Each year, National ladies Homestead Gathering gives its members and guests the opportunity to connect during a weekend retreat. As our logo says, “Knowledge, Community and Friendship” is what we strive towards and the annual retreat allows us to accomplish all three. There is plenty of social time to reconnect with distant friends and to make new ones. We also learn new homesteading skills to take home and share with our community.
Our Education and Events Director, Trina Reynolds, said she came up with the knowledge portion for this retreat after living in her camper all winter. During Trina’s long winter in the camper, the water would freeze for days at a time which meant hauling water in from somewhere else (in this case, her mother-in-law’s house), much like a pioneer had to haul water from a stream or well. Then, the water had to be boiled before it could be used to do things like wash the dishes. The bitter cold winter reminded her of the struggles she read about in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series, Little House on the Prairie. Thus, came the idea for this year’s retreat, Survive: A Day in the Life of Ma Ingalls.
Ma Ingalls may not have viewed hauling water and boiling it for sterilization as a struggle. It probably seemed like a normal day’s work. These were simple daily tasks used to stay healthy and, in tough situations, even alive. For one weekend, we will learn hands-on how it was done by our Great-Great Grandmothers and do it like the pioneers.
During the Retreat, we start a project to work on during our down times. The Lucet, an ancient cord making tool used to make everything from fine thread lace to horse halters, was the tool of choice to make items necessary to live on the frontier. We will learn to use the Lucet to make something to take home and share with our home Chapters. Then, on Saturday, we typically have Workshops where you can focus on what interests you the most or you can switch from station to station.
We will also make tin can lanterns and dip candles to take home.
We will learn how the pioneers, like Ma Ingalls, lived, but, we won’t actually be living like a pioneer. No dirt floors, no outhouses and no wild animals! Trina found an awesome lodge in the mountains of Gatlinburg, TN. This area was chosen specifically to help the Gatlinburg economy following the forest fires which ravaged the mountains last fall. Each double queen room has its own bathroom and balcony and will be shared by two women. This is a big step up from life on the prairie and sod houses.
Additionally, there is a full kitchen and dining room for our use. We will have rabbit and vegetable stew with sourdough bread on Saturday night, much like the pioneer meal, only with more spices. There is an enormous Gathering Room on the second floor, with an incredible view of the mountains and a huge stone fireplace. This is where we do most of our socializing and meeting together.
The balconies are plentiful with rocking chairs and views of the mountain wilderness. Dinner will be provided both Friday and Saturday night and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.
As always, we plan for leisure time and eating out. Gatlinburg is full of places to eat and things to do. Typically, you have time for lunch in town. Pick someone new to tag along and get to know them. This is your chance to learn more from members in other Chapters and to help grow your own Chapter. Find out how it is done in Colorado or Virginia.
Ladies Homestead Gathering is growing like wild fire (no pun intended). Originally, we started with 64 spaces available for this retreat. Discounted registration opened to LHG members in March, and registration is now open for everyone until August 31st. Registration for the weekend is $224 until June 30th and then it goes up to $249 from July 1 through August 31st. There are still a few spaces open at the posting of this article.
Open to everyone starting May 1, 2017, Early Registration Discount before June 30, 2017.
For more details, go to https://ladieshomesteadgathering.wildapricot.org/event-246857
Members who helped organize this retreat; Trina Reynolds, Jill Puckett, Beth Spinella, Amanda Bayles and Debi Chandler. Thank you so much for your hard work!
Have you attended one of our Fall Retreats? If so, tell us about your experience.
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