A hobbit-hole in my backyard? It may sound crazy, but I can tell you that my kids love it. It is the coolest playhouse ever. Plus, they can enjoy the grassy hill for sledding in winter and water sliding in summer. This was all my wife's idea. She dreamt it, and I got to be the one to bring it to reality. I'm not a construction expert; this was a total do-it-yourself job by a complete amateur. It has turned out rather nicely, I think. Here is the story of how it came to be.

Since this is in blog format, the posts are in order from newest to oldest. To read this in chronological order, start with How it all Began and use the "Newer Post" links. Or click on the links under Blog Archive, in order.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Friday, July 29, 2011

Romanians love the Hobbit-hole

We hosted 24 Romanian dancers and musicians this evening for a picnic in our backyard.  They all recognized the hobbit-hole and were delighted to have a look inside.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Slip n' Slide

We had a big party with some friends, and busted out the big slip n' slide for the first time.  The kids played on this for hours, and even those who didn't want to bring their swimsuits couldn't resist.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit...

Here are a few angles of the completed hobbit-hole in the springtime.  It looks like it has just always been there, as part of our backyard.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The boys decided to sleep out in the hobbit-hole in April.  Little did they know that there would be a blizzard.  I woke up at about 5:00 a.m. and this is what I saw. (Actually, I didn't take this photo until later. It was not as bright at first, and it was still snowing like crazy.  You can see my lone track coming back from peeking in.)

When I first saw the snow, I ran out there to check on the boys, worrying that they might be frozen to death out there, then ran back for my camera, as this is what I saw inside:

Snug as a couple of hobbits at home.  I ended up coming in and sleeping the rest of the night with them, just in case, and also so I could carry them in the house, since they didn't have anything but jammies and socks.  It was toasty warm inside, thanks to the space heater.  The boys were none the wiser until they woke up later.  They couldn't believe their eyes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The perfect sledding hill

I have neglected the hobbit-hole blog for too long.  I guess I have been enjoying it so much that I have been forgetting to share.  I still haven't finished the inside yet, but the kids are not letting that stop them from enjoying it inside and out.

I will post some pictures and video to show the history of the hobbit-hole over the last few months, starting with these pictures of the kids sledding:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Antecedent to the hobbit-hole?

white trash repairs - Eiríksstaðir
Look familiar?  This is a replica of Erik the Red's home in Iceland, but you might mistake it for the home of a hobbit.  Apparently, the majority of homes in Iceland were made of turf well into the 20th century.  My ancestors came from Iceland and may well have lived in such homes.  In fact, when my great-great grandfather first came to America, their first home was a dugout with a turf roof.  Tolkien was a scholar of the Norse languages and cultures and one wonders whether the Viking turf homes served as inspiration for the dwellings of the gentle folk of The Shire.  You can learn more about Icelandic sod homes here:  http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2010/09/30/historical-thursday-viking-turf-homes/

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It is finished!

Well, the outside is at least.  We had 1500 square feet of sod delivered the other day, and today, with the help of my kids, we laid it all out on the hill.  The result is stunning.  You know how a room looks that is all finished except that the carpet is not in, and it looks so, well, unfinished?  Then you install carpet and it transforms the entire room?  Well, putting sod on the hill is like that.  I worked like crazy today to get this all done, and when I finally stopped, all dusty and sweaty and pooped, I sat down and just stared at it, laughing and exclaiming, I can't believe it!  It's done.  Look at it!  When my wife got home, she just stood and stared, realizing that her dream had come true.  Her vision for a wonderful grassy hill in our yard for the kids to play on, combined with a playhouse underneath--an actual hobbit-hole, had come true.  She is not one to show emotion very much, but she teared up as she admired the completed hill.

Here are some more pics of the finished hill and the work in progress:

Now all that is left is to finish the inside.  I say, all, but of course, that will still be a fair amount of work, because it is currently at about the state of an unfinished room, with the walls framed in, and the wiring and insulation done, and the floor is done, but the walls and floor aren't finished and the fixtures are not installed--oh and the electricity circuit is not hooked up yet.  So that will keep me busy this fall.  

Topsoil on the hobbit-hole

We got a big load of topsoil to cover the hobbit-hole hill, so that it wouldn't be rocky, and so that we could shape the hill a bit more and extend it out a bit at the bottom.  I was going to get some neighbor boys to help, but I got carried away a couple of Saturdays ago and just shoveled it all and raked it all myself--about 10 tons of it.  I subsequently shoveled another five tons from a secondary pile to shape it a bit more.   As you might imagine, the pounds are coming off as I work on this project.  When I started, I was hovering close to 200 lbs.  Now I am down to 179.  (I know I don't look like it in this picture, but my t-shirt is hanging down, making me look fat.)  So, I guess you could say I have discovered a new weight loss secret.

