Remote ranch wives from across the generations and regions of the Western United States all have stories about sketchy houses, social isolation (the windmill is my only friend! No, seriously, it talks to me. Please don’t take away my kids), and the beyond long road to town that we rarely travel because most days it is just too darn long.
As we glean experience over the years, we all have a few comments, concerns and questions that we sometimes wish would be addressed. We could certainly fill up a suggestion box, especially if it was located at a central place often frequented by remote ranch wives, such as the family bathroom at Walmart or the boxed wine aisle at any grocery store.
But, ranch life hasn’t changed that much over the last several decades, which proves that we don’t actually have a suggestion box. If we did, here’s what some of the cards might read:
“I’m a brand-new ranch wife, so please forgive my audacity in bringing up an issue that may be deemed petty by the higher-ups.
There is a hole in my roof. The five-gallon bucket that covered it when we moved in kept out the snow for a while – about 7 minutes, as I recall. Unfortunately, the bucket falls off when the wind blows, and apparently the wind blows a lot in Wyoming.
I’m not 100% sure what the appropriate solution would be – perhaps fix the hole in the roof? At any rate, my husband has grown weary of my voicing this concern, and he politely suggested I notify the appropriate authority.”
“I know that production agriculture is a 24/7 industry and that cowboys must work long hours, but is it possible that the crew’s workload could be lightened just a smidge? I’m not suggesting anything radical like lunch breaks or Sundays off; I’d just like our kids to recognize their dad as more than a pair of dirty Levi’s on the laundry room floor or the smell of coffee in the kitchen before the rest of us awaken. I mean, if he unexpectedly picked them up from a homeschool co-op field trip, I don’t want them to scream ‘Stranger danger!’ and dial 911.”
“While I appreciate the complimentary housing, is there any way my family could move into a unit where the ground is NOT visible through cracks in the floor? That is all. Thank you.”
“I’d like to suggest some type of regularly scheduled ranch wives’ social gathering. We often live at least one hour from the nearest human not related to us by choice or by birth, and it gets more than a bit lonesome. It would be nice if we ladies could get together and chat, or at least look at one another long enough to convince ourselves we aren’t the only people still currently residing at the ranch.
If no such meetings can be arranged, I’d like to request a painted rock collection, please. I need something with a name that I can talk to every day and bond with, and the kids just aren’t cutting it anymore.”
“Dirt is a fact of ranch life, but could some sort of minimum cleanliness standards be imposed prior to move-in day for newly hired cowboys? I know the cowboys themselves don’t mind as much, but let me tell ya, their wives are sure tired of cutting dog poop out of the carpet and hauling a truckload of trash out of the kitchen cupboards before they can cook a meal. I’m not asking for the trailer house to pass a white-glove inspection; just a basic overall sense of household hygiene that reassures we womenfolk that our babies won’t catch a virus from crawling on the floor and puke for a week immediately upon arrival.”
“Since we live over two hours from the nearest town and one hour from mail delivery, Amazon Prime doesn’t apply to our lives. But, we still run out of diapers and misplace our toddler’s favorite sippy cup like other modern American parents. What are the chances of using drone technology to deliver packages to remote cow camps? If that isn’t cost-effective, could someone bring back the pack mule system to cut through the mountains and circumvent the long, rutted ranch road? I’m not sure about the other wives, but there are days that I would pay a LOT of money for someone to deliver toilet paper and dish soap to my house rather than drive five hours in one day, plus time spent shopping/eating fast food/changing diapers/managing temper tantrums with two small children.
I can even provide the pack mule. Her name is Alexa.”
“I have a question, not a suggestion. We recently moved into a mobile home that predates the Nixon administration, and I noticed a couple of signatures on the bathroom wall. One name, a woman’s, has a heart drawn around it.
My question is: Do I sign my name? Should I draw a cute shape – maybe a star – around it? Is this some type of tradition unique unto this particular ranch, or is it more common in ranch housing than a person realizes?
My other question is: Why in the hell do I live in a home with people’s names written on the bathroom wall?
Please send help. Or at least an eraser and a box of wine.”