Friday, May 23, 2008

The Root Cellar

Around here, a person doesn't have to look far to find a reminder of the hard work involved in homesteading this country and the progress that has been made since then.

In my case, I simply have to walk out my front door and go down a slight slope that veers off to the right.

A root cellar was an essential component of a homestead. When we first moved here 12 years ago, we found this one stocked with canned vegetables and a couple dozen snakes.

Through the years, my husband has painstakingly cleaned out most of its contents, including the snakes.


DSC03708He has also added some treasures that he has found in various buildings and strewn about the place.

He tells me that this cellar once had three doors, which provided excellent protection from heat and cold fluctuations. Now it only has two doors, but it is still quite functional.

I'm not quite as ambitious as the previous generations of women who lived here. We eat or freeze most of the garden produce, and the shelves of the root cellar now hold empty jars.

Since this area has experienced several tornadoes in the past few years and we don't have a basement, the root cellar provides a viable escape option for us.

It's much more appealing now that the snakes have vacated the premesis, and it is now equipped with a radio and lantern for the comfort of the occupants.

This is why we don't have a basement; digging through rocks like this would have been quite a task.

Every time I look at the combination of rock and logs that comprise this structure, I am in awe of the hard work it took to create it.

It sure makes me feel silly about complaining when I have to clean out the refrigerator.


Bill Harshaw said...

What fascinates me is how dry, dry, dry it is. In my childhood home in upstate NY one underground structure served two purposes--housing the pump for the well and serving as a root cellar. It was always damp, so much so shelving rotted in a few years. I assume the dampness was from water working down from the surface and from the humidity in the air condensing on the cool surfaces. I guess in Montana you don't have either source of water.

Treasia said...

After all the recent tornadoes in Arkansas I envy you your root cellar.

Ann from Montana said...

re Bill Harshaw's comment about the dryness compared to NY - and I'm not sure exactly what part of MT Erin and her family are is a rather large state with lots of differences...I grew up in northwest Ohio where our basement (cellar) was always damp and musty smelling - my previous home here in Montana had a basement and I too was amazed at the dryness - no mustiness...oh, not as dry as upstairs, but still...and very few "ground" places are ever soggy - this time of year the river/creekbeds excepted but I'm in the foothills of the Continental Divide and they aren't called the Rocky Mountains for nothing :) ! The ground grows rocks - water perks down - I do have wonderful water from my well - cleaned by the rocky ground I expect.

But back to the root cellar - what a beautiful cellar! I love the log and stone work - as you say tough to clean...but so unique.

Dawn said...

Wow! This is so neat!

I was also amazed at how dry it is. I also wonder about the temperature - does it stay really cool in the hottest of your summer heat? (Of course, since I live in TX, my definition of hot is probably not yours!)

I love the "stuff" you've left/put in the cellar. How fun to imagine those items being used in daily life, just like we use our tools.

Thanks for sharing this! Dawn

Lisa & Gerald said...

love it that would be a cool hideaway place for anyone also love the old tools that you guys found

Jenny said...

Wow! Lots of hard work to build that root cellar. Do you still not find any snakes out there? Here it would be a snake haven, as they find any nook to "snake" there way into (including my garage, which is why I enclosed it and made it into an office/music room). We have so many rattlesnakes here, it's scary.

Pony Girl said...

That is so amazing you have such a great piece of history on your property! One has to admire the handi-work in creating something like that. It looks so orderly. What kind of snakes were living down there?

Jessica said...

Wow! That is an amazing...building? I'm so glad you all are actually keeping up with it, and not letting it fall apart, like so many current land users (like us) do with their barns and outbuildings.

Andrea said...

It is so amazing how they build things way back in the day. People really took pride in their work. It's an amazing building.

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