Then it was time to make butter.
Handing each child a small container of heavy cream, DeSmet said: “Start shaking it. People made up songs to sing while churning butter because it could take hours churning the milk to heavy cream to butter.
“It’ll sound differently when it gets thicker. This is going to take a long time,” she said. “Do you know any jokes or songs?”
After some jokes were told, songs made up, and more time passed, DeSmet said, “Now listen to it. Does it sound like water?” Excited heads nodded yes.
“That means the buttermilk is separating. It’s almost there. For Laura, a treat would be to drink the buttermilk.”
Arms exhausted, it was time for a well-deserved break, before finishing the session with games and dancing.
DeSmet read “Winter Night,” a chapter in “Farmer Boy,” the third book in the nine-part Little House series, based on the childhood of Laura’s husband, Almanzo Wilder, in upstate New York. The children ate their freshly made butter on saltine crackers and drank cider.
Hearing the endless chores required to run the Wilder family farm — rising at 5 a.m. to milk cows, feed stock, help plant and tend crops, haul logs, fill the ice house, and go to school, but only when his father could spare Almanzo — life today suddenly sounded good.
“Whenever my kids are complaining,” Linda Walsh said, “I tell them, ‘You could be Laura Ingalls.’ ”
Kathy Shiels Tully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.