Home Office

The Cowboy told me at least two years ago now if not three .. this was shortly after we first met but well after we knew this was such a good thing .. that if I would consider a move to South Dakota, he wanted me to have freedoms I wasn’t able to enjoy in the past. That of a flexible life and schedule. A career where I could pursue any number of my passions and do so from the solitude of our acreage or wherever else my work might take me. He and his dad would build me a small office, a space all my own out here on the acreage. It wouldn’t take any time at all to put up, he told me. His dad builds steel buildings and this would be a quick and easy project. All I needed to do was say the word.

Years later, families combined under one roof in one state and some long overdue repairs and remodeling done to the house to better accommodate us all, the office has now become our focus. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Before the snow started to fly last November, we re-roofed our old red barn with used tin found on Craigs List (I say we, loosely. The Cowboy and his dad tackled the majority of that project. So glad it’s over. So is the Cowboy’s mom who couldn’t stand to be over here watching her husband and son 30 feet in the air working on it.) Since then, the cold winter kept any work in the hayloft at bay. But we are feverishly back at it.

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We recently found more cool, old tin from the Stockyards in Sioux Falls for some of the interior walls.

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Sioux Falls Stockyard Steel Panels

And a farmer just down the road has been planning to burn his old livestock barn to the ground. We’ve gone and pulled boards to use for trim and another interior wall.

Insulation has made the loft remarkably comfortable and drywall is going up where barn wood and steel panels aren’t. I’ve saved an old light fixture to use in the space. Friends offered to part with two old windows from their grainery, we’re using those too. We found the coolest old tailgate to turn into a desk. I talked with a friend tonight who’s an auctioneer and let them know we’re looking for a couple of old wood cabinets I might use for storage.

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It may not be in the time-frame we initially talked about. But the delay allowed us some wonderful opportunities to do things differently than we might have otherwise and make use of a great existing space. It also allowed me to start building a business that is now ready for a little more elbow room.

For each step of this journey – with the Cowboy, with my daughter, our families, friends, even my ex, my career, faith and life – incredibly humbled and grateful.

 

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“Just Trust”

Love all, trust a few.

The word, trust, has come up quite a bit for us today. The Cowboy and I had a conversation about trust first thing this morning in regard to a project we’re working on together with someone – and that what we’re counting on from this other party, will happen. Trust came up again later today in regard to an article I’m working on, that I’ll do right by the people involved in it because it’s a genuinely sensitive issue.

In the midst of another interesting discussion tonight. The words, “you just need to trust .. ” were part of a lengthier text we received a few moments ago.

There are reasons, that after years .. heck even days of working with someone, living with someone, knowing someone, you just know that you can trust that person. Wholeheartedly.

Or, that you can’t. Sometimes trust goes away with one incident. Other times, no matter how many chances you give a person, no matter how much you love them or want to believe things will be different this time around, trust is just hard to come by. Why? Because they’ve shown you time and again they can’t take responsibility for their own actions or tell the truth, they’ll screw you over for fun, for spite, to get ahead or .. for really no good reason at all other than a lack of empathy, if given the chance.

Trust – and respect – need to be earned. Not demanded. And I’m amazed anymore at how often people feel these two things are a God given right. Mistrust, more often than not, doesn’t just happen. For no good reason. Heads up.

Can it be earned back? Absolutely. Do people change? Of course. But trust is a biggie. And re-gaining it doesn’t happen overnight. Or, just because someone tells you you should.

There isn’t a morning that goes by I don’t wake and put every ounce of trust I have in the Lord that people all over the world, and in our own circles, will do right by each other. When that doesn’t happen, which is often the case, I trust there is a reason we have yet to learn. And we try again tomorrow.

Goat tying clinic

The girls can not wait for rodeo season to arrive. They caught the bug when we entered them into their first rodeo late last season here in South Dakota. They’ve been ancy to get back out into the arena, ride barrels and poles, rope and compete ever since.

While we’re still a ways away..

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This past weekend the two took part in their first goat tying clinic. We weren’t sure what to expect.. if they’d like it or not, how their horses would do, if they’d catch on quickly. The days were long and the indoor arena was colder than the temperatures outside.

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But a good time was had by all. They made some new friends, they got it, so did their horses and they are both now determined to work on improving their own best times. And, see the rest of the kids – a fun bunch from the clinic – again soon.

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Digging Out

Digging out.

Thought it an appropriate title given the day, the week and past couple of months.

Winds from the south today blew an incredible amount of snow over our driveway. The school bus this morning nearly got stuck. After clearing it twice, we made a quick run into town and got stuck trying to get back in.

Drifted In

Drifted In

The Cowboy at 8am had a full day of shoeing appointments. By 9, his two morning appointments had cancelled on him due to the weather .. by 1 o’clock, he had to cancel the remaining two .. well, because he couldn’t get to them. The driveway had drifted so high and deep with heavy snow, we couldn’t get in or out.

Reinforcements arrived as they always do, I’m not sure what we’d do without the Cowboy’s dad. Well, we’d probably have to buy a bigger tractor. I digress..

The drive, for now, is clear. But tomorrow is supposed to bring more snow, more wind and most likely more drifts. I’m not complaining. Just stating the facts. It’s been a long winter for many across the country. 

But we’re digging out from more than the weather.

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Old Farmhouse Remodel

The past couple months have meant a massive, as cheap as we could do it, DIY home remodel that we are finally done with (thanks in large part to the Cowboy’s folks and two family friends. Without the four of them, we’d still be plugging away. Serious.). Well, mostly done. There are a few little things yet to be taken care of. Regarless, a sense of calm and normalcy has once again occupied our home. In fact, probably more-so than ever. Our space, once cramped, dark, dingy and definitely not energy efficient .. is now warm, inviting, open, air-sealed, clean and bright.

