Friday, October 7, 2022

Celebrating Fifty Years of Living Here

This month, October 2022, marks the fiftieth anniversary of our moving to this place, our home, a little bit of Heaven on Earth here in Northern Colorado. 

In 1972 there was an old farm house on the property along with a barn, silo, granery, and chicken house. We decided to remodel the house and while doing so needed a place to live so we bought a mobile home and placed it a few yards east of the house.



At that time Bob and I were both working for Union Manufacturing and Supply Co. located at the old Sugar Factory in Fort Collins. Working around lumber and home building each day, we loved the idea of not only remodeling the farm house but adding on to it, transforming the house to fit our dreams. With input from a couple of friends and Lloyd Kahn's two Domebooks, Bob drew up plans for a geodesic dome attached to the farm house. Domes were touted as the least expensive design per cubic foot of space and easy to build. And they were groovy!


Before he could start building the dome he had to put a foundation under the house. That was quite a project. The house was built about 1900 and there was a crude foundation supporting it, one of concrete with large rocks in it but without footings. The people who lived there dug out a cellar and over the years the dirt walls eroded and caused failure of the foundation.







Using stacks of used railroad ties as cripples and long beams provided by Bob's dad, Bob supported the house while Lee Tucker and his son dug out the dirt and piled it high to the north of the house. Some of that dirt was used to backfill around the foundation and the rest became a landmark, a dirt bike trail when our son Patrick was young, and years later a place to build a fort with those same railroad ties for Patrick's son Cortland.

Bob designed a full basement beneath the house and the dome. Working on a tight budget, and doing most of the work on weekends he bartered with local brickmason and friend Lloyd Vlcek to build the basement walls of concrete blocks in a circular pattern to support the dome.  In trade Bob drew the house plans for Lloyd's own home. 


Now the dome construction began. I could go on and on about the process of building and who participated and what happened when. Suffice to say that it took a long time! I like to tell people that building our home became our lifestyle. Sometimes we ran short of money and sometimes our enthusiasm lagged. And the winters were cold and snowy back in the early 70s!




As the photos show, there were very few trees on our property when we bought the place, and no grass. Slowly but steadily we worked on that situation. And most years we planted a garden. 






We were young, healthy, and working full time in town while building the house on the weekends and evenings. We were living our lives, raising our son, and enjoying life out in the country. We have had so many cats that we've lost track of their names. And horses and dogs and chickens and peacocks and more.





The best part of living in our home has been sharing it with family and friends, filling it with music and laughter. We like to think it's a peaceful place with good vibes. And suddenly, fifty years have come and gone, leaving memories of the people who've visited us, eaten at our table, slept in our beds (and some on the couch). And this old house has witnessed it all. Now the floors talk back with creaks and groans when you walk on those fir boards that once supported school kids and desks in LaPorte. Doyle salvaged that flooring when the school house was torn down. And the unfinished pine boards on the walls have absorbed the scents of bacon frying and pot roasts and tacos so when I walk in the door after being outside it smells like home. 

Our son was only four years old that Halloween Day in 1972 when we moved into the trailer house. I remember that because Patrick was concerned he might miss trick-or-treating with the West boys since we no longer lived near them. And now he is fifty-four with three children of his own - I say children but the youngest is seventeen. I am so pleased that all of them, and Patrick's wife, Alejandra for the last twenty years, have "grown up" in our domehome.

The exterior of our place has changed a great deal with the growth of the plains cottonwoods and the addition of Colorado blue spruce. And over the years Bob has added the greenhouse along the south-facing front of the original farm house. He also replaced the small deck on the east side with a larger, more useful deck and added balusters and railing.

And as for us, after fifty years we are still relatively healthy, happy to be still living in our handmade home, enjoying the wildlife and the trees. But like the old barn out back we tilt a little, need some propping up from one another, and have changed in our looks a bit. In fact, that old barn is a visual metaphor for how we've weathered the winds of change. (Photo by Dan Klein)