Posts Tagged ‘linda hubalek’

A scrap of fabric and an 1881 photo

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series, quilts and quilting

Butter in the Well by Linda K. HubalekI remember the thrill of seeing the final cover design of my first book, Butter in the Well back in 1992. Back then it was sketched out by hand, and it was a long process of ideas and time, because it was being mailed back and forth between me and the publisher.

(Recently the cover designer found me on Facebook and told me the background design for this cover was actually her kitchen wall paper.)

My publisher, Butterfield Books Inc. decided to update the covers of all my books this year for the 20th anniversary of my first book.

Boy, has time and the internet changed on how you do book covers and work with a designer.

I emailed jpegs of possible pictures to use in the first cover. Ideas flew back and forth in seconds by email. The feel wasn’t right so the designer would send something else.

Finally she went to her mom’s house and looked through the stash of quilting fabric her mother used to make quilts.

What she found worked perfect for the background of the Butter in the Well book cover, along with the 1881 photo I had of the original house.

The old and new- from different centuries- made the perfect cover…

New Book Covers

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series, Uncategorized

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek

Butter in the Well by Linda K. Hubalek

I’m back!

I’ve spent the summer working on the house my husband and I are building by ourselves. I taped and mudded the sheet rock, painted the entire interior of the house, planted grass, trees, shrubs, garden, etc- with a little help from a great teenage boy- oh, and packed and moved us from our old house- mostly all by myself while my husband was in Europe for his job. (He designs grain drills for a equipment manufacturer in Kansas and has been in Europe to test his new drill in their soils with their type of seed crops.)

Then I’ve spent this last month recuperating from surgery on both my right knee and trigger fingers on both hands (see why from the paragraph above).

I’ve also been updating my author website and getting geared up for the 20th anniversary of my first book Butter in the Well.

I thought the anniversary called for new cover designs so here’s the first sneak peak of the first one. I just changed them on my Amazon kindle ebooks (if you want to see them all), but haven’t made the changes yet with the book printer. Please look them over and let me know what you think of the new covers.

It was a fun process to design the covers and there’s story behind each one. I’ll tell you about them in future posts.

Meantime I’m glad to be back in touch with all of my readers again. I missed you!

Making Cakes from Scratch

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Eggs & butter photo from recipe book Egg Gravy, by Linda K. Hubalek.Today is my mom’s 88th birthday so I made her favorite dessert, an angel food cake to enjoy for her celebration this evening. I just added a cup of water to a packet of dry mix out of a box, turn on the mixer for a minute, put the whipped mixture in a tube pan and slid it into the electric oven.

Then I thought of the old recipes I came across while researching my recipe book, Egg Gravy. Not only did the pioneer women make their cakes from scratch, they had to produce the ingredients first.

The old photo of cartons of eggs and big balls of butter was taken back in the early 1900’s, showing products ready to take into town for trade at the grocery store.

Enjoy reading these recipes, and Happy Birthday Mom!

Angel Food Cake
Whites of 11 eggs
pinch of salt
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon vanilla  

Sift sugar and flour together 7 times. Put cream of tartar and salt in eggs and beat very light, fold in sugar and flour, add vanilla. Put in cold oven and bake slowly 1 hour.  (Make your own cake flour by sifting 4 cups flour and 1 cup cornstarch together four times.)  

Sunshine Cake
1 cup butter
11 egg yolks, beaten light
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour, sifted 3 times with 2 tps. baking powder
1 cup sweet milk

Bake in tube pan 45 minutes. Use any flavoring desired.

Butter
Pour ripened cream into butter churn and churn for about 30 to 35 minutes until the butter is about the size of wheat grains. Draw off buttermilk and add cold water. Slowly churn for a few minutes, then draw off the water. Put the butter in a wooden bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of butter. Let stand a few minutes, then work butter with wooden paddle to get the last of the liquid out and the salt in. Press in crocks or butter molds and store in a cool place.

(Excerpts and photo from Egg Gravy: Authentic Recipes from the Butter in the Well Series, © by Linda K. Hubalek.)

 

Yellow Iris guarding the Cemetery

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Yellow iris blooming in Linda Hubalek's gardenOur early and mild spring weather has given us beautiful flowers this year. My back patio is a fragrant experience with roses and iris blooming right now.

When my yellow iris shows it first bloom, I think of the old cemetery that is on the top hill of one of our family’s pasture. There hasn’t been anyone buried there for decades, but years ago someone planted a yellow iris root by a grave, and now the old cemetery is covered with them, blending in with last year’s tall dead grass.

