Ranch Wives: Myth Versus Fact

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

Like any other social group, there are a lot of myths about ranch wives. Also like any other social group, some myths are true, some aren’t. Here are a few common myths and the actual facts.

Myth: All ranch wives grow abundant gardens to feed their families fresh produce through summer’s heat and home-canned goodness through winter’s bitter cold.

Fact: Um, not this one. I really, really don’t like gardening. There are way too many bugs, and there is an awful lot of dirt. It’s not the good kind of dirt, either, the kind that smells like horse sweat and leather. It’s just regular ol’ dirty dirt that might have bugs in it. Sick, man.

There certainly are some talented ladies out here who can grow tomatoes despite late frosts in June and early frosts in September, though. Some even take paintbrushes and hand-pollinate their plants if they notice there aren’t enough bees buzzing around (hi, Riata!). I think high-desert gardeners are super impressive, but as long as there’s a produce department at Costco, I won’t be joining their ranks anytime soon.

This is how I like to garden: picking fresh, ready-to-eat fruit from a tree that grew without any assistance from myself. I transfer the fruit directly from the tree to my mouth, picking just enough to satisfy my immediate demand. It's a very sustainable method.

This is how I like to garden: picking fresh, ready-to-eat fruit from a tree that grew without any assistance from myself. I then transfer the fruit directly from the tree to my mouth, picking just enough to satisfy my immediate demand. It’s a very low-impact, sustainable method.

Myth: Of course ranch wives like to ride and rope.

Fact: Guilty as charged! But, certainly not all ranch wives have their own chinks and ride with the cowboy crew whenever opportunity presents itself. Some girls marry cowboys, but they never saw a horse up-close before they started going steady with a cowboy. Others, like myself, used to cowboy for a living but now take care of tiny people and only saddle up maybe half a dozen times a year. So, this is kind of a half-myth, half-truth. Basically, some do, some don’t.

Here, fellow ranch wife Taren Hays has a calf necked at a branding last fall while I come up for a heel shot.

Here, fellow ranch wife Taren Hays has a calf necked at a branding last fall while I come in for a heel shot. Photo by Becky Kingen.

Myth: Ranch wives rise before first light to cook a hearty breakfast for their husbands.

Fact: Not so much. When we were first married, I got up an hour before Jim every morning and cooked him a full breakfast of pancakes, fried eggs and bacon. Sometimes I made toast, fried eggs and bacon; or French toast, scrambled eggs and sausage, but every morning at 5 AM there was a hot breakfast and a full pot of coffee waiting for my husband.

Then he started saying something about my carrying our unborn baby but his gaining all the pregnancy weight. I pressed on with my predawn cooking, determined to be a dedicated ranch wife. Then our daughter was born, and I think I have gotten up before Jim and cooked him breakfast exactly 4 times in the 2 ½ years since that blessed event. Our precious little Grace is not what you would call a good sleeper, so with all my getting up during the night, there ain’t no way in heaven, hell, or God’s green earth I’m extracting myself from bed one minute before she gets up every morning.

Periodically (I’d like to say once a week, but it’s really more like twice a month) I’ll spend an hour one afternoon making a big batch of breakfast burritos or sandwiches for Jim, then stick them in the freezer so he can heat up a homemade breakfast before work. It’s the modern way.

Myth: Ranch wives bake their own bread and cook everything from scratch.

Fact: Yep, this one is pretty much true across the board. I don’t know a single ranch wife who can’t bake bread, or some type of biscuit/dinner roll/some type of bread-like starch dish. We also tend to cook everything from scratch, as we live way too far from a grocery store to rely on specific pre-packaged foods. Most of our recipes wind up being “with a twist” because we are always out of different ingredients, but our pantries are always stocked with 25-pound bags of flour, 10-pound bags of sugar, big cans of coffee, and cases of canned tomatoes.

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life


About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Fallon, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....

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