Tank In the Tank

The goat. Is hysterical. Forever looking for what he might climb on, climb in or climb over. Like any goat, of course. But this kid has got some serious personality. It’s why we got him in the first place. The previous owner thought better our place he tear up, than hers.

I’ve been wanting to throw some grass on the roof, build him a ladder and let him go at it. It’s better than the top of the truck, which he was climbing on the other day. Or the roof of my Prius. Where he was as well. The Cowboy is not amused. I on the other hand, tend to run and grab my camera.

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Adventures with Tank

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A Horse’s Swirls …

Interesting …
I’m cleaning up my computer tonight. It’s totally bogged down with data overload. Mostly photographs. I’ve been neglectful the past few months about deleting and transferring content to the cloud or any other storage. Mainly because we’ve just been busy. But that’s still no excuse. It’s just not good on so many levels. I could lose a lot I don’t currently have stored. But primarily it’s bugging me because it’s meant some long waits for easy online tasks. Which, is just plain irritating. And I have no one to blame but myself. So I decided tonight it was time to remedy the situation. Especially after trying to upload and edit one photo this morning at the paper turned into a major, time consuming ordeal.
So I’m hanging out tonight in the Cowboy’s old recliner and cleaning the proverbial laptop house – clearing content off the desktop, wiping out unnecessary downloads, going through photo albums and deleting pics I know I’ll never use. Freeing up space.
I offer some background here because it’s relevant as to how I stumbled upon the story below ..
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Among the photos I’ve had sitting on my desktop, are a few I thought would be fun to share on the Cowboy’s company FB page. I click on the page and get ready to upload when an article he posted, apparently 4 months ago, catches my eye. I’ve never seen it, nor had I thought much about the issue being discussed. And, well, I thought it was worth sharing. But I asked him about it first.
“The swirls (sworls?) post? Oh yeah,” he says. “Three swirls is bad. They really are. It’s interesting,” the Cowboy tells me tonight from his nightly perch in the kitchen where he plays guitar.
Direct from his Facebook post:
I have studied swirls for many years and believe there is something to this. Usually multiple swirls is a fairly inconsistent horse. (This is the Cowboy speaking here.) Interesting post by Chuck Nifong who shared Beadle Lake Large Animal Clinic’s status.
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….Many of people have asked over the years …. What does the Swirl mean, well here you go. My Grandfather taught me this many years ago and I have found it to be TRUE *~_CN_~*
Swirlology 101- (whorl patterns). Have you ever wondered what the whorl pattern on your horse’s forehead means. Some old timers have said it can be the gateway to the soul. See if you agree.A swirl located between the eyes indicates an easy going, uncomplicated horse.
Swirls higher on the forehead indicate intelligence and a more reactive nature.Long swirls, especially those that extend below the eye indicate a friendly and agreeable nature.

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Multiple swirls can indicate multiple personalities. High and tight side by side swirls can mean a horse that is super focused and talented, but challenging and difficult in the wrong hands. 2 swirls on top of each other can mean extreme personality swings and unpredictability. Multiple swirls that form a Z pattern can signal a horse that is dangerous and violent.

The direction that the whorl turns can tell you if the horse is right or left “handed” (or hoofed) . If the whorl flows counterclockwise it is left “handed”. If the whorl flows clockwise it is right “handed”. Tell us any other wives tales you have heard about whorl patterns.

Pick Up Your Phone

I was talking with my uncle when the beeps came through. Two calls within a matter of moments. It was the Cowboy trying to get through on the other line.

I hesitated to switch over given we had just talked minutes earlier. Surely it could wait, I thought. But two calls. Maybe the shoeing rig finally died. Maybe there was an accident. Something had to be up. It wasn’t like him to pester.

“Can I call you back?” I asked my uncle.

I no more than hung up and a text appeared.

“Pick up your phone,” it read.

I called him back.

“Have you seen the email,” he asked?

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.

 

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 ..

What about your horses..

