How To Build A “Dirt” Cheap Sod House (Soddy)

Editor’s Note: By 1700’s most pioneers learned the techniques used by the Scandinavian settlers and started building log houses whenever there were nearby woods. But for the pioneers who settled in the prairie, wood was a rare commodity. And soon realized that there is an even cheaper and easier material to work with: sod!

Sod is the top layer of earth that includes grass, its roots, and the dirt clinging to the roots. Prairie grass had a much thicker, tougher root structure than modern landscaping grass… so it kept the dirt in one piece.

In some ways sod was even better than wood. The houses were naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Construction of a sod house (soddy) involved cutting patches of sod in rectangles, often 2’×1’×6″ (60×30×15 cm), and piling them into walls. (Source)

by Ox Cart Trails Historical Society:

While early settlers used a special plow or sod cutter pulled by oxen to slice strips of sod from the prairie, Edinburg’s people used a skid-steer loader to get that job done. Not only was a back-breaking chore made easier, but the tractor produced nicely uniform sod pieces.

Unloading Sod

Unloading Sod

beaver-downed-trees-for-roof

Beaver Downed Trees For Roof

Each piece of cut sod is two feet long, one foot wide and four inches thick.

Doorway

Sod House Doorway

The walls are two sod blocks thick, staggered as bricks would be.5-doug-chertoff-bob-merrill

Every third layer of sod is laid crosswise to tie the inner and outer layers together.7-getting-there

All the cracks and holes are filled with loose soil. The sod is laid with the grass side down—21 layers in all.8-doorway-complete

Our sod house is 12 ft. by 14 ft. on the outside, making it 8 ft. by 10 ft. inside.13-almost-ready-for-roof

The door and window frames are open boxes the depth of the walls and were set in place so the walls could be built up around the frames.

Roofing Begins

Roofing Begins

The door and glass windows will be put in place in the spring.

Roofing

Roofing

Beaver-downed trees were retrieved from the woods and used to support the roof made of one inch-thick oak planks; tar paper and sod will be laid overtop next spring.

Almost Covered

Almost Covered

Roof Is Ready For Sod

Roof Is Ready For Sod

View From Inside After Roof

View From Inside After Roof

Sod houses were the first dwellings for many pioneers. The much-needed barn was usually built first; a house would come later. There are only a few written accounts describing the process of building a soddy. The building site on the prairie was first cleared and leveled with a sharp spade prior to building up the walls.

Sometimes builders wetted and tamped the entire floor area into a concrete-hard base, or spread cow dung on the floor then tamped that into a concrete-like floor. We did not spread any cow dung.

Pioneers lived in and under their wagons until a soddy could be built on their land.

Anton Smock homestead near Oconto, Custer County, Nebraska, 1904. Pictured, left to right, are: Alfonso Smock, Roy Smock, Anton Smock, Sophie, Mabel, Violet, Daisy, Rose, and Jenny. Photo by Solomon Butcher. Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society

Anton Smock homestead near Oconto, Custer County, Nebraska, 1904. Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society

When finished, the sod house was close quarters, but during Dakota winters it was very warm inside.

Sod House

Sod House

To date the group has spent over 200 man-hours building the soddy; a few more hours will be required to finish it up. Watch for activity on the museum grounds as the weather warms, because we welcome you to join in the fun and unique experience of building an authentic sod house.

This article was written by the Ox Cart Trails Historical Society. If you liked it, you can visit the website at OxCartTrails.net.

 

tlw_banner3_new

 

house-bph

WHAT TO READ NEXT:

Read Also: “God’s Miracle Dust” Because It’s The Single Greatest Off-The-Grid Story Ever Told!

Read Also: 7 Bartering Rules To Write In Stone

Read Also: How To Build A Root Cellar In Your Backyard

Read Also: 31 Long-Forgotten Native American Medical Cures

Read Also: Back To Basics: How To Make And Preserve Pasta

Read Also: The Crazy Gardening Trick That Gives You 10 Times More Potatoes

Read Also: Survival Skills We Can Learn From The Amish

Salvează

Salvează

Salvează

Salvează

Other useful resources:

Pioneer Survival - Lessons We Should All Learn
Alive After The Fall (Advice onto handling crisis situations )
US Water Revolution (Have Plenty of Water when others don't have any!)
Blackout USA (EMP survival and preparedness guide)
Conquering the coming collapse (Financial advice and preparedness )
Backyard Innovator (All Year Round Source Of Fresh Meat,Vegetables And Clean Drinking Water)
Liberty Generator (Easy to build your own off-grid free energy device)
Backyard Liberty (Easy and cheap DIY Aquaponic system to grow your organic and living food bank)
Bullet Proof Home (A Prepper’s Guide in Safeguarding a Home )
(Visited 53 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *