COBWEB CORNERS: Life without conveniences
By Mel McFarland
It is hard for those of us younger than 75 to think of life without conveniences. As I discuss our past, a common comment I hear is, “Those were a different kind of people.” Well they were not; they did as we would do in the same spot. Reflecting on that, life in the first settlement here more than a hundred years ago was quite different. Since it is the summer now, how about imagining ourselves in July or August of 1859, here in the shadow of the mountains.
Look around inside our dug-out "soddie" and it is hard to see anything without a candle. The place was built into a hillside to get a bit more warmth in the winter. Some three feet of it stick up above the surrounding hill. The roof, however is actually part of the hill now. The ground here has a lot of clay, and the sod blocks actually came from not far away. The inside walls are just packed dirt. A trip to the hills certainly found enough lime to help make plaster. The floor is packed dirt, too. The logs holding up the roof came from near Fountain Creek. They were cut, trimmed and drug here.
As to furniture, there are a couple of pieces that were brought from Kansas. There are a chest of drawers and a chair near the iron bed. The kitchen area consists of a stove that is used for cooking and heating and a table that serves to ready the meals as well as to eat on. Some flat rocks on the floor support the legs of all the furniture except the chair. A few pegs in a rafter provide a place to hang clothes. If there are children, there might be another bed and more chairs, but a lone cowboy doesn't need much. Most homes would not have this much, but one needs to get a few things straight before sending east for the wife. Some rich folks have lanterns, and maybe a few pictures on the wall. Windows might be nice too!
The door is a couple of boards salvaged from a wagon body found along the way. Another building might be called a shack, but for now it is the barn. It has room for some hay cut from the grass before the snow sets in and for our horse, saddle and wagon rigging… if we even have a horse. Log cabins actually came later, and lumber in the hills was actually scarce. More about that another time!
Such a life may sound tough, but it sure is better than living in the open, like the few cows we'd have. They are kept close by too, in case varmints are around.