Whenever I leave the ranch, I am always asked the same questions about our life by friends, family, and friends of friends. As a cowboy family, we have a very unique lifestyle, and we recently made it even more unique by moving to the most remote cow camp in Arizona, the Mahon Camp of the O RO Ranch. We live off the grid and 4 ½ hours from the nearest town. I’ll stop here and get right to answering typical questions, because the phrase “4 ½ hours from town” makes the average person’s jaw drop and their eyes bug out. Take a minute to recover from that geographical shock, then read on.
Q: It takes 4 ½ hours to get to a grocery store?! How do you do it?!
A: I step on the pedal on the right and steer. I don’t (usually) cry, and I’m not above bribing the children with suckers and promises of ice cream if they’re quiet in the car. I buy in bulk, freeze everything, and cherish each precious bite of fresh fruit.
Q: What do you do when you have a really specific craving, like for Starbuck’s?
A: Well, one thing is for dang sure: I don’t rush out and go get Starbuck’s. Years of living remotely have cleansed all such cravings from my person, except for when I go to town. Then, I totally binge on fast food and anything you can buy from a drive-through.
Q: Was it difficult to adjust to life in a new state?
A: I fetch snacks, change diapers, and clean the floor 17 times a day. These are the same exact things I have done at every ranch we’ve lived on. If it weren’t for waking up in a different house surrounded by cactus instead of sagebrush, I’d have no idea that we moved.
Q: How do you plan to socialize your kids as they grow older?
A: We plan to introduce them to a den of coyotes, then stage organized cage fights with the pups. As preliminary training, we’re encouraging Grace to bite.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to living so far from town?
A: Well, between generating our own electricity, pumping our own water, chopping wood for the cook stove and trying to clean the house and educate the children, my biggest challenge is definitely conditioning my hair. I dyed it red last year, and it has yet to recover from the ordeal. After much trial and error, I finally found a high-quality, affordable oil that is slowly restoring moisture and easing the strain of everyday life so far from town.
Q: As a freelance writer, you must be really super-connected all the time.
A: Not at all. I have never owned a smartphone, I don’t have an Instagram account, and I have barely a tenuous grasp on the whole “hashtag” movement. Have you been to my Twitter page lately? Neither have I.
Q: How do you plan on maintaining contact with the outside world?
A: I don’t. This blog is a figment of your imagination.
Q: Don’t you worry about getting hurt or having a medical emergency way out there?
A: No. We have a comprehensive first aid kit that consists of an old hand towel, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and a pair of clean shoelaces for fashioning an impromptu tourniquet. When our kids get to rough housing, we tell them to not break an arm, because they will have to make their own sandwich for the long drive to town. And that would be really hard with only one good arm.
Q: Do you like it way out there in the boondocks with only your husband and kids for company?
A: Yes. They are my three favorite people, and I am content as long as they are near.
I totally Photoshopped the dirt out from underneath my fingernails in this picture. I’m high-maintenance like that.