I don't think they were paying boarders as I recall, they just didn't have anywhere to go, and Ma and Pa were too kind hearted to throw them out that winter. Laura described how they'd take more than their share of food and never helped with grinding the wheat for the bread or making the straw sticks for fuel.
But, in any case, I guess Pa didn't want to feel like a beggar and take home a stack of pancakes to divvy up with the family. It would have felt like taking charity, instead of a guest providing company for the Wilder brothers, which made it a sort of give and take situation. It nev