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Iris bloom in early June by the Homestead House root cellar.

A traditional western decoration.

The wagon wheels outside Homestead House came from a horse-drawn wagon used by the Hasselstroms in the early 1900s to haul lumber and supplies.

The kitchen compost bucket.
Yep, it's made from a re-used plastic coffee can.

The fall tomato harvest.
Helped by the kitchen compost.

Grandmother's rocking chair.
Read Linda's essay about this chair on the blog page, posted May 2010.

Outdoor seating abounds.
A chair in the windbreak north of Homestead House.

More outdoor seating.
A tractor seat and stump create a rustic desk; built by Jerry.

And More Outdoor Seating
After hail damaged the plastic lawn furniture, we've switched to metal tables and chairs. Feel free to move any of the lawn furniture around the yard to suit your taste in sun, shade and views.

That big rock on the table keeps it from blowing away in gusty storm winds.

The kitchen spice rack.

Lots of pots and pans and other cooking utensils are provided.

Ready for breakfast.

Ready for birdwatching.

Ready for any emergency.

A meadowlark singing in the cottonwood tree east of Homestead House.

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Homestead House
The Writing Retreat Headquarters

Homestead House, April 2014.

The kitchen porch entry with lilacs beginning to leaf out in the spring.
What's Here?

While Windbreak House is the all-encompassing name of Linda's writing retreats and other public offerings,
if you come for a residential writing retreat you will stay in Homestead House.

Homestead House Surroundings
A lovely windbreak and a working cattle ranch are just outside the house.
But what about that cow-tipping you've heard of?

Homestead House History
A bit about the past, with a photo or two.

Homestead House Photo-Tour
Description and photos of the house and grounds.

Homestead House Accessibility
How easy is it for those of limited mobility to use Homestead House?

Recycling at Homestead House
Where has all the garbage gone?

Weather on the Prairie
What is a NOAA weather radio and why is it making that horrible noise?
How does "country air-conditioning" work?


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Homestead House in 2013
A chair amongst the hollyhocks, near the Garden House and compost bin.
Homestead House Surroundings

Homestead House is nestled in a grove of windbreak trees and shrubs-- cottonwoods, elm, pine, juniper, lilac, plum, roses-- that John Hasselstrom and previous owners planted in the 1940s and 1950s. Linda and Jerry have been adding others-- currants, chokecherries, buffalo berries. And a few of the older trees have come down after being stressed by drought, pine beetles and wind storms.

On warm afternoons, pine sap flows, its sharp scent mingling with the smells of a working ranch provided by the cattle resting and drinking in nearby corrals. Sniff for the heady odor of newly mown hay-- or perhaps hay that's newly digested. Much of the ranch work is done at the headquarters of the lessee, several miles away, but cattle pastured on Linda's land often move through these corrals.

Cattle east of the Homestead House yard.

The cattle aren't dangerous, and you may observe them through the corral fences and while walking in the pastures. But please don't make sudden overly-flamboyant movements or try to enter the corrals. Cattle can be startled by strangers and might stampede through fences.

And please do not attempt to determine if cow-tipping is a myth or the truth. Perhaps somewhere a cow has been tipped while sleeping, but trust Linda on this-- it wasn't a wild range cow.

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Homestead House History

Linda writes:

Homestead House was the new home that John Hasselstrom built for his wife Mildred (my mother) after they were married in May, 1952. The house was built in 1952-53 by Bill Jefferson and his son Ted, and some other men, all from Rapid City-- I seem to remember that two of the carpenters' names were Glenn Bradford and his brother Oliver. I believe Glenn worked on the carving of Mt. Rushmore.

My mother found the house plans in a newspaper article: one of those "build this house" features, and my parents modified it somewhat: putting deep shelves between the dining room and living room, for example, instead of the fireplace shown in the plan.

Mother was particularly proud of the knotty pine paneling on the outside of the living room, facing the driveway-- but South Dakota weather proved too harsh for keeping the shellacked look attractive, and it was eventually painted over.


Winter of 1953. A view of the barn, corrals, some out-buildings, and Homestead House (far right).
My father, John, dug pickup loads of rich bottom land soil from our ranch land along Battle Creek in Hermosa and hauled it home to create flower beds along the front of the house. But mother also liked dogs and cats, and their digging always made it hard for her to grow flowers.

Father also planted the rows of lilacs, juniper, and pine trees on the north and west sides of the house to provide wind protection.

The other out-buildings-- the barn, the older garage, the chicken house now known as the Red Shed, and various other buildings-- were already in place. Father spent hours tearing down a couple of dozen A-shaped shelters where a previous owner had raised pigs in one of the corrals.

