Read Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother by Carrie Young Online


This daughter's loving tribute to her pioneer mother tells of a real heroine who traveled by herself to North Dakota in 1904, to stake a lonely claim and start a farm on 160 empty acres before she married and began her family. Photos....

Title : Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780877453291
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother Reviews

  • Book Concierge
    2019-03-27 00:45

    The subtitle is “My Pioneer Mother,” and much of this memoir features Young’s mother Carrine Gafkjen Berg. But this is really the story of a family’s experiences in the early 20th century in North Dakota. At age twenty-five, already considered a spinster, Carrine left Minneapolis to claim her own homestead on the western North Dakota prairie. Through her own hard work and perseverance, she managed to amass a key parcel of fertile land, living alone first in her claim shack and then in a modest farm house. A decade later she met and married Sever Berg, and they had six children. Rather than a strictly chronological order, the book is divided into chapters by subject. Some of the chapters cover years of the family’s life (The Education of a Family and The Seedling Years, for example), while others focus on specific events (The Last Turkey or A Fourth of July in North Dakota). All are full of wonderful, loving descriptions of life on a settler’s farm, some funny, some touchingly poignant. I particularly loved the first story about Young’s mother’s insistence on education for her children. She had to leave school after only three years to work on her own parents’ farm, and then was sent to Minneapolis to work at a boarding house, cooking and cleaning. She and her husband went to extraordinary lengths to ensure their children got the educations that they were unable to achieve. Despite the great depression, they managed to send all six of their children to college.

  • Judy
    2019-03-29 19:48

    North Dakota c 1910-1940NorwegiansThe author fondly recalls her childhood on the ND prairie. As I read, I kept wondering if her mother were human. How would it be possible for any woman to do so much work, do it splendidly, and raise six children (born in a span of 9 years)? Carrie was the youngest in the family, so the tale has the rosy glow of childhood memories. She mentions snow and drought, but never says much about wind. Her mother makes all of their clothes (and bakes all of the bread, does the washing, tends to her bachelor brother down the road, helps with the milking, raises chickens, ...), but Carrie says nothing about wearing hand-me-downs. Having five older sisters, I'd be surprised if she had many brand new dresses.Tragedy never strikes this family, or not in a way that impressed young Carrie. The drought and depression must have hit pretty hard, but her parents seem to have taken it all in stride. Severe winter blizzards however, made getting to school a real problem. Instead of using a car to drive the two miles, Dad had to hitch the horses to a wagon and make the round trip twice a day. This was dangerous, so the girls had to live in the schoolhouse for weeks at a time. (Yep, that would impress me, too.) Woven throughout the book are references to her Norwegian heritage, the cooking, the habits, the language, the pride.p 70 Here she describes her mother preparing coffee for the men harvesting the wheat. I see my mother standing over the black cast-iron range making coffee in a giant granite coffeepot, see her vigorously grinding the coffee at the hand grinder on the wall, see her mixing the ground coffee with an egg—shell and all—and dropping it into the pot, pouring boiling water over it, letting it settle, then pouring a cup of cream into it.This is probably the 3rd or 4th book I've read that mentions an egg in the coffee. What's its purpose? Does it affect the flavor? (The reference to a 'granite' coffeepot means that it was graniteware - also known as enamelware, porcelain enamel fused with metal.)And, near the bottom of the page: The men reach eagerly for the doughnuts, because my mother is a superb doughnut maker, having made at least enough of them in her lifetime to provide her with a chain link to heaven.

  • Judy
    2019-04-13 01:01

    Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother plops the reader down smack dab in the middle of big sky, North Dakota amidst a Norwegian community. The book only contains 164 pages, but they aren't 164 pages of hardship and endurance that I expected given the title. Instead, the contents are a nice swill of reminiscence, recipes from the Ewld Coontry, laughter and caricatures of persons and family members with plenty of personality. People like "rolling the eyes" Uncle Ole who at 55 and tired of eating bologna and summer sausage decided to listen to his card-playing buddies and get himself an housekeeper. One of these friends, got an address of a "dandy little lady" who only spoke Norwegian and so wouldn't be able to talk back to him. Introduce Anna, a dour-faced woman with one leg considerably shorter than the other, but still managed to whip Ole into shape, enough that six-months later she was Ole's wife!The Norwegian heritage mixed with American independence forges a hearty community full of its own unique blend of prairie culture. This is a book that memoir readers who love a homey feel to their reading will enjoy. Its more a pleasurable read then an action read, more historical than pioneer spirit which is the only disappointing thing about the book in my estimation. I did purchase the book thinking I would be reading an action-packed pioneering type of book. However, my disappointment was short-lived as the book proved to be thoroughly enjoyable in a warm hearth sort of way. It is a book I will pass on to my sister to read and savor.4.0 lefse-made stars

  • Kit M
    2019-04-03 23:57

    I love this little book, it isn't going to change your life- but it is a sweet nostalgic look back at a way of life that doesn't exist anymore with the advent of technology. It also has a few tempting recipes to try. Can easily be read in one to two sitting, great for a plane or train trip!

