I realize we’re only a few short weeks into November, but I’m itching to put up my Christmas tree. We received 3-inches of snow last week, and now that my pumpkins and Halloween decorations have been buried with the white stuff, I have lights and garland dancing in my head instead.
As a homemaker, the picture-perfect snow outside my window makes me want to cozy up in front of the fireplace, sipping on a mug of hot cocoa and watch Christmas movies while I wrap presents to place under the tree.
As a rancher, my reality is much different than my idealistic view of the snow from indoors. Although winter hasn’t hit with a full force yet, after any blizzard or snow storm, I know there is much work to be done outside. Here is how a typical day in the snow goes for me.
Dropping my visions of a peaceful day making gingersnaps and bonbons, my husband calls from the door that he needs help. His boots leave a brown, wet puddle on my freshly washed kitchen floor. Deciding it’s too early in the day to scold him, I ignore the puddle, but not before stepping in it with my white socks. A quick change of socks, and I gather up my coveralls, face mask, gloves and winter boots.
“Don’t forget the long johns. It’s cold out there,” my husband warns.
Once outside, the snow turns into a cold sludge that I have to drag my heavy winter boots through. One step at a time, I follow my husband’s much larger footsteps to walk through the heavy, deep snow down the driveway from the farmhouse to the cattle yards.
Once we arrive to the cattle yards, I have to grab my shovel and dig. Scoop out the feed bunks, chop open the waterers, break through a snowbank blocking the barn door — thus is the life of a rancher. By this time, I’m hot and sweaty under my many layers. I flip my damp face mask up, and keep working. Soon I ditch my coat and just wear my coveralls. Now I’m damp and cold. Is there no way to run my thermostat outside? I can’t seem to find a happy medium, but that doesn’t matter; there’s cattle to be fed. That’s our priority.
In the feedlots, the snow turns into a gooey, brown mess as the cattle waddle through the cold mush. Their whiskers, eyelashes and backs are dusted with the white stuff, and a grey fog emerges from their mouths as they breathe in and out. Their warm coats protect them from the cold weather, and they watch and wait patiently for me to carry buckets of grain through the mud and snow to their feed bunks. All is quiet except for the crunch of my boots sinking into the snow. Suddenly, I lose my balance and PLOP, I’m sitting in the mud and the snow. My feed buckets have tipped over, and there is a group of greedy, hungry heifers gathering around me to quickly clean up the corn from the ground.
“What the heck are you doing laying there?” hollers my husband.
Rolling my eyes, I stand up and steady myself under my many layers.
“I’m OK. Don’t worry about me.” I sarcastically respond.
He’s already in the tractor, starting it up, so we can feed hay.
My next job is opening all of the gates for him. I trudge through more snow and wait for the tractor. I start daydreaming again of my twinkly lights, festive garland and proud-standing Christmas tree. I guess decorating the house will have to wait for another day. This is the life of a rancher’s wife. Strangely enough, despite the fact that my life wouldn’t be pictured on the cover of Good Housekeeping magazine, I wouldn’t trade my life on the ranch for nothing.
From my place to yours, cheers to a happy, healthy winter on the ranch! ❖