Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 1

A Harvest of Friends

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Sep 11, 1974 on NBC

Episode Recap

Laura reminisces "If I had a remembrance book, I would surely write about the day we came to Plum Creek and first saw the house and the ground. I can remember Pa and Mr. Hanson, and how they walked and looked and talked. And how we wondered what they said."

Pa tells Mr. Hanson that he will take the place and agrees to meet him in town the next door to sign the papers. Pa walks down to a babbling brook and tells his family: Ma, daughters Mary and baby Carrie that he has bought the place.

"Pa left Plum Creek at Daybreak and worked all day in Hanson's Mill, earning the lumber he needed to build us a house. Pat and Patti, our team horses, weren't big enough to pull the plow pa had needed to break the prairie sod. Though we were sorry to see them go, Pa swapped them to Mr. Hanson for a span of oxen, strong enough Pa said, to pull the state of Iowa ten miles into Minnesota, if he could find a place to hitch them to. Pa came home at sunset and then he worked by lantern light. Ma said he ate his supper while working, and almost, it was true. Because it happened mostly in the dark, our house grew like the mushrooms we found in the woods. It was kind of like we were all holding our breath and then one day our new house was there. All done. And it was moving in day."

Pa carries Ma across the threshold as the family puts the final touches on their new home. Mine and Mary's room is in the loft; Carrie sleeps in an alcove on the left side of the fireplace and Pa and Ma sleep in a space behind the fireplace. One large room in front of the fireplace serves as living room, dining room and kitchen. Ma expresses worry that they don't have any money for a plow, harrow or seed but Pa has an idea.

The next day, Pa heads into town and tries to buy the plow and seed at Oleson's Mercantile but they won't extend him credit. Heading over to O'Neil's Feed and Seed he sees a new plow and shed that is falling down. He offers O'Neil a deal: he'll repair the shed and stack the grain inside in 3 weeks in exchange for the plow and enough seed for 100 acres. O-Neil, knowing that Pa works at the mill, wonders how he'll manage the extra work and wants some collateral. If Pa doesn't complete the work, O'Neil will get his span of oxen. Pa agrees. Back at home, Ma expresses reservations about the plan.

At dawn the next morning, Pa heads off to work. On the way, he helps Doctor Baker by fixing his buggy's wheel and accepts a ride to town with him. At the Feed & Seed, Pa works on the shed until lunchtime and then heads to mill to work six hours there, eating his lunch on the way. While at the mill, Dr. Baker brings Pa some chickens as payment for helping him with the wheel. Hanson convinces him to take them. After work, Pa heads to the farm to begin plowing.

"In my remembrance book, I put down how Pa used every minute of daylight and a lot of the dark. He said he was counting the days until he could stay home and just work the farm. The rest of us only counted the days until Sunday, the Lord's day, when Pa took us all to church."

Ma finds Pa asleep on the bed so she goes to church with the children. At the church, Reverend Alden notes the absence of many of the husbands in his sermon. On the way home, Ma tries to defend Pa's absence to us, saying that he is just tired. However, when I point out that Pa is plowing the field, Ma tells us to go home as she heads to the field. Pa defends his actions stating that God isn't going to plow his fields and that God understands farmers. That night, Ma again expresses worry that Pa is working too hard.

As the days march on, Pa is almost finished with O'Neil's shed. Hanson tells Pa that he has paid off his debt for the lumber and is now earning money. He asks Pa if he will work half days for him after he finishes up at O'Neil's. Pa agrees. Coming home, he notices that we've gone to bed already and wonders why. Ma reminds him that he has been a little cross with us lately so comes up into our room. He tells us a story about a grumpy farmer who takes his wife and three little girls on a picnic. Mary and I thank him.

The next day, Pa, Ma, Jack and us three girls go on the picnic Pa promised. Pa shows us his kite-flying skills until he gets it caught in a tree. Pa climbs up the tree to get the kite but falls from a high branch. Ma tells me to fetch Mr Hanson, Doc Baker and a buckboard. Doc tells Pa that he has 4 broken ribs. Pa is told he has to stay in bed. Ma does the plowing. One day as she is plowing, O'Neil comes over and tells her that he taking the oxen because Pa didn't complete his work on time.

When Pa finds out what happened, he gets out of bed and heads into town to talk to O'Neil. Mary and I follow him into town. As Pa walks into town, Doc Baker, Mr. Hanson and Mr. Dorfler watch him. At the Feed & Seed, Pa confronts O'Neil and learns that his contract does actually end until midnight so he heads to the shed to begin stacking the bags of grain. He manages to get one bag stacked before collapsing. Mary and I head into the shed to help him but before we can start, Doc Baker, Mr. Hanson, Mr. Dorfler, Mr. Oleson and other townspeople descend upon the Feed & Seed to help us. They form a chain to stack the grain, completing the job. Pa takes possession of his oxen. Mr. Hanson tells Pa that they're thinking of holding a plowing and harrowing contest after church on Sunday and he asked if they could use our land. He reluctantly but thankfully agrees. We head back to the farm.

"That was our happiest homecoming ever. Pa said he was glad we'd come to live on the banks of Plum Creek because here, we'd harvested a crop he didn't know he'd planted: a harvest of friends."