The education of a Cowboy’s wife….

9 Oct

I get the basic appeal of a cowboy. The boots, chaps, hat, jeans and attitude all add up to be a heart-stopping combination. From just plain cocky to a quiet confidence, the cowboy is a very attractive creature. Believe me, I understand.

I married one after all. And after all these years, we are still like teenagers in love. It’s nice. I’m a total advocate for it.

However, marrying a cowboy is not anything like it is portrayed in a romance novel.

So, with the help of an email I received years ago, I figured I’d fashion you a Cowboy Wife Survival Guide, just in case you decide to go marry a Cowboy. There’s a lot to learn about surviving the cowboy lifestyle.

1. Never believe it when a cowboy tells you he will “be right back” or “this will only take a little while.” I have waited for over an hour in the truck at the feed store waiting for him. I have waited over an hour with screaming children in the truck outside the auto parts store. I have followed him into the store and spent an hour following my children around the welding supply store putting things back on shelves. Nothing ever takes a “little while.” If you see the auto parts guy pull out a thick parts book, find a way to get the keys from the cowboy. It is going to be a “little while.”

2. If the Cowboy asks you to ride anywhere with him, he isn’t really wanting to spend time with you. He just wants someone to get out and open the gates. If you are short like I am, this will involve getting in and out of a 4X4 feed truck enough times to qualify for all of your exercise for the month. If there isn’t that much distance between the gates, I just walk along side the truck. Half the time, he drives on and leaves me…

3. You should always be able to tell the difference between all five identically colored horses from distances up to one mile. If you ever call a horse by the wrong name, he will never let you live it down. He will tell everyone that you have no idea which horse is which. Yet, you can cut five inches off your hair and dye it three shades lighter, and he will never notice.

4. He will expect you to find that one little stray cow in a dense thicket, but he won’t be able to find the tv remote sitting in the middle of the coffee table.

5. Learn to rope. It’s the only way you won’t get stuck running the chute for the rest of your life. This was a tip from my Mother-in-law. In my case, the learning to rope was more punishing than the running the chute. The Cowboy would almost stroke out everytime we had a lesson. So I had kiddos instead. I’m so busy managing them, I can’t run the chute.

6. Count everything. Everything that moves. Horses, cattle, deer, turkey, even the lightening bugs. A cowboy can glance over an area and within seconds tell you how many cows are there. The one time you don’t count, he’s going to ask you how many were out there. If you don’t know, you are bound to have to go back and count them, while he mummers under his breath about women in general.

7. Try to never drive the pickup truck or ride a horse in front of a cowboy. If you are driving to the horse barn, chances are he’s going to ask you to back up to something. And then he’s going to try and direct you. And then he’s going to ask you how you’ve survived all these years. Which is going to make you want to back right over him. He’s always going to have a problem with the way you sit in the saddle, how you reign your horse, the things you run over when you are driving, the speed in which you drive and the way you shift his precious truck. And you are always going to want to back over him.

8. When he yells “Don’t let go” or “Hold ’em, hold ’em,” brace yourself. You are about to get hurt. Ideally, never get yourself in a position to where you are holding the end of a rope or standing in an alleyway while he’s moving cattle around. I know this from experience. I reached up to stop a gate from slamming into me when the cattle hit and spent weeks with both wrists in braces. There is this one secret passed down from ranch wife to ranch wife that I’ll share with you now — you always have the option to walk back to the house.

9. Always close every single gate you come through. But don’t expect him to close the lid on the ketchup. His reasoning: animals get out, food will not.

10. Always praise him for doing the littlest thing around the house. The same way he praises you for helping out on the ranch…er, but a lot nicer.

11. Understand that when you leave the house you are no longer his wife. You are now a ranch hand. And better yet, you are a free ranch hand. You can’t quit and there is more work for you than you can imagine. He may call you the “best hand he has” but that is cowboy talk for “the only hand I have.”

I know I’m a Cowboy’s wife when I have spent more time driving from lease land to lease land checking cattle than cleaning house. I can change the flat on my truck, but the spare is on the trailer. My second vehicle is another truck and the vet’s number is on speed dial. My rock garden was hand picked from the horse pasture.

I can fix the rip in his pants and the fence that ripped them in no time flat. My current shopping list includes spark plugs and 20 gauge shells. My kiddos swim in a stock tank, the directions to my house include “miles, tall silo and feedlot pens.” My holiday decorations are stored in the horse barn. I’ve stood in the bucket of the front-end loader to repair things around here. I’ve fallen asleep in bed with my boots still on my feet.

All of that because when the Cowboy looks at me with those green eyes and smiles, I melt. And I’ll hurry to open and close every gate for him for the rest of our lives.



3 Responses to “The education of a Cowboy’s wife….”

  1. kelli olechnowicz October 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Oh how funny Lily. BUT I still have a major thing for cowboys! Its not good for me to go to the rodeo 🙂

  2. Ally October 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    Oh that was so good! I’ve spent enough time around horses and ranches to “get it”, but I do still love cowboys. I love that you are still like teenagers… despite the rest! Good for you!

  3. Art and Appetite October 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Haha! That was hilarious! And a good read as well. Hey, I kinda want to be in your spot now, haha.

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