Saturday, April 23, 2016

Get it done...

Ranching is hard business. The heroine in my first novel learns this, as did I first hand, on my aunt and uncle's ranch they bought from her parents. And hard as I thought it was when I visited as a child, or later as an adult, it was so much harder in my grandmother's time.

No electricity, no running water, no neighbors, just grandma and grandpa--when he wasn't away working in the mines to supplement their meager income--a couple hundred cows, and a growing brood of children (five, total), and a whole lot of grit and determination.

I found an excerpt on the Net that describes a different woman's experience in the early 1900s, but I expect her description was very similar to a day in my grandma's life when she was a young woman in the early 1930s, carving a life out of BC's forested interior...

"Any bright morning in the latter part of May I am out of bed at four o'clock; next, after I have dressed and combed my hair, I start a fire in the kitchen stove, and while the stove is getting hot I go to my flower garden and gather a choice, half-blown rose and a spray of bride's wreath, and arrange them in my hair, and sweep the floors and then cook breakfast.

While the other members of the family are eating breakfast I strain away the morning's milk (for my husband milks the cows while I get breakfast), and fill my husband's dinner pail, for he will go to work on our other farm for the day.

By this time it is half-past five o'clock, my husband is gone to his work, and the stock loudly pleading to be turned into the pastures. The younger cattle, a half-dozen steers, are left in the pasture at night, and I now drive the two cows, a half-quarter mile and turn them in with the others, come back, and then there's a horse in the barn that be­longs in a field where there is no water, which I take to a spring quite a distance from the barn; bring it back and turn it into a field with the sheep, a dozen in number, which are housed at night..."

Read the full copy here:

The page shares a routine that contrasts sharply with most young women's lives today, and hopefully provides those same women some insight to what their grandmother's and great-mother's survived to enable them to enjoy their comparatively easy lives. That is what I took away from my visits to the ranch, how much I appreciate my modern existence.

In all those years watching my aunt haul water from the outside pump inside to boil for washing clothes, or sliding wood lengths into the stove before whipping up biscuit mix after a full morning helping feed two-hundred head, perched perilously on a stack of bales to cut twine and hurl hay from a sleigh hauled by a pair of Clydes piloted by my uncle, and this after having already strained the milk he brought up from the barn before they headed out to feed the bawling cattle...I never heard her complain. Not once.

Ranch women don't.

They do what needs to be done, much of it before sunup, and move on to the next necessary task regardless of the weather, or whether they believe they could, or should. It needs doing, so it gets done. That's a good a motto for all of us.

If it needs doing, get it done.

View of a hay barn on the ranch.
Round bales and tractors did not exist in my grandma's day,
or in the seventies; I rued the day they appeared
and rides on the sleigh--or skiing behind it!--while my dad
and Auntie tossed bales and uncle piloted, ended in favor
of Uncle roaring off on the tractor and feeding twice as
many cows in half the time...
Photo copyright Deborah A. Anderson, All rights reserved.


Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat. ~Ann Landers

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