Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Stories - How a Sod House was Built

Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

By Laura Avery

This is the way I remember how to build a sod house:

The first thing you do is hunt for a hollow or somewhere that the grass is thick and has a lot of roots. Then you plow the sod with a regular sod plow with bars on the back side. Plow it from three to four inches thick and one foot wide. After it is turned over cut in strips twenty-four inches long. Lay them on a wagon with just boards lain over it. Then haul them to where you are building. Start laying them for the size house you want. Lay them grass side down, mis-matching each seam as they do for brick or cement block houses.
Put the twenty-four inches cross-wise so you have thick walls.
For the windows put the frames in, drill holes in them, then drive wooden pegs into the wood and on into the sod. When you get the walls as high as you want them, lay 2x6 or 2x8 planks around in the center of the sod. Then put the 2x4’s up for the roof. Put foot wide boards on to the 2x4’s and nail them. Next, put felt tar paper over the boards, then lay on sod tightly fit together, grass side up.
Years ago, you plastered the walls with clay; in later years they were plastered up with cement, inside and out. That was a good thing as it kept mice, rats and snakes from coming through the holes. These houses were cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They had nice big wide windows. The children would sit in the windows. They were fine for house plants.
I remember the sod house my parents lived in. They started plants for garden in small wooden boxes. Some of them were watermelons, musk melons, tomatoes and cabbage. We would have great big watermelon. We got more rain in those days and didn’t have to water them. Walter Avery’s folks laid an extra wall up to about three feet nigh around the main wall and planted different kinds of cactus on it. It was real pretty. They also had rose moss on it.

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