faked, more like Martha Stewart doing anything when it was really a crew of minions doing the real work. There was some interesting historical info scattered in the episodes, and I did find the middle episodes interesting as the people adjusted to the rhythm of life off-grid--there are surprises on who makes it and who doesn't.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
See, this just makes me want to see a bunch of videographers up at Paul's Farm making a long-term documentary. Paul, if you're listening, you should get right on that, after the earth-moving and wofati-building. Or during, for that matter.
Actually, that's probably on the list of to dos, considering the extensive youtube channel he's got...
Lisa Niermann wrote:
I was surprised that they didn't have an historical expert who was able to show them how to use a scythe correctly.
Yup, I think the original pioneers would have had an easier time of things just because they would have known things like that already. There were several times I was yelling at the screen because of the way they chose to do things. My great-grandmother still lived on a homestead in KS with no running water as late as the 1970s and I still hear the stories about that all the time from my great-aunts and -uncles, so I'm sure I would have done much better in their place.
I still liked it, though. Interesting to actually see the old tools and see people doing this stuff rather than hearing about it secondhand. If I were a history teacher I'd totally be using clips from this series in my classroom.
A lot of people cry when they cut onions. The trick is not to form an emotional bond. This tiny ad told me:
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