Hard work. Big Rewards. Bigger blessings. Life on a South Dakota ranch.
A very unintelligent woman once said to one of my daughters, “Don’t give up on your dreams. You need to get a real job. You are way too special to be just a ranch wife!” Just a ranch wife? My mom was a ranch wife; my mother-in-law is a ranch wife. These two women are incredible. They are hard-working, giving, compassionate, caring, spiritual, and loving individuals. Not to mention, they are both incredible cooks, caretakers of their land and families, and amazing mothers and grandmothers! Based on these two alone, I would be honored if my daughters were “just ranch wives!” However, I know entire communities of these kind of women. Women who put in full days working outside caring for the animals and crops, along with cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, caring for children, volunteering, being the chauffeur for their kids, attending football/basketball/volleyball/rodeos and all other activities in which their children take part, caring for their friends and neighbors in need… and the list goes on and on. Just a ranch wife?
It amazes me that people think being a ranch wife is a lowly thing. It amazes me even more that being a rancher or ranch wife could be considered not having a real job. Every rancher, ranch wife, and children who grow up on a ranch know that ranching isn’t a job that consists of 40-hour work weeks. Ranching isn’t a job that has banker’s hours. Ranching isn’t a job that gets snow days or 2-week paid vacations. Ranching isn’t a job that gets sick days. And ranching definitely isn’t a job for the weak! We start calving in the early spring on our ranch. This means every-two-hour checks on the heifers/cows 24-hours a day, seven days a week. No 40-hour work weeks here! We are out there in the wind, rain, snow, sleet– all of which we have had over the last month. One evening it was raining, lightning, thundering, blowing, and starting to snow all at once– and in February! We know this personally; we were out in it putting a heifer in the barn that was starting to calve. No weak hearts here.
I haven’t always been a ranch wife. I’m a bookkeeper by trade– a position that I still hold, however, I now work from home. I have several clients and work on their books at home and then update their in-office bookkeeping records periodically. I’m also do medical transcription, again from home. While I grew up in an agricultural community and have spent many hours on a horse, in a tractor seat, or wrestling calves, this was in my youth. My path lead me away from agriculture and instead into accounting. After many years I wanted to come home. Turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I married the “perfect man” (is there such a thing??) and am now a ranch wife. I wouldn’t change anything. God Bless the broken road…
My strengths are many. I know how to start over. I know how to let things go in order to start over. And my greatest strengths– multitasking and time management– both of which are learned arts! Many things have made my eyes leak and my heart smile over the years– all of which have made me who I am today. I’m a work in progress, no doubt, but I love the progress and I definitely love being “just a ranch wife.”