Friday, August 12, 2011

In Her Own Words - Our Home (part 2)

          "It might be interesting to describe out house.  It was one room, I would say about 20 feet square.  The exterior was sod slabs about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long, 2 to 3 inches thick.  These slabs were stacked on top of each other like you stack bricks.  We had a door and window on the south and a window on the east.  The grass roots would begin to grow and as they grew they formed a binding and strengthened the wall.  Then the grass grew and even flowering crocuses and buttercups came through reaching for the sun.  The roof was rafters and a building tar paper laid down, nailed to the rafters and covered with straw and then covered with more tar paper and straw with wires that was laced over the top.  The wire was wound around stones that held the straw down and made the roof more secure when the winds came.  Grandpa had bought windows from his sister's place and the door was one I think Grandpa made, because I remember it was very heavy for me to open. 
          The interior was heavy tar paper, grey in color, fastened to the sod by strips of wooden slats and nailed into the sod.  Mama said it was warm in winter and cool in summer.  Grandpa, when he was a fireman and had spare time between fires, developed skills in cabinet making and interior finishing, making furniture, etc.  In one corner of the room he had built a frame for a double bed.  The spring was make of ropes, the cover was straw put into a canvas type bag and that was the mattress.  Under the bed was a smaller frame that could be pulled out and was my bed.  We called it a trundle bed.  The stove was in the center of the room and the chimney went through the roof.  I don't know how they prevented the straw on the roof from catching fire.  I do know Mama was always afraid of making the fire too hot. 
          The head of the built-in bed frame and a long cupboard with shelves formed a small space behind the stove for supplies, dishes, pots and pans, and canned goods, flour, beans, sugar and whatever else one stores in food.  At the end of this food pantry in the corner was a dry sink where a water pail, basin and a slop pail for the waste and dirty water sat.  Above this sink and along the wall above the window was a shelf where we kept the lanterns and lamps, an old fashioned clock and some books.  There was one medical doctor book, one section was on animal care, a Bible and some other books that must have been important to the grownups.  There were some boxes of bullets and shells that fit the two guns that hung on pegs above the door and were always in readiness for any coyote or even a wolf that might venture too close to our horses or oxen, or chickens.
          Under the shelf and between the window and sink, was  roller towel and a box nailed to the wall with a brush and comb.  Grandpa and Papa had their shaving strap hanging there too.  There was a round table in front of the south window and next to it and in the corner was a couch that Grandpa slept on when he didn't go to his own house in the bank by the creek.  That couch was to be my brother's bed, but it wasn't to be.  The opening in the floor for the trap door was on the other side of the table.  I can remember we had to move the table to open it.  Later on Papa dug it deeper and we had a box to step on so we could reach some of the dried vegetables and meat hanging from the floor boards.  Papa was pleased with that improvement - he said at first he didn't even have a floor, only hard dirt and some boards over the hole.  So it was great to have a wooden floor in our house when we came.  Mama hung a curtain in front of the bed and I can remember when I took a nap, Mama pulled the curtain and I pretended I was in a cave.  It was quite dark and sometimes I played on the bed with my clothespin dolls.

          Grandpa, with the help of his nephews, had dug a well on his property and it was very good spring water.  So we got our water from Grandpa's well but we had to haul it.  Grandpa's was about a half mile from our house and we had two big barrels and every week Papa would hitch the team of horses up to what we called a stone boat.  It was wooden planks nailed on two runners about 4 x 6 feet in size.  The barrels would ride on the planks and it took careful steering and control of a team to pull, but Papa never spilled the water.  We could never waste water and when it rained Mama would get all the pails and kettles to catch every drop she could.  Water was a precious commodity.
          Grandpa and Papa built a shelter of sod for the horses and oxen and attached a small shed to this to store feed for the chickens and a space for the chickens to roost and lay their eggs.  Papa and Grandpa and Papa's cousins helped each other in plowing and working up the ground so they could plant wheat and rye and oats and they broke a piece of ground for Mama to make a garden.  She planted potatoes and turnips, beets and another root vegetable called mangelsHymers Glewwe's memoirs of childhood in Saskatchewan 1910-1918.)

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"