I did not grow up around cows or country life. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, my husband grew up on his family’s farm in rural Nebraska. I’d never have imagined that someday I would become a rancher’s wife.
To say we came from different worlds is an understatement. But hey, opposites attracted and we are incredibly happy together.
25 Lessons Learned as a Rancher’s Wife
Honestly, I never knew this would be my life. Funny thing happens when you fall in love. When my husband and I met, he was finishing up his last year of college and had plans to return to his family’s ranch to help his dad.
I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. But here we are 7 years together, 6 years of marriage, and are now expecting our 4th child.
This lifestyle is not easy for an outsider to adapt to, but let me tell you, it is worth it.
Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
#1 Plans are often altered
Because cows or goats are master escape artists, we have needed to make changes to our plans. This includes date nights, which are already a rare occurrence when you’re married to a rancher.
I can’t even tell you how many times we have changed plans or have been late because of cows.
#2 Adaptability is required
No kidding, you have to learn to adapt to this way of life. It takes some real commitment because there are many times where you have to learn to change or alter your plans. There’s been times where I’ve had to help my husband nurse a sick animal to health.
Or dealing with random 75 hour power outages in the middle of a snow storm.
#3 Learn rancher time
I just made that up, but its a thing. Sometimes our conversations might go something like this — Me: “hey honey, when will you be home?” Him: “oh, probably 15-20 minutes”.
Yeah, don’t count on it. Add about 1-2 hours to that time and it might come close to rancher time.
Also, cows can’t tell time.
#4 Cows come first, always
When you marry a rancher, one thing you’ll learn really fast is that the needs of the cows will be a priority. This will definitely take some major adjusting.
But when the rancher has time for family, he is all in!
#5 Days off are far and few between
Vacations, too for that matter. Especially during calving, kidding, working in the hay fields, and harvesting.
#6 The rancher is on call 24/7
Because cattle get out on the road or on the neighbor’s land, or in your yard. There may be complications during calving season.
Or like this morning, the cattle truck delivered calves an hour earlier than anticipated. My husband unloaded cattle at 5:00 A.M in 33 degree weather like it was normal.
Oh yes, that’s a cow in our front yard. Cindy the moo cow, as our kids call her.
#7 Sleeping in is a thing of the past
Well, this counts for parenting, too. So, we really haven’t slept in for about 7 years. There are rare occurrences where we get to. Ultra rare.
I have learned to get used to my rancher working from sun up to sun down like its a regular schedule.
#8 Learn to master ranch gates
It takes a real technique and a whole lot of muscle to work some of these ranch gates. There really is an art to fence building. One that I will probably never really master. My husband though, he’s an old pro.
#9 Get creative with meals
There will be times when my husband has needed a meal to go or I need to have something that is easy to reheat because he’s working late.
You’ll also have to find clever ways of sneaking in fresh veggies and/or healthy foods. Corn is the exception.
Most ranchers are perfectly content with living off of meat and potatoes.
#10 Trips to town require some planning
Our trips to town or the city (because they are different) require some planning. We live a pretty good distance from town, so I don’t go unless I can get multiple errands completed in one trip.
Grocery shopping, animal feed, various supplies, etc usually require bulk shopping.
#11 Be prepared to have your pregnancy compared to calving
I’ve heard all the jokes. Yes, my husband has compared his wife to a cow. Ask him how that went over the first time. Ha.
#12 There’s no such thing as snow days
No matter what the weather would bring, the animals always need to be fed. This includes blizzard conditions and ice storms.
#13 A cold front = babies
Its true. The change in weather usually means someone will give birth — cows, goats, yourself. My husband has been able to predict two of my labors because of cold fronts.
Yes, my husband just compared my pregnancies to cattle calving again!
#14 Family meal time is a rare event
(See #’s 3, 4, and 9 again!)
This one still makes me sad. I would want nothing more than to have my family sit down for meals together. I am overjoyed when they happen!
This also means that my kitchen is never closed. Sometimes I need to keep meals warmed until late at night or ready to reheat an any time.
#15 Learn country time
Sort of related to rancher time, but slightly different. I also made this one up. And not to be confused with the lemonade drink.
Country time is where no matter what, someone is late for well, pretty much everything. It can be related to cattle, but more times than not it is because this is a common practice in rural communities.
Things are slower paced and there really isn’t a sense of urgency most of the time.
Coming from a mindset where if I’m not 5-10 minutes early, I’m already late, this can be something that is difficult for me.
#16 Date nights are rare
But when they happen, it may include a trip to the sale barn or animal auction with dinner in their cafe.
Hey, its not as bad as it sounds! We usually have a great time.
#17 Neighbors will always be there to help out
Even those who live miles away (because in rural communities those are neighbors) will be willing to help with whatever is needed.
Brandings are like block parties where neighbors come together, but only there’s work involved first. And then there’s beer.
Then you take turns going to the next neighbor’s branding.
#18 Winter doesn’t really mean vacation
It may be a slightly slower time, the days are much shorter, after all. But the work is never truly done. Most of the day is usually spent in feeding cattle.
For a rancher, this also means working on things in the shop, cleaning pens and barns, thawing frozen pipes, and breaking frozen water tanks for the cows to be able to drink.
#19 Ranch attire is required
I learned pretty quickly when my husband and I were first dating that designer jeans and converse shoes aren’t the best option for helping with ranch chores.
Oh yes, even back then, dates were filled with ranch work.
I knew when I bought my first pair of cowgirl boots, I was committed.
#20 This also applies to winter gear
If you live any place where the temperature gets cold, you’ll definitely want to invest in proper winter gear.
A quick trip to check cattle during the winter can lead to helping a mama cow with birthing a calf.
#21 Your refrigerator becomes home to odd stuff
Things I never imagined would suddenly show up in my refrigerator. Like animal vaccines, milk replacer, and colostrum for a bottle calf/goat.
#22 The ranch dog is more than just an animal
Oh, the beloved cattle dog.
It becomes a hardworking member of the cow working crew. And with that, it receives special privileges. I mean, I named part of my blog after ours, Boots.
Totally worth it!
#23 You’ll learn so many new skills
Some you never imagined.
Like trying to identify stains and properly clean rancher clothing.
Or learning how to spot the signs of labor in animals.
#24 Odds are that there will always be a project car
Or truck or some sort of machinery sitting around the ranch somewhere. And odds are that sometimes they end up being used for extra parts.
#25 Ranchers have a heart of gold
They will stay up all night with a newborn calf to try to nurse it back to health, even if they know it won’t make it through the night.
They will help out their fellow rancher with whatever needs to be done. This includes coming together, no questions asked to help one of their own.
Over the summer, some of our neighbors came together to help my father in law with working in the hay field because of his battle with illness.
And these are just a few of the reasons why I have grown to love my life as a rancher’s wife. It isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for another lifestyle.
God definitely knew what He was doing when He led me to my husband.