The Construction Of Cellars
Scary Books: Scottish Ghost Stories
Every farm house and farm cottage, where a family of any size occupy the latter, should have a good, substantial stone-walled cellar beneath it. No room attached to the farm house is more profitable, in its occupation, than the cellar. It is useful for storing numberless articles which are necessary to be kept warm and dry in winter, as well as cool in summer, of which the farmer is well aware. The walls of a cellar should rise at least one, to two, or even three feet above the level of the grou
d surrounding it, according to circumstances, and the rooms in it well ventilated by two or more sliding sash windows in each, according to size, position, and the particular kind of storage for which it is required, so that a draft of pure air can pass through, and give it thorough ventilation at all times. It should also be at least seven and a half feet high in the clear; and if it be even nine feet, that is not too much. If the soil be compact, or such as will hold water, it should be thoroughly drained from the lowest point or corner, and the drain always kept open; (a stone drain is the best and most durable,) and if 55 floored with a coat of flat, or rubble stones, well set in good hydraulic cement—or cement alone, when the stone cannot be obtained—all the better. This last will make it rat proof. For the purpose of avoiding these destructive creatures, the foundation stones in the wall should be brought to a joint, and project at least six inches on each side, from the wall itself, when laid upon this bottom course; as the usual manner of rats is to burrow in a nearly perpendicular direction from the surface, by the side of the wall, when intending to undermine it. On arriving at the bottom, if circumvented by the projecting stones, they will usually abandon their work. Plank of hard wood, or hard burnt bricks, may answer this purpose when stone cannot be had.
All cellar walls should be laid in good lime mortar, or if that be not practicable, they should be well pointed with it. This keeps them in place, and renders them less liable to the ingress of water and vermin. The thickness of wall should not be less than fifteen to eighteen inches, in any event, when of stone; and if the house walls above be built of stone or brick, two feet is better; and in all cases the cellar wall should be full three inches thicker than the wall resting upon it.
In the cellar of every farm house there should be an outside door, with a flight of steps by which to pass roots and other bulky or heavy articles, to which a wagon or cart may approach, either to receive or discharge them. This is indispensable.
Every out-building upon the farm, let it be devoted to what purpose it may, having a wooden floor on the 56 ground story, should be set up sufficiently high from the surface to admit a cat or small terrier dog beneath such floor, with openings for them to pass in and out, or these hiding places will become so many rat warrens upon the premises, and prove most destructive to the grain and poultry. Nothing can be more annoying to the farmer than these vermin, and a trifling outlay in the beginning, will exclude them from the foundations and walls of all buildings. Care, therefore, should be taken to leave no haunt for their convenience.
With these suggestions the ingenuity of every builder will provide sufficient guards against the protection of vermin beneath his buildings.