Needles, Dogs, and Secrets

In 1871, Women sew more than quilts for a change.

“Can you stitch up the dog?”

That’s what every woman wants to hear when she’s cooking dinner.  The kids were poking each other with sticks and into this chaos, Henry put the hound dog on the table. I swear my husband grew up in a cow pasture.

Oregon was not Patricia Woolsey's idea.

The dog lay there, quaking, with a big flap of skin hanging off his side. The children began crying.

Kaiser, the dog, who was savvy enough to avoid oxen hooves and coyote teeth for 2,000 miles across the Oregon trail, wasn’t quick enough to avoid the horns of our bull.

This was the kind of thing Roxie Poley enjoys. “Haul the hound over to her,” I said. They have a coyote that helps her husband track bears. She’d love stitching fur together.

Just a quick left turn, and we'll be in Oregon

Besides….tromping  to this isolated place was never my idea. I wasn’t even asked. Henry just showed me a flyer and announced we were moving to Oregon.

I finally poured carbolic acid and warm water over the wound and sewed the flesh shut with big Xs.

All I could think was: This  dog better not break my only needle. I covered the stitches with turpentine and lard when I finished so flies wouldn’t get into the wound.

That mutt lay around for two weeks, barely eating, before he decided to live. I threatened the boys with a whooping if they told anyone I stitched up the dog.

Try and lose this in a haystack!

There are only 4 darning needles in the valley. We women lend them to one another. The needle is threaded with a long measure of thread then stuck in a potato for transport.

I don’t want people referring to my needle as the Dog Needle. I’d die of shame. I’m trying to bring a bit of culture the the settlers, whores, and dirt of Two Pan.

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in A Laugh, Humor, Pioneer Friday in Two Pan and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Needles, Dogs, and Secrets

  1. The Hook says:

    “I’m trying to bring a bit of culture the the settlers, whores, and dirt of Two Pan.”


  2. Red says:

    I would have had to threaten to sew their mouths shut whilst they slept…just like I did to Kaiser. Some secrets are just worth keeping.


  3. Roxie Matthews says:

    Heard about an old cowboy that had his guts kicked out. The wife stuffed everything back in, poured in some carbolic, and sewed him shut. Years later he was just fine,”Except for an extraordinary pubic hairline.”


  4. digipicsphotography says:

    Isn’t it amazing! It’s the little things that don’t even cross our minds that those early settlers had to deal with or without. Now we can hop on down to the store and pick up needles and thread without so much as a blip on the radar.


  5. I’m with you and the duct tape. Maybe could do super glue, but definitely am not a stitcher of wounds. Nor socks, nor quilts, nor just about anything else. I fail miserably at all things sewing.


  6. Beth says:

    I presume you have read Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel.

    If not it’s a great resource. I have a copy somewhere. I think there’s a newer edition co-written by her and a couple others.


  7. mj monaghan says:

    A lot of necessity! Can’t imagine the things pioneers saw and did. Must have been scary almost every day. Great piece.


  8. Margie says:

    I can well imagine the importance and scarcity of needles! I have one myself that I have used for years and years. It is just the right length, with an eye big enough for me to see to thread, but not too big to stitch through tight weave. It has a slight bow in it from years of use, and I truly will cry when it finally breaks!


    • Barb says:

      Margie…you’re the only one so far who has noted the stupendous fact that needles were soooooo hard to come by. Considering women used a needle almost everyday, it was a catastrophic event when one broke or got lost. I suppose they whittled one out of chicken bone, but it explains why there were special cases for needles. What a change from today.
      May your needle stay with you until your fingers not longer need it.


  9. magsx2 says:

    There is no way I would of been able to do that, you are to be admired for your courage.
    Word will get out about what you did with the needle I’m sure, these things always do. 😀


  10. winsomebella says:

    Many of the bad ideas are not made by women 🙂


    • Barb says:

      It was astounding to read the journals…most of them kept by women, Legally, they had no input into where the family lived. So…if ol’ Jeb got Oregon Fever (which was rampant), then a wife had to pack up the kids and go. Or she could stay behind sitting on a rock, because legally she didn’t own anything. Many women, cried over the 2,000 miles.


  11. Spectra says:

    This ordeal could definitely be maximized with a good story and result in a career change: you now have doctoring skills. Doctoring calls must be good for some money. Or fair trades in goods. Sew up someones 14 year old sons left foot? Good for a jugga XXX. Trade jugga XXX for bags of flour or bars of soap. Or a map that shows how the hell to get outa there! Yep. It could work.


    • Barb says:

      Spectra, gal. You would’ve profited off the old West. I was going to work you into Two Pan as the Sheriff, but I believe you’re calling is in business. Nobody’s leaving Two Pan…YET. That’s another story.


  12. You are a brave and courageous woman. The things you know and how to do…turpentine…sewing up a dog…needle in the potato. Great cultural inroads being made here.


    • Barb says:

      Thanks Georgette, but it wasn’t me. I found several accounts of pioneer women stitching up all sorts of creatures…including husbands. It’s…”original stories adapted for blog content.” The idea of stitching doesn’t bother me as much as the turpentine bath. YEOW! I’m not sure what culture I’m promoting…redneck change?


      • magsx2 says:

        Hi Barb,
        Here I was thinking how brave you were. I’m happy to hear it was a story, still it is amazing what the women did back then, there of course are to be admired for their courage in so many different ways. 🙂


  13. JSD says:

    Oooh, poor dog. But I think I would have whurled my last meal if I had to do that.


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