Real Life Ranch Wife

You’re a Cowboy’s Wife If …

The perks of being a cowboy's wife

Tattered bedroll tarps, beat-up trucks and fancy rope horses are just a few indicators you’re married to a cowboy.

If you’re a cowboy’s wife, you share in a unique sisterhood held together by dirt roads, canned vegetables and patched bedroll tarps. Our husbands value handmade saddles more than a running vehicle, and we know it. Here are a few other ways you know that you married a real, live, ride-for-his-money cowboy. 

… you drive a 20-year-old pickup with insufficient leg room and kids lining the backseat from window to window.

A couple of years ago, somebody saw our three-quarter ton ’01 Dodge with a shattered dashboard and new paint and asked Jim, “When do you give up on a pickup?”

“We don’t,” Jim replied. “We just drive it till the wheels fall off, scrap it for $200 and order a new saddle.” 

… your husband walks down the sidewalk with his hat pushed back while swinging an imaginary rope, then throws his loop and jerks his slack.

He’s like Rocky Balboa shadow boxing down the streets of Philly, minus the perma shiner and black leather tiger jacket. Although the jacket would spice up the whole blue jeans/white shirt/black hat look my husband has going on. I’m going to add that to his Christmas list. 

Being a cowboy's wife has perks
Being a cowboy’s wife comes with its share of special circumstances.
Photo by Ross Hecox

… your spouse wears a threadbare long sleeve shirt purchased five years ago from the sale rack of a feed store and a pair of handmade $500 boots.

Who are we kidding? I’m sure they cost more than that. That’s just the price tag he tells me. Kinda like how I say, “I won’t make fun of you in the blog this month, honey, I promise.” 

…you spent the first three weeks of your marriage sleeping in a bedroll.

When we moved to our first home on the 25 Ranch near Battle Mountain, Nevada, I cleaned for five days straight before the house was fit to unpack a single box of our belongings. We only had about three boxes of worldly possessions, none of which included a bed frame, so we slept on canvas and a foam mattress. But we owned enough silver bits and rawhide reins to fill a bridle rack, so we were happy. 

… you always have a nice rope horse to jump on whenever the feeling strikes.

I came back from headquarters to our cow camp home one day and found my horse saddled and the roping sled hooked up to the four wheeler with both kids loaded up and ready to cheer on Mommy while Daddy drove around in circles for the better part of an hour. Another time, he saddled that same horse and carried our infant son in a backpack and worked the ground while I roped a set at a branding. 

… you’ve patched his bedroll tarp so many times that you sew the new blue jean patches on top of the old ones.

At this point, it’s more like a tapestry of canvas, vintage denim, blue thread, Tear Mender adhesive, and burnt spots. What are the burnt spots from, you ask? Why, the time my husband fell asleep while reading in his teepee on the fall wagon and caught his bedroll on fire, of course. I could patch them, but then I couldn’t recall the memory and laugh, which is a major perk of being a cowboy’s wife.

3 thoughts on “You’re a Cowboy’s Wife If …”

  1. It was very interesting l often wonder what real ranching is like l grew up on a ten acre small holding in Norfolk UK and l loved it.

  2. I really enjoy your column! I am a cowboy wife in the Texas Panhandle and can relate to so much of what you say ???? cowboys must be the same all over the world


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