Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gift shopping for the rancher’s wife

By Julie Carter

The season started in the retail world right after the garden supplies were moved to the back room and school had not yet started. But that was just a warm up to what explodes cash register drawers the day after Thanksgiving---the Christmas shopping frenzy.

As is for most things, gift shopping at the ranch is a pretty laid back procedure. I’m not saying a lot of thought is not put into choosing the perfect gift, but “perfect” is subject to interpretation and you can almost always factor in functional and fundamental.

The gift that wins the tally of given most often from him to her is an axe. I know that will shock many of you that don’t live down dirt roads, but an axe is essential to the time of year the gift is given—Christmas and the middle of winter.

The axes have come single bit, double bit and often tied with a red bow the size of a pick up truck in an attempt to make it festively palatable. Some have come with a flashlight as an extra gift so wood or ice could be chopped in the dark. Often a note is attached saying, “I promise to keep this sharp for you.”

Another common feature for the ranch “him to her” gifts is the “who really wants or needs this?” Gloves that are too big for her and fit him perfectly are regular offerings under the Christmas tree as are new saddles when she rarely rides, horses she never will ride, and that absolutely stunning truck tool box that unfortunately won’t fit her SUV. A complete assortment of hand and powers tools also fit into this category.

Never to say the gifts aren’t truly appreciated one wife I know got a new cattle guard. It was to be placed where she had to open and close a gate 15 times a day coming and going. She would not have been happier if she had gotten big blue diamonds.

Always thinking of the little woman’s health and safety as well as her viability as the best if only help he has, he will gift her with things to keep her warm and useful. That list will include insulated coveralls, down filled everything including lingerie, and even a new rifle to carry on her 4-wheeler to shoot coyotes while she is checking heifers and new baby calves.

Buckets of all sorts rate right up at the top in frequency of gift types--feed buckets, milk buckets and buckets to bail drinking water from a well or cistern. One gal was so proud of her new international mop bucket with the “Caution” warning in both English and Spanish. It had wheels and every feature you could imagine except a back up alarm.

Other gifts have come with the possibility he is going to get shot if her sense of humor isn’t at its peak. An oversized personalized “fire flapper” was indeed given to a wife I know with the justification that “she’s a big girl so she may as well do some good when she is beating out a grass fire.”

Feed stores, hardware outlets, saddle and cowboy tack dealers as well as livestock sale barns across rural America are standing by to serve the rancher in this season of giving.

Julie can be reached for comment (when she isn’t out using her most treasured gift of a wood splitting maul).

Copyright Julie Carter 2005

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