Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Getting Settled in the Soddy - Part Two




Will and Ruby Dawson have arrived in Custer County, Nebraska, in the spring of 1886. Their sod house is finally ready for them, (we aren't going to mention the roof!) and the largest pieces of their few belongings have been moved into the soddy. Now Will is busy carrying in wooden crates in which their collection of smaller items have been packed. Ruby is busily unpacking the crates and trying to make room in the small soddy for the varied assortment of possessions that have made the long journey with them.



PART TWO
Fitting In the Bits and Pieces



Many of the items that Ruby and Will brought on their journey were packed in small wooden crates. They had no idea how useful the crates would prove to be.



Ruby and Will wanted to hang these photographs of their mothers as soon as they were removed from a small packing crate. I think there might be some homesickness going on here!



Two of the small crates are used to store the canning that Ruby has brought along from Indiana. She will have her own vegetable garden to tend soon and will be busily canning her own produce by late summer.





This small crate provides storage for the coffee mill and the meat grinder, two awkward and heavy kitchen tools.



Ruby's frequently used dish towels have found a home on this handy shelf created by turning a larger crate on one end. She has discovered that a big, heavy kettle can hold her sharp knives safely and conveniently. 



Two large crates stacked together make a wash stand and a convenient resting place for the water pail and wash pan. There is plenty of space on another shelf for Will's shaving supplies. Will and Ruby must carry their water from a nearby creek until they can afford to hire a well digger.



I made some lye soap from Sculpey for Ruby, because soap making is a long process, and I knew that Ruby wouldn't have time for that kind of chore until she's well settled in the soddy. Ruby and Will use the strong soap for laundry, dishes, and bathing.



 The container of soap will be conveniently at hand on the wash stand.



I decided to help out with some medicinal needs; Ruby and Will needed a potion to relieve coughs and colds and another to help stomach ailments. I found a tiny plastic vial of eye drops that looked promising.



I trimmed the excess material off the vial, leaving a ready-made bottle shape.



After painting the bottle cobalt blue, I let it dry.



I painted the bottle neck black and added a black bead stopper and wrote out a label. I made a second bottle that I painted brown but forgot to photograph.
The bottles of medicine will be stored on a shelf of the washstand.



Another small crate is just the right size to serve as a bedside table.



The copper wash boiler made a convenient container in which Ruby packed  smaller items. When she needed to wash clothes during their journey from Indiana, she scrubbed them in the cold water of the nearest creek.



The wooden churn is a small necessity if Ruby and Will want fresh butter for their cornbread! They don't have their own cow yet, but they were given chickens by a settler who decided to keep moving west toward the mountains. They can trade eggs for milk and cream from a distant neighbor. Will plans to trade his team of oxen for a milk cow and a work horse after his land is well broken. He knows that an ox is better than a horse at pulling a breaking plow; the ox is stronger and plods along at the slow pace that's necessary to cut through the heavily matted prairie sod.



The forked poles that support the soddy's ridge beam at each end of the house have pegs added so that Ruby and Will can hang various articles that need to be kept close at hand. A lantern, a fly swatter, a shawl, and an umbrella are among the chosen necessities.



 Rugs are often inconvenient in a sod house, because they have to be taken up whenever a hard rain develops, in case the roof should decide to leak and turn the dirt floor to mud. But Ruby was determined to have at least a small rug to add color to the soddy and to keep dish water off the floor when she's washing up. She made one rag rug and liked it so much that she made a second one to place beside the bed. She considered making yet another for the doorway, but Will made a teasing remark about wiping his feet on the rug to avoid "tracking dirt outside." Ruby glowered at him but couldn't help giggling at his joke. She decided against the third rug. I helped Ruby make the first rug by cutting a small piece from an old dish towel and fringing the edges.



Another dish towel was cut up and a piece fringed for the second rag rug.



Ruby and I wove colorful yarn into the fringed pieces.



We completed two "rag" rugs that will help to brighten the soddy's interior.



The soddy's window sills needed red geraniums, so I bit the bullet and tried the ivy geranium tutorial by Elizabeth from Studio E. I doubt that Elizabeth will recognize the soddy's geraniums, because they look nothing like the gorgeous ones that she made!  