Today, my yellow iris started from a root from this pasture cemetery, reminds me of the silent statues guarding the graves of loved ones, and the burst of color surrounding them right now.

Grave stone in country cemetery. Photo by Linda HubalekThe grieving parent or spouse may have only been thinking of decorating one grave at the time, but their single act of planting that iris root has given a burst of color and a remembrance to all for almost a century. It also gave the grave a reminder of home since the iris was probably a start from the ones growing at the family’s homestead.

Another country grave that has yellow iris blooming now is Carl Swensson’s, the first husband of Kajsa, who started the “Butter in the Well” homestead. What a comforting thought that the flowers planted over a century ago are still remembering the loved one today.

Plastering Dugout Walls

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

A photograph showing a family posed in front of their dugout in Norton County, Kansas.We’re in the process of building our own house, doing almost all of the work ourselves. This week I’ve been pounding in nails on wall edging, and taping and mudding sheet rock. My finger joints and wrists feel like they could break off as they are so tired and sore.

But then I think of this diary entry from Butter in the Well

April 25, 1868
We saved the hard layer of sand from when we dug the well. This sand, and clay from the river bank, were mixed with water to plaster the walls of the dugout. It’s very crude, but it will have to do for our first winter. The dirt floor will get packed down in time. I’ll sprinkle my dishwater on it to help it harden. I wish we had rugs to cover the floor. It would make it warmer and easier to keep clean. I talked Carl into cutting up one board for a door. At least I’ll feel a little safer at night with it closed. The hungry howling of the wolves scares me.  (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Okay, with all the modern conveniences of premixed plaster mud, and a wooden sub floor that will eventually have carpet or tile on it, I shouldn’t complain when I compare my modern tasks to what the women had to do in 1868. (Plus I’m sure my new bedroom is  bigger than most dugouts were back then.)

And also…

July 20, 1868
 I had a scare today while washing clothes. The fire pit is deep and lined with rock, but I still have to be very careful in case the wind is blowing. A gust came out of nowhere and blew a spark into the grass. I had been stirring the pot of clothes with a stick. I reacted so fast I threw out half the clothes as I flung the stick around to beat the spark out. Christina was sitting nearby. I could have scalded her to death and started a prairie fire all at the same time. Carl was working at the Robinsons’ today, so I was on my own.
Tonight when we said our evening prayers, I gave my deepest thanks to the Lord for watching over us today.  (Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

I’m so glad I can take a hot shower and toss my dirty clothes in the washing machine at the end of my work day…

Pleats and Photos in Prӓrieblomman

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Alma Swenson, 1880s photo featured in book Prӓrieblomman © by Linda K. HubalekLooking through old photos I used in the book Prӓrieblomman (which means prairie flowers in Swedish) I came across one of Alma Swenson, posing for a portrait to commemorate her 8th grade graduation.

Many of my blog readers enjoy excerpts from my books, so here’s the start of Prӓrieblomman.

(Note: I still have the doorknob—from the original “Butter in the Well” house—mentioned in this excerpt, and held it many times when writing this book to feel connected to Alma and the house we both grew up in.)

Prologue
January 27, 1889
To Alma,
For your sixteenth birthday, I am giving you a blank book of pages. This may seem odd to you, but I want you to write down the normal and unusual events that happen in your life. You don’t have to write every day. Just scattered tidbits of thought, misgivings and joy will record the growth in yourself and the happenings in the world around you.

Years later this book will bring back smiles and tears to help you recall favorite places you never meant to forget, cherish lives lost, and to see how yesterday’s events become tomorrow’s history. Someday you may want to show your children the changes you saw while growing up on this farm in Kansas.

Keep this book with you always. Your written memories will sustain you when you have moved on to a prairie of your own someday.
                                                                             With love, Mamma

The Setting
 Snow blankets the homestead on this quiet Sunday afternoon in 1889. Silent white-iced furrows in the fields of the 159 acres wait for spring planting. The height of bare-branched trees shows the farm to be about twenty years old. You can tell that the farmer is prospering because there are several outbuildings, and the wooden two-story house has been added onto a time or two.

The dirt road running by the farm was just a trail not too many years back. Life and growth have progressed for the family, but there are still patches of native grass beside the homestead to remind them of their start on the prairie.

