Last summer I read you the first chapter of The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This summer I will read you the second chapter. It is the story of a little girl growing up in America in the old days before it was a developed country. She lived long ago when there was no electricity, telephone or internet. She lived in a forest where there were no roads, no stores and no school. There was only her family and around them were trees and beyond them were more trees. There was nothing but trees and wild animals. In this chapter it is wintertime. Winter was a difficult time. They can not grow any food and hunting was difficult.
The first snow came and it was very cold. Every morning father took his gun and his traps and was gone all day in the forest. He was setting the small traps to catch small animals, such as muskrats and mink along the river and creek. The middle-sized traps were for catching middle-sized animals, such as foxes and wolves in the forest. He set out the big bear traps hoping to get a fat bear before they all went into their dens to sleep for the winter. Bears sleep in dirt caves, called dens, all winter long.
One morning her father came back, took the horses and the sledge (US: sled). He hurried away again. The sledge is similar to a car on skis; her father had a big sledge pulled by horses. He had shot a bear. Laura and Mary jumped up and down and clapped their hands, they were so glad. Mary shouted:
"I want the drumstick! I want the drumstick!"
Mary did not know how big a bear's drumstick is. A drumstick is the word for a leg, like a cooked chicken's leg. A bear has a very big drumstick indeed.
When their father came back he had both a bear and a pig in the sledge.
He had been going through the forest, with a big bear trap in his hands and the gun on his shoulder. When he walked around a big pine tree covered with snow and the bear was behind the tree.
The bear had just killed the pig and was picking it up to eat it. Father said the bear was standing up on its back legs, holding the pig in its paws just as though they were hands. Bears and dogs do not have hands like people, they have paws.
Her father shot the bear with his gun. There was no way of knowing where the pig came from or whose pig it was.
"So I just brought home the pig, we will eat its bacon," father said.
There was plenty of fresh meat to last for a long time. The days and the nights were so cold that the pork in a box and the bear meat hanging up in the little shed outside the back door were solidly frozen and did not thaw (warm up/defrost).
When Laura's mother wanted fresh meat for dinner Laura's father took the axe and cut off a chunk (big piece) of frozen bear meat or pork. There was also sausage, salt pork (preserved pork), smoked ham and the venison (deer meat) that was prepared earlier. (see chapter 1)