Posted by: highmountainmuse | October 20, 2009

Modern woman

Grasses in the rocks, a reminder of the wedding bouquet

Grasses in the rocks, a reminder of our wedding bouquet

My passion is my family, my mountain, my horses.  On these “pages” I share the simple life yet magnificent world around me.  I care not to, on principle, stir the pot.  My home is a guest ranch.  There is little room here on these wide mountains for conflict. My life is about giving.  Though I suppose it is in one way or another for most of you, for anyone living and leading a complete life.

But without standing up for what we believe in, what is right, and for the truth, we risk losing our world.  All of us.  Losing what is most precious to us all.  At times, we do need to take a stand.  Even on the most seemingly simple of issues. 

And so, I share with you a letter I wrote to a publisher of a magazine I adore.  It is a horse business magazine, run by a man, with the readership primarily women.  No problem there, of course, however… over the past year there have been featured articles about “ranching women” and all of them, every last one, were quoted on how they don’t need to, want to, or simply do not cook and clean, but get out there and do the “dirty work.” 

Got me thinking, what a surprise… and so I share this letter I wrote to the editor in praise of that “ranching woman” who does the “other dirty job” – the cooking, the cleaning, caring and caretaking, whatever needs to be done and whenever to make the whole ranch work, to keep the ranch and the family together.

Thoughts?  Women and men?  Ranchers and city folks alike?

…Part of “women’s lib” or whatever it is that allows us to be a modern woman, is choice.  And the old fashioned women’s ways should not be discredited or lost. They should still be a choice, though I see fewer and fewer who choose this role for a job. It is as tough a job as they get, a necessity, a solid foundation, and like with the growing lack of respect for “cowboy ethics” in the younger generation, a lost art.

Seems like most of the interviews put down having to stay home and cook and clean and teach the kids and be the doctor and the vet and all the stuff “traditionally” assigned to women.  It’s not as glamorous as being out there swinging a rope at brandings. No, it’s a lot harder in many ways, doesn’t stop as the sun goes down, gets very little recognition, but we all know the ranch (and rancher) would fall apart without it.  I wonder if it is not more real, too.  Are not more of your readers still interested in and practicing these valuable ways, means, and practices?  And shouldn’t they still be esteemed and admired?  Or are these ways too gone with yesteryear?

Maybe I’m the only one who feels there is a great deal of respect deserving for the woman who has remained in the role of caregiver, cook, etc. – despite the lack of romantic story and pretty picture that might go along with this “job.”  In fact, my greatest role models have been women who stuck strong to their ways and were always there doing the hardest job on the ranch… caring for the men, the families, the home, the meals, the garden, the schedule, whatever needed to be done – and then a lot more.  It’s a 24-hour job with no pay, no benefits, no fancy title except perhaps Wife or Mom.  But it’s a good job, and it deserves a little more reverence, and a reminder to women that it’s a really important place on the ranch. You can always hire another good ranch hand.  You can’t hire a good wife or mom.

Some jobs, some people on the ranch, are irreplaceable.



  1. Very well written Gin. I am very surprised about the “ranching women” saying they don’t desire to cook and clean because, as you said, that is a very important part of a ranch and household. I dare say it is just as important as the “dirty work”. Oh, well, what do I know. I, too, am one of those so-called “old fashion” women who get great joy in doing the things the “ranching women are claiming they have no need for. But, I don’t hesitate to do the “dirty work” (mine not quite the same as at the ranch but I mow, garden and pick up dog poop! LOL!!) as well.

    So, who does cook and clean and caregive and nurture at those ranches?

  2. A good women is very hard to find . One that is not afraid to get there hands dirty and work along side there husbands and more .Most do not get the respect they deserve .More than respect they need love and devotion .If you have a women like that hang on tight .Because loosing her is like loosing most of you .I know .

  3. Don, I wish I knew you and had known your wife. I know by reading your words that she was a wonderful person. I’m sad for your loss of her but joyful in knowing that you and she had such a loving, caring relationship.

  4. Karen, I thought of you when writing this as well, the similarities with your two and four legged boys, and your choice of priority. And your insight to Don’s comment – beautiful and true…

    Don, with a touch of humor here, and a bit of seriousness, too, I’ll tell you a good man is hard to find as well. I’m keeping this one!

  5. This expression really touched me, Gin. I’m torn between letting go of some of the “other dirty work” and getting an education. I’d finally reached a place of peace with that ancient role and realized I had to go back and retrieve an “education.” I’m finding that education to be very much about regurgitating what professors understand. It’s still a worthwhile effort. But you know what? The most precious role, the one that truly sets lives on paths of creativity and hope is this one “dirtier” role and I find the prospect of any other success to be secondary. Wow, the demands are huge, aren’t they? What a beautiful expression your letter is and so worth the spiritual assertion.

  6. Hi Gin, I agree with you and you’ve written it with grace (as usual!). Some of us chose the harder path and the reward is far above accolades and awards. I’m often told in a whisper by young women that it’s their desire to do just what I’m doing… getting my hands calloused and dirty, wiping tears and snot, shoveling heaps of manure and love!!!
    You are blessed my friend!

  7. Diane, I think about how I (we both, I think) prefer to shovel the real thing – rather than the proverbial “it.” It’s these simple things that keep us grounded. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though am glad it’s not for everyone.

    And Ruth – that’s what I think about with this – it is choice. Your choice now is taking you on great adventures around your world and inside your soul, still with the grounding of your home and children. Learning to balance… that’s the hard part. If it was easy, we would not learn, just do.


  9. Just catching up on reading… I agree with you that the critical word is “choice.” Cooking, cleaning, & caregiving are all jobs that have to be done in any home and should never be looked upon in dinstain. I drive a tractor, and wield a chainsaw. I also bake bread and treats that make the menfolk drool… The important thing is no one pigeon holes us into a role – we choose our place and then walk the path with pride! 🙂

  10. Wonderfully said, Maggie, thank you indeed!
    But tell me, do the men folk drool over the baked treats, or something even better?

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