Robert and I have been traveling for a couple of weeks, away from Nebraska and its grasslands, cornfields, and far horizons - and its pioneering history in which I've become so immersed during the past months. We've driven through mountains (!) and taken ferries across large bodies of water and walked through forests of tall pine trees. Is it any wonder that I'm feeling a bit out of touch with Ruby and Will and their little soddy on the treeless plains of Custer County, Nebraska?
But it's time now to take the final steps toward getting the young homesteaders settled in their soddy. Because the soddy is small and dark and crowded with the belongings that Ruby and Will have carried in their covered wagon from Indiana, I've found it necessary to photograph some of those belongings individually in order to have them shown to best advantage. There will also be a "tour" of the interior of the soddy to end this post. (You may have been expecting a tour if you remember my fondness for such things!)
Making a (Sod) House Into a Home
Ruby turned these useful, multi-purpose packing crates into a washstand which also holds a pail of fresh water carried from the nearby creek.
The stovetop is a convenient spot to store Ruby's irons; they're always at hand when she needs to heat them on the stove for an ironing session. She has just taken a pan of cornbread from the oven and cut a small piece to "test" it. Yum!
Having removed her apron, Ruby is preparing to set the supper table. She has finished her churning and has set out a dish of fresh butter to have with their meal of cornbread and beans. Ruby knows 33 ways to prepare corn. (Nebraska has earned its title as the "Cornhusker State.")
The sewing machine is an almost indispensable item for Ruby's housekeeping requirements, so room was found for it in the crowded wagon as Ruby and Will began their move to Nebraska. Ruby's sewing box rests on a stool close by.
A bed made from cedar posts and rope; a soft feather mattress; a bright quilt made by loving hands. These things make for a good night's rest. The trunk lends a helping hand by making it hard for unwelcome visitors (such as mice, bugs, spiders, snakes) to invade clothing, linens, and other important items. I hope Will and Ruby remember to close the trunk's lid securely.
The rocking chair very nearly had to be left behind, to Ruby's great disappointment. But Will's ingenuity in loading and packing the wagon saved the day. Ruby sometimes has to borrow Will's rubber boots after a hard rain. If water has leaked into the soddy, the dirt floors can be a problem. Ruby has to pin up her skirts to keep them from dragging in the mud as she sloshes about the soddy. Fortunately, the sod roof is as watertight as possible and leaks only during the worst downpours. Of course, sometimes it continues to leak for two or three days after the rain has stopped, while the roof slowly dries itself out.
This hand-me-down cabinet is a great help to Ruby; it gives her extra storage space and provides an adequate surface for the daily dishwashing.
Will made this important piece from a large packing crate; the shelves store most of the items that they need for daily use.
Will has hung his shotgun and rifle within easy reach. He doesn't often hunt for meat, but is ready for any passing turkeys, prairie chickens, or elk.
Time for a Tour
Time for a Tour
Now that Ruby and Will have arranged their household goods and feel settled and at home in the soddy, they'd like to share their pleasure with you. If you follow along clockwise from the front door, it won't take long (maybe only a moment!) to see the entirety of this humble, happy home.
And here are a few views of the small room, with sod walls and a dirt floor, that Will and Ruby have built with care and made into a home.
And now...the cart is complete, so it's time to hitch up the horse in this topsy-turvy construction plan. Yes - finally, it's time to put the long-awaited sod roof on this sod house! The roof is already under construction, and you won't be a bit surprised to learn that it's a bit touchy and problematical, but I expect to get the best of it yet. I sincerely hope.
I think I could happily reside in a space this snug and cozy. Your textile touches really make it feel like a living space (and the foil was just brilliant)! ��ReplyDelete
Hello, Trixie - I like to think that many of the sod homes had some bright touches, contrary to the way they're often portrayed in museums (everything old, dusty, musty) and in black and white photographs. Ruby and Will's version seems realistic to me, even if perhaps not the most common interior treatment. Thank you so much for stopping by!Delete
Ruby and Will have done an outstanding job of outfitting this amazing little soddy with exactly what they need! And they have also managed to make it look and feel comfortable, warm and inviting as any home should be! If hard pressed, I think there might even be room for a future cradle.ReplyDelete
Each essential piece is so nicely finished and cohesive with the era that you are magically whisked away to another place and time. I just love the finishing touches like the fresh baked cornbread, the flowerpot in the windowsill and the scatter rugs on the dirt floor!
I hope you find perfect solutions for the challenges that the roofing will bring and can't wait for the next post!
Hi, Jodi - It's so interesting that you mention a future cradle! From the start, I had given much thought to having an infant in the soddy; I had even found two simple wooden cradles in my stash. But as all of Ruby and Will's possessions began to accumulate and fill the room, I decided that, rather than overcrowd the room with the cradle, (which would be completely realistic) the infant's arrival will wait until the first crops are in and Will has time to add a lean-to or even another room onto the house, providing plenty of space for a big cradle and a growing baby (or two.) Thanks for your interest and encouragement! (The roof is underway and I haven't lost my enthusiasm yet!)Delete
Ahora sí que la pequeña habitación se ha convertido en un hogar cómodo y confortable,que gran trabajo has hecho dando vida a esa casa,es maravillosa!ReplyDelete
Me encantará ver el techo de paja!