Peering into the parlor window facing south, you get a glimpse of petite Alma Swenson, an optimistic young woman with typical Swedish blonde features, innocently pondering her life as she turns sixteen.

Chapter One – The Birthday Present

 January 27, 1889
Sunday dinner dishes are done, little sisters are napping, and I have a few moments to myself. As I turned the white porcelain doorknob and slipped into the cool, closed-off parlor, I pondered about the book of blank pages Mamma gave me today for my birthday. On the first page, she wrote a note, encouraging me to write. Mamma has kept a diary ever since she moved to Kansas in 1868. I’ve never read it myself, since it is personal, but sometimes Mamma reads bits to us. A diary entry may make her smile or bring tears to her eyes.

Her journal tells the trials and errors as she and Papa built their homestead on the virgin prairie twenty years ago. When they arrived as Swedish immigrants to this land by the creek, the blue stem grass was as high as a man’s head on horseback. With their bare hands and a few primitive tools, they cleared the land, dug a well, and fashioned a sod dugout home. Clashes with Mother Nature, Indians and animals as they struggled to coax crops out of the broken sod almost took their toll on Mamma’s spirit, but she had a family to feed and protect. Favorite entries tell when her children were born and the joy of uniting with families when my grandparents left Sweden and moved to America.

The dugout was replaced by a sandstone one-room house in 1870. The house has been built on to three times with wooden additions when we could afford to buy lumber. The barn and granary were originally makeshift buildings for temporary storage of the crops and animals. As of yet they have not been replaced. A sod and straw-roofed open shed shelters the animals when they are out in the elements and the chicken house guards the fowl flock at night. Most of the acres of prairie have been tamed into fields for crops except for the hay meadows along the creek.

Us older children are almost grown now. Christina is twenty-two and getting married next month. Willie turned nineteen the fourth of this month and Alfred is fifteen. Carrie, who was born after Papa was killed, is twelve. When we needed help on the farm, Peter Runeberg came into our lives as a hired hand, and five years later, he and Mamma were married. Our half-sisters, Julia, born four years ago and Mabel, last March, have livened up and further crowded our household.

Peering out the window at the drab sleeping field to the south, I ponder over Mamma’s note. Maybe someday I will cherish my thoughts and reflections, the everyday events that have taken place on our farm. I wonder, since I finished my country schooling last year . . . what will my future bring? Will I marry soon and start a family or spend my life here on my Mother’s farm, tending to the everyday tasks that must be done to sustain life?

Prӓrieblomman, pioneer historical fiction book by Kansas author Linda K. Hubalek.(Excerpts from the book Prӓrieblomman: the Prairie Blossoms for an Immigrant’s Daughter © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Alma became the neighborhood seamstress, making clothing for a living until she married her stepfather’s brother at age twenty-seven and moved to Iowa. (Yes, you read right…Her husband Nels was forty years old when they were married.)

Look at the details in this dress. I imagine today’s teenagers probably spend as much time in a mall shopping for an outfit as Alma spent on the tucks in this skirt…or texting, when Alma would have been hand sewing little pleats.

Clothing styles change each generation and many times in a decade, but a photo from the 1880’s gives us a good glimpse of the past.

Will any of today’s photos taken by teenagers on their cell phone be available to view in 100 plus years? I hope so somehow, so future generations can see what they were wearing in the 2010’s…

 

Julia's Potato Rolls

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Peter Olson homestead near Bridgeport, Kansas. Photo featured in book "Egg Gravy" by Linda K. Hubalek.Last week I mentioned Aunt Julia who grew up in the same house as I did, and married Joe Olson, the boy “next door”.

Joe’s parents, Peter and Hannah, lived in a dugout before building this house featured with this blog. (A larger home was built on their farm before I was born, so I was never in the original home.)

We were frequent visitors to Joe and Aunt Julia Olson’s house when I was growing up, and she always offered “lunch” to us. Forenoon lunch or afternoon lunch was on either side of “dinner”, the noon meal. “Supper” was the evening meal.

I remember where she kept her store bought coconut bar cookies in the cupboard on the north wall of her kitchen. Although she was well known for her baking, I don’t know if she thought these cookies were a better treat, or it was her reserve stash to use as backup if her own cookie jar was empty.

My favorite treat made by Aunt Julia was actually her potato rolls. If my memory serves me right, she saved mashed potatoes from the Sunday meal and used them to make the rolls on Monday. It’s been a long time since I made them, but I can still smell and taste them right out of the oven.

