One morning Pa went away before daylight with the horses and wagon, and that night he came home with a wagon-load of fish. The big wagon box was piled full, and some of the fish were as big as Laura. Pa had gone to Lake Pepin and caught them all in a net.
Ma cut large slices of flaky white fish, without one bone, for Laura and Mary. They all feasted on the good, fresh fish. All they did not eat fresh was salted (preserved with salt) down in barrels for the winter.
Pa owned a pig. It ran wild in the Big Woods, living on acorns (oak tree nuts) and nuts and roots. Now he caught it and put it in a pen (a small space with a fence around it, used for keeping animals) made of logs, to fatten. He would butcher (to cut up an animal for meat) it as soon as the weather was cold enough to keep the pork (pig meat) frozen.
Once in the middle of the night Laura woke up and heard the pig squealing (the sound of unhappy pigs or children). Pa jumped out of bed, snatched (quickly grabbed) his gun from the wall, and ran outdoors. Then Laura heard the gun go off, once, twice.
When Pa came back, he told what had happened. He had seen a big black bear standing beside the pigpen. The bear was reaching into the pen to grab the pig, and the pig was running and squealing. Pa saw this in the starlight and he fired quickly. But the light was dim and in his haste (hurry/rush) he missed the bear. The bear ran away into the woods, not hurt at all.
Laura was sorry Pa did not get the bear. She liked bear meat so much. Pa was sorry, too, but he said: "Anyway, I saved the bacon."
The garden behind the little house had been growing all summer. It was so near the house that the deer did not jump the fence and eat the vegetables in the daytime, and at night Jack kept them away. Sometimes in the morning there were little hoof-prints (deer foot prints) among the carrots and the cabbages. But Jack's paw prints (dog foot prints) were there, too, and the deer had jumped right out again.
Now the potatoes and carrots, the beets and turnips and cabbages were gathered and stored in the cellar, for freezing nights had come.
Onions were made into long ropes, braided (plaited) together by their tops, and then were hung in the attic beside wreaths of red peppers strung on threads. The pumpkins and the squashes were piled in orange and yellow and green heaps in the attic's corners.
The barrels of salted fish were in the pantry, and yellow cheeses were stacked on the pantry (food storage room beside the kitchen) shelves.
Read by John Larrysson, from a book called The Little House in the Big Woods.
The Little House in the Big Woods
Chapter 1 - Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1 - Part 2: Wolves in the Night
Chapter 1 - Part 4: Smoked Meat
Chapter 1 - Part 5: Food for Winter
Chapter 1 - Part 6: Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 7: After Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 9: Winter Night
Chapter 1 - Part 10: About the Author & Where to Find the Book
A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for more than a decade.