“I really love our house, now. Have I told you that?” the Cowboy has said to me almost daily the past couple weeks. I tell him, I do too. I’ve always known a few tweaks would give this old house with great bones a huge facelift. And boy, has it.

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South Dakota Shared Parenting Movement

We’ve been digging out from underneath all of the time and effort put into advocacy on shared parenting legislation and reform in South Dakota. A major milestone was reached this year, a compromise bill was reached between parties that have been foes on the issue in the past. That bill now sits on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature to become law. While that might mean a moment for a breather, it’s only a moment. The bill is a baby step in the right direction. There is still though – so much more to be done, to be changed, including public opinion as well as an overall general awareness of how flawed the current system is, and not just in South Dakota. Today could not have been a more glaring example of some of the issues that are necessary to draw attention to and address, next.

And then there’s work. I’ve been blessed with an incredible opportunity to build my career right now, around my life. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve some of the freelance opportunities that have come in, but the wonderful partnerships and jobs have been a ton of fun and an honor. I am so grateful.

But, after working virtually every spare moment over the past two months on our house, I’m also now digging out from a pretty hefty workload that’s been in large part, postponed and pushed back. And I’m digging through the many, many topics I’ve said to myself over the past two months .. I can’t wait until I have time to write about this.

I just wish the tractor could help me dig out of this one..

Remodel (continued)

New stuff doesn’t usually have the character I adore – the rust, the chipped paint, the history. – homeowner Heather Salazar

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It’s been kind of an insane past couple weeks. A long overdue remodel has begun in earnest. Almost a total tear apart of three rooms inside our tiny old farm house. Cleaning up the mess and rebuilding. All while trying to maintain some sense of the normal day-to-day, out of state travels, a weekend with the kids, shared parenting legislation discussions reaching a fever pitch ahead of committee debate and new projects coming in. Insane. But fun.

The plastic finally came down two days ago and all of the dust is finally settling. We are loving the new feel of our home.

“Hold this for me, as close as you can get to the top there,” the Cowboy just asked of me.

He was measuring for the last board to go onto a new wall we’re rebuilding inside the house. An internal wall where we’re replacing more than a century of lath, plaster and dirt with barn wood.

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Old barnwood wall –

After talking about this for a very long time and guarantees from a couple different friends who are contractors they’d put us on their calendar but never did, the Cowboy two weeks ago decided we were just going to do the entire remodel, ourselves. When he takes on a project, he goes hard at it, until it’s done. Whatever it is.

It’s meant, besides the work going on inside our home, he’s been a few miles down the road even in these frigid temperatures tearing the wood off an old barn some of our neighbors will tear down in the spring to make way for something bigger and new.

I have always preferred repurposing whatever is good, even if it’s old. The wall, as the last board just was literally moments ago put into place, is just so incredibly cool. A lot of folks are doing things like this anymore. The photos really look neat. But in person, wow. There aren’t that many guys I know that would take this on, let alone knock it out within two to three days, including gathering wood from the old barn themselves. I’m impressed, I really am at the Cowboy’s drive to get things done, done well and if he doesn’t know how to do something, he figures it out. I’m grateful we’re tackling this ourselves and I’m sorry if it’s meant anyone has been trying to reach me and I’ve been less available than normal. But we’re having fun.

With these two/three rooms nearing completion (flooring is at least ordered, in search of the right light fixture and trim yet to be done after today) we apparently are on a roll as we’re tearing into another room in desperate need of help already, next week.

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Priming new drywall –

Off to paint ..

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“Come here, let me show you what I’m thinking .. ” the Cowboy said to me moments before he walked out the door this morning.

I am still not sure he should’ve made the trip he’s making today. He’s got a day full of shoeing and trimming appointments hours away. School has been called off. Winds upwards of 60mph and blowing snow came through overnight and are expected throughout the day, creating treacherous conditions on the roads in our region.

“I’ll be fine,” he said to me right before leaving. “If it gets too bad, I promise I’ll turn around and come home.” Praying everyone gets safely through the day.

House

We’ve started a remodeling project this week, one that we’ve talked about since it seemed a reality our lives would merge. He and his ex had actually talked about building something new just a few feet away and bulldozing the century old home that stands on the acreage here. The house has needed some work. A lot of work, to be specific. Little insulation. Drafty old windows. Small rooms. Decades old carpeting. Layers of wallpaper covered by painted over paneling. Light fixtures that half work. A bathroom with a faucet that’s been leaky for quite some time. A new roof and siding…

Neither of us a big fan of taking on more debt, and me, a sucker for all things already in existence that can be fixed up, knowing the house has good bones plus just wanting a smaller home anyway vs needing an intercom to call the kids, we tore into our biggest challenge yet this week. Ourselves. Literally.

Wall teardown

It’s going to be cool when it’s done. We’re using what we can that’s recycled and rustic to finish out the spaces we’re tackling. And, we’re taking it right now room by room, tearing out walls, ceilings… deciding what we really want for each space as we go because we just haven’t been quite sure what we’ll find along the way.

What we have found, among other things, is that this entire process is incredibly dusty. A 100+ year old home on the Great Plains with a lot of nooks and crannies open to the elements has meant as many years of collecting dust. And, we haven’t hit as many snags as I would have imagined. No asbestos tiling under the old carpet and linoleum. No asbestos insulation. Just a lot of dust. And hard work ahead…. and ideas we have to rebuild our home and life together. Speaking of .. with most other work related obligations knocked out for the day, off to work on that idea he had before leaving this morning.