Real Life Ranch Wife

Wild Cow Catcher’s Log

Catching Wild Cows

It’s tough for couples to communicate, especially when one is in remote locations catching wild cattle. It makes your imagination run wild.

My husband, Jim, has been catching wild cattle in the Arizona wilderness since last October. While he is roping, riding, and sleeping in a bed roll, I’m at home in northern Nevada taking care of our three kids, a few dogs, and a handful of horses. Communication is limited due to lack of cell phone service, so his daily activities are largely left up to my imagination. 

Here’s what I think Jim does while on a wild cow contract:

Captain’s Log, Day 7: Spirits are high and the injury count is low. But it’s still early yet, and we could wind up demoralized and wounded by the end of the contract. Fingers crossed! 

Meanwhile up north, my spirits were also high. My house was clean, my husband was happy, and our kids were healthy. The injury count for my crew was fluctuating, though, because three kids who like to climb trees and fist fight tend to leave a mark. 

Captain’s Log, Day 18: We have caught a good many cattle and seen a fair piece of steep country. We roped most of those cattle running up or down the steepest parts of that country. Must remember to tell the wife about the bull that hooked my horse, knocked him down on top of me, and almost broke my leg. I think she’ll enjoy that story as much as she liked the one from last winter about breaking three ribs and bruising my internal organs. 

Catching Wild Cows
My husband, Jim, stays remote for weeks on end chasing wild cattle. Photo by Jolyn Young

In case I ever run out of things to worry about, I always have Jim’s work stories. Once I get past the initial wave of fear that rises up through my chest, I always laugh. Well, I usually laugh. Okay, I plan on laughing about it sometime in the near future. Mostly I just take a deep breath, sit down, and Google “cheap health insurance plans” on my phone. 

Captain’s Log, Day 27: Moved camp today. The crew and I were optimistic at the prospect of hot showers and a flush toilet. Our hopes were dashed when we discovered the water system depended on solar power, because we will never be at camp in the daylight. This bunkhouse totally sucks. 

Meanwhile up north, I enjoyed running water on a daily basis. I thought of all the hardships Jim was enduring for the sake of our family, from taking a walk with a shovel each morning to skipping showers six nights a week. I felt a bit guilty for taking a warm bath beneath an electric light. 

Then I remembered that he was playing Extreme Cowboy in rugged desert country filled with peace and quiet while I took care of too many kids two hours from town by myself with nary five minutes of silence. Then I felt less sorry for him. 

Captain’s Log, Day 47—I mean 53—maybe it’s 42: Have lost all track of time, as well as my cell phone. Note to self: When running through brush thick enough to scratch your face under your eye glasses, don’t put anything valuable in your shirt pocket. Am now communicating with the wife via the GPS system on my dog collars. 

Despite the significant per-text cost, I decided that nightly exchanges of, “I love you,” “No, I love you more,” “Okay, fine you love me more. Bye now,” was an acceptable use of our emergency communication device. Plus, maybe this way he won’t send me lengthy stories about horse wrecks. There are some things I’d just rather not know. 

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