In a Sow’s Ear 10-19-09
“Letters of a Woman Homesteader” by Elinore Pruitt Stewart is the account of a Wyoming homesteader told in her own words through letters. It was made into a well-done movie some years ago. Well-done because the screen writers didn’t try to glitz up the tale. The script actually depicted the hardships and heartaches as well as the joy and satisfaction of her life. And the movie did the same.
The following is a slightly edited “Letter of a Woman Rancher” of today. She and her husband raise cattle, sheep and goats along with taking care of the usual complement of horses, cats and dogs found on a busy working ranch. For alias names, let’s call her, Jenny, and him, John.
We are about two-thirds done calving the fall group. Had two born dead; one cow was trying to have hers with both legs back (calf legs were doubled back under its body in the birth canal). Wouldn’t you know it, John was away from home. This could have been another Heroic Ranch Woman Moment if the calf had been alive. Instead all I had to show for my efforts was an upset cow and a huge dead calf.
We had a set of twins, but they were tiny and weak. It’s taken a lot of attention and medications to keep them going. In fact, one spent the night in my dog crate in the utility room. That was a lot easier than trudging to the barn every couple hours. We gave one twin to one of the cows that had a dead calf. She’s one of our biggest cows, but she loves her tiny baby. If she doesn’t accidentally squish it, it’ll have a good raising.
So that’s what we’ve been up to. Calving twice a year has us always on the go, but it does spread the work out and goodness knows spring is busy enough with the goats and sheep joining in on the fun. We’ve already marketed the ewe lambs and all of the goat kids born last spring, so that really lightened my work load this fall. Almost feels like I’m on vacation!
My mule is to have his feet soaked in a special solution once a week. At first it was three times a week – 45 minutes per foot. Thank goodness he likes to stand around and do nothing! He has whiteline disease. Until his feet are regrown, he needs to be soaked.
Well, the sky is getting light in the east. I’d better “git” to the barn.
Jenny and John
Any ranch woman who reads this can identify and smile along with Jenny. Ranch women’s daily lives won’t be in history books. Their accomplishments won’t be made into movies. Jenny is not only a true blue ranch woman, she’s also a remarkable poet and a talented artist-cartoonist. But if you think that’s unusual, hear this: All ranch women are multi-talented in their individual unique ways. They can balance the books, pull a calf, quilt a prize-winning coverlet; dance up a storm; sing better than Reba; write poetry; run local community groups; bring down a deer or antelope for the meat freezer; shuffle kids back and forth to school activities; cook up a storm for a crew or an entire dance festival; clean the chicken house; run the baler and the swather, drive the stock truck, ride the colts … the list goes on.
You won’t see a country woman in the movies, her name won’t be in the history books – and she couldn’t care less.
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