Oregon or Bust!

The Oregon Trail Museum: Campsite

No, we are not moving to the Northwest.  I just thought the title of the blog post was quite apt in light of the past two weeks here on Comfort Farm.   We went out west on a tour in early June and we went to the Oregon Trail Museum in Wyoming.   They had one of those interactive exhibits where you get a little taste of what it felt like to “ride” a wagon pulled by oxen over rough and tumbly ground  to arrive at a campground where one of the wagon train members ‘busted.’  Busted meant exactly that.  Their wagon broke and someone was injured.  Bad luck.  Very bad luck, indeed.

The Oregon Trail was a 2,000 mile east-west wagon route that went from the Mississippi valleys to Oregon.  It took four to six months on foot to get to the end of the trail.  In 1843 there was a migration to claim free government land out west.  Back in those days there were no hardware stores or general stores to speak of  to buy new supplies if something should go awry en route.  There were several forts sprinkled along the trail where you could find help, but largely you had to swallow hard, gather what things you had left, rely on the generosity of the rest of your group and try to make it the rest of the way as best you can.  Oh, and there was a large cholera outbreak back then too.  Thousands died and were buried in unmarked graves along the way.  It was truly a tough and emotional journey. 

So how does that relate to us?   When we got home we found a beautifully cared for farm, everything humming away nicely, a wonderful job done by my niece, her boyfriend, and my brother.  But the next day it all went to pot.  Everything broke. Everything.  Sump pump, electric fence (goats frolicking to carefree abandon), lawn mower (twice), a few small electronic items broke, the basement flooded during a torrential rainstorm…!  And it went on.  Of course, we bought replacement parts at the farm store and the hardware store, called on our friends and family to help and muddled through.  But during all of this I couldn’t help but think of those pioneers on the Oregon Trail trying desperately to make it in one piece.  I had nothing on them.   My farm is for fun and enjoyment.  Not for survival.  If my equipment breaks we can fix it.  If my blueberries get eaten by crows or my squash crops fail, well, my family isn’t going to starve.  I can go to any orchard, farmers market or grocery store in my car and buy what I need.  Sure it won’t be mine, and yeah, it stinks that all that hard work came to nothing, but honestly, we’ll be just fine. 

It’s busted, but it’s only temporary!

So this summer if the racoons get all your sweet corn or if your lawn tractor breaks, pause for a moment to honor those early Americans who were hoping for a better life along the Oregon Trail.  

Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

Jumping off! Here we go!  (Love that poke bonnet!)

Here’s a great site about the oregon trail if you want to learn more: http://www.isu.edu/~trinmich/Oregontrail.html

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One Response to Oregon or Bust!

  1. MelissaPEA says:

    Wow, that’s really interesting. I am going to look up some books on the subject of the Oregon Trail. Maybe there is a historical fiction book along the lines of Desperate Journey by Jim Murphy, which was about the Erie Canal. (And if there isn’t already such a book about the Oregon Trail, you should write it!)