Well… it’s been a long time since my last post, New Years — 7 months, to be exact! It seems I’m not very good at keeping up a blog, but here’s to trying again!
The world has shifted quite a bit since 2020 began, and The Little Goat House, with it. In case you hadn’t heard, we’ve significantly relocated our operations! On May 15th, we closed on the sale of The Little Goat House in Spokane, and then on May 20th, we closed on and arrived at our new property in rural Tres Piedras, New Mexico.
Here’s how it all transpired…
During the months of February and March (and originally planned through April), I decided to take an extended hiatus from Spokane with the Petunafish in tow. We gathered our service-animal letter from my therapist, secured month-to-month accommodations in Santa Fe, and booked a one-way Southwest flight. This freed up The Little Goat House for full-time rental availability — and it freed us up from the dreary Spokane winter! We left the goat boys in the charge of our good friends and neighbors, Randi and Josh, who also managed the in-person goat house operations during our absence.
My time in Santa Fe was one of reflection and growth. I had begun to fully comprehend the futility of staying on in Spokane, and at the same time, I did not know how to proceed. I owned a home and two goats, I had a fledgling business, and I wanted out, definitively and as soon as possible. I also had to come to grips with some of my control issues, while managing my business remotely, which required me to entrust the details to persons other than myself. I quickly realized how exhausted I had been, overseeing every little thing at The Little Goat House with my OCD perfectionism.
With a slow winter season, funds were dwindling, but the spring was looking up. Our booked revenue in home rentals and goat hikes for the month of March was a record high for our business.
And then…Covid hit.
A couple of our early March reservations stuck, but by mid-month, Airbnb had made the comprehensive decision to override all existing host cancellation policies and to refund all guests for their travel plans. With one fell swoop, 100% of our income instantly evaporated into thin air. It seemed untenable to stay on for another paid month of sabbatical in Santa Fe when I wouldn’t be bringing in any income at the goat house. So I readjusted my travel dates, and booked a return flight to Spokane for March 31st.
All the while I’d been in Santa Fe, I’d been scouring property listings in the area. Back in January, there had been a beautiful listing sitting Northwest of Santa Fe in Santa Cruz, New Mexico. With several outbuildings and plenty of room for goats, I’d originally hoped to get back to Santa Fe in time to view the property, and perhaps to make an offer. However, by my arrival on February 2nd, the Santa Cruz listing was under contract. My mom hadn’t liked it anyway (as the financier of my private loan, her opinions carry some weight), and it was pretty extravagant for my budget, at an asking price of $225,000.
Sometimes I get something in my mind and find it hard to shake: for example, that I had missed out on this dream home and would never forgive myself nor find a better fit. Nevertheless, I hit Zillow with even more fervor, desperate to find another listing so spectacular that it could make me forget all about the Santa Cruz property.
I had my search filters set, and an idea of just what I wanted. A bigger place, within 30 minutes of downtown Santa Fe, with plenty of room for separate guest quarters for my Airbnb. I looked and looked. Santa Fe is an absurdly pricey market. There are beautiful old adobes — nothing habitable under $400k. And then the outskirts of town: still, shacks for $200,000. Everything needing work. My mom did not want to increase her original loan amount, which was $180,000; the task seemed hopeless.
And then, around mid-March, I took the filters off. I erased the boundary I’d drawn around the area of Santa Fe County. I just needed to know if there was anything in the entire state of New Mexico that I could afford, that was in a semi-desirable location and in moderately livable condition, that I wouldn’t absolutely hate.
A few days before I was scheduled to fly back to Spokane, a tiny wood cabin popped up in my Zillow listings. It was in Tres Piedras, New Mexico — a place I’d never heard of with a population of around 500. It was a 660 sq. ft. domicile — roughly ~1,000 sq. ft. less living space than I had at The Little Goat House (not counting the shop, which was another ~1,000+ sq. ft. of covered space), and it had no outbuildings or casita. It was an hour and a half from Santa Fe, and forty-five minutes from Taos. But it was cute… and it was priced at $159,000.
I started doing math. I didn’t know how long I’d be without income, but the educated people in my circles said not to take this lightly. Covid-19 could be here, wreaking havoc, for an indeterminable amount of time.
I popped the cabin listing over to my mom and dad on email. My dad was in town, so we discussed in person, and he agreed to come check it out with me. We scheduled the earliest available showing with the listing agent for March 30th — the day before I had to fly back to Spokane. My mother emailed me back a laundry list of things she didn’t care for, and advised me to “forget about it” because this did not look like a property she would be interested in backing. And then I went to see it.
