Sunday, March 13, 2005


You might be a rancher's wife

By Julie Carter

Sometimes a photo is worth a thousand words and sometimes its living proof and validation of which I so often speak.

At the post office just today, I had to take such a photo. I just had to. Parked in front of me was the very thing you might envision of the rancher gone to town.

There sat a flat bed ranch pickup loaded to the gills. The back of the bed was heavy with a stack of mineral blocks. Squeezed to the front were a water jug, a cooler, an unidentifiable plastic box and two curious dogs who kept watching the post office door.

The headache rack was neatly organized with every thing a man might need while away from the house. A handyman jack locked to the frame, a couple of catch ropes not locked but tied up, chains, a come-a-long and assorted tie strings for tying gates shut, mufflers up, or a calf down.

Now this version of a ranch pickup was newer than your average rusted beat up feed pickup that comes to town. He got his wife a good job in town and can now afford an upgrade-- in pickups, not in a wife. You might be a rancher's wife if your job in town is considered a ranch subsidy.

Just a couple months ago this guy traded in his rendition of "beat up" for this new one. And as I understand it, for the first time in his life it's not a red one which is causing some mental anguish during the transitional period.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, you might be a rancher's wife if you know how to change the flat on your car but can't because the spare is on the flatbed.

It comes with the territory. You might be a rancher's wife if directions to your house include words like miles, cattle guards, gravel road and last. The word last can precede many things such as house, hill, left turn, or cedar tree by a rock.

You might be a rancher's wife if your stock tank doubles as a swimming pool, the storage shed is a barn, and you buy antiques because they match the rest of your furniture.

One thing a ranch wife's job in town works out for the ranch couple, besides subsidy, is the in-the-corral working relationship. Of which there is none. Wasn't much of one before she got the job but at least now the neighbors seven miles away can't hear the yelling and cussing. The dog finally quit hiding under the barn about a month after she went to work.

You might be a rancher's wife if duct tape is always on your list, the weekly paper comes a week later, and the vet's number is on your phone's speed dial.

A rancher's wife will always have a shopping list that includes three sizes of filters, tires, chains, spark plugs and shotgun shells. And the best one, "get me a part that looks just like this one here," as he hands her wrapped in a shop rag, a greasy diesel smelling odd shaped thing he can't even name. "And make sure it's for the right year model."

Seeing that pickup today was like seeing it rain. It gave hope of better times ahead and a tomorrow for ranching. As long as the wife can keep a good job in town.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Copyright Julie Carter 2005

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