Maybe it’s time I make a batch myself. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try them. This is out of my book Egg Gravy: Authentic Recipes from the Butter in the Well Series.

 Egg Gravy- Authentic Recipes from the Butter in the Well Series. Pioneer cooking book by Linda K. Hubalek.Julia’s Potato Rolls

1 cup flour
½ cup sugar (scant)
1 cup mashed potatoes
salt to taste
¾ cup lard
½ cup lukewarm water
1 cup sweet milk
1 yeast cake
2 eggs, well beaten

Mix all ingredients, adding flour and yeast (mixed with water) last. Set to rise for two hours in a warm place, add 5 to 6 cups flour. Let rise again, mold into rolls, rise again, and bake in moderate oven. (Note there is no oven temperature or baking time in the recipe as women knew their wood oven.)

If you try the recipe, please let me know what you thought of Julia’s rolls. You’ll be eating a bit of pioneer cooking…

Can you find the well?

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

"Butter in the Well" homestead photo, taken in 1881. (copyright © Linda K. Hubalek)The first home on the “Butter in the Well” homestead was a dugout. Two years later in 1870, the Svensson family built the first section of their wood-frame house. They added on at least two more times over the next two decades.

Here are excerpts from Butter in the Well, as well as a copy of the first photo taken of the house in 1881. It shows the front of the house, which is the second addition to the house. The stone section was on the west side and did not show on this photo.

June 4, 1870
We finally have enough stone to start building our house. We have been collecting sandstone rocks whenever we come across them in the field or the creek. It has been hard to find enough rock nearby.

Yesterday Carl picked up the last wagonload of local rock. There is a rise of hills two miles south that has an outcropping of stone. The rains last week loosened the sod enough that it was easy to dig out the rocks with a spade and pick.

The cellar is dug. It will be used as storage for our preserved food, and as a root cellar for our vegetables and fruits from the garden. We also need a place for shelter from tornadoes, the cyclone winds that Kansas is known for. We’ll have one entrance to the cellar from outside on the north, one from the porch on the south and one inside the house. After the stone walls are in place in the cellar, and the floor is laid for the house, I want to move into the cellar. We’d have more room than in the dugout and the cellar floor seems drier than the dugout floor. We have had water seeping up from the floor of the dugout this spring. It is always muddy and doesn’t want to dry out. It will be so nice to get out of the damp ground and live on a wooden floor when the house is done.

Our house will measure 16 feet square. Imagine all the space we’ll have. It will consist of one big room with a loft above it. We hope to add on more rooms as we have the time and money.

Carl bought glass for three windows, a door, shingles and more lumber when he was in Salina last week. One window will go in the middle of the west wall, one in the middle of the south wall, and a little window in the west end of the loft. The front door will go in the southeast corner of the house.

Carl also bought a big cooking stove with the money he received from selling some of last year’s wheat. It will go on the west wall, just to the right of the window so I can gaze out at our farm while I’m cooking.

We’ll have a ladder on the east wall to get up into the loft, which we’ll use as storage and for an extra bedroom. I’d like to add a porch to the south eventually. Then I can sit and watch the children play while I’m sewing, snapping beans or whatever needs to be done. 

June 12, 1870
Rock by rock we are slowly building the walls. We are mixing a plaster of sand, clay and lime to cement the rock together. Benjamin and Mr. Lapsley are helping today. Adelaide came over to watch the progress and help me fix the meals for the extra hands.

As I stood inside my partially built house tonight, I tried to imagine what it will look like when it is done. I want to put up red gingham curtains that I can tie back during the day, and braid some rag rugs for the floor. The old hides have worked well in the dugout, but I want our new home to look like a real house, like the one we had in Sweden.

March 16, 1876
With four growing children, our house has become too small. We had hoped to add on sooner, but it hasn’t been possible until now. It is going to be an American two-story frame house.

I will have to move my flower bed from its place on the east side. I’ve collected wildflower seeds in the fall from the open prairie and now I have a beautiful variety of flowers around our home. Columbine and daisies bloom in the spring. I enjoy the primrose and phlox in the summer and the goldenrod and asters in the fall. The wild rose roots I dug up have spread everywhere so I have a nice stand of them. I throw my wash water on the flower beds when I empty the tubs, so they are well watered. I love the splash of color the flowers have added to the homestead. We dug up several small cedar and ash saplings from the riverbank and transplanted them around the house, but they are out far enough that they won’t have to be moved.

