A common theme of late – and during any tough economic times – is a longing to live in simpler times. Except the concept of simpler times is actually a myth. As you go back through history; the 1930s and 1940s, the late 1800s, you find that life was a great deal of work that our technological advances have made easier, especially in the realm of house chores. But it is idealized as people are starting to do what is called “urban homesteading”; growing their own gardens, raising chickens, turkeys, rabbits, even goats, sheep and potbelly pigs in the suburbs for food, being conscious of water use, homeschooling and even limiting their use of technology. What is not realized by a lot of these people is the sheer amount of work there is to being part of a “simpler time”.
The daily chores of living and survival were at times, insurmountable. For each 100 settlers that came Westward in search of a different life, as many as 30% gave up and returned to Eastern cities and civilized areas. The basic chores for men and women in Colorado were nearly identical to those in every part of the country, but each place had their own unique obstacles to overcome.
One of the biggest issues faced by people in the plains of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas was the sheer openness of the space. Agoraphobia – not yet called that – afflicted many a housewife and settler, some so severely that they had to return to the East. Coming out of a still heavily forested area, or a heavily populated city, coping with being alone with just a spouse or spouse and children all day in a vast open place created a fear that was hard to overcome.
For those who managed to overcome it, there was the hard work of creating your new homestead. You tried to move there early enough in the year to start your first crops, and building a permanent house was secondary. Breaking the prairie sod for the first time was daunting for many would be Western farmers; plows were broken, horses were found to be inadequate to the task because the prairie grass was so tall (Taller than a man), so deeply rooted to resist the winds all year round and winter snows, it made it tough to get a plow or shovel into the ground. A wise farmer went to the nearest town and rented or borrowed oxen and a heavy plow suited to cut the prairie grass. Rocks, as in any farm field across the country, were the second obstacle, and we put aside to help build fences or building foundations. Even then, a realistic farmer only managed to plow and plant a small portion of his owned acres that first year.
A soddy was a common plains first house, so called because it was built of bricks made from that first turning of the soil as the farm was set up. The thick roots held it together, and they pieces were cut uniformly with a sharp knife, and stacked just like any brick building would be made. Windows were scarce unless you brought them with you from back East, so a soddy most often had only a door, and was rather small and low. Some were dug down into the ground and had a leveled off dirt floor, giving a bit more space. The roof was often made of the canvas from the wagon cover, held in place along the edges with more pieces of sod or rocks. If there were enough trees nearby, a series of small ones were cut to make a roof lattice, then covered with more pieces of sod. The small size made it common for a great deal of daily life to happen outdoors; the major benefit of a soddy was they were easy to keep warm and cozy during the winter.
Bad girl Bynes
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