Carrine Gafkjen was, as her daughter remembers, at once the most liberated and unliberated of women. If she had considered the subject at all she would have thought it a waste of time. She firmly believed in destiny; what fate planned for her she dealt with head-on.
In the early 1900s the twenty-five-year-old Gafkjen boarded a train from Minneapolis to claim a homestead for herself on the western North Dakota prairies. She lived alone in her claim shack, barred her door at night against the coyotes, existed on potatoes and salt, and walked five miles to the nearest creek to wash her clothes. A decade later she had, by her own ingenuity, doubled her landholdings and became a secure women of property. Then, at an age when most other women would have been declared spinsters, Carrine Gafkjen married Sever Berg and had six children.
Nothing to Do but Stay tells the story of this uncommon woman with warmth and good humor. It gives testimony to the lasting spirit of our pioneer heritage and, in these uncertain times, to the staying power of family and tradition. This book will appeal to all those with an interest in the settlement of the West, the history of the Great Plains, women's studies, and the perseverance of the early-twentieth-century farmers.
"Carrie Young's beautiful book is a testament to our ancestors on the prairie and, like them, it is truthful, funny, modest of manner, and, in a quiet sort of way, full of feeling…A classic of folk narrative."—Garrison Keillor
"Storytelling in the best rural tradition, devoid of romanticism and sentimentality, the details of everyday life revealing the characters and the meaning of events."—New York Times Book Review
"This clear-purposed heroine, blessedly unfettered in her strength of character, makes one feel good again, principled and purposeful."—San Francisco Review of Books
"Any whining yuppie who thinks a rough day of work means spending 12 hours in front of a spreadsheet needs to read this book."—Utne Reader