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Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Letter To Future Ranch Wives

I have been handed a challenge.

It all started with The Bachelor 2015 Season.
Do you watch this show?
I don't.
I am normally asleep during its showing, somehow, the show just doesn't fit into our DVR lineup.

Apparently, this years bachelor is a farmer from Iowa?
There are a few country, rural or farm girls vowing for this bachelor's heart?
Most of the women are from the city?

Thus prompted the proposed challenge...
Write a letter to future ranch wives.
Oh, the things to type!

Dear Future Ranch Wives,

Being raised a rancher's daughter and living the ranch life my entire life, I thought this letter would be an easy one.

Living this life is not effortless.
There are long hours, never ending work, and countless disappointments.
On the other hand, this life will provide you with the most fulfillment, joy, and love ever thought possible.
It is a life like no other.

I do have a bit of advise for you.
Bare with me, as this advise is rather lengthy.

Learn the tools of your ranchers tool box.
There are different types and sizes of screwdrivers.
Phillips and Star drivers are not the same.
Standard drivers are not pry bars, but are often used as them.
Pry bars do look like very large standard drivers with a bent end.
 Know the difference between wrenches and sockets.
When your rancher asks for a tool, most likely, you will be the one retrieving it.
A 9/16 is somewhat standard, so grab that one first.

Lower your expectations.
You will make plans and have invites to attend many social events.
You will attend those events alone.
Your rancher will be in the field, it will be calving season, fences will be down, or bulls will be fighting.
You cannot expect your rancher to ignore his duties of the ranch to attend social gatherings.
He won't miss them all.

Know your directions and landmarks.
You will be called to the field or sent on parts runs.
When your rancher says "I need you to come 5 miles north, 2 miles east, back south 1 mile and west into."
You will have to find him.
He will hand you a grease covered part, telling you to drive 80 miles to the tractor dealer to pickup a replacement part matching said grease covered part.
Oh, and he expects you back in less than 2 hours.

There are 5 primary types of fuel;
Gasoline, Diesel, Farm Diesel, Propane and Kerosene.
As well as, 3 types of fuel cans;
Red, Yellow and Blue.
Gasoline belongs in the Red can.
Kerosene belongs in the Blue can and fuels the shop heaters.
Diesel belongs in the Yellow can, although when you are at the fuel station, the diesel nozzle is green.
Farm Diesel belongs in the tractor and equipment, while regular Diesel fuels his truck.
Propane is delivered via a transport truck.
It is stored in a very large and unsightly tank sitting outside your home and is used to fuel your heating system and cooking stove, maybe even your hot water.
Do not confuse the fuel types.

Shopping and meal planning are your responsibility.
Bottled water, potatoes, ice and Little Debbie's are staples.
Your rancher will not eat chicken, although he loves eggs.
It's what's for dinner!

Speaking of dinner...
There is breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper in your rancher's meal vocabulary.
Breakfast is eggs, bacon/sausage, potatoes, and toast/biscuits.
If biscuits are served, you will need to know how to make cream gravy from the bacon/sausage drippings.
YES, this is eaten!
Lunch is taken to the field or packed in the cooler.
This will be the only time your rancher will eat a sandwich.
Dinner is served at noon and eaten at the table.
This may be a meal you have spent time preparing and then...  well... your rancher doesn't arrive to eat because of issues in the pasture.
Pack it up and take it to him.
Remember your directions.
Supper is the evening meal, served only after all the chores are done and animals have been cared for.

The lawn is also your responsibility, most of the time.
While your lawn is green and growing, so are the pastures.
This means he will be spraying pastures and preparing for hay season.
You should be prepared for more parts runs.

You will not have beautiful flower beds around your house, unless you make them yourself.
It's easier to plant flowers in baskets and containers.
If you are lucky, your rancher will send you flowers often.
Mine does!
This will make up for not having, wanting or needing flower beds.
They are too much work anyway and you won't have time.

What happens at the pens, stays at the pens.
You will be expected to help work cattle.
Your rancher will yell and scream.
Remember he is not yelling at you.
He is yelling at the situation and frustration.
You will be expected to push the cattle to him, climb the fence, and assist with doctoring, banding and branding in the chute.
There are times when you are his only help.
He knows he needs you and will thank you for it on the way back to the house.  

There will be a medical jump box/bag located in the feed truck.
It's sole purpose is not for human use.
Keep an ample supply of liquid dish soap, rubbing alcohol, peroxide and bleach, on hand.
That shiny chain and D shape hooks that are in the feed truck door, leave them there.
You will soon learn the purpose of all the above.

