Pioneer Sod House (winter view)

Larry Trupp

Winnipeg, Canada

Artist's Description

Location: At FortWhyteAlive our Nature Center on the southwest edge of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Make: Canon Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi F stop: F/8.0 Exposure: 1/125 sec. Focal length: 42.0 mm Flash: flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode (16) Dimensions: 2400×1600 Shutter speed (Tv): 7

Featured in:

Shelters #…21 December 2011

The World As We See It, or As You See It…12 December 2011

Pioneer Sod House…Cut from the same earth that provided our food…“It didn’t leak the first day…but it did for three days after”. This would have been a common sodbuster expression. The sod house or semlin (German) was no extravagant home.

It was built quickly (in less than one month) for warmth and for protection from the elemnts during those first prairie winters. The deep root masses of prairie grasses provided the perfect thatch to make sod. Settlers cut sod bricks 36cm (14 inches) wide. 8cm (14 inches) thick with help from an oxen team pulling a breaking or walking plow. The excavated earth created the hollow around which sod bricks would be stacked – the first sunken living room.

Before sod was placed on the roof, tamarack beams and rails would be chinked together with filler such as mud, moss, prairie grasses or bison hair. Although holes were plugged, little visitors like mice, snakes, and bugs were often a common sight.

Sod houses such as this, made for intimate living arrangements. Commonly 6 – 8 family members would have lived in a 12 X 20 foot structure, including two oxen during extreme winter weather!

Artwork Comments

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