Hello, Pilar - Thank you for stopping by to leave your lovely comments! I've certainly enjoyed all the time that I've spent working on the soddy and watching it become a home. I hope I'll enjoy working on the roof as well!Delete
¡Wooo Marjori!, es fantástico lo que has logrado, una casa perfecta de la pradera.Me encanta los muebles y la sobriedad que dsprenden todos los rincones.¡Felicidades!.Besos:-)ReplyDelete
Hello, Rosa Maria - I'm so happy that you like the way the soddy has turned out so far. I've had a very good time working on the interior; now it's time to work on that roof and the landscaping - so there's still a way to go.Delete
Looking fabulous and so much character! Everything has been well thought out and edited to the absolute necessities to make a comfortable life. I love it.ReplyDelete
Hello, Shannon - I appreciate your thoughtful comments, and I hope you'll continue to follow the soddy's construction process. The hardest part is still to come!Delete
Some of these photos look like a real life sod house! Amazing! Love the details! Although I am very nervous about Ruby cooking on that stove with the curtains being right there! She better be careful!ReplyDelete
Hi, Lori - As usual, you've found the obvious detail that I completely overlooked! Yikes! I can only hope that Ruby hasn't missed the obvious as well. But since she has to stand right there with that red-hot heat pouring from the stove, she probably has thought to loop the curtain up out of the way. It's a good thing that the soddy is practically fireproof. However, the curtains aren't!Delete
I only can say... Wow wow wow what a beautiful details!ReplyDelete
Have a nice day,
groetjes van Marijke
Hello, and thank you for stopping by the soddy. I'm so glad that you like the finished room. Please visit again to find out what's going to happen when I start working on the roof!Delete
What a Snug and Cosy home Will and Ruby have achieved, Marjorie!!!!ReplyDelete
You have been able to capture the essence of exactly what it must have been like for two adventurous young people to migrate from the east coast and head west into the the vastness of the American Interior to homestead there.
It is an utterly enchanting Soddy Home, and other than the snakes, rodents and spiders, I think that I could happily plunk down in that rocking chair and live here myself! :D
p.s. the red gingham curtains look Marvellous and considering all of the wrestling you had with the previous white ones, these have proved PERFECT !!!
Hello, Elizabeth - I'm in complete agreement with you regarding all those creepy-crawlies, of which there was no doubt an endless supply in the sod houses. I'm so happy that you like the curtains! That was a disappointing struggle, but I'm glad that it worked out as it did - the red gingham is so much cheerier, and of course much easier to keep clean. (If only the curtain near the stove doesn't catch on fire - see Lori's comment above!)Delete
I love the soddy house. The bright splashes of color make it so warm and cozy. I was imaging myself living there and then you mentioned the leaking roof and muddy floor haha. Wonderful house I love looking at all the details.ReplyDelete
Hi, Maria - I'm sure that Ruby has done all she can to make the soddy cozy and cheerful, but the odds are definitely against her best efforts - the odds being mud floors, infestations of bugs and mice, and an occasional snake wrapped up in her quilt! As I've said before, those homesteaders had to be a tough bunch! I'm glad that you like the soddy, in spite of all the drawbacks. I agree with you - the sod house is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live in one! Thanks for stopping by!Delete
It appears as though your travels must have been inspiring! I love all of the pieces that you have thoughtfully selected to help tell your story. I also enjoy the 'pops' of color with the quilt and curtains - very nice. I have to admit when you started the sod project I was thinking small dark, dirty and dreary, but you have really brought it to life. As always, great photos too!ReplyDelete
Hello, Troy - The soddy has turned out to be much more colorful and cheery than I expected it to be - and unfortunately, probably more so than most of the sod houses were in reality. I may have "glorified" my soddy a little, so I think your first expectations of dark, dirty, and dreary may be too true in many cases. But I'm hopeful that there were also homesteaders like Ruby and Will to whom those bright spots of color and a tidy, orderly space were very important. At least, that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it! Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Hi Marjorie! What an Enchanting little house it is! I know.... we can ignore the dirty floor and only see the sun-shiny days right now! They are young and optimistic and just getting started! It looks so cozy and well organized... I expect that will change when the children come along! LOL! I am looking forward to seeing the roof... and to learning how you are accomplishing it... and how the settlers accomplished such a feat as making heavy sods stay put overhead!!! This is such a fascinating project, and you have been doing an awe-inspiring job with all of it!!! :):)ReplyDelete
Hi, Betsy - Yes, I expect that a larger family crowded into a small, dark space - and too many wet, gloomy days spent wading around on mud floors, with wet laundry hanging overhead, and being always on the lookout for various kinds of crawling, skittering "wildlife" - would just about cure any misplaced optimism on the homesteader's part! But I do hope that the bright, bright, sunshiny days last a long time for Will and Ruby! The roof is still coming along; those settlers learned some interesting building techniques through their shared experiences! Thanks for your comments!Delete
Oh what a lovely job you've done. I hope that Will and Ruby will live there happily ever after.ReplyDelete
Hello, Megan - Thank you; I'm enjoying this project so much! Some homesteaders did live in their sod homes ever after - but most stayed in them only long enough to be able to obtain the materials for a "real" house made of lumber! I hope that Will and Ruby decide to stay in their soddy for a long time!Delete
I love all the pictures! I especially love those little rugs!ReplyDelete
Hello, Brandy - Thank you! Those rugs are among my favorite things in the soddy - I had such fun making them!Delete
What a treat all these pictures were. I'm so impressed at the level of detail in your work. Well done.ReplyDelete
Hello, Simon - I'm so glad that you had a chance to stop by the soddy. I hope you'll follow along as I complete the work - only the roof and the exterior landscaping remain to be done! Thanks for your nice comments.Delete