  • Jenni
    2019-03-31 01:49

    I have currently "endured" four harsh Minnesota winters and I often ponder how the early settlers survived the freezing cold, bitter wind, and unheated (other than fireplaces and stoves) homes. I enjoyed reading about the author's family and their experiences growing up in North Dakota. It was interesting to hear about the daily life, celebrations, food, education, and traditions of her family. Her mother was an amazing woman to settle a homestead on her own and have six children after the age of 34. I think my daily housework is difficult but yet I have never washed clothes by hand in freezing temperatures, nor driven my children to school in a horse-drawn sleigh in subzero temperatures. I will look at my work load much different after reading this book.

  • Kris
    2019-04-03 19:36

    One of the most enjoyable books I read in a long time.Jan. 12 The thing I noticed most after reading this the second time is Carrie's positive attitude. She lived through the dust bowl - a very trying time for farmers. Yet there is little to no emphasis on this or "woe is me" thinking in her writing.

  • Cheri
    2019-04-07 02:02

    Being a pioneer on the prairie has always seemed one of the most horrendous lives possible, so I picked up this book to see why someone would actually want to do it. The book is not, in fact, a story about the author's mother, but reminiscences of the author's own childhood. I wish she would have explained why her mother, when she was young and unmarried, got a plot to homestead all alone, but that motivation was never explained. Still, the book painted a wonderful picture of family life on the prairie.

  • Alaina
    2019-04-02 21:48

    Short and sweet, I finished this little book in two sittings. Very nostalgic, full of little anectdotes of her parents' early years as homesteaders in the North Dakota prarie, and also stories from her own youth as the youngest of their six children. It has the voice of an older person fondly remembering the simpler days of youth, when she worked hard and played hard, and waited from Christmas until the Fourth of July for hand-cranked ice cream. It reminded me of listening to my own Grandmother telling us her stories. I enjoyed it very much.

  • Laurie Simmons
    2019-04-16 00:42

    A perfect book of the genre of someone remembering the life of their Norwegian immigrant parents on the high plains and their growing up years. Lots of interesting details about women's, men's, and children's lives on homesteads and during the Great Depression. A real gem.

  • Susan
    2019-04-06 21:51

    Packed with warmth and humor, this slender novel tells the story of the author's Norwegian mother who homesteaded on her own, then married and raised a family in North Dakota in 1904. So many delightful memories came to mind while reading about "egg-coffee", cooking huge meals for the men working in the fields, 5 quilts on the bed during the unheated winters, the cream separator, picking eggs from the henhouse, oh and the most memorable --picking rocks from the fields! All reminders of my childhood years on a farm in northern Iowa. My own Norwegian great-grandfather homesteaded in Minnesota. This book was given to my mother by one of my aunts.

  • Jill
    2019-04-19 00:04

    I was given this book by a fellow librarian who said it was amazing. She was right. I couldn't put it down. Simply eloquent prose about a woman and her family living on the North Dakota plains. Sweet descriptions of childhood memories centering around education, food, and the strength and fortitude of those who came before us. I didn't purposefully read this during Women's History Month, but I am happy I did. In doing so I feel like I paid respect to the women who did it all first.

  • Heather
    2019-03-31 22:37

    This book was a quick, but enjoy able read. It gives a glimpse into the life of a a young woman (Corrine Gafkjen), child of Norwegian immigrants, who leaves "civilization" at the age of 25, to homestead on the windswept plains of the North Dakota prairie. The story is told through the eyes of her youngest daughter (the youngest of six children).

  • Shannon Ueker
    2019-03-24 20:46

    The first two chapters were really insightful, opening charming doors to the past. The last few chapters were a bit too personal for my liking and seemed like filler. The first chapters would have been great articles, but maybe there wasn't enough here for a full book.

  • Lola
    2019-03-30 20:58

    Enjoyable, easy reading about the author's mother who bravelywent alone to stake a homestead in the prairie of North Dakota.She lived on potatoes & salt.Later, she married & had six children.The book is about day to day living in the 1900's.