We have bought lumber, glass for windows and doors to build on four rooms. We will add two rooms to the east part of the stone room, with two rooms directly above it. Since the cellar is already a nice size, we will not dig a basement for the new section.

Carl will put in a staircase to the upstairs and seal off the hole in the ceiling we have been using to get to the loft. We’ll add a door to the side of the loft at the top of the stairway and use that area for an attic. The southeast room will be our bedroom. A smaller bedroom to the north will be used as Alfred’s nursery, and we’ll have a storage closet under the stairwell. A stove in our room will heat the new section of the house.

At the top of the stairs will be one small room for Willie and a larger room to the south for the girls. The girls are excited about having their own room, away from their brother! The upstairs will be cold during the winter, but the children can come downstairs to dress in front of the kitchen stove.

The walls will be plastered and eventually papered. There is enough wood for trim inside around the windows, doors and baseboards. I’ll need to make more curtains and Carl will have to make more furniture.

Carl even bought extra siding to cover the sandstone walls on the old part of the house. After we paint, the house will be done.

May 5, 1881
A photographist stopped by to ask if I would like a picture taken of us and the farm. He has been traveling around the area this week. I decided it would be a good idea because we do not have such a picture. Carl and I had talked about it, but we never found the time or money. We brought the animals out of the barn to show how well we are doing. We stood in front of the house. I asked Peter to be in the picture also, since he helps us out so much.”
(Excerpts from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Butter in the Well, historical fiction book by Linda K. HubalekPerishables, before the days of electricity, were kept in crocks and buckets, and lowered down with a rope into the well to be stored right above the water level. The well was a cool place to store food that would otherwise spoil.

According to a family story, one time the rope broke so there is a crock of butter in the bottom of the well. Now you know how I came up with the title for this book, Butter in the Well.

Looking closely at the homestead photo, can you find the well? Post a comment when you find it- and anything else you find interesting or have a question about… (You can go to my Facebook page to see a larger copy of it and comment there too.)

Birthdays in the Old House

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Linda Hubalek's fifth birthday partyI’m 58 years old today and thinking about my childhood home where I celebrated birthdays for eighteen years until I started college.

We celebrated birthdays during breakfast, complete with cake and opening of our presents before we got on the school bus.

The earliest birthdays I remember was my 5th birthday party with hats and friends, and marking off the days on the calendar to March 7 for my (matching number) 7th birthday.

The only birthday I remember not held in the kitchen was my 13th birthday— because my dad was hit in the head with a frozen clod of manure thrown from the manure spreader the day before, breaking a bone in his temple and he had to have surgery to correct it.

Memories of my childhood home are flooding back this week because after 142 years of existence, our childhood home was bulldozed on March 1, which by coincidence was the date my parents took position of it in 1946 as newlyweds. They built a new ranch-style house on the farm in 1974 and used the old house for storage.

Linda Hubalek and siblings in front of the "Butter in the Well" house, 1962.But, without no one living in the house for over thirty years, it finally decayed to the point where the roof caved in, sealing itself off from entry. My parents moved into town this last fall, my brother took over the farm, and tore down the house this month.

The house has been in the background of many photos documenting our childhood, and was the inspiration for my writing career, starting with my first book Butter in the Well.

I’m afraid the house is now gone for people to see (I had put the township maps in the back of the book so people found the farm and mom and dad had many visitors because if that) but its story can still be enjoyed through my book series.

And I’ll always have my photos and memories of growing up in the Old House, especially of special days like birthdays…

Digging your own Home

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Butter in the Well book series

Buffalo hunter's home on the Kansas Pacific Railway, Sheridan, Kansas. 1870Our family doesn’t have a photo of the original dugout dug in 1868 that was on the “Butter in the Well” farm, so here’s a photo from Kansas Memory to give you a visual view to contemplate while reading a passage from my book Butter in the Well. Young Swedish immigrant Kajsa Svensson comments on the building of their first “home”…

April 8, 1868
 I’m so hot and sweaty today. But I need my long-sleeved dress to protect me from the sun’s burning rays and the insects. We’ve been digging on the well for days. Carl fills the bucket up with dirt from the bottom of the hole, then I pull it up by a rope, dump the bucket and send it back down to him. He is very discouraged. First we almost get flooded out by the creek, and now we can’t find any water.  