The same view in 2007.
When Linda moved back to the ranch after she received her Masters Degree, an apartment addition was built onto the east side of the house for Linda and her husband.

Linda lived in that apartment until she and George built Windbreak House about a quarter mile away, on a rise to the west.

After Linda's father died and her mother moved to a retirement home in the early 1990s, the house was rented to a young ranch couple who work for a neighboring rancher. Many Windbreak House retreat participants became familiar with "Riley," the black-spotted dog belonging to the renters. Riley often accompanied people on their hikes or came to Windbreak House hoping for table-scrap treats.

By 2001 the renters' family had expanded to include three children, so the apartment addition on the east side of the house was remodeled, adding another bathroom, laundry room, and separate bedroom. Linda also had new wiring, plumbing, attic insulation, and a new septic system installed for the house at that time.

And that painted pine paneling on the outside wall was covered with metal siding to protect it from the harsh South Dakota weather.


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Homestead House Photo-Tour


Scroll down rapidly through the photos to get the general flavor of the house and grounds. Or read the text for descriptions and a story or two. Text and photos are being added periodically. Keep checking for more details or send us an e-mail if you have a question about the accommodations.


Welcome to Homestead House.
The kitchen porch entry and the parking area.

Homestead House was built in 1952-53, and has had an addition put on since then, creating a second bathroom and a third bedroom. Extensive plumbing and wiring updates have been done over the years and a new septic system was installed in 2002.

The house has a small kitchen, a large living room with a dining area at one end, hardwood floors in much of the house, and a concrete-block basement under the addition.

Propane provides hot water and fires the furnace when necessary. There is no air-conditioning but we have many electric fans, including a ceiling fan in the living room, and the house is well-shaded by trees.

Homestead House has three bedrooms-- called Eagle, Dragonfly, and Meadowlark. Each writer will occupy a private room, assigned by Linda, fully furnished with a bed, reading chair, and desk.

The two bathrooms are shared, with storage space provided for your personal supplies. One bathroom has a tub with a shower, the other has a walk-in shower.

All bedroom and bathroom linens (sheets, pillows, blankets, towels) are furnished. We also stock daily necessities (toilet paper, paper towels, tissues) and some emergency supplies of gear we expect guests to provide for themselves. If you forget your toothbrush or shampoo, just ask.


Homestead House supplies everything you need to make you feel at home, including the kitchen sink.
The Kitchen

Each guest is responsible for providing her own food, and preparing and cleaning up after her meals.

The kitchen is fully equipped with dishes, silverware, pots and pans, cooking utensils, a gas stove/oven, a fridge with a freezer compartment, a microwave, a coffee maker, dish soap and linens. Some basic cooking supplies, such as flour, sugar, cooking oil and spices are supplied as well.

Don't you just love that vintage gold vinyl counter top?

Ranch water is safe (tested yearly) but hard, and some folks dislike the high iron and the sulfur smell. Homestead House keeps bottled water on hand, in the kitchen and bathrooms, for your use.

Other beverages to bring include your own special brand of coffee or tea, milk, fruit or vegetable juices, and your favorite soda pop. Because refrigerator space may be limited if more than one writer is in residence, small or single-serving containers (though more expensive) may be a wiser choice.

Moderate alcohol use, with respect for others, is absolutely acceptable.

Cook your meals on the propane stove or in the oven.
If you plan to buy your groceries just before arriving at Homestead House, you may prefer to look for grocery stores in either Rapid City or Hot Springs. The Town of Hermosa now has a small grocery store, but selection is limited, especially for fresh vegetables, fruit, and meats, and many items are reduced-price scratch-and-dent. The two local gas station convenience stores carry some groceries as well, but prices are high and selection is limited.

Pots, pans, knives, other cooking utensils, a coffee maker, and a teakettle are supplied. Homestead House also stocks basic spices and other cooking staples.

Easy-to-prepare meals leave you more time for your writing, but some people like to relax and recharge their creativity by puttering in the kitchen.

You can microwave a quick snack
and get back to your writing.
Bring along some snack foods such as nuts, dried fruit, chips, popcorn, crackers or cookies for that afternoon or midnight break.

And donít forget the chocolate!


The table is used for eating and meetings.
The Dining Room

The dining room is between the kitchen and the living room. The drop-leaf table is usually set up for four but can be turned and extended to seat up to ten people.

The table is often used for writing discussion and is an ideal spot to spread out a manuscript between meals.

Who needs TV when you have these picture windows?
The Living Room

The large windows in the Homestead House living room give a view of the windbreak that shelters the house on the north and west sides.