  • Jane
    2019-04-18 03:45

    An interesting story of a woman homesteading in North Dakota and the difficulties involved in prairie life, written by her daughter. "Storytelling in the best rural tradition...wonderfully direct and earthy." - The New York Times Book Review

  • Bibliomama
    2019-03-24 00:51

    Charming account of the author’s family homesteading in North Dakota during the first part of the twentieth century. I felt my Scandinavian roots tingle a little.

  • Carolyn A.
    2019-04-08 01:35

    Enjoyable pioneer story. The various Norwegian words and customs are ever so pleasant to enjoy!A quick read, it is just a very pleasant journey down memory lane!

  • Carin
    2019-03-30 01:37

    A friend told me a few months back that if I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder (and do I ever!) then I really ought to read this book, which is the author's memoir mostly about her mother, who was a homesteader in North Dakota in 1905.The book is divided into sections, and each section is basically a stand-alone essay. So there's one section all about Norwegian-North Dakotan hospitality and foods, one about her Uncle Ole, but my favorite was the first and longest section, about her mother deciding to take a homestead, marrying in her mid-30s and promptly having 6 children, and as one of those children, what the author's life was like growing up during the Depression, even having to spend winters sleeping in the one-room schoolhouse where her sister taught because the weather was too severe for their father to drive them to and from, even on the weekends. The siblings each paid for each others' education which was really great, although I was sad when the oldest sibling who did end up getting the most education (after getting her bachelor's in education she went back to school for a nursing degree in WWII), ended up getting married and quitting work to stay at home. The author seemed disappointed about that as well, which was a refreshing perspective during a fairly traditional time.Their time on the prairie, while at times not easy, was never terrible. They made it through the Depression, rarely got in debt, supported each other, and had a great extended community of Norwegian-Americans (and the occasional Swede). It's a nice and light book, not telling dark tales of a rough time in our history. If you're looking for a memoir with a through-thread of narrative, this will disappoint, so be prepared for that. But it's a great slice of life from a time and place we don't know much about in our nation's past.

  • Janelle
    2019-03-31 01:51

    Someone in my knitting group lent this to me after I waxed eloquent about the Swedish pioneer novels I read and loved (The Emigrants series by Vilhelm Moberg). My knitter friend is of Norwegian descent and collects books about Norwegian-Americans.This slim tome is a memoir written by the youngest daughter of a Norwegian-born emigrant who came to Minnesota as a child. She (the mother) homesteaded (on her own! before marriage!) in North Dakota, eventually marrying and having 6 children. The author relays stories of daily life, describing the hardships as well as the joys. Of particular interest to me was this family's unshakeable commitment to education - they sent all of their children (5 girls, 1 boy) to high school and college. Often the older ones paid for the younger ones' education. They took turns, contributing to this family expense just as soon as they were gainfully employed (usually as teachers).The details about food were also fascinating. Very few 21st century Americans could eat this food and remain healthy. Traditional Norwegian food is heavy on flour, dairy (a lot of cream and butter), eggs (in high summer, the family's chickens produced 100 eggs a DAY), and potatoes. I have to admit, most of these dishes didn't even sound tasty to me (I'm not a big butter person), but they do describe a culture clearly.Young's writing style is plain and direct. I wouldn't tag this as one of those "fancy" memoirs, often called "literary nonfiction" by today's writers. I think her style mirrors her subject matter and the life philosophy of this family, though - honest, straightforward, hardworking, and dedicated. I enjoyed this book!

  • Linda C
    2019-04-23 02:04

    Carrie Young reminisces about her family life growing up in northwestern North Dakota. One chapter captures the importance of education to the whole family and the lengths they went to to see that all 6 children got an education. Another humorously relates her mother's years as a turkey producer. All intertwine stories of neighbors and relatives and often the foods associated with special events. I was hoping for more on the motivation and early life of Carrie's mother, but this was more of a summary telling of events rather than any real in depth feelings. Maybe her mother was reticent about talking to her daughter about this period, so this was what she could tell. I also read a collection of stories by this author and very much like her style.

  • Virginia Messina
    2019-03-26 23:38

    Well, I had a little bit of trouble warming up to this book at first since it was not at all what I expected. Carrine Gafkjen left her home in Minnesota at the turn of the century to homestead all alone on the North Dakota prairie. I thought this book was going to be about that experience—and with good reason since the content of the book is completely misrepresented by the back cover blurb as well as the title. Instead it is Carrine’s daughter’s memoir of growing up on that homestead—-after it was well established-—in the 1930s. Once I got over the disappointment though, I really enjoyed this book. Carrie Young is a good writer and a good story teller and life on the prairies during that time is pretty fascinating stuff. And she really, really knows how to describe food!

