Henderson on Homesteading Pt. 2

The next thing to do is build a shed for the oxen and fowls. This need only be ten by twelve feet, and can be made by sinking three posts two feet in the ground on each side. The front posts will need to be seven and half feet, and the back ones six feet from the top of the ground, that will make a pitch of a foot and a half to carry off the water. Lay three strong poles across the top of the posts, and put a wooden pin through each end of the cross poles into the head of the post, to keep them solid. Then put small poles lengthwise, about three inches apart, and throw a little old grass or brush on top to keep the sods from falling through. Take the oxen and plough a few furrows of the prairie sod and cut them about a foot long with the grub hoe, that will make them a foot square. Lay them in rows on the roof as close as possible, throw an inch of dirt all over them to fill in the joints, then lay another tier of sods in the same manner, and you will have a roof that will turn a twelve hours hard rain and not leak a drop. Build the walls of sods, two feet thick, leaving a space of four feet at the front end for a door. You can do that while the oxen are feeding at moon hours. As long as the roof is tight, and keeps out the rain they are all right. A day and half will build the shed, all but the sod walls. 


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When the well and shed are done the house should be built. For a family of five a house fourteen by sixteen is big enough for the first two years. If he has means enough, to put up a frame house I would advise him to do so. Sheet it first with rough lumber, then paper it all over with brown building paper, and put shiplap on the paper again, making a good tight job around the door and windows, and put the paper under the shingles on the roof. One outside door is enough, and four windows, two on the first floor and two up stairs. Dig the cellar ten by eight, seven feet deep, fill in all round the walls with earth leaving an air hole on each side for ventilation. Twenty days ought to be enough to dig the well and crib it, and build the shed-stable and house, providing the lumber can be had not further than twenty-five miles. Next break one half acre for potatoes, five inches deep, and borrow a set of harrows, and harrow it four or five times. Put them in with the hoe, about three feet apart. That is all I would advise to put in on breaking, as it takes more time harvesting, threshing and looking after it, than all the grain that would grow on it would amount to, and the land would not grow such a good crop the next summer.

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