I grew up watching the Little House on the Prairie television series. From its debut in 1974 to conclusion in 1983, I was captivated by the drama, shed tears at the believable hardship, and snarled whenever Nellie Olesen showed up. I had little knowledge of the real Laura Ingalls and even less of her husband Almanzo Wilder. I had never read Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls-Wilder’s second book based on a year of her husband’s childhood. I invited my twelve-year-old son to join me as we dimmed the lights, grabbed some candy, and watched this fascinating documentary on the man behind the book: Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura.
Hearing the selected readings from Farmer Boy and seeing the book’s illustrations pop out and pan the screen made me want to run out and get the book and coax my teenagers to snuggle with me on the couch while I read aloud this classic story of the historic pioneer life of homesteading, milking cows, churning butter, and homemade apple pie.
I can’t imagine anyone not liking this documentary. Watch it, read the book, make a pie, churn some butter, ride a horse, and, if you happen to live near Northern NY, schedule a visit to Almanzo’s homestead in Malone – a perfect ending to a wonderful family adventure.
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