My first attempt didn't look like ivy geraniums, but they were okay as plain old garden variety geraniums. Ruby planted them in some old tin cans, but when she placed them on the wide window sill, they looked much too large. (Where did I go wrong?)



I started over, making a batch of smaller geraniums from some leftover materials that I had saved.



Ruby found smaller cans and planted the new flowers. They look cheery and colorful on the window sill, and she will place the larger ones outside by the soddy's doorway as beacons of welcome to any visitors that Ruby and Will may have in their new home.


We'll leave Will and Ruby to complete their "settling in." They're so eager to begin life in their new soddy that I'm sure they'll be comfortable and cozy by the time we return in a short while.



19 comments:

  1. Your attention to detail is amazing. I am impressed that you are making everything yourself.

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    1. Hello, Sherrill - I appreciate your stopping by the soddy. This is a fun project, and I've enjoyed making some things to bring a bit of color and cheer to this prairie home. I hope you'll return to see how the sod house progresses!
      Marjorie

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  2. So nice! Great job on the flowers and the rugs! (and all of the accessories) I especially enjoy that they hung up some family photos as soon as the house was complete. Are the photos anyone you know or just historic finds?

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    1. Hi, Troy - Thank you for your nice comments. I thought that Ruby and Will, who are quite young and haven't been any distance away from their family before, would be missing their moms. I hope seeing the photos will help their homesickness a bit! The top photo has been in my stash for years; I can't remember where it came from. It was in a battered frame, so I put it in a better one. The bottom photo came from Mainly Minis as part of a pair of Victorian Sepia photos. I changed the gold frame. I had hoped to use some old family photos, but I don't have many, and the ones I have just couldn't be adapted well to a mini size. I appreciate your interest!
      Marjorie

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  3. The geraniums are really wonderful! This entire project is as amazing as your others, and I can't wait to see it all together. I feel like this has to be SO MUCH FUN to do!:)

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    1. Hello, Trixie - You're right - I do have SO MUCH FUN working (and playing) with miniatures. The Sod House project is especially interesting, because I've enjoyed reading so many books, including diaries from homesteaders, that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. It's very easy to place myself right in that 1886 soddy along with Ruby and Will! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you'll continue to follow along on this soddy adventure!
      Marjorie

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  4. Fantástico Marjorie ,utilizar las cajas como estanterías , un detalle muy rústico; encaja perfectamente. Todos los detalles preciosos que vas incorporando van hacer una casa de la pradera muy acogedora.Los geranios y las alfombras de color rojo le darán alegría a la casa. Estoy impaciente para ver lo siguiente.Besos:-)

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    1. Hello, Rosa Maria - I'm so glad that you're liking the way the soddy is coming together. I'm having a good time thinking of different ways to help Ruby and Will create a cheerful home, even though they don't have much to work with! Thankfully, red is such a happy, cheery color that a few splashes of it can make a big difference. Thank you for your comments!
      Marjorie

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  5. It looks as though you have the crate making down to a science! They look well used and rustic and what perfect purpose they now have to store items in the soddy! I love all of the period pieces and details you are using which will serve as both visual interest and a history lesson for those viewing the project. Great work on the canning jars, little soaps, bottles, rugs, and geraniums in their cute little cans!

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    1. Hi, Jodi - I've always had a "thing" for crates; when I was a teenager, I painted a bunch of fruit crates in bright colors and used them in my small bedroom to store all sorts of stuff. But it's a fact that settlers used them for all manner of things, since there were no cardboard box options at the time. I've had great fun making things for the soddy. This project seems to be moving along fast - too fast - but I keep reminding myself that I still have the roof and all of the outdoor work to do! Thanks for stopping by.
      Marjorie

