Since I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about soddies lately (first-round edits=lots of research review), I thought I’d share a few with you:
The grassy mid-section of our country, the Interior Plains, is actually made up of two very different environments: the wetter, cooler prairies of the east and the drier, hotter plains of the west.
Pioneers who settled on the prairies built homes from the wood available along riverbeds. Those who settled on the plains worked with what was most readily available: sod.
Kansas, where MAY B. takes place, happens to have both prairies and plains. Much of May’s story takes place inside a soddy, like the one above (except she had a papered window instead of fancy glass).
The typical dimensions for a soddy were 20×16. Some soddies had pitched roofs made of wood or a combination of wood and sod. Older soddies had roofs of sod, supported only by twigs and occasional branches. Because of this, it was not unusual for ceilings to collapse after heavy rain.
Sometimes snakes and mice made homes in soddy ceilings and walls.
Before starting MAY B., I’d only heard of sod homes from the books ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK (the Ingalls family lived for a time in a dug out, a home bulit into the side of a hill with one sod-brick wall) and MY ANTONIA (optional reading in high school).
Did you learn much about the frontier in school? How do you think you’d fare in a home like this?