There are a lot of things that I have learned while I have been a rancher’s wife. Some have been from my own experiences and some have been from fellow ranch wives. I guess the most important thing I have learned is to just live it and love it! Here are a few other tips I have figured out along the way…
1. You must always consult the cowboys when you are picking your due date (like you can really decide what day you are going to give birth, right?!). You should never have babies during calving, branding, spring turnout, haying, fall gather, weaning, or preg checking seasons.
2. Once you do find an acceptable time to have a baby (or you have come to some compromise to manage having a baby in the midst of the chaos) expect to hear 9 months’ worth of cow pregnancy related jokes. I wish I had a buck for every time I heard The Rancher tell me he was bringing the chains, just in case.
3. Cowboys work much better on full bellies. It is in your own best interest to learn how to feed the masses. It should include meat and potatoes. Always.
4. There are days that The Rancher has to leave the ranch for some project, but is absolutely sure that he will be back in time for lunch. I still send him with the lunchbox. Fate has it that when I DO send a lunch they will be home on time for lunch. But when I don’t, everything goes wrong and it turns out to be a long and hungry day.
5. During the busy season (which could be ANY day), your Friday night date might just be a tractor ride or a ride through the cows. And he does appreciate that you are there for more than getting the gate for him.
6. Never do something once that you don’t want to be asked to do again. That advice was given by my mother and mother-in-law- one that didn’t want to be the one to milk the cow (even though she grew up on a dairy) and one that didn’t want run the swather. Both brilliant women!
7. When you go out with the cowboys, be sure to load your horse in the trailer last. That means you will unload first, giving you enough time to be on and ready so that you don’t get left behind.
8. If ever you get yelled at while you are out helping, it is a sign of real love, not the lack of. He is yelling at you to save your life, so don’t take the time to make him say it in a nicer or way or to say please. Just do what he says.
9. The faithful ranch dog is more than just a dog, and therefore is entitled to privileges, including riding in your car, coming in your house (both happen no matter what condition he is in), and having a place to sit with the rest of the family on the already squished 4-wheeler. And just face the fact that he will be in at least one family picture (you just don’t have to put that up one on the wall).
10. Always keep one cowboy around the ranch because destiny will have it that when your best helper is 3, the cows, horses, bulls, or chickens will get out. It’s likely that with them all being gone they have taken all of the 4-wheelers too and all you have left to chase them in with is the riding lawn mower.
Remember that a rancher is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ALL year. That includes nights, because that’s when you get a call from the state police that you have cows on the freeway. Or the boss calls for help because the calves are on their way into town at midnight. It also includes Sundays (the one day a week you try to slow down), because it seems that the range water always goes out just after church. It includes special days, like when you have just had a new baby. Sometimes the boss calls to haul spuds that day. And it certainly includes the days and nights of freezing temperatures when the rest of the world heads in. Just be sure to be ready with something hot for when they come back to the house!
There are so many more I could share, and I will someday. Life is never dull as a rancher’s wife. It’s our job to just take what comes our way and work with it. I love the lessons I learn from being The Rancher’s Wife!