Rural homesteads of the early and mid twentieth century had many buildings besides the house and a barn.
A few steps from the back door at my grandparents’ house was the cistern house. Its latticework walls kept the chickens at bay while we turned the cistern handle to bring up water through the pipe and spout into enamelware buckets and zinc tubs. Close by was the cellar house. Stairs led below ground where shelves held rows of Mason jars filled with fruits and vegetables to carry the family through the winter. The roof of the cellar house was low enough that even we smaller children could play anty-over with our rubber ball.
Often outbuildings were constructed in a row, sharing the dividing wall and thus saving building materials. Our shop was first in line, housing my father’s tools and workbench where everything was fixed and new objects were created.
Next was the smokehouse. Its inside walls were black from smoke, controlled just right to flavor the sacks of sausage, bacon slabs and hams that hung from the rafters on heavy wire hooks. We bedded down the meat for curing and preservation in the big wooden salt box that stayed in the smokehouse.
The coal house was at the end of the row. A front door gave us access to fill our coal scuttles and a high opening on the side was where the truckload of black lumps was shoveled in.
Behind this row of buildings was the open woodshed. A tin roof sheltered the stacks of stove wood to keep it dry. A section of log turned on end made a good chopping block for splitting kindling with a hatchet.
In the chicken lot was a brooder house. Baby chicks were placed there after the mother hens had done their individual tasks of hatching a brood in a nest in the henhouse. A small brick furnace was in the middle of the room in which a fire was built to keep the chicks warm. A gutter downspout was converted to carry the smoke out through the roof.
Some families built a trellis and planted morning glories to shield the entrance to the outhouse. We called ours the privy and simply hid it behind the brooder house.
Our corncrib was built into the stable/barn but more often it stood alone nearby. My elderly cousin called theirs the granary, a more sophisticated name, I thought, that fit the person I lovingly considered her to be.
Outbuildings organized and expedited the work that went on. Specialized buildings took form to meet specialized needs. All outbuildings gave in to providing storage space for things we wanted to get out of the house but did not want to throw away. Today we spend good money to rent a storage unit off site.