Melissa Gilbert resembled the very image of the earth mother as she spoke with “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent, Mo Rocca from “our Little House in the Catskills,” as the 56-year-old described the upstate New York property that she and her husband, Timothy Busfield, have called home since 2018.

While the beloved star provided a banquet of freshly-grown lettuce for her rooster, Dr. Fauci, and the rest of her brood of chickens for the July 12 profile, Melissa Gilbert drew parallels between 1974, when “Little House on the Prairie” made its debut, and the socially and emotionally turbulent times of the current pandemic.

The rural life seems to suit the woman who grew up before the eyes of millions of viewers, and she fondly carries the banner for the drama and Michael Landon, its creative force, and her on-screen father. She believes that the show and the executive producer, director, writer, and star still speak needed messages.

Melissa Gilbert befriends a bear and bears the marks of rustic life

Little House on the Prairie” has long been etched into the fabric of American culture as one of the greatest TV Shows, and Melissa Gilbert endeared herself to untold millions of fans across the globe as “Half-Pint” second daughter to Charles and Caroline Ingalls, Laura. She would become the author of the timeless “Little House” book series on which the drama is based.

Since the 1932 publication of “Little House in the Big Woods,” the series has never been out of print, and numerous versions of single editions and the series have been published.

Melissa Gilbert has never been afraid to get her hands dirty, and she confessed during the “Sunday Morning” interview that she bore the brunt of manual labor.

“Look at my hands-- there's blisters and dirt everywhere from shoveling. I've just given up,” she stoically confesses. Still, the serenity of her current situation in life seems worth the trade-off.

Another observation that Gilbert commented on involved her activity level on the “Little House on the Prairie” set.

“I did a lot of words,” Melissa Gilbert agrees, referring to the massive amounts of dialogue for a nine-year-old to memorize. “But more than a lot of words, I did a lot of running. I don't think I ever walked anywhere on that show (even when Laura was an adult). I ran everywhere.”

Timothy Busfield lovingly teased his wife about being a little bit too cozy with a visiting bear moseying around their home in a Page Six feature on July 9. While many residents might choose closeness with a bear as the time to run or to stand perfectly still in hopes the furry guest would leave, this hubby insists that “You threw it food the other day. You tried to feed the bear.”

The “Thirtysomething” and “West Wing” star is doing his best to promote the latest film he directed, “Guest Artist“ under COVID-19 restrictions.

He doesn't take any issues with Melissa's attractions to other, less ominous critters in the wide-open land. Perhaps Melissa Gilbert should consider some running shoes, just in case.

45 years later, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ still has lessons to teach, says Melissa Gilbert

Little House on the Prairie” is still viewed across millions of TV screens in reruns, and recently, viewership is surging. Melissa Gilbert is certain that the family saga is “a reminder of a simpler time for us, with everything that's going on,” but 1974 times were fraught in their own way.

The Watergate hearings were ramping up to indict President Nixon and numerous accomplices, there was a deep national recession, and an oil crisis.

To see a vision “of what we went through when we started this country” and then see that the nation came through 1974, and then, the circumstances happening now gives reassurance that “we can do this,” reiterates Melissa Gilbert.

Gilbert herself was gutsy enough to run for Congress in 2016, representing Michigan's 8th Congressional District. She won the Democratic primary, but later, she dropped out due to recurring issues from head and neck injuries after a 2012 accident.

There was no pandemic in 1974, but “Little House on the Prairie” certainly gave a vision of catastrophic illness long before 2020. The episodes “Plague” and “Quarantine” dealt with the spread and aftermath of disease before the vaccines, and the episode “Mortal Mission” depicted a devastating outbreak of anthrax through Walnut Grove.

Despite being a “period drama,” Melissa Gilbert exemplifies how “Little House on the Prairie” poignantly took on issues of race throughout its run. In a scene shown for “Sunday Morning,” Todd Bridges portrays a son of slaves who is taken in by Charles Ingalls. The boy asks: “Would you rather live to be 100 and be black, or live to be 50 and be white?” The question is left unanswered, and the pained reflection in Michael Landon's portrayal could just as easily pertain to today.

The drama also elevated characters of color beyond minor parts, such as Ketty Lester, who portrayed Hester Sue with such undeniable humanity, grace, and resolve that viewers couldn't pry themselves apart from her storylines.

Lester not only captivated with flawless acting but also shined through her singing performances. The character entered the drama as the experienced expert in teaching blind students, and through storylines over 40 episodes, conveyed a full story arc as a woman and a dedicated professional.

“The key is compassion, community, faith-- whatever that faith looks like, and love-- that's all that matters,” Melissa Gilbert stresses in regard to coming through the current crisis, and those are the themes that pulsate through cherished episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Michael Landon still casts a memorable, loving presence for Melissa Gilbert

As endearing as it is that Michael Landon was affectionately considered as “Pa” of “Little House on the Prairie” and not merely the patriarch of the Ingalls family, the star had already earned his clout as an NBC franchise talent.

His exuberant “Little Joe” from “Bonanza” earned him staying power and he became a one-man mega-force on “Little House on the Prairie,” taking the reins on casting, directing, writing several episodes, and executive-producing the endeavor. He expected professionalism, and ran a warm but tight television ship, as Melissa Gilbert found out.

“I was busted,” confesses Gilbert as she recalls the day that Michael Landon yelled “Cut!’ The production’s “Pa” confronted his young co-star, saying: “You don't know your lines.” The only course of action for Melissa Gilbert was to burst into tears.

“We're gonna do this,” Landon coaxed Melissa, as she learned the lines. “Oh, thank you!” she gushed, giving her on-screen dad a hug.

Lowering himself to eye level, Landon replied: “You are so welcome and this is never happening again.” It never did.

Michael Landon left his genius for family-friendly television to his son, Michael Landon Jr., who is co-creator not only of the “Love Comes Softly” television film series, but also the Hallmark Channel’s most-watched series ever, “When Calls the Heart,” which is just beginning production on its eighth season.

The tireless executive producer also knew about the darkness and shame in secrets. He shared his own painful story of growing up as a bed-wetter whose mother had little compassion in “The Loneliest Runner.”

Melissa Gilbert would not discover the secret of her own family until she was 45.

She was adopted at just one-day-old by actors Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert. When she was 11, she was told that her father died of a stroke. At 45, she learned he had died by suicide, and that the secret was shared by virtually everyone in her family. She calls the ordeal “my thing,” not assuming blame, but accepting that so many families have secrets that truly lead to pervasive sickness, and she is living in truth with her family situation.

The actress with more credits than should be allowed to fit on Wikipedia gets emotional as she now understands that so much of what she absorbed from “Little House on the Prairie” is now part of her being. Beyond tolerance, acceptance, and community, Melissa Gilbert praises that Michael Landon’s belief that all people were essentially good and that every person “is redeemable and deserves forgiveness” is a mantra so critically needed today.

Melissa Gilbert mourns that Michael Landon passed in 1991, at age 54, from cancer because his voice is so needed today, when so few leaders act or speak “from a place of love.” She knows he would be proud that “Little House on the Prairie” is still a legacy for this generation.

“He would be the one talking to you….” Melissa Gilbert muses tearfully. “And I gladly yield the chair.”

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