Real Life Ranch Wife

Scary Situations

Mutton busting

October is the month for spooky things, but I don’t scare that easily — unless there’s a tarantula in the bathroom, a creaky sound when I’m laying in bed at night or I have to make a left turn without a stoplight.

The last time I was really scared was when my husband, Jim, handed me a bag of dirty laundry after returning home from camping in his teepee and said, “Good luck. This batch really stinks.” He usually doesn’t warn me, and it still really stinks, so that felt very ominous.

In the spirit of Halloween, here are a few other things that scare me.

A horse named Neck Brace. I wasn’t scared till I learned he earned that name after dumping his rider and putting him in a neck brace. Then I heard the spill was caused by the cowboy riding the horse directly behind a running yearling when the yearling tripped and fell in front of him, so I just rode to position and was fine.

Half-off day at the thrift store. You’ve never seen a stampede like the one that takes place in the home furnishings aisle of Goodwill on the third Saturday of every month. I went once and — actually, I chickened out and turned around on the sidewalk in front of the automatic door. I’ve never wanted someone else’s castoff waffle maker bad enough to hotshot my way through that wild-eyed crowd.

Phone call from any member of my husband’s cow-catching crew besides him. Every time, I answer by saying, “What hospital is he in?! How many bones did he break?! Is he on life support — he’s in a coma, I just know it!” The other cowboy always answers cautiously with a response along the lines of, “He lost his phone and just wanted me to let you know he won’t be able to text you for a few days.” Then I say, “Oh, yeah — of course,” hang up the phone and breathe into a paper bag until my heart rate slows back down to normal.

My husband’s bedroll. The thought of sleeping in it doesn’t scare me (anymore), but the thought of cleaning it after the winter work is through sends a cold bolt of fear running down to my fingertips, which are safely encased in rubber gloves. I’ve seen what’s in there, and there’s no way I’m touching it bare-handed. I unrolled his bedroll last spring and discovered piles of dirt, twigs, unwashed shirts, dried insects and dog kibble.

Apparently, there had been an incident with a horse pressed into service as a pack animal with insufficient training for the job. The roan gelding dumped both Jim’s bedroll and the bags of dog food he was supposed to carry to camp, tearing the canvas tarp in the process and mixing everything up. I think the dirty shirts just missed a ride to the laundromat.

Silence. My kids are old enough that silence is no longer terrifying, but it’s still suspicious. Sometimes, they hatch plans involving baseball hats or worn-out heel ropes that make me say, “We should have just gotten a puppy.” Then I realized that in addition to three kids, we have two actual puppies, so I helped the kids fashion a raccoon trap using the baseball bat to prop up a cardboard box and the rope to pull it shut. Trapping a wild animal is still less scary than dealing with Jim’s dirty laundry.

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