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  6. Wow, Marjorie, you have been busy helping them move in!!! All those carefully thought out, space saving and crate re-purposing strategies are great reminders to us all of how much Stuff we take for granted in our everyday existence!!! I Love the medicine bottles you made... I never saw an old farm that didn't have a blue or brown glass bottle tucked away in an old corner of the barn, or dug up in the garden where the compost heap once was!!! :) And the soap you made... everyday stuff that is hard work to come by and hard work to use... scrubbing clothes in the creek! Living so close to the "dirt" is dirty business... washing is Hard work! Hauling water for washing is even harder work! LOL! The few pieces of "frivolous" brightness... rag rugs and flowering geraniums are such important and thoughtful gestures on your part! And I love the wry humor of her husband talking of tracking the dirt outside! LOL! What a loving and wonderful project this is!!! Fantastic wor! I just Love Love Love it and can't wait to see it all tucked into place!!!:):)

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    1. Hi, Betsy - I was surprised at how much stuff Ruby and Will had packed in that wagon, and most of it are things that we would probably consider essential. although I know that there are things they brought with them that many other settlers had to do without. But as long as there was room in the wagon, and as long as family members were generous in contributing their cast-off items, I'm happy for Ruby and Will to be spared some of the inconvenience and deprivation that many homesteaders had to endure. I appreciate all your positive comments, and I'm so glad that you're sharing this experience with Ruby and Will!
      Marjorie

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  7. No sabría decirte que es lo que más me gusta! esas botellas magníficas,las preciosas plantas,las cajas,los jabones...todos son unos maravillosos trabajos y tan detallados!!
    Buen humor irónico el de tu marido Marjorie!!
    Besos.

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    1. Hello, Pilar - I'm so glad to know that you like the small things that I made for the soddy. (With Ruby's help, of course!) It's so much fun to find something like an old dish towel or an eye-drop vial and realize that it can be turned into a useful miniature piece. This is a fun project, and I'm happy that you continue to follow the adventures of Ruby and Will. And yes, my husband does have a fun (but sometimes annoying) sense of humor. Funny guy!
      Marjorie

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  8. What a TREAT this post has been to read Marjorie! From beginning to the end, I have been rooting for Will and Ruby as they get settled into their new soddy homestead.
    I was interested to see how they put their packing crates to good use as they make Excellent storage containers, countertops as well as a night stand for their precious kerosene lamp and alarm clock.
    I LOVE your contributions of the Lye soap and the rag rugs and got a good chuckle at Will's remark regarding the floor cloths. :D Your cleverness at transforming the dishtowel into gaily coloured rag rugs is inspiring!
    Also must Congratulate you on the Medicine bottles- liniment and/or cough medicine is what every farmer needs on hand, and your cobalt bllue bottle look suitably vintage and hopefully not purchased from some passing Snake Oil salesman! ;)
    And Thank You for trying out my Geranium tutorial. I LOVE the bright red and know that Ruby does too! :D
    I can tell that she and Will are well prepared for the Life Adventure still laid out before them and look forward to reading the next chapter of their fascinating story in the very near future!- I'm learning A LOT!

    elizabeth

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  9. Hello, Elizabeth - I'm so pleased that you're enjoying reading about Ruby and Will and their sod house adventures. I'm having a good time thinking of small things that they might have brought from "home" to make life in the soddy a little easier - and hopefully more cheerful. Geraniums were almost a staple item for many homesteaders. Easy to propagate and grow on window sills or on benches outside, the bright flowers provided a bit of cheer in a very monotonous landscape. I enjoyed trying out your ivy geranium tutorial; but I think I used both paper and wire that were too thick. (I need some kind of excuse!) I will definitely try again at some point - but for now, I think Ruby and Will are happy to have another spot of color in the dark soddy!
    I always appreciate your lovely and thoughtful comments - thank you!
    Marjorie

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  10. I am so happy about the rugs and the flowers! I was so worried there would be very little color in/around the soddy - so I am pleased to see some more color being put in (even if Will teases Ruby about the rugs)!

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    1. Hi, Lori - I'm sure that the prairie homesteaders who could possibly manage to brighten those dark soddies did so with enthusiasm, even if the bright touches were small ones. It wasn't always possible to add those bits of color; many of the settlers came west with practically nothing - or had to dispose of belongings along the way - and I can only imagine the dreariness of their daily life. I'm happy that Ruby and Will have the means and the motivation to add some cheer to their little sod home and counteract all that dirt!
      Marjorie

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  11. I love crates and have a few in my home. Mini crates are just awesome!

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I'd love to hear your comments!