  • Richard
    2019-03-29 22:40

    published by University of Iowa Press. A short biography/autobiography of being raised in a Norwegian family in North Dakota in the 1920s and 1930s. I liked this book. The author would be about the same age as my mother, being a teenager in the early 1930's. My mother's stories and early life experiences were similar: raised on a farm, walking to school in the snow, helping with the farm chores, working in the garden, canning, cooking on a wood stove. The author has given us a glimpse of all that, in this wonderful little book that was recommended by Michele R. My copy came from Boise State University through our local library inter library loan. Don't you just love libraries. I would recommend this book.

  • Kim
    2019-04-01 21:46

    I'm going to go with a 3 1/2 stars for this book. It is a really upbeat, interesting look at life on the prairie during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I'm not a huge fan of memoirs in general, and so although I really liked this book, it suffered from the same lack of plot that is common to the genre. That said, I love thinking about life at that time. I was so impressed that the family loved and accepted each other no matter what. They had their problems but they just accepted it all without complaint. It's also a good example of happiness in hard work. It's always a good reminder to know how good we have it!!

  • Sophie
    2019-04-21 04:01

    I liked this book a lot. This little memoir tells about Carrie Young's amazing mother. I loved how the book showed you how much emphasis Norwegian culture puts on food. It even inhibited the last line of the book. Young's writing was like she was telling a story; easy to read but yet humorous at the same time. One thing I thought was odd was the way the book was organized. If the book had been in chronological order, it would have been easier to follow. I recommend this book as an interesting read just the right length.

  • Clytee
    2019-04-09 03:01

    A great family history read. Rather than try to tell her parent's whole story, she just did some episodes or a subject, and I think she did a great job of painting what her childhood, and her parents were like with just a few stories. I got a kick out of her father distrusting trees, that he loved the prairie. I, too grew up on the prairie, but would not have made it with out trees! This was a quick read that I read pretty much in one night during our Thanksgiving trip to Denver in 2012, and I thought it was a great one.

  • Rachelle
    2019-04-13 23:35

    I can't remember who recommended this book to me, but thank you. This is a very good book. It's one of those books that helps me to put things into perspective when I think that my life is hard. Ha! I have three young children to care for, but this woman has six young children, plus she sews clothing for all of them and cooks only from the things she has grown, she works on the farm with her husband and raises turkeys on her own so that she can put her kids through school. Pioneer women are amazing.

  • Lee Ann
    2019-04-12 02:38

    Loved this book. It is a series of short narratives of a young women who homesteaded out in NW North Dakota in the early 1900's. She came from MN, married, and raised 6 children. The stories cover the day to day life of homesteading Norwegians - customs, meals, hardships, fun times etc. Doesn't seem to be a lot of books on life in the upper Midwest prairies during the early times, but this is one. I really appreciate the early settler's perervance under these conditions and wonder how I'd fair under similar circumstances. Read the book if you get a chance!

  • Giovanna
    2019-03-22 21:47

    Another book read on the train--this time in eastern Montana, and western North Dakota--I was just 30 miles south of the homestead. Again, the backdrop added to the book--looking up and seeing rows of poplars (many most likely planted by homesteaders years ago)readying themselves against the coming winter really brought home the bleakness of the land and homesteading life.This book is really a collection of connected essays about the author's mother--much about food (always fun) and one I especially liked ('The Best of Both Worlds') about growing up around two languages.

  • Izzy
    2019-04-01 01:52

    A quick easy read about a pioneer family who works hard and values education. The book blurb and title is a little misleading. I expected the book to be about the mom's journey as a single woman (before marriage and children) to establish a homestead by herself in the early 1900s. Instead it's about the family, told from the youngest child's point of view. Very reminiscent of (and not as good as) the Little House on the Prarie series. Suitable for young readers.

  • Martha
    2019-04-05 23:47

    The story of Scandinavian pioneers in North Dakota. Having recently read Ivan Doig's Whistling Season, I was reminded of that. The author's mother staked a claim and proved it up herself. Following her marriage, the husband moved his cabin to the wife's property. Despite many hardships, the family which grew to include five daughters and a son, prospered and educated all of their children. Inspiring, humorous and educational.