How would a single mother and child survive on the frontier?

So in my story, a woman and her daughter are shunned from a colonial society and inhabit an abandoned farmhouse. They have to remain static but I know living off the land would be difficult for just the two of them. The mother is old, withered and also suffered a stroke that badly hurt her mental health.

Any ideas? Thanks

How old is the daughter? Is she able-bodied? What’s the climate like? If it’s subject to brutal winters, their survival chances are pretty slim.

The daughter is around 8. Something important is that she is actually psychic and can control the minds of animals. Maybe she could just bring animals to their doorstep for the slaughter?

If the daughter is able-bodied and older then they might have a chance? With the mom being pretty much out of commission it would definitely put the odds against them. Sorry if I’m not much help, but with the conditions of the mother and depending on how old the daughter it would be difficult.

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That changes everything! She has a massive resource to draw on. I do wonder if the whole bringing animals to her doorstep makes it too easy (plus, at some point the animals are surely going to fear her rather than do her bidding). What if she controls (or even befriends – maybe make her abilities less controllable and more ambiguous) predator animals – a wolfpack, birds of prey, the odd fox – and has them bring prey animals to her doorstep? Maybe she even begins to identify with them more than she does the human society she’s separated from.


Yes thanks! These make sense

Sure you want to make the daughter only 8? If the mother is incapacitated it will be up to the daughter for the two to survive. Getting and killing animals is a small part. She has to slaughter them, carve them up, know how to start a fire and cook, etc. A lot for an 8-yo. And there’s more to survival than eating.

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You are going to have to interpose a teacher or two. Old and frail and she has an eight year old? what is she 50? or perhaps she is suffering from “Pick a disease”… An Eight year old might be able to mind some farm animals that might mean chickens and eggs…
Suggesting “Rattlesnake” by J. Frank Dobie,

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Also, see the movie the “Outlaw Josey Whales”
Women on the frontier are typically pretty tough, Read you some McMurtry, Buffalo women probably. do you some research. That said a period rifle, which is what she would use, be it a Sharps or Winchester, or even a shotgun are going to weigh about half of what an eight year old weighs, and the kick from it would be quite uncomfortable. Or at least any rifle she might have handy. Which means trapping and that’s a skill she would have to learn from someone who knows how to do it. It is unlikely that a 42 year old woman would survive child birth in that era. Never mind the child surviving. This is why women during that era had a baby about every year from the time they got married till they either died or got too old to bear children. Look up the child mortality rates during your particular time period, explains why girls were typically married off young. Medicine wasn’t what it is now.

if the daughter knows how to make basic traps and simple farming they should be able to survive also for the record and old mother who has had a stroke with an 8 year old child is very unlikely make the mother younger or the child older or just make it the grandmother and the actual mother died it will add to the childs tragic backstory