The first house we moved into as a married couple was livable, as long as a person had low standards. We did; I was five months pregnant and we needed insurance and a place to live, so I would’ve moved into a wall tent if the ranch offered a decent PPO.
When we went to look at the house, the previous inhabitants’ belongings were still in it, and the cobwebs in the corners of the master bedroom were so thick that you couldn’t see the spiders within. But, you knew they were there. I just looked straight ahead and said “Yep, it’ll work” without really looking. I didn’t want to look any closer at the mess before we moved in and I had to.
Immediately after moving in, Jim went to camp for several days. I laid in the bedroll in the living room (I wasn’t going into that master bedroom alone the first night! Not with all those spiders. Hell, no) and watched our baby kick for the first time. The next morning, I cleaned for five days straight, and I only called my mom and cried once.
I scrubbed the cracks in the linoleum where you could see the previous linoleum pattern. I figured out how to stab the cobwebs with a broom handle to flush out the giant spiders, then kill them with a sponge mop as they ran across the top of the wall. I cut puppy poop out of the carpet with a pair of scissors.
The grumpy in the toilet was what did me in. I wanted that to be more than I could deal with it, but I had to deal with it. So, I cried overwhelmed, hormonal tears and I dealt with it. Then I drove down the road to cell phone service and cried to my mommy.
I didn’t cry while cleaning the next three houses we lived in. Now I just keep a container of Lysol wipes and the toilet brush on top of the moving boxes, because the sooner I can pee without hovering in my own home, the better.
Even after shampooing carpets and washing walls, ranch houses still usually have holes in the walls, names written on the walls with hearts drawn around them (aww, how sweet! Wait, do I live in a public restroom? What the freak), missing light fixtures and broken knobs in the bathtub. If the washing machine and furnace work, I feel like we’ll make it.
My neighbor and I were laughing about all the holes in our walls a few weeks ago and how we get insecure when relatives from town come to visit. We know our houses are shabby, we don’t want our houses to be shabby, but we can’t help the fact that our houses are shabby. We don’t want to invest our personal money into company houses that we’ll never own, but we spend thousands of dollars on custom saddles, bridles, 100% wool saddle pads and assorted rawhide gear.
“When people come over, I’m like, ‘Can we start in the tack room? That’d make a better first impression,'” she half-joked.
I compromised by bringing the tack room in the house. I always hang up our bridles along one wall. It’s easier to look at a trailer house wall with chipped paint, missing baseboards and drywall patches when it’s covered in $600 bridle outfits.
Some ranch wives have some really significant challenges to overcome. A friend of mine on a nearby ranch (hi, Kellie!) moved into a house that floods every time the ditch behind it overflows its banks. She moved into it with a toddler, a newborn, and a non-functioning bathroom. They used a Porta-Potty for 6 weeks while fixing the bathroom. Now, there’s one bedroom in the house where the wall separated from the floor, and she said she’s certain wild animals live in it. Did she call her mom and cry? Probably. But, then she locked the door with a latch from the outside, tacked a board along the floor, and now jokingly refers to it “The Danger Room.”
I have no pictures for this topic, because I strategically crop out the crummy parts of the house. I could, theoretically, take some pictures of the worst parts and post them online, but I still live here and I don’t want to. If you come to my house, I hope you’ll notice the handmade dining table my husband built or my favorite horse quilt draped across the back of the couch before you notice the broken kitchen drawers and lack of window screens.
Keepin’ in real in the country and giving us all a reason to drink,
Mrs. Young III
You talking about your experiences of moving into houses on ranches brings back so many memories for me. People used to love my houses, but I learned to put pictures or hang tack or something over the holes in the walls. You can make a home wherever you are!
I love this! I miss living on a ranch and working cattle, and training horses in the process…Thank you for writing about your experiences!