Watch for the resident Great Horned owls who nest in the area, the occasional sage grouse that come to eat juniper berries, or the plain old robins that appreciate it when you remember to fill the bird-bath every day.

Extra-deep eaves above the west-facing picture window and the windbreak trees to the west keep the afternoon sun from beating in and over-heating the house in the summer.

The futon couch in the living room offers firm seating while you browse through some of the books in the Homestead House library.
Most of Lindaís personal, and eclectic, research library is available for your use. Please replace books where you found them and if you take a book outside, remember wind and rain can occur suddenly, especially on hot, summer days.

Linda will point out where the various collections of books may be found during the orientation meeting on day one of your retreat.

This large futon couch in the living room flattens out to make a queen-sized bed when a small group comes to Homestead House and out-numbers the more private beds.

And yet more seating in another corner of the living room.
In addition to the work space in your bedroom, Homestead House offers many other places for you sit and write-- the easy chairs and love-seat in the living room, the dining room table, the garden house, or the scattered chairs out under the trees surrounding the house.

Cushions for the outdoor chairs are kept in the living room closet.

Portable lap desks may be found in the living room and in each bedroom.

Eagle bedroom windows look south and east.
Eagle Bedroom

Why is it called "Eagle"?

The artwork in the bedrooms inspired the names originally. When the retreat accommodations moved from Windbreak House to Homestead House in 2008, the names-- and artwork-- moved as well.

But now Eagle lives up to its name even more: a bald eagle visits occasionally in the winter and perches in a dead cottonwood tree southeast of Homestead House. Where's the best view of that tree? Yep. Right from Eagle bedroom.

The room has a full-size bed with plenty of pillows so you can get nice and comfy as you read in bed. Adjust the swing-arm lamp above the bed to get the perfect lighting.

Eagle has a small wooden desk for your laptop or your legal tablet (does anyone still use those?).

A soft recliner chair awaits you in the corner if reading in bed seems too decadent.

Although extra bedding and foam sleeping pads are stored in the large closet, there is still plenty of room for you to stow your suitcase and hang up your clothes if you desire.

The view south from Eagle.
As you work at the desk in Eagle bedroom, you may look to the south and see the blacksmith and wood-working shop (at the right); the roof of the root cellar (center, foreground); and a cattle shelter on the edge of the corrals (center, background).

The unhappy pine tree in the center came down in a storm last fall-- I will post an updated photo soon.

Dragonfly bedroom has windows that look north and east.
Dragonfly Bedroom

Why is it called "Dragonfly"?

The artwork in the bedrooms inspired the names originally. When the retreat accommodations moved from Windbreak House to Homestead House in 2008, the names-- and artwork-- moved as well.

So far, however, we have no actual dragonfly encounters to go with this room's name. Perhaps you'll be the one to stay here, connect with a dragonfly, and write the story for this website.

Dragonfly has a twin-sized bed with a swing-arm reading lamp above it. We supply plenty of pillows (though you're welcome to bring your own favorite) so you can enjoy one of the great pleasures of life: reading in bed.

The room has a small wooden desk for your laptop computer. If you need more flat work-space, you will find a folding table in the closet.

Feel free to rock in Linda's grandma's antique wooden rocking chair. It's good and sturdy.

Though the large closet holds some archived material, there is still room for you to stow your suitcase and hang up your clothes if you desire.

The view to the north.
Both Dragonfly and Meadowlark bedrooms have a view to the north.

A windbreak of trees and shrubs-- mostly juniper trees-- shelter Homestead House and its yard from the cold north winds of winter.

In the warmer months those same trees offer lovely shade and we have various outdoor seating all around the yard.

In this photo you can see a dual patio chair near the little metal shed that holds some gardening supplies.

The view to the east.
Both Dragonfly and Meadowlark bedrooms have a view to the east.

Perhaps you can pick out the green and red "Wall-o-Water" protectors around Linda's tomato garden at the far right of this photo.

You may also notice how much mowed, green lawn surrounds the house. We do not water the grass. This photo was taken in the spring in a particularly wet year-- often the grass turns tawny by mid-summer. Nor do we use any pesticide or herbicide. Once you meet this lawn up close and personal, you can study its diversity that isn't apparent from the photo.

We keep the grass mowed short to create a fire-break around the house. Prairie fires, though not frequent, are a possibility much of the year in this region.

Short grass also makes it easier to see-- and avoid!-- the very rare rattlesnake that should always be at the back of your mind as you hike in southwestern South Dakota.

Meadowlark bedroom windows face north and east.
Meadowlark Bedroom

Why is it called "Meadowlark"?

