I could totally see myself wearing yoga pants and signing for UPS packages while my husband was at work and Disney Junior blared in the background.
Instead, I live on a remote cattle ranch 2 1/2 hours from town and one hour past mail delivery. Amazon Prime and cable cartoons don’t apply to my life. Even though I grew up in the country, sometimes I think I’m not cut out for the unusually large amounts of dirt, wild animal encounters and solitude that is provided by my life as a cowboy’s wife. I want my children to be clean for longer than the duration of their baths. I want to see a tarantula never, instead of on my bathroom floor. I want to have a friend besides the windmill.
I dream of having real electricity. We live off the grid, so when the power goes out, I must get out of my warm bed — sometimes during a freezing rainstorm — and feel my way along the walls to locate a flashlight, find my husband’s boots, then brace myself for the final step.
“Here, take these and go start the generator,” I whisper as I shake Jim’s shoulder.
“Why? It’s the middle of the night.”
“I might want to make some microwave popcorn.”
“We don’t have a microwave.”
“I might want to watch TV.”
“We don’t have cable.”
“I might want to read a book.”
“Use your flashlight.”
If I lived close enough to other humans to have real electricity, I could probably also have someone to visit with besides my husband. I’m tired of meeting for coffee with the family dog and a windmill. The dog always has gas, and the windmill never holds up her end of the conversation.
I want to know what it’s like to buy bananas and have them arrive at my home bright yellow and unbruised. I wonder what it’s like to brake smoothly at the stop sign on the corner rather than shift into four-wheel-drive in order to make it through the cow pasture on my way to town. I yearn to own a house key and lock my car upon each exit. I want to walk outside my house in my nightgown to wave at the garbage man and embarrass my kids, not chase the bulls out of the front yard.
I could definitely envision myself driving a shiny SUV that has never seen a speck of dirt. Maybe a newer model in cobalt blue. In actuality, I do drive an SUV, but it’s a ’95 Jeep Cherokee. The paint job is flawless, but you’ll have to take my word for it, because it’s usually covered with dirt. It has a CD player and power nothing, but driving it makes me feel like Indiana Jones.
Shopping online with free overnight delivery is probably overrated, anyway. Playing in the dirt helps build my kids’ immune systems, and I keep reminding myself that tarantulas are harmless. At least the windmill doesn’t spread gossip (she’s not THAT kind of mill).
Plus, out here I have plenty of room to practice my off-road driving skills. Once I got the feel for four-low and made it through a few monster mud puddles, I realized that I could never hack it as a suburban housewife. Next time I see a giant arachnid in my house, I’ll just channel my inner Indy and crack a bullwhip at it…while screaming for my husband to come kill it, of course.
— Jolyn Young
Jolyn Young lives in a remote camp on the O RO Ranch in northern Arizona with her cowboy husband and their two small children. Just like more urban homemakers, she spends her days feeding, cleaning and entertaining kids. Unlike her suburban counterparts, she deals with vastly larger quantities of dirt and occasionally runs outside to chase bulls out of the front yard in her nightgown. Her humor column, “Desolate Ranch Wife,” is currently carried by publications in Nevada and Arizona. To read more of her writing, visit www.jolynyoung.com.