I unfortunately did not get a picture of it with the topsoil completed before I started laying the sod, which I will tell more about in my next post.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sprinklers installed

I installed the sprinklers.  Here is a picture of a few of the sprinkler heads during their maiden test.  Next step: topsoil.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The road goes ever on and on

"I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains! And find some place quiet where I can finish my book."  My sentiments exactly.  Yesterday, I had three things I wanted to accomplish: work on the hobbit-hole, go on a hike, and write in my book.

I live close to mountains, so seeing them is not something I have to wish for, but what I don't do often enough is get up into them.  In fact, sometimes I get so busy with the day to day that I hardly look at them, and I begin to feel like I might as well be living in the Great Plains for all the attention I give them.  I love hiking, but I don't get much of a chance to do it, mainly because I have a hard time convincing the rest of my family that hiking is fun, and because I would feel guilty taking off for hours on end without them.  Yesterday, it had been long enough since the last time we hiked that the kids had forgiven me and forgotten about the tiredness, the sweatiness, and the soreness.  So I managed to coax them all into the car, drive for 45 minutes, and hike a four mile round trip to a waterfall.

Before we left, I did get a chance to make a little progress on the hobbit-hole interior, getting it prepped to put up the paneling that will cover up the corrugated metal on the inside.  Normally, my habit would be to plug away all afternoon and evening until the sun goes down, but I disciplined myself to stop, for the sake of spending time with my family.  They may have been happier if I had kept working and spared them the hike.

I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.  The kids had a great time; the kids had a lousy time.  We all had fun; we all thought it was lame.  In the end, we were all tired, sweaty, and sore. But most of us were glad we went, even if we might not choose to do it if we had to start over again.  My wife and I, at least, felt like we had accomplished something significant, and we found ourselves drawing numerous parallels to life in general.  It was character-building, but don't tell the kids that.

For their part, the kids wished we would have hung around at the trail head the entire evening, where a decades-old amphitheater made of stone sits decaying among tall pine trees, reminiscent of an English castle ruin.  The kids played pirates and Romans and medieval knights for an hour before we headed up the trail. And in spite of all the tiredness, and the setting of the sun, they begged to play there again after the hike was done.  We finally got them to agree to come away from there and pile into the car on the promise that we would return in two days.  After all, we have paid the national forest fee for a three-day pass, so we might as well take further advantage of the six dollars.  The hope of a return to their hidden fortress, and the Wendy's value menu on the way home, were enough for them to forgive us again and wash their memories of this latest hiking ordeal.  Still, I'll give it some time before I attempt to drag them on another adventure.

Oh, and my book?  No, I didn't get a chance to work on that yesterday.  What is it about?  That's another story.  Believe it or not, it is not a fantasy.  Well, the idea that I could write and publish a book may be a fantasy.  I should finish the hobbit-hole first.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Finally, the hobbit-hole has a hill over it! A fellow hobbit came over with his hobbit-sized loader and moved tons over it.  Now it really looks like a hill--albeit a bare, rocky one.  I'm going to get some local boys to come over and help me shape it, clear off the larger rocks, put topsoil over it, and lay sod. Oh yeah, and I need to set up some sprinklers somewhere in there so that I don't just grow a yellow weedpatch. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Maze

Our yard has unlimited fun potential.  Besides the hobbit-hole, the trampoline, the mother-of-all-sandoxes, and the 35 ft. cherry tree, which is great for climbing and affords the "aerial views" of the hobbit-hole, we also have The Maze.  "Dad, when can you mow the lawn?" My daughter asks. "Cause when you do, I want you to make The Maze."  The grass, often neglected due to hobbit business, could really use a trim.  Note to self: Go get gas for the mower.  Later, as I don my boots and my Outback  hat, my son yells, "Hey everybody, Dad's gonna mow!  MA-AZE!"  I usually have ready helpers to clear toys, sticks and other obstacles, plus one or two tag-alongs forming a little train behind me.  Other kids perch on the porch railing or in the cherry tree, waiting for me to mow it high, then mow the twisting, turning pathways low to create The Maze.  When I'm finally finished, they wear themselves out playing tag.  These were taken from the top of the hobbit-hole:

Monday, May 10, 2010

All put together again

Well, the remodel of the front has turned out great.  It is so nice to have everything put back together again, after having it all dug up since last fall.  Now I am finally ready to cover the top with dirt, and start prepping for laying sod.  It will be so nice to look out and see a grassy hill instead of an ugly metal pipe!