I’ve been thinking about an article titled “A More Realistic Set of Wedding Vows for Ag Couples” since I read it last week. I felt the desire to give my two cents on this subject and since today is J and I’s tenth wedding anniversary the timing is appropriate.
July 10, 2003 was a day that changed my life forever. My boyfriend got down on one knee, popped open a box containing a diamond ring and asked me to marry him. This came several weeks after J called and talked to my Dad about his intentions. September 18, 2004 we exchanged vows on a perfect fall day in Nebraska.
We made promise to be husband and wife. That promise looks a little different today than it did 10 years ago. In our young marriage we have faced challenges and heartache. Along the way we have grown as individuals, matured as a couple and have learned to work together on a daily basis. Some days our communication skills are excellent and I’m amazed at what we accomplished. Other days we need to review how to talk plainly and listen with understanding. I need to learn not taking every little thing personally. My hair has strands of silver and J is turning gray.
Being a ranch daughter, becoming a ranch wife that works in town and being a full-time at home ranch wife are three different things. There are no handbooks for a woman to read when she chooses to be full-time at home ranch wife. One really doesn’t know what the job totally entails until you jump in feet first and dog paddle like your life depends on it.
They say a couple that can work cattle together can stay together. Working cattle is the easy part; it’s the behind the scenes activity that demands strength. Cattle working days usually entail getting up really early to get dinner started, make ham sandwiches and a thermos for morning coffee. J double checks the vet box to make sure he has all the supplies needed to work cattle. He also packs vaccine and we handle any other last minute things that need attention. I might add my Rancher has a tough time sleeping soundly before a big day of working cattle.
During the actual gathering and working cattle there is usually an adequate amount of help. Pairs are gathered, worked and returned to pasture. In the case that something goes wrong we are thankful for extra help and blessed with excellent family and neighbors to work with. At the end of the day, we are tired, our bodies are stiff and we just want to sit down. When J and I get home we clean up vaccine guns, put away cattle working supplies, clean out the cooler, wash dishes, do chores, get ready for the next day (if we are working cattle again) and deal with any problems we came home to. At this point of being exhausted and dirty, feeling hungry and keeping tongue in cheek is where couples that can work cattle together stay together.
As every ranch or farm wife has a different experience there are somethings that need no explanation. I find comfort in knowing I am not the only one who struggles. Sometimes a kind smile and twinkle in the eye is all that needs communicated between ranch wives. I will admit, it’s fun to visit with other couples in production ag and share stories about the differences between men and women. Some of our farm wife goof ups can make for a few good laughs.
After 10 years of marriage, and closing in on two years working full time at home, I will say we can work cattle together, we are still married and neither one of us is going anywhere. I do have an advantage as I don’t think The Rancher has the patience to “train” another wife. Give me 10 more years and maybe I’ll have this gig down pat.