Linda chose this name to honor the birds that welcome spring to the prairie with their distinctive song.

Meadowlarks usually return to the area about March 21st-- usually just in time for a wet spring snowstorm. They start singing a day or so after they arrive, as the males stake out their breeding territories. By early June the singing is tapering off, so if you want to experience their prairie arias, schedule your time at Homestead House accordingly.

Meadowlark is the largest of the three bedrooms. It has a twin bed and a futon couch that folds out into a full-size bed. You won't be expected to share the bedroom unless you come with a group of four or more.

As always, a swing-arm lamp gives plenty of reading light at the bed and we have an abundance of pillows for your comfort.

Meadowlark has a small wooden desk at the north window. Or you can kick back in the easy chair in the corner.

Alas, the fireplace cannot be used due to a crack in the chimney.

The Stairwell of Fame.
The Basement

The basement of Homestead House is used mostly for storage. It is reached by a stairwell in Meadowlark bedroom.

Some of Linda's many awards, as well as some artwork and other items, line the stairwell. Feel free to take a look, though please ask permission to enter Meadowlark bedroom first, if a writer is in residence.

Use the basement in the event of a severe storm or tornado. The NOAA weather radio will alert you if severe weather threatens, but be sure to keep an eye to the sky. Storms can blow up suddenly as they crest the Black Hills and head east towards Homestead House.

If we have an exceptionally hot day Linda may set up work space in the cool basement. So far, Homestead House has kept a pleasant temperature as long as the house is aired out at night and then windows and shades are closed against the heat first thing in the morning.

For more about the NOAA weather radio and how to make use of "country air-conditioning," see the article below titled Weather on the Prairie.

A writing discussion in the east yard just outside Homestead House.
The Great Outdoors

In addition to the work space in your bedroom, Homestead House offers many other places for you sit and read, write or talk-- the easy chairs and love-seat in the living room, the dining room table, the garden house, or the scattered chairs out under the trees surrounding the house.

Cushions for the outdoor chairs are kept in the living room closet.

Portable lap desks may be found in each bedroom and in the living room.

If you take books, papers, your laptop, or other things outside, remember wind and rain can occur suddenly, especially on hot, summer days.

A writer enjoys some peaceful solitude at the far east edge of the Homestead House yard.




Homestead House Accessibility


All the rooms in Homestead House (except the basement) are on one level. However there are a few steps up at each of the entry points into the house and, because the house was built in the 1950s, some of the doorways are narrower than the 3-foot standard of today, which could cause problems with walkers and wheelchairs.

We try to make each retreat guest as comfortable as possible during their stay. If you have questions about getting around Homestead House, please ask.

Main Entry Door

This is the main entry-- the door closest to the parking area. It leads into the small utility room adjoining the kitchen.

There is a short concrete walkway from the gravel parking to the south kitchen porch and a few steps up to enter the house.



West Door

This is technically the "front" door of the house, which opens into the living room. Some years ago the driveway was relocated so this door has become a side door.

There are fewer steps up at this door, but the second one-- from the concrete porch into the house-- is a bit of a stretch.

Although there is a concrete walkway at this door, it does not lead to the parking area. But it's a great place to sit for morning shade or afternoon sun.


South Door

This door leads into the back bathroom adjacent to Meadowlark bedroom.

Though there is a small concrete area at the foot of the stairs, there is no paved walkway across the yard.


East Door

This porch is on the east end of the house.

The door opens into Meadowlark bedroom at the top of the stairs to the basement.

There is no paved walkway to this door.


The Main Bathroom

The main bathroom, with doors to the kitchen entry-way and to the dining room hall, can be a tight squeeze.

While sitting on "the throne" you can reach forward and touch a wall.

The doors are also a bit narrow.


Step into the bathtub to use the shower.

A non-skid bathmat (attaches with suction-cups) is available for the floor of the tub.

A grab-bar can also be attached to the front wall of the tub.

The Back Bathroom

The bathroom off Meadowlark bedroom has more room to move around.

One door leads to Meadowlark and one door takes you directly outside. A good door to enter the house if you're wet and dirty and need to clean up immediately.

The back bathroom has a good-sized (though not huge) walk-in shower.

The door from the bathroom into Meadowlark bedroom is 3 feet wide.

The door from the bathroom to the outside, however, opens onto a small wooden porch with a few steps to reach the ground.


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Recycling at Homestead House


No form of waste just happens; someone creates it, and therefore we're all responsible for what happens next.

-- from Linda's newest book No Place Like Home
the chapter entitled "It Doesn't Just Happen"
University of NV Press, September 2009


Linda tries to minimize waste at Homestead House and at her own Windbreak House. We follow the rule of three: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (which includes composting).