 April 9th
“I give up,” Carl said as he slumped at the bottom of the hole. “There’s no water here. We’re going to have to move to a different site.” We’re both tired, sunburned and disillusioned with our first week on our land. Tonight Carl took a walk to the river and shot a turkey for our supper. He needed a walk to cool down and I needing time to sit and rest my weary back and arms. We have so much digging ahead. I’m going to have to get used to doing hard physical work again. Life in Jacksonville softened my body. Christina is getting tired of being in the wagon but that’s the way it will have to be. If she wanders away in this tall grass, we could lose her forever.”

April 15th
The creek runs through our land, across the south and up the west side until it empties into the river on the next section to the north of us. We moved our little camp into the middle of our farm on the far east edge since we know the creek can surprise us with a flood. Again we started the process of digging the well, one scoop at a time. Today we were rewarded with water.

April 18th
Today we start digging our home. I hate to live in the ground, burrowed in like a gopher, but we can’t afford the lumber it takes to build a house. What lumber we did find money for will be used sparingly. People say being in the ground protects you from the heat of the summer day and the freezing cold of winter. It will only be about 10 by 12 feet in size, just enough for our bodies and belongings. I’ll continue to cook outside on an open fire. We’ve scoured the creek for rocks to reinforce our walls. For our dugout to be a legal homestead house, we must have one window in it. We bought a small pane of glass in Salina that Carl will frame and put next to the door.  

April 23rd
Carl left ledges along the inside walls of the dugout to use for sitting and sleeping. He dug two additional recesses, one for a safe spot to sit a candle and another to hide our food away from the vermin.We cut strips of sod, about 12 by 18 by 2 inches, and laid them around the edge of our hole to build walls 3 feet high. This will give us the extra height to stand the door upright on the south end. Carl chopped down one tall straight tree by the river for the ridgepole. Fallen timber from the river and a few boards make up the roof rafters that were to nailed the ridgepole. We had a wagonload of tree limbs that we weaved in among the Next, dry grass, from around the house was layered on, then sod blocks on the roof. We threw dirt back on the roof from the hole that was dug. Just another day or two and we’ll move in.  

April 25th
We saved the hard layer of sand from when we dug the well. This sand, and clay from the river bank, were mixed with water to plaster the walls of the dugout. It’s very crude, but it will have to do for our first winter. The dirt floor will get packed down in time. I’ll sprinkle my dishwater on it to help it harden. I wish we had rugs to cover the floor. It would make it warmer and easier to keep clean. I talked Carl into cutting up one board for a door. At least I’ll feel a little safer at night with it closed. The hungry howling of the wolves scares me.  

April 28th
 Our sparse belongings from the wagon have filled the dugout in a hurry. Carl made two chairs out of a log he sawed up. Another board was fashioned into a table. The crate that held our supplies will be my cupboard. A lean-to bed is braced on the right side of the dugout, half on the ledge for support. Christina’s cradle fits under our bed when the cradle is not being used. A crude mattress was fashioned out of ticking filled with “prairie feathers.” I’m glad we brought along the bedding from our house in Jacksonville.
Carl found some old buffalo horns when he was out walking. He nailed them up to the wall to hang our clothes on.  

April 29th
 We hung the wagon sheet up as our ceiling for the dugout today. Last night there was a rattlesnake dangling from the rafters above Christina! Lord give me strength. I cannot get used to those things. Fear runs down my spine every time I see one. I’m tired of the snakes, mice and insects that drop down on us by surprise during a meal or during the night. Now that the weather has warmed up, the snakes are everywhere. I’m petrified one of us will get bitten and die on the spot. We were down at the creek yesterday for a few hours and came home to six vipers sunning themselves on the south side of the dugout. We’ve trampled down the grass around our “home,” but it does not seem to deter the snakes. I must carry a big stick wherever I go, so I can beat them out of our path. I can’t let Christina out of my sight now that she’s starting to walk.

We also have at least one pack rat that is stealing everything that I leave out. If I ever see it, I’m going to shoot it. I am almost as good a shot as Carl and I won’t hesitate at the trigger for the rat that stole my thimble.”

(Excerpt from Butter in the Well, © by Linda K. Hubalek)

Be sure to come back to this site next week as I’ll post the first photo of the homestead I have, taken in 1881, that features the Svensson’s new wood-frame home. I’ll post an excerpt from my book, Butter in the Well that goes with it too.

(And look back at that dugout photo again and enjoy your current modern home!)