Current Edition

current edition

Archives

A Day in the Life of a Young Ranch Wife

Written by Stacy Berger

It is particularly easy to romanticize my lifestyle and rightly so. We live in a place that displays God’s beauty so boldly and magnificently. We are surrounded by cattle, horses and playful barn cats, along with “man’s best friend,” used not only for working and moving cows but also for the family to enjoy for companionship. Baby calves in the spring remind us that winter is coming to a close, and we will once again enjoy the warmth of summer.

The manual work of harvesting hay in the summer reminds us about the verse in Colossians 3:23, which says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

So much pleasure can be found in a hard day’s work. Fall brings the paycheck that has desperately been needed, and calves are shipped to a new home. The mama cows get a much-needed break from their babies, and we get a much-needed break from the heat with the cooler fall weather. It is a beautiful season, where we start to think of sleigh bells ringing on a horse-drawn sleigh and hay rides in the red, tin sleigh with hot chocolate mustaches and chili with cornbread.

It is a beautiful life, and the traditions run thick in the agriculture world that we celebrate. Although you will hear us talk about our glorious life, we tend to romanticize it ourselves. The truth is, many days are hard. Have you ever been moving cows, and there is that one cow or calf that may be lame or not feeling so well? This particular individual has a difficult time keeping up with the herd. They do not want to get left behind, so they desperately plunge forward but are slow. And as you ride your horse behind them, you feel as though they are moving slower than molasses. As long as you stay behind this “sloth” and continually encourage, they can keep up, but otherwise, your efforts are in vain. You change direction and head to get a cow that has stopped to grab a bite to eat. Your eye spies that slow, pitiful individual lagging behind again. So, you step in behind her and continue to move forward at her dreadfully slow pace.

Just like moving that lame cow, some days in my life feel exactly the same way. No matter how hard you push, you just can’t keep up with the enormous workload or financial stress, as the bills pile up. You only get paid once a year, so budgeting for an entire year is difficult without knowing what expenses may come up.

Just like moving that cow, you have focused on one thing, and so many other things go unfinished. Those playful barn cats sometimes attack and bite. Sometimes, you want to curse those cow dogs because they have totally forgotten their training. Your horse bucks you off. You are up all night watching cows calve, and you have to call a vet to do a cesarean only to lose both the cow and the calf. There hasn’t been a drop of rain in two months, and the grass is burning up. All of your hay equipment is broke down in the middle of harvest. The horse is spooked of the sleigh. You burn your tongue on the hot chocolate and chili, and during the hayride, the worst snow storm of the year rolls in.

It’s just life.

Being a young ranch wife brings its own challenges. I have piles of laundry stacked up. Most of them have been washed, but that’s the easy part that the machines do for you. It’s the folding, hanging up and putting them away before the process really stops. I have been stuck 20 minutes before dinner after working cattle all day and staring at the pantry not knowing what I am going to cook, but I also have a baby, three children and a husband staring at me like baby birds ready to be fed. We never go to bed hungry, and the Lord has been faithful to provide, but some days, life is just hard.

I heard an anonymous quote that rang true with me. “It doesn’t matter what you do if what you do doesn’t matter.” What are you doing? Does it matter? If it doesn’t, you would be wise to find something else to do that does matter.

As a young ranch wife, what I am doing matters. I am providing food for the world. I am keeping family traditions that have been alive over 100 years. I am raising children to love and serve our Creator, and they are learning that everything we do is for the glory and honor of God. I am standing for truth in a culture that doesn’t have any truth.

It’s fun to think about the western lifestyle, and many people come from near and far to experience that lifestyle at guest ranches all over the state of Wyoming. After their experience, I can almost guarantee they look back with much fondness, but it takes a different breed of people to live the lifestyle year after year with the extreme challenges. Why do we do it? Because it matters. 

In the day to day struggles, it can be refreshing to have a group of people who are experiencing the same trials, the same joys and have chosen to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. That is what we received when we chose to be a part of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. Discussing our challenges and hearing how others have overcome theirs or seeing another young farmer or rancher implementing practices that you were considering can be life giving. If you have chosen to do something in your life that matters, I would encourage you to join others who have chosen to do something that matters, too.