Real Life Ranch Wife

Gearing Up to Catch Wild Cows

Jolyn Young prepares to cook at camp while her husbands catches wild cows.

Working with wild cattle is painful. It’s like the opposite of gathering and moving regular cattle.

Normal people don’t daydream about raising their kids in a maverick cow camp. But my husband, Jim, picked a mate who is just as cowboy crazy as he is, only smaller and with more cosmetic products, so we are taking steps to move in that direction as a family. We formed an LLC earlier this year with the express purpose of catching wild cows for a living, and if all goes well our kids will be able to tie stuff to trees before they can legally drive.

Jolyn Young prepares to cook at camp while her husbands catches wild cows.

But after advertising for two weeks, JY Livestock Gathering LLC received exactly one business call. It was from a gentleman asking if we sold pigs.

“No, and we don’t rent ‘em, either!” I said and slammed down the phone.

Actually, I gently pressed the little red circle on my smart phone with my thumb, which was not nearly as satisfying as banging a handheld receiver back down into the cradle so hard the twin buttons that regulated the dial tone got stuck in a depressed position.

Soon after, we received a more promising call. It was from a rancher who has maverick cattle on his leased ground and wanted them removed. While Jim scouts out that contract, I’m launching into full maverick catching preparation mode.

So far, I’ve made three pot holders. As the wife/camp cook/child minder of a wild cow man, my main job is to furnish the outdoor kitchen that we will use as camp headquarters. We are an equal-opportunity household, and Jim told me I could jump on a horse, crank a rogue bull’s head up to my saddle horn and lead him out of the cactus if I wanted to. But I don’t want to. I like to keep my muscles and reckless courage sitting in a 16-inch roughout saddle wearing a pair of Cinch White Label jeans and a four-day beard, right where he belongs.

Besides sewing hot pads so I can cook lasagna in a Dutch oven, I’m also tasked with coming up with the perfect motto for our new business endeavor. If Dale Brisby has taught the ranching world anything, it’s that every successful cowboy enterprise must have a memorable catch phrase, ‘Ol Son. So far, ours is a toss-up between “Lead the way or get out of the way,” and “It ain’t scary, but it hurts.”

Many aspects of catching and leading wild cattle are painful. It’s like the opposite of gathering and moving regular cattle. Wild cattle live in the brush, they hide in the brush, and they don’t want to leave the brush. A wild cow man’s job is to venture forth into the thickest, thorniest brush and emerge leading a maverick from the back of his horse. He then leads the animal to a stock trailer or set of corrals, changes horses, and heads back for more.

Meanwhile, I will be back at camp with my homemade pot holders and rustic Italian food. The kids will be playing somewhere nearby, and chances are good that at least one of them will be tied to a tree.

And there will not be a single pig in sight.

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