Real Life Ranch Wife

Date Night at the Cookhouse

Cowboy Jim Young at cow camp

The cookhouse offers the perfect date night location for a ranching couple separated for three weeks by fall works.

I packed our usual suitcases, bed rolls, extra blankets, and car snacks before the kids and I left for cow camp to visit my husband where he had been day-working. I also straightened my hair, spritzed on perfume, and applied makeup like it was Ladies’ Night at my favorite bar in college, circa 2007. I hadn’t seen Jim in three weeks and dinner at the cookhouse was as close to a date night as I was going to get. It was definitely an occasion that merited eyeliner.

Cowboy Jim Young at cow camp

I was undeterred that our date night included three small children and a bunkhouse full of day-workers. We had gotten married when I was five months pregnant and had lived on remote ranches for seven years, so our own offspring and a random assortment of cowboys were both a constant presence.

Plus, it was good for the kids to sit at a new table and socialize with other adults. They were excited to learn commonly used cowboy phrases, such as “I hope we get to rope something today,” “Those big calves sure looked nice,” and “Gosh darn hunters better shut the gate!”

I was excited that the cookhouse featured potable water and a bottle of bleach. We’ve previously visited Jim on wagons where the dish washing water came from a nearby river and was stored in a rusty tank. I watched one cook dry the plates on the front of his dirty t-shirt, then shrug and place the dishes in the dusty tub marked “clean.” I’m not sure he bothered to even wash the forks. It was a treat to eat in a cookhouse where not only was the food excellent, but E. coli wasn’t even a significant threat. 

We all ate our fill of prime rib, fresh garden salad with three kinds of dressing, homemade dinner rolls, baked potatoes, and cheesecake topped with berries. It was a most welcome change from my standard solo parenting fare of Kraft macaroni and cheese and leftover hot dogs. During his 20-plus years as a working cowboy, Jim has improved his roping, horsemanship, and cattle reading abilities, but his biggest contribution to our continued happiness as a cowboy family has been his decision to pick wagon jobs based solely on the cook’s culinary skills.

“Hey, Jim, want to come work on the fall wagon?” a potential boss will ask.

“That depends on how long it is and how many horses I need to bring. Also, how many desserts are offered after each meal? I’ve grown accustomed to at least three selections, but I’d settle for two pies and a plate full of cookies.”

After the delicious dinner, we collectively retired to the living room to watch a communal movie. There was no Internet connection or satellite dish, so we watched a five-year-old film that was a new release to everyone present. The other cowboys gathered around the TV, sitting on the big couch and several recliner chairs. Jim and I snuggled on the love seat and made out until someone became uncomfortable.

“Ow,” I said. “Did you forget to pack razors? Your beard stubble is making me uncomfortable.”

“Sorry,” said Jim. “How can I make it up to you?”

I glanced slyly around the room, then whispered softly in his ear.

“Quick, while no one’s looking, get me a brownie from the kitchen.”

And he did. Mostly because he wanted to grab an extra one for himself, but I appreciated the sweet gesture nonetheless. After all, what is a date night without a little extra sugar, right?

1 thought on “Date Night at the Cookhouse”

  1. cowboys have always been my heroes since i was 6 yrs old. i fell in love with john wayne in the movie north to alaska. i think the history of the cowboy and where his way of life has led the world is most important to where we are today. city folks dont understand a lot about the cowboy way of life and the particular way he has of doing things cause a lot of bleedin hearts have kyboshed rodeo activities that have been around for eons that demonstrate the regular day to day activities that cowboys encounter in their lives. all thos activities came from the practiced skills of the real cowboys in both busy times and when the cowboys were bored and they practiced honing their many skills as a way to pass the hrs. and even today people dont realize what its like to be out on the range in the middle of nowhere nursing a herd of cattle to the high summer pasture and the many times they live out a bedroll or a wagon, or if theyre lucky enough to have a line cabin to eat and sleep in. may there always be cowboys cause i love u all!!!!!
    love from a cowgirl in CANADA!!!!!


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