Homesteaders Hit on Unique Way to Keep Dough Warm

Rheumatism forces homesteaders to find a way to keep dough, eggs warm.

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Jim and Lucy were homesteaders in western Nebraska. One winter Lucy developed inflammatory rheumatism and was forced to take to her bed for many weeks. She was painfully ill, but not dangerously so. Jim found it necessary to leave her alone for long hours every day as he augmented their slender income by riding herd for a neighboring rancher.

Lucy was unable to tend fires, but with plenty of bedding she kept comfortably warm while Jim was away. However, day after day Jim tried to make bread, mixing it before he left for work, wrapping it well and planning to bake it when he came home. It didn't work. The little homestead shack was too cold, and the dough would not rise.

At last, when both were utterly weary of eating biscuits, Lucy hit on the idea of having the bowl of bread dough tucked in beside her. That turned the trick. The warmth of her body kept the dough warm, and they could have bread again.

After this success, Lucy cast about for other ways of utilizing her illness. In early spring she asked Jim to save the eggs from their tiny flock of chickens. She took two dozen eggs into her bed, kept them close to her body, and turned and shifted them as carefully as any mother hen could do. Twenty-three fluffy yellow chicks were hatched. By that time Lucy was enough improved to get up and care for them.

Nelle Portrey Davis
Bonners Ferry, Idaho


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.