Purchase photos

Homes on the range

8/30/2014

1But for Laurel and Mary Goddard, paradise is right outside their front door.

1But for Laurel and Mary Goddard, paradise is right outside their front door.

Their paradise, Goddard Ranch, spans across 2,500 acres and includes rolling pastures, ponds, timberlands with creeks, farmland, two cabins and also is the home to Goddard Equipment and Repair.

The Goddard Ranch was homesteaded in 1878 by Laurel's grandparents, Rebecca King and Enoch Fox.

"In 1878, there wasn't a road around in this country back then," Laurel said. "They just made their own trails back then."

The incentive to move to Kansas was free land, but it required a homestead be built and lived on for two years.

The amount of ranch acreage continued to grow as others who aimed to establish a homestead couldn't handle the harsh seasons or secluded Kansas life.

But Laurel's grandparents took root, planted trees along the creek and built a house out of soft, native rock.

Fast forward to the year 2000, the idea to share their paradise began to take shape under the name Seven 2 Bar Adventures.

Well, it required some elbow grease and tough work first.

"My stepson John gave me, for Christmas one year, a really disgusting house," she said. "But the farmer said, 'If you want to move this house off the place because I want to farm the ground, you can have this house.' So, John moved the house, and that's the West Cabin."

While the West Cabin now is cozy and welcoming, it didn't come without its challenges.

Mary said the house was full of pack-rat nests and the roof ended up falling in. A general contractor was hired and the house was gutted.

"Every time I came home, it was cha-ching," Mary said. "It was not the simple little project we thought it was going to be."

The West Cabin, which was finished approximately 15 years ago, initially was to be used for family, but the Goddards decided to open up their cabin doors to hunters who normally hunted their land.

"We decided that if they wanted to hunt our land, we wanted to control it," she said. "And then we would have to know who they are and also if they wanted to hunt the land, they could rent the cabin. That's how that started."

But it is not how it ended.

"Then, my dear, beloved husband was at a farm sale a few years ago. ... They were selling everything including the house. ... No one would bid on it. ... So the guy said, 'Someone give me a bid,'" Mary said. "And Laurel goes $500. He said, 'You stay around because you might have just bought yourself a house.' That was the only bid."

"I came home and said, 'You're going to be proud of me now,' " Laurel said.

That home was transformed into the East Cabin.

Both cabins have been remodeled through the years and are decorated with auction items or repurposed pieces, such as old desks and barn doors.

The ranch is open year round and offers deer and turkey hunting packages, and also guided and self-guided native bird hunting packages.

Each cabin can accommodate more than five people and has welcomed many hunters and soldiers through the years.

Mary said the ranch has hosted the Governor's Ringneck Classic and also has donated hunts through the years, but requires at least four slots are to be given to wounded warriors.

"We are so blessed," she said. "To let those people come out and just get away to a beautiful place ... it's the least, very least that people could do for these guys who come back."

The experience also is humbling.

"The minute you shake their hand and look them in the eye, any type of self importance you have generated for yourself has absolutely left," she said. "You are humbled by their sacrifice."

But the cabins can be home for more than just hunting groups.

The ranch's cabins have hosted families on vacation and during the holiday seasons. The ranch also will be the location of two weddings.