Hats off to the ranchwife | TSLN.com

Hats off to the ranchwife

Yvonne Hollenbeck

The ranchwife - a unique creature who is, indeed, married to the ranch. Staff photo

As is the case in most slightly dysfunctional families today, siblings are not always in the same track. In fact, I know very few families where the children look alike, think alike, or have much in common with one another. Because of this, perhaps my family is really not much different than any other.

There were four girls in my family, me being the youngest. Differences expanded when we married. The oldest (I call her, "Number One") married an over-the-road trucker; "Number Two," of all things, married a highway trooper; "Number Three" married a scientist of sorts who is a vegetarian, and I married a cattle rancher who raises beef for a living. You can imagine how warm and fuzzy our family get-togethers are.

Number Three always liked everyone, especially her parents and sisters, to think that she was a tad bit smarter than anyone else. It could be due to the fact that she had a college education with an English endorsement, and therefore found it necessary to consistently correct our misuse of words and their meanings. In any event, we once had a discussion that still reminds me of my capacity on this planet. I had been to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to present poetry at a cowboy festival. Returning home, I stopped for a short visit with my parents at Gordon, Nebraska. It happened that Number Three was visiting the parents at the same time. She asked where I had been. I told her, "Doing cowboy poetry at a festival in Cheyenne." With a sarcastic tone to her voice, she then asked, "And just what is cowboy poetry?" I tried to explain that I write and present poetry about my life as a ranchwife. She immediately raised the tone of voice, smirked, and said, "You are not a ranchwife!" I replied, "Yes I am!" She then informed me that I might be considered to be a rancher's wife, to which I replied, "Yes, I am!" She then snarled, "You are not married to a ranch!" I was quick to reply, "Yes, I am!"

Anyone living in the Tri-State area and reading this column knows full well that when you are married to a rancher, you are basically married to a ranch. Your lifestyle is shaped by the activities involved with ranching. Even your dress is different than that of women in cities. You wear blue jeans and Carhartts nearly every day, and trips to a nail salon are unheard of. Even the d├ęcor of your house reflects life on a ranch, or that of a bygone era, as white carpet and crystal are not the norm. We are currently entering the time of the year when an occasional baby calf may be in the bathtub or sprawled out on a rug in front of the stove. Dining out is unheard of, as are shopping trips, except for a trip to town to visit the animal clinic or feed store, at which time we make a quick stop at the grocery store. In fact, when we meet a city woman in the aisle of the grocery store and she turns up her nose, it may be due to the fact that our clothing or shoes contain barnyard odor that we have become oblivious to.

I covered the fact that the word, "ranchwife," is not included in any dictionary but I will continue to use the word whether or not it is of proper English, and I tip my hat to all the women out there that are currently checking springers, helping pull calves, mopping up messes tracked into her house, taking a cow to town for a c-section at midnight, and feeding the tired and hungry men during this, the most stressful time of the year for a ranch family.

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