Sunday, June 9, 2013

Queen of the Ranch

It's been a long spell since I last posted. Spring did eventually arrive; the snow melted, the gardens have been planted, the crops have been seeded, and there are calves and foals galore! We've gone to several brandings already, and we hope to go to one on Sunday, if it stops raining. I am mowing the grass several times a week and can barely keep up.
A friend shared this article with me last week, and as I read it, I found myself chuckling, nodding my head, and agreeing out loud. Maybe it's the ranch life, the country air, or the cowboy code, but whatever it is, I know there are farm and ranch wives everywhere who will join the chorus of, "YES, this is our life!"
If you are going to be the woman on the ranch, here are the top 10 "facts" you need to know!

1. Always load your horse last in the trailer so it is the first one 
unloaded. By the time he's got his horse unloaded, you will have your cinch pulled and be mounted up ready to go - lessening the chance of him riding off without you with your horse trying to 
follow while you are still trying to get your foot in the stirrup.                      
2. Never - and I repeat never - ever believe the phrase "We'll be
right back," when he has asked you to help him do something out on the ranch. The echoing words, "this will only take a little while" have filtered through generations of ranch wives and still today should invoke sincere distrust in the woman who hears them.

3. Always know there is NO romantic intention when he pleadingly asks you to take a ride in the pickup with him around the ranch while he checks waters and looks at cattle. What that sweet request really means is he wants someone to open and close the gates.

4. He will always expect you to quickly be able to find one stray in a four-section brush-covered pasture, but he will never be able to find the mayonnaise jar in four-square feet of refrigerator. 

5. Count every head of everything you see - cattle especially, but 
sometimes horses, deer, quail or whatever moves. Count it in the gate, out the gate or on the horizon. The first time you don't count is when he will have expected that you did. That blank eyelash-batting look you give him when he asks "How many?" will not be acceptable.

6. Know that you will never be able to ride a horse or drive a pickup to suit him. Given the choice of jobs, choose throwing the feed off the back of the pickup. If he is on the back and you are driving, the opportunity for constant criticism of speed, ability and your eyesight will be utilized to the full extent. "How in the *@*# could you NOT see that hole?"

7. Never let yourself be on foot in the alley when he is sorting cattle horseback. When he has shoved 20 head of running, bucking, kicking yearlings at you and then hollers "Hold 'em, hold 'em" at the top of his lungs, don't think that you really can do it without loss of life or limb. Contrary to what he will lead you to believe, walking back to the house is always an option that has been used throughout time.

8. Don't expect him to correctly close the snap-on tops on the plastic refrigerator containers, but know he will expect you to always close every gate. His reasoning, the cows will get out; the food will not.

9. Always praise him when he helps in the kitchen - the very same way he does when you help with the ranch work - or not.

10. Know that when you step out of the house you move from the "wife" department to "hired hand" status. Although the word "hired" indicates there will be a paycheck that you will never see, rest assured you will have job security. The price is just right. And most of the time you will be "the best help he has" even if it is because you are the ONLY help he has.

A few weeks ago, The Cowboy came in and told me to get some clothes on--I was wearing a skirt and blouse. We were going to go "for a drive," he said. We drove along Road 1, and I thought we'd be checking on the calves. But, we drove right on by the fields of cows and heifers. We turned south on Road 2. Alleluia! We're going to check on the 80 mares and see how many colts and fillies have been born. As we passed by the entrance to the horse field, I began to get a sinking feeling. 

And sure enough, we came to a field being disced, readying it for seeding. The Cowboy wanted me to drive the (manual) one ton pickup while he drove the big, green tractor to another field. I don't do well with that pickup. We are mutually incompatible. Especially if I have to drive over hills and hollows and through muck and mire. But it was either drive the pickup or drive the big, green tractor. I did get the truck moved from Point A to Point B, without mishap, and without a tear. I will admit that I did put on a bit of a pout. 

He took me pistol shooting one day. "Get some clothes on," he said. (Wearing anything besides Wrangler jeans is a state of undress, as you will have figured out by now.) We did check on the calves, then out came the pistol. I'd never shot a firearm in my life. Ever. I took five shots. And hit the coffee can five times. No pouting that day. 
To all my Queen of the Ranch friends, get some clothes on. There's an adventure waiting!

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