Working on the Miner’s Cabin

DSCN1245.1Now that we’re getting settled in to our new home, now that we’ve gotten the log cabin organized and looking like a home, Sarah and I have been able to spend some time in the Miner’s Cabin getting it ready for residents. The beautiful old shack has been used as a storage cabin for the past fifteen or more years, and my goal is to get it back to roughly how I remember it being, back when I was little. Add a little pure imagination, some historical instinct, and I’m hoping it will be a lively, beautiful little place.

DSCN0177.1When Dad was in his early twenties and working on the Burlington-Northern Railroad, he lived in this old shack, and even through the winter–So rest your minds, it is livable. In spite of there being no plumbing. It needs new wiring and the wood burning stove needs maintenance, but the roof is new and the structure itself is surprisingly weather-tight.

DSCN0172.1My project this afternoon was to get my sewing cabinet set up. The cabin has three rooms–A living room, a bedroom, and a lean-to. The lean-to is where I am hoping my sewing things will get to live. Although it is a little hard to see in the picture, there is a glass-front cabinet against the wall to the left. DSCN0079.1About two weeks ago, Mom, Sarah and I boxed up all the old jars (you’d be amazed how many there were!), and separated the keepers from the pitchers–Or, rather, the ones useful for canning from the ones we probably wouldn’t want to use for canning. Of the ones we wouldn’t use, I confiscated some and now can use them for sewing organization!  With all the extra jars cleared out or put to use, and with the interior dusted and wiped down with oil soap, it works nicely as storage space for sewing notions.

DSCN0074.1The shelves are the perfect depth for my overlock thread, as well as my normal sewing machine thread. There is an old spice rack and a curio shelf that I’m hoping to put to use for sewing supplies as well. DSCN1243.1Jars and baskets help organize buttons, sewing needles, machine needles, thread, sewing tools, and ribbon and trim. I’m looking forward to getting my sewing table set up, a gift from a dear woman back in Champaign for whom I did quite a bit of sewing work, and being able to sew away out here!

Such a cozy little cabin–A cozy cabin needs people to live in it.

Laura Elizabeth



Not that it has been terribly difficult or anything, but there are two answers to questions I’ve been getting used to giving. The first is “No, I’m actually a lot older than I look,” and the second is “I studied music in college.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first answer usually extracts some sort of puzzled or embarrassed stare, accompanied by (if it is a woman) “You’ll be thankful in twenty years.” To which I respond mentally, “Maybe, but men in my age bracket must assume I’m in middle school.” Whatever.

The second answer can actually encourage some interesting conversation. I’ve noticed that in this region of the country there is a great degree of open-mindedness about how you choose to use your college degree, if at all. Philosophy majors becoming sheep shearers. Professors of funeral services retiring to own fabric stores in tourist towns.

Yesterday evening I was with two guys I work with, and we had just finished riding heat on a herd of cattle for breeding purposes. Because our boss is in Alliance this week breeding for his brother, a breeder from another outfit was coming by to breed the three cattle that had come into heat yesterday morning. He arrived and within probably fifteen minutes had bred the cows. He’s efficient. I’d seen him around but hadn’t ever talked to him.

He peeled the shoulder-length, manure-covered glove off his left arm and threw it in the trash barrel, and put out his right hand. “I’m David.”

I smiled back. “I’m Laura.”

“Will you be around all summer?”

“On and off–It kind of depends on the hay crop, but I’ll be around here on and off this summer. I live pretty close.”

He nodded. “Going to school in Rapid?”

I laughed. “No, I’m actually quite a bit older than I look. I just graduated college.” I could have given him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he meant at the School of Mines–But last time I did the like, the person I was talking to became very confused later on.

“Oh–Okay. What did you study?”

I grinned, maybe a little sheepishly. “Music.”

“Music?” He shook with a laugh. “Boy, I bet you didn’t see much of this studying music.”

Men up to the shoulder inside a cow, all of us covered in dust, manure everywhere? You probably don’t even want to know what a CIDR is, and did you know that bull semen is kept frozen in nitrogen? You’d better wear gloves when handling it or you’ll get frostbite on your fingers. And what in the world is a gomer bull? I’d never herd of such a thing. Not studying music, that’s for sure!

David then launched into a conversation with Sean about how he got a little carried away on his four-wheeler chasing cows, and bowled one over twice. Cows are surprisingly resilient. Turns out you can drive a four-wheeler right over one and not even hurt it.

But the question remains: Music? I’ve wondered about my choices so far–Why did I pursue university studies for five and a half years, in music of all things, to then end up herding cattle and cutting fabric out in the Black Hills? Was it short-sightedness on my part? Were those five and a half years wasted?

Sure, I could be cynical and answer “yes” to those last questions. But I could also be faithful–While studying at the university, I believed God had put me there for a reason. Perhaps I’ll never know the answer, but whatever the reason was, he chose to open certain doors, provide certain financial support, and ordered circumstances that allowed me to develop a skill and talent that I really love. Do I want to pursue it full-time? No. Do I want to pursue it professionally? No. Was my time then wasted? Again, no. I was able to spend five and a half years pursuing the arts, music, singing, composition–What a privilege! That can never be taken away, regardless of how I use the slip of paper in the future. And now I’m herding cattle and cutting fabric in the place that is dearest to my heart of any place in the world, and I can honestly say I’ve never been more content. God is good.

God doesn’t always reveal to us the whys of our lives. Probably a good thing that he doesn’t. If he did, it wouldn’t take any faith to trust him.

Laura Elizabeth

Findings | Around the Homestead


Scratched paint and sunlight


Findings | Around the Homestead


Evidence of an old drinker


Findings | Around the Homestead


Old wood in the sun


A Little Rain

DSCN0022.1Every time I drive to work, whether to work in the foothills herding cattle or to work in the heart of the Hills cutting fabric, I’m thankful for being here. But today, the drive was really a joy. The wet and mist and the low hanging clouds cast a spell over the Hills. Familiar landscape was shrouded and obscured, and the breath of clouds was heavy in the trees.

DSCN0030.1Unfortunately, South Dakota sort of lives in a perpetual drought. Maybe there have been a few years of plentiful moisture (last year, for instance), but drought is nothing new to this region. You’ll know that if you’re familiar with Laura Ingalls and her family’s struggles in the eastern part of the state. Up until this weekend, we’d gotten very little moisture this year. My uncle said that Rapid City is currently about two inches short on precipitation. However, this weekend has brought at least enough moisture to green things up. Ranchers had been getting worried about hay production and summer pastures for their cattle–Hopefully this is putting us on the right track.

DSCN0023.1But regardless of how much precipitation we have gotten over the past few days, the scenery has been more brilliant, and the low-hanging clouds are mesmerizing, thanks to what little rain we’ve gotten. DSCN0027The damp brings out the richness of the greens and browns and greys, and the frogs were singing loudly in this little pond when I drove by today. I’ve always loved fog–this is simply haunting.

Laura Elizabeth