Real Life Ranch Wife

Summer Road Trip (or Something Like it)

Kids and hound dogs on the ranch

When a ranch wife’s husband leaves on a summer road trip with the kids, he returns with a few unexpected surprises.

When we recently bought a horse trailer located in a different state, my husband took a summer road trip with our two older kids to pick it up. He left me home alone with just our toddler — a real lightening of my daily workload after caring for three kids 24/7. I thought I might use the to take a nap, read a Preston & Child novel, or binge watch the new season of Married at First Sight.

Within an hour of beginning my staycation, I had cleaned an entire tube of Go-Gurt off my arm, scrubbed half a bowl of oatmeal out of the carpet and forgotten to eat my own breakfast.

I picked up the phone and called my husband.

“Hey, you forgot something,” I said.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Your toddler.”

He hung up the phone and never came back.

Just kidding. Of course he came back; he left his entire Kerry Kelley bit collection at the house.

Eventually, Jim returned from Arizona with the horse trailer, a floorboard full of empty Red Bull cans and two severely sunburned kids.

“Did you forget sunscreen?” I asked as I Googled “when to take your child to the ER for sunburn” on my phone.

“What is sunscreen?” Jim asked. “Were they supposed to use it? We only went swimming every day.”

“How hot was it?”


“Yes,” I said. “Yes, you were definitely supposed to put sunscreen on the kids when you took them swimming in 100-plus degree weather.”

“Oh,” Jim said. “Sorry. But, we brought you puppies!”

Hound-dog puppies on the ranch
A trio of hound-dog puppies are the newest additions to the Young household.
Photo by Jolyn Young

“Great,” I said. “Is that because I keep saying how much I need more things to chew up my flip-flops and poop on the lawn? Because we already have a toddler, you know.”

“Yes, but so far he shows no inclination of striking a track and holding up wild cows in the brush until I can get to them,” Jim explained. “Unless one of our kids can put their nose to the ground and follow a scent trail, we need catch dogs.”

Just then, I heard a terrible sound come from inside the horse trailer. It sounded like the wail of a demon who had his tail stuck in a door and each foot caught in a mouse trap. I peeked tentatively through the slats, more than a little afraid of what specter I might find. I hoped it didn’t bite.

Three barely-weaned hound-dog puppies looked back up at me. They all wagged their tails and bounced on their hind legs, excited to see a human face. The two females were gray, and the lone male sported the classic markings of a Bluetick Hound. He pointed his nose in the air, opened his mouth and unleashed that ungodly racket.

“Did you know he made that sound when you picked him?” I asked Jim.

“Yes, that sound is why I picked him,” Jim replied. “When he grows up, his voice will carry a long ways and I’ll be able to hear when he has something bayed up from a long ways off.”

That made sense. I guess it was kind of like when the rotten stench of tempered rawhide fills my house when Jim braids reins in the kitchen; some things that are “cowboy cool” are less than desirable to have hanging around the house all the time.

“I’m glad you’re home,” I told Jim. “But the next time you leave for a job, you’re taking that puppy.”

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