The Big Front Yard

Story, first published: Astounding Science Fiction, Oct. 1958

Hiram Taine - handyman, tinker, junk and antique dealer - and his faithful hound, Towser, awake one morning suspecting that some one or some thing is living in their house. His invisible guest has installed a ceiling of some impenetrable material in the basement, altered the television from black and white to color, and repaired the kitchen stove. Guided by Towser, Hiram and his half-witted friend, Beasley, dig up a milkglass contraption in the woods. Beasley is one of Simak's "untouchables," the village outcast with miraculous powers; in this case, Beasley is telepathic (dogs can talk to him).
Returning from the woods that night, Hiram finds his front yard gone and in its place, a sunlit desert surrounding the house and stretching into the distance. Some rodent-like creatures come out of the front door and go marching off into the desert, obviously Hiram's uninvited guests who came in the milk-glass spaceship.
While Beasley runs to tell the town, Hiram sets off in his truck to explore this new world in his front yard. He finds more milk-glass vehicles and a house, whose back door leads into yet another world. This other world sends shivers down Hiram's spine ... could it be one of the parallel Cobbly worlds Simak invented in Citv? Towser vanishes, but Hiram must return to get gas before he can search for his dog.
When Hiram gets back to the house, the whole world is in an uproar. The little town of Willow Bend has become international news: a greedy local banker wants to set up a land development company, the military wants to run "transport" through Hiram's house, and the United Nations and world governments are sending representatives.
Towser returns, conducting an alien who looks like a man-sized woodchuck, and three humanoids come riding up on anti-grav saddles. Beasley, who has been communicating telepathically with the woodchuck, tells Taine that the aliens want to trade ideas. At last, Hiram is on familiar territory and begins dickering with the aliens. When the representative from the U.N. shows up, Hiram has already made a deal to swap the concept of paint for the anti-grav saddles. The story ends with Hiram and Beasley offering to handle the trade agreements if the U.N. will keep Washington and the bigwigs from the other countries off their backs.

Ewald, Robert J.: When the Fires Burn High and the Wind is from the North, p.65-66