22 Aug
2014
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Really, We’re Not City Folk

Peering at a muddy pig through the fenceI overheard one of my boys refer to himself as a “city boy” and couldn’t help but giggle. Living in the heart of Wyoming makes it almost impossible to be a legitimate “city boy,” even if you do live in the state’s second largest town. At 50,ooo people, give or take, our town is larger by far than all but the Wyoming capital.

Three cows standing in a group

We have ample shopping and restaurant options compared to most of our state and even a public transportation bus system, but a city we are not. I’m not surprised my son thinks of himself as city folk. We have more than one set of friends who operate ranches, breed horses, milk their own cows and slaughter their own chickens. That’s not my day-to-day life. It never has been. Every attempt at growing any sort of food has always ended in failure. I have much to learn as far as gardening is concerned.

My husband is another story.

Two piglets standing in a pen

Craig’s dad grew up on over 150 acres of land in the northeast part of Wyoming. Craig and his brothers never lived on the “ranch.” Even when his parents opted for life in town, his dad still worked the land daily. It’s both a hobby and a passion. There have been cows, chickens, pigs, pint-sized hay fields and wild turkeys in some fashion for decades. Craig grew up mending fences, hauling water, gathering eggs and slaughtering animals for food.

Sinlge black and white cow with horns

We’ve only been to the ranch a handful of times in the 13 years we’ve been married. Each visit the boys are eager to help with chores. They want to check under hens for eggs, carry the feed buckets and check the water supply. The canyon walls feed their free spirits. Before I know it, hands are filthy from hard work and clothes are covered in a fine dust from scurrying over rocks and walking the dry dusty road.

Standing on and looking over a green corral fence

Our daughter is another story. She’s always been afraid of dogs, terrified at times. There’s no trigger in her short life to feed the fear. A poodle will send her into hysterics, so spending a day surrounded by cows was not her idea of fun. She’s just not a fan of animals. They make her jumpy and her heart races each time anything is near her, caged or not. The ranch is a little nightmarish with her. She clings to an adult at all times and will climb your body like a monkey any time a cow or pig even looks her direction. She, of course, is the one who slips in the fresh cow pies. As the hours passed, she cautiously settled into ranch life, stinky shoes and all.

Barbed wire resting on a fence post

It’s important to me that our kids understand how and where food comes from…real, wholesome, non-manufactured food. I want them to know the effort and sacrifice that goes into producing crops and raising livestock, even if it’s just a hobby or means to support one family. It’s difficult to miss my father-in-law’s work ethic as he flits from one chore to the next conversing with the cows as he moves along.

Small toad being held in a hand

Our recent trip to the ranch was filled with stories starting with, “When I was a kid….,” both from Craig and his dad. We connected with the land and the past as we lunched on boulders and hiked down a canyon to a spring/cave. It turns out I don’t have city kids, just Wyoming outdoors-loving folk who happen to live in town.

 

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