So, there I was, living at the most remote cow camp in the state of Arizona with my husband and our two small children. The nearest grocery store was 4 ½ hours away, and a propane fridge kept our food cold. Four-wheel-drive was a vehicular requirement, and chopping wood for the cook stove was a daily chore. The kids didn’t walk to school up hill both ways, but only because there were no schools – or neighbors – within a two-hour drive.
Except this didn’t happen in a distant decade; it’s happening right now. While most modern American families have grocery stores on every street corner, smartphones in their hands and WiFi in all their homes, Jim and I chose to move our family to a rugged, mountainous corner of the Southwest where we live off the grid and take care of cattle.
Jim took a job as a cowboy for the O RO Ranch (aka “the ROs”), and we are now living at the Mohon Camp. Jim loves it, preschooler Grace loves it, toddler Milo loves anything as long as Mom is nearby, and I am adjusting. Ten bucks says one day I’ll love it, too, but losing my paved road to town, wonderful neighbors, trusted babysitter, clothes dryer, bathtub, cell phone service, satellite Internet and TV subscriptions all at once was a big shock.
I miss satellite TV the least. Paying too much money each month to hit “page down” twenty times then watch reruns of Friends seemed like a poor use of our money anyway. I miss my dear neighbors and the paved road to town the most. Now, I don’t have anyone to go for a walk with and discuss deep philosophical issues like how much Halloween candy is acceptable to take for personal use from our kids’ buckets. I miss the paved road to town because now I bump along in first gear and four-low for 3 hours, only to have traveled 25 miles to the ranch headquarters. Then, I must press on an additional 54 miles to Prescott, a drive that takes 1 ½ hours.
So, after driving a total of 4 ½ hours, I will have traveled from my home to town. The good news is, I have cell phone service and can call my mom. The bad news is, I haven’t even started my errands and both kids are wound up from a good long nap.
I will be getting a motel room each time I go grocery shopping, to save my sanity and allow myself enough time to hit all the essential stops. Costco is a must, my husband always has a CAL Ranch list for me, and I like to browse at the thrift store. We can never escape without at least a brief Walmart trip – and they’re never brief. Add in a couple social calls, and we’ll probably be staying an extra night.
“We” means me and the kids, because we have a hard time prying Daddy off the ranch unless it’s to go to a ranch rodeo. That man loves God, his family, and being a cowboy, in that order. His enthusiasm for doing cowboy things the Old West way is what propelled us from northern Nevada to northern Arizona. He’ll be driving to work in a stock truck, using mules to pack salt to the cows, and roping wild bovines that have learned to hide in the brush from humans. I’ll be hanging clothes on the line, rationing fluid milk and fresh fruit, and hoping the solar panels generate enough electricity to watch a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory in the evening.
So, basically, we went out of our way to make our everyday lives more difficult. And we like it. So far.
Here’s our new home sweet home: the Mahon Camp at the ROs.