I Feel Like a Ranch Wife

My husband feels like he’s truer to the cowboy way and a better cowboy when he’s saddled up to get a cow in, and I can relate. The way a person goes about doing an activity or job can invoke certain feelings.

In her song, “Man! I Feel like A Woman!” Shania Twain feels like a woman when she and her friends have a girl’s night out.  Teenage boys feel more masculine once they start shaving. Bikers claim they feel free when they ride their motorcycle, and rock climbers say they feel alive when they reach a brutal mountain’s summit. Truck drivers feel like road warriors when they drive through hazardous road conditions unscathed and bronc riders feel like rodeo kings when they become world champions.

I feel more like a ranch wife when I do things in a particular manner, like being in the way while trying to sort off cows or bulls, or when a critter gets through the hole I was supposed to be blocking. Ranch wives have always been handy to blame things on and I’ve been blamed for a multitude of problems when there was no one else around, thus securing my feelings about being a ranch wife.  

I’ve reminded myself it’s just a ranch wife feeling every time I’m unable to read my rancher’s non-verbal instructions. When we’re working far enough apart that I can’t hear him, he’ll communicate in other ways that I struggle to correctly decipher. I frequently misinterpret reading his mind, hand signals, body language, or facial expressions indicating what he wants me to do with the pickup, trailer, tractor, gate, or horse that I’m in charge of. Yet his non-verbal communication has always been crystal clear when he’s mad.

Like my husband, I feel truer to what I am when I’m horseback, but more so during tense situations when reprimanded for my undesirable job performance. There have been times I didn’t race my horse fast enough to head off a calf that peeled back at the gate, or didn’t get a lead cow veering the herd off the trail, turned back soon enough.

I’ve never doubted my ranch wife status when it comes to doing ranch work. Being expected to handle a man’s workload without pay (unless getting paid a compliment like “good job, Honey,” counts), is another proof positive feeling of being a ranch wife.

Unfortunately, over the years I’ve proven myself as a capable “hand.” My husband knows that I’m always available, dependable, and trustworthy. I don’t do the work for the money; I can handle pressure and tension-filled working environments whether it’s dealing with him when he’s grumpy or difficult cows, and I can be relied on to work in all sorts of weather conditions.

Like many ranch couples who have gotten into arguments while dealing with cows, we’ve had our share of fights while working together. I’ve occasionally resisted feeling like a good ranch wife and helping out my husband as a result. I’ve asked him why he doesn’t just get somebody else to help him, and he answered me as if it should be obvious why he always asks me. “I need somebody who knows what’s going on so I don’t have to hold their hand to get the job done.” Every ranch wife knows what hearing that feels like.

This column was originally published February 1-7, 2009

7 responses to “I Feel Like a Ranch Wife”

  1. Robyn Avatar

    Excellent article Amy! I sent the link to my Mom and Sister. We had our March CFEL Club meeting today and I shared it w/ the ladies. It was worth a few good laughs and stories!

  2. Wynn Avatar

    HI from Colorado! I enjoy your writings and can relate back to them. The ranch life is great even with all the ups and downs and struggles. I spent a good part of my life in NW South Dakota and there is something to said about the wide open spaces and God’s beauty. Keep up the good work!

  3. Amy Avatar

    I totally agree. There are plenty of struggles with this lifestyle but it’s still too rewarding to want to do do anything else. Thanks for reading!

  4. Jessa in Nebraska Avatar
    Jessa in Nebraska

    I love this. I can so relate!

  5. Amy Avatar

    Thanks Jessa, for reading/commenting! I enjoy making connections with other women who can relate. It makes me feel connected to others even if I feel isolated at times!

  6. Amy C. Avatar
    Amy C.

    Bahahaha! I thought I was the only one that did everything wrong! Although, I can’t say that I can work in all weather…it has been about 30 below here in Colorado lately and I just can’t hack it!

  7. Amy Avatar

    That’s plenty cold! the coldest it’s been here lately was -11. Thanks for sharing and for reading my blog!

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