There are also several types of gloves.
Cotton Gloves are the gloves your rancher will wear during the winter.
Leather Gloves are the gloves used to put out hay and fix fence.

Then there are OB Gloves...
They encompass your entire arm, all the way to your shoulder
Your arm and shoulder!
His arm is to large to fit in the end of a heifer when she is calving.
You will have to assist.
This will be the moment you are educated about the medical jump box.
It will be one of the best moments of your life!

Date nights will not always consist of meals out and movies.
Consider truck time, tractor time, chore time, and watching the sun set, a date.
Those are much better than "dinner and a movie".
Your best dates will be calving season and those moments you both assist in birthing a calf.
This will be the point at which you realize you and he are a team and you are a part of something much bigger than the ranch.
Wire is a necessary part of the ranch and will always be on the back of your ranchers truck.
Baling Wire, Electric/Hot Wire and Barbed Wire
Bailing Wire is used to hold small square bales together as they leave the baler.
Baling Wire is considered a tool to your rancher.
It has many uses, after the square bale is fed.
 Electric/Hot Wire, although used to feed current, it is not to be confused with the insulated electric wire in the walls of your home.
Barbed Wire is the fencing wire that contains the cattle in the pastures.
It will be used daily, as there is always a broken wire somewhere on the ranch.

Always remember, your rancher and his horse were best friends before you.
Their relationship is as special as your relationship with your rancher.
Allow them time together.
His horse will never love you.
To him, you took his best friend.
None the less, show your rancher's horse love and affection.

There will be a time when your rancher will call and you will have to tend to the house chores.
House chores are not inside the home chores, like laundry and cleaning.
Those are already your responsibility.
House chores are normally cattle that are in the lot or sick pen and feeding your rancher's horse.
Be prepared for the horse to push you against the fence and bully you.
This is his way of getting back at you for taking his best friend.

As for laundry, there will be plenty of it!
Your washer and dryer will run every day.
Laundry is never ending.
A soaking sink is a requirement.
Prepare for mud, water, dirt, blood, and poop!
Do not wash your work clothes with your rancher's.

Don't talk to your rancher when he is watching the weather.
Although he can predict the weather better than the forecaster or any of the 5 weather apps he may have on his phone, he still considers it important to watch.
Markets also fall into this same importance. 

Never pass up a moment to spend with your rancher.
The ranch is his job, but you are his priority.
You will realize this when you see the love he holds for a new born calf or compassion for a momma cow in distress.
He sees the beauty in a patch of wildflowers or a red tailed hawk, as it flies over the truck.
He finds a new beginning in every sunrise and a since of accomplishment with each sunset.
Your rancher's heart is as big as the sky.
His faith is deeper than the ocean.
He knows love like no other.
He loves you more than you will ever know.

Your rancher's expectations are high, but only because he believes in you and knows you have the ability to make things happen.
You are among the elite to be chosen. 
As you enter into this relationship with your rancher, you also enter into one of the hardest, but most rewarding and life changing experiences, you will ever undertake.
You can do this!

Rancher Girl


  1. Well said.
    Loved this post!


  2. I think this is all very good advice for any city person moving to the country, and any new wife! Although I'm very much a feminist and believe in equal roles for women in the workforce, when it comes to physical work, I admit defeat. My husband is better at tractor work and physical jobs, so I am left with the jobs that I can do, like cooking and cleaning, while he is busy doing work that I can't do (I also do all the book work and calculate fertiliser application rates!). We have naturally found the roles that suit us best and work together to run our small farm. I think a future ranch wife needs to understand that husband and wife are a team with the shared goal of running a successful ranch/farm. Nice post anyway, I enjoyed reading it!

    1. Liz,
      As you well know, there is much more that could be written in this letter than was typed. Had I typed everything I had on my mind, the letter would have been miles long and to lengthy to hold interest for readers.
      I am a 4th generation Rancher Girl and love being in the pastures and with the cattle. I am also an accountant, in my day job, and do my fair share of the "book work" on the ranch too.
      As for cooking, Flower Boy does not have a kitchen pass. That is my choice. He works hard all day long and deserves time to set and rest in his chair while I prepare his meals. Lucky for me, we designed our home with a great room. It's like he is setting in the kitchen with me, whilst he is still in the living room. HAHA!
      As farm/ranch wives, we wear so many hats!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Wow this is comprehensive! I have raised my family on a ranch and married a lady from the city. She was definitely challenged by the lifestyle we live at first. She learned quickly and I have learned too. She still has her big city roots but she has brought a little bit of sophistication into our home, which I like.

    Wilbert Bowers @ Mirr Ranch Group