No human is expected to be more places at the same time. 


Ranchers’ wives are expected to be found right beside their husbands when it comes to feeding, dehorning, and branding. But they stand back holding their breaths, hiding their eyes, and keeping their mouths shut when it comes to trading, roping, and doctoring. They can be seen streaking across the sagebrush and sandhills pocked with gopher holes atop a half-broke bronc that wouldn’t do a thing wrong.

Bankers put their trust in them to help out, plant gardens, can vegetables, raise chickens, do sewing and tailoring (make clothes for half price), bake their own bread, and make every dollar count and stretch.

The city gals can’t see how they get to places on time (get up at five a.m.), get so much done in a day, get so tan in the summer, prepare such delicious meals without running to the corner store (shop once a week), and would just go crazy with it so quiet way out here in the sticks.

When it comes to fairs, auctions, and what have you, it seems there’s always a wife that sure won’t have anything to do that week and would be glad to take entries, keep time, sell tickets, keep the coffeepot hot, and fix sandwiches. She doesn’t complain about skimping for those $40 boots (they look real neat), keeping the kids home and safe while the men play poker, go to horse and cattle sales, or just visit with the guys (they come home with some fun stories once in awhile).

The wives love poodles, cuddly kittens, baby calves, baby chickens, newborn colts (name them all), flowers, and their rancher husbands. They put up with hats on the bull’s horns hung in the front room, spurs under the chair, manure tracked on the rug (after all, those cattle are paying for that rug), lariats under the stove (must get it dry, someone just might want to rope this evening), baby calf in the kitchen (almost frozen in a blizzard), and late meals.

Today’s wife must be a wife, mother, referee, secretary, treasurer, bookkeeper, 4-H leader, club president, Sunday School teacher, dancing instructor, income tax authority, chauffeur, fence builder, assistant vet, Quarter Horse enthusiast, dollar stretcher, and gate painter. She also doesn’t holler about the dirt in her face and hair, or sunburn acquired at Sunday’s local rodeo (in fact it kinda grows on you).

She stretches more money and comes up with fewer groceries each year.

True, no woman has more trouble getting her husband to church, but no woman gets more lessons in fair play, sportsmanship, and respect for God’s creatures and creations.

She carries in her purse matches, staples, Kleenex, nails, safety pins, exact measurements of the arena being dreamed of, grocery bills for the last two weeks, receipts from most anything, lunch tickets, checkbook (flat), lipstick, cattle buyer’s telephone number, next Sunday’s rodeo entry time closings, and baby diapers.

No human is expected to be more places at the same time.

She’s wishing for a new refrigerator and stereo–will get them in the fall–which fall?

No one is more willing or able to haul hay, drive the tractor, pickup, or truck, trailer horses, break ice, fix dinner for branders, bake a cherry pie from scratch, cook for the haying crew, welcome unexpected visitors, or bandage a wound.

The rancher’s wife is a wearer of Levi’s, sloppy shirt, and discarded coat; no use to put on a dress – “Honey will you come head this steer off?” “Mom, I can’t get the horse saddled,” and “Oh my gosh, the pigs are out and I’ll have to fix fence.” But when steppin’ out time comes, she does dress up occasionally in the dress she found on the markdown rack last season. She also has her western dress up clothes and they must fit just right. She shines her Sunday boots, brushes up her hat (sometimes Dad’s last year, but nobody will know), and gets the kids a shinin’. She’s laughed at by city gals, admired by fascinated little gals, and loved by Dad and all the kids.

She is an indispensable part of the rancher’s life and business, and you can’t name one thing she isn’t willing to try just once. As the saying goes, “Behind every successful man stands a woman telling him what he did wrong.”

This article was originally published in the April 1971 issue of Western Horseman.

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