Because we have to haul all un-recyclable garbage to a landfill 25 miles away, garbage is stockpiled until a trip is efficient.

The compost bin, not far from Homestead House.
We compost everything possible.

All food scraps and other compostable garbage, such as used tea bags and coffee filters, should be put in the compost bucket next to the kitchen sink.

This organic waste may then be recycled and will not cause odors in the stockpiled garbage or attract pests.

When the kitchen compost bucket is full, the contents may be dumped in the compost bin near the garden shed and Linda's vegetable garden, just east of Homestead House.

Linda adds yard waste, such as weeds and grass clippings, to the bin and monitors its moisture level. The organic matter decays into wonderful compost for Linda's vegetable garden or fruiting trees and shrubs.

Recycle bin and burn bin.
We recycle what we can.

We collect glass, plastic, tin and aluminum cans to be recycled in Rapid City.

To prevent odors and pests, please rinse clean all food containers before putting them in the provided recycling bins. They may sit a while before they are hauled off.

Rapid City allows newspaper and corrugated cardboard recycling only. Paper and slick cardboard that cannot be recycled is collected to be burned at the ranch.

Labeled bins are provided.

The septic field west of Homestead House
But we can't flush and forget.

Homestead House waste-water goes into a septic tank-- a large underground concrete vault where solids settle out and decay through bacterial action.

Excess water flows into the septic field-- a series of perforated pipes in a relatively-shallow underground gravel bed. The excess water is taken up by grass roots and evaporation.

You remember Erma Bombeck's book The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, don't you? Take a look and see if it's true.

Bacteria must flourish to keep this system working, so please do not flush any poisons (oil-based paint, harsh cleaning products) or any solids (tampons or their applicator sticks) that will disrupt the balance or clog the pipes. Thank you.


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Weather on the Prairie


What is that horrible noise?
Introducing the NOAA weather radio.

Instructions for using the NOAA radio at Homestead House.

Country air-conditioning.
How to stay cool for free at Homestead House and elsewhere.



What is that horrible noise? Introducing the NOAA weather radio.


NOAA stands for: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

More information coming soon.



The NOAA weather radio and instructions.
Instructions for using the NOAA radio at Homestead House.

The NOAA weather radio is located in the Homestead House office in the center of the house. Instructions for using the radio are posted beside it.

A map of the Black Hills region is also posted to aid you in deciding if any watch or warning issued is applicable to Homestead House.


To turn the radio on or off:
press the center WEATHER/SNOOZE button.

When a Weather Alert is issued or a test is conducted:
--- the alarm tone will sound for 10 seconds (yes, it seems much longer)
--- then the radio will broadcast for 5 minutes, telling you why the alarm went off
--- then the radio will automatically shut itself off

To turn it off before the alarm or the 5 minutes is up:
press the center WEATHER/SNOOZE button.

The weather alert system is tested twice each week:
--- Monday evenings after 7pm
--- Wednesday mornings after 11am

To listen to the weather forecast or to turn off the radio:
press the center WEATHER/SNOOZE button.

For volume control:
press the small up arrow or down arrow buttons.


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Country Air Conditioning:
How you can cool your house energy-free and with no carbon-emissions. In three easy steps.


This is not a requirement at Homestead House. These steps are merely a suggestion for how you can keep Homestead House-- or your own home-- cool without air conditioning.


Step One: In the evening, as soon as the temperature begins to drop (when it is cooler outside than inside), open as many windows as necessary to get good air circulation into all rooms. Electric fans may be helpful but will take energy and create noise. There are various theories about pointing the fan into the room (to suck in cool air) or outside the house (to vent the heat). Experiment to see what works best.

Step Two: Leave the windows open all night, as long as the outside temperature remains cool. You may need to close critical windows during the night in the event of a wind or rain storm to prevent inside damage.

Step Three: In the EARLY morning, close up ALL windows to hold in the cool and keep out the heat. At the same time, be sure to close all window shades or curtains on the sunny side of the house (south and east in the morning, south and west in the afternoon). Be sure to close every single window. You wouldn't leave a window open in the deepest cold winter, would you?

The timing of Step Three is critical. If you wait too long to close windows and pull shades you will lose all the advantage you have gained overnight.


This is not a requirement at Homestead House. These steps are merely a suggestion for how you can keep the house cool without AC. Feel free to let in the fresh country air and sunshine.

For Linda's suggestions on how to cool yourself inside using electric fans or other techniques, see her August, 2010, blog postings "Fan Conditioning" and "Heat Wave on the Highway" in the Blog Section of this website.


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