There are a lot of people throughout the country bracing for the bitter cold the next 24 hours is slated to bring. Grocery stores are packed with people stocking up. Schools are already ordered closed for the start of the week. Cars are plugged in. Animals and people we hope are snug in their beds. And where there is livestock, enough feed has been put out to get them through the next couple of days. They need it.

“What are you going to do with your horses,” a colleague of mine asked the other day.

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They’ll be fine, I told her. They’ve got a windbreak, some good winter fat on them and a pretty heavy coat of hair. I still worry about them, I tell her. But as long as they’ve got hay (in our case along with some grain) at the ready and shelter if they need, they’ll stay warm and weather these temperatures, just fine .. when they eat, they generate heat.

Moving a bale

“Horses are good if they have a windbreak – they can take a tremendous amount of cold,” the Cowboy’s dad says to me tonight as we’re talking about how they might be faring now that the actual temperature gauge in the house shows -18 at this hour in our little corner of southeastern South Dakota. 

We’re still checking on them routinely. Hoping everyone facing these temps, in some cases, record breaking lows, gets through the next 24-48 hours unscathed. Stay warm.

” .. children and families deserve better.”

On any given morning while I’m working, the Cowboy is sitting across from me at the table talking with other parents – both men and women – who are struggling with the parenting situation they’re in due to a divorce or family split. He does this for awhile. Goes about his day shoeing horses. Then does a bit more work on shared parenting each night. He’s not getting paid. He knows the likelihood it will change his own situation is slim. In fact, we’re told right now from a judicial insider, it may be one of the biggest hurdles we face in regard to getting anything to change in our case. The State Bar wants nothing to do with Shared Parenting and South Dakota judges don’t want to be told they have to consider it’s in a child’s best interest to spend as much time possible with both parents. We’re told they know the Cowboy’s been one of the most vocal advocates for the cause.

Just want to be a dad

He does it though because he prays others won’t have to go what he went through as time marches on. Essentially removing one parent from a child’s life, unless there is really good reason, the Cowboy says to me, is just not right. I wholeheartedly agree. But it is more often the norm in our world than the exception. And until moms (the majority of the time) realize they have a role in this as well, recognize it’s in their kids best interest to spend as much time as possible with their dad (or the other parent when roles are reversed) when and if possible, to bring that discussion to the table in resolving custody issues instead of waiting for it to be forced on you as if somehow it’s a horrible thing or something to be ashamed of – that you’re sharing custody and placement, and for both parents to get along and drop the perpetuation of drama and ongoing conflict, will anything change. It’s not about you. It’s what is shown now time and again, when you can work together, to be best for your kids. So why, when the conditions are right, are we doing things so wrong? Would moms sit back and take it if the majority of time there were custody decisions made, they were told it was in their kids best interest to only see them every other weekend? Why, when the roles are reversed, does it seem to be okay? Most dads don’t want to be shut out of their kids lives, nor do the majority of kids want to have little contact with their dads.

Sure, there are exceptions. But they are exceptions.

“If there are two really good parents willing to parent, why don’t you let them?” the Cowboy says as I ask him why he keeps doing this.

I knew this group was out there, Leading Women for Shared Parenting. I read about the group’s launch earlier this year. But after some recent discussions within our own family and with some others, this group and what we might do to be more vocal on the cause – has been on my mind. I don’t know that this is the answer, but it’s another great place to have the conversation. Please consider joining. http://lw4sp.org

LW4SP’s mission:

“We believe, in the absence of abuse, neglect or abandonment, children’s desires, needs and interests are best served when they grow up loving equally, and equally loved by, both their parents.  Further, children benefit equally from the diversity of both mothers and fathers and from the maximum involvement of both parents.  Millions of family members, both women and men, have silently suffered the loss of children they love and care deeply about as a result of misguided laws and family court practices which systematically restrict a child’s access to one parent and half of their extended family.  Both children and families deserve better than to be forced into an adversarial process with policies that encourage the minimization of one parent in the lives of their children.  It is our aim to change this system.  The first step is endorsing the statement below.  The next step is inviting your friends and family members to do the same.”