The day I saw my new home, the weather was clear and sunny and warm in Santa Fe. I got in my dad’s Ford Fusion and we caravanned (at this point, we were taking all precautions, including not being in enclosed spaces together) Northbound towards Tres Piedras. To get there, you go up from Santa Fe through Espanola, and then take 285 N for about an hour. You pass by Ojo Caliente 30 minutes South of Tres P (as I call it — though the locals call it “TP”), and then finish the drive on a long stretch of undeveloped high desert road. In the course of the drive it changed from sun, to rain, to hail, to snow. By the time we got to the cabin, it was clear again.
On that drive, before setting foot on the property, I thought: “I am going to love this place. I am going to live here.”
Then, we arrived. The listing agent had told us to meet him at the intersection of 285 N and “Forest Road 222,” which is maintained by the Forest Service as part of the Carson National Forest. The address for the cabin itself is not recognized by Google — though it is the real legal address — so Google Maps won’t give you what you need in terms of directions. We followed the realtor first down a well-graded, flat dirt road; then, we turned onto a bumpy, pot-holed side-street that led up to the driveway of #24.
I loved the cabin at first sight. I got out of the car, and turned from looking at the front door of the home to stand in awe of the 180 degree unobstructed vista of the Sangre de Cristo mountains from the front of the property. I could see only one other home from the driveway (though it is not visible from anywhere inside the cabin); the pretty adobe belonging to my now neighbors and friends, Ed and Mel. Across the way at their home, I saw several outbuildings, a cement mixer, and I heard a wood saw running. On the other side of the home sat a cluster of magnificent mid-sized boulders, that looked as though they were begging for some miniature goats to climb on them.
Once inside the cabin, my mind was officially made up. I was home! The cabin’s layout was so sensible, and it had everything I needed. A small kitchen; a nice living space with a wood stove; a bedroom with two good-sized closets; a small hall with laundry area leading to the bathroom with deep soaking tub; gorgeous high ceilings; real wood floors and siding; and a completely enclosed Southeast facing “sun-room” built from salvaged windows, that would provide a source of passive solar heating in the winter. The front door is a salvage from the Hotel Edelweiss — a historic Taos Ski Valley resort that has been renovated into million dollar condos. Even the accent color of the front doors and the sunroom window trim was the same tone, in a darker shade, as the color of the Spokane goat house.
At the end of the tour, I went back to Santa Fe, and called my mother. She wouldn’t consider it. We had a brief text battle and I asked her why her first inclination was always to say no to any idea I had. I was confident that with time, sound reasoning, and the support of other trusted advisors, I could bring my mom around. And soon enough, I did.
The next day, before my evening flight out of Albuquerque, I took a sunny walk to the end of the dirt road I’d been living on in Santa Fe to collect my mail. I brought my phone with me, thinking to myself that this would be the time to call my realtor in Spokane. I had met Rust Brown through Rick Flann, the Keller Williams agent who originally helped me and my mom purchase The Little Goat House. Rust had come out in the fall to see the goat house and to meet with me, my mom, and my mom’s partner, to discuss a potential future sale. I had requested that Rust check back with me in the Spring, as I wanted to hold the property for a minimum of two years, to avoid inflated taxation associated with an earlier sale.
As I walked along thinking about calling Rust, my phone started ringing in my hand — it was Rust! I had not spoken to him or heard from him in any form since the Fall. I answered the phone, and he asked me if I might want to list my home on the market now… “It’s a great time to sell!” he said. I explained the exceptional timing, and we made plans to get together for a coffee in Spokane the next day to discuss.
A week after my arrival back in Spokane, my home was listed on the market. Three days later, on the day before my 31st birthday, The Little Goat House went under contract for $21,000 over our list price. About 6 weeks after that, we closed on the sale of The Little Goat House.
In the meantime, insanity abounded while trying to concurrently negotiate and coordinate the purchase of our little cabin in Tres Piedras, now referred to as “The Little Goat Outpost.” This is already a long post, so I won’t expound on the intricacies and mishaps involved in this process (maybe in another, future post!). The end result is the most important point: I was able to purchase the Tres Piedras property for an excellent price, and with a closing date of May 20th — just five days after our closing on the sale of The Little Goat House. From there, just a simple ~1,500 mile road trip with 2 goats, a cat, a Scamp trailer, and a Uhaul stood in our way! That’s another whole story for another time, but for now, at least you know where to find us!!!! We hope to see you all in Tres Piedras, New Mexico, soon!
Thanks for sticking with us, and we hope you’re staying safe: physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and otherwise.
<3 Tanya, David, John, Petunia, + Dulcinea (most recent 6-mo old kitten addition!)