Monday, July 27, I once again traveled northeastern Colorado’s I-76 through the southern edge of Weld County between Lochbuie and Hudson. This is about 40 miles northeast of Denver. I revisited the Clyde Peterson property two miles west of Hudson.
The windmill and the deteriorating barn have always intrigued me because I wondered about their history — that I virtually do about everything and everyone I photograph.
This is the first time I photographed the windmill and barn in color, “Windmill and Barn.” A new camera really fulfilled my hopes and made an image unique in composition and content.
I got up at 5 a.m. and arrived at the Peterson place about 20 minutes after sunrise. I love early morning or late evening light because the low angle gives strong definition, dramatic shadow and highlight relationships, and the opportunity to do an occasional “self-portrait” of my shadow working with my camera.
I photographed “Paul’s Shadow” with my 24 mm wide-angle lens and placed the windmill in the upper right-center of the picture to get implied diagonal movement of the principal elements.
“Windmill and Barn” was made with the 180 mm telephoto lens to bring out the detail of the windmill blades and the peak of the barn roof.
I first contacted the Town of Hudson administrator, Joe Racine, and he got the property ownership information for me from his computer data base.
July 28 I phoned Helen Peterson, Clyde’s 97-year-old widow. She celebrated her birthday three weeks ago. She referred me to her son, Fred, of Brighton, a retired Delta airline reservation attendant. He manages the property.
Clyde purchased the farm in 1955. Fred guessed the barn was built in the early 1900s. The Petersons last painted it 30-35 years ago. The windmill was installed in the 1920s and operated until five years ago.
Clyde served on the Weld Central school board and operated the Brighton Feed and Farm store. He passed away in 1984 at age 80. Wife Helen carefully managed the egg and chicken business all those years.
“Though the facilities are now idle, the windmill can be reactivated at any time,” Fred Peterson said. “It is in very good condition.” The barn has not been painted for many years.
To the right in the picture, “Paul’s Shadow,” is the building where the Petersons kept their playing chickens — 2400 of them. To the far right is their home which was relocated twice because of construction of adjacent I-76 and and the frontage road.
“One Thanksgiving the turnbuckles holding a row of hens’ cages collapsed frozen from from the bitter cold. About 400 chickens scattered everywhere.
“This was in early morning, and we worked into the late night to restore the cages, only to have another row collapse,” Fred said of the efforts of his mom, dad, two brothers and him. “We didn’t lose a chicken,” he proudly concluded.
He is the oldest of the Peterson sons at 72.
When I asked about his mom’s health, Fred said, “She still lives alone (in Thornton) and does the chores within her home. She is hard of hearing, though.”
With this historical knowledge, the old homestead has become not only picturesque but also exemplifies life being lived.
The story is not complete. Fred and I shall go together the next time I photograph, and he’ll open the buildings for me.
I’ll not wait too long to present the next visual chapter about the Peterson Family chicken farm.