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BravoTV Should Make A New Reality Show: Real Ranch Wives Of Rural America

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My hat goes off to farm and ranch women today.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this but, on occasion, I tune into BravoTV’s reality series featuring the Real Housewives of New York, Beverly Hills, Orange County and New Jersey. The show features women who live lavish lifestyles -- their glitz, glamour, diamonds, sprawling mansions and extravagant events are a far cry from my modest life in rural South Dakota.

As I’m writing this, I’m covered in mud and straw. My life these days feels a little like musical chairs. I sit down to write, get up to check cows, pen up a calving cow, make sure her baby is up and sucking, lay down fresh bedding, haul away manure, haul water, feed hay, check cows again, run to the house to blog, clean up and make a quick dinner, go back outside -- you get the picture. My boots and coveralls go on and off me repeatedly throughout the day as I try to manage my calving responsibilities with my writing deadlines.

It’s days like this when I’m covered in the muck of calving season, my hair is a mess, and makeup and perfume are long forgotten that make it blatantly obvious to me that I will never be a real housewife of Beverly Hills. I’ll never have the free time to plan elegant dinners, tan by my pool, get my nails done, drive my Escalade down Rodeo Drive, sip martinis with my girlfriends, be pampered with leisurely facials and enjoy fresh-cut flowers in every room of my home. And, although all of these things would be nice, I wouldn’t trade my rural lifestyle for anything in the world.

So, BravoTV, if you want a suggestion for a great reality show -- unlike any you’ve ever produced in the past -- consider this idea: The Real Ranch Wives of Rural America. The women on the show know how to drive a tractor and a four-wheeler. They can saddle up a horse, rope a calf, run through the snow and mud, work through any weather condition, and care for their livestock. They can also put a hot meal together in less than 20 minutes; do loads of laundry in record time; maintain a clean home even when family members are dragging dirt and straw in the entryway every time they come in the house; raise a family; keep a job in town; and look good doing it all, too. These are the real women we should be featuring on television; they are super heroes.

Admittedly, I don’t know if I have this whole ranch wife thing down yet. However, I have generations of women in my family who have successfully managed it over the years, so I certainly have good role models and mentors to learn from.

I could probably write more anecdotes about the unsung heroes of women in agriculture, but it’s time for me to head back outside and check cows again. My hat’s off to you today, farm and ranch women! Thank you for everything you do!

Are you a farm and ranch woman? What is your best advice for other women to keep everything in balance and accomplish the many tasks you have to do throughout the day? Do you have any favorite quick go-to family meals? How about tricks to get mud stains out of coveralls? Share your best tips in the comments section below.

By the way, for a good read on this topic, check out USA Today's, "Breaking The Glass Ceiling: More Women Are Farming."

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 57

Shirley Betzner (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

My biggest bit of advice is don't plan anything during calving season, especially IF you have friends whom aren't farm wives. That way, no one is disappointed. They don't understand your lifestyle anyway, and no matter how you try to explain why you 'can't', they just can't 'get it'. And, when your up in the wee hours checking on the cows... haul the crockpot out, and fill it up! At least supper will be ready at the end of the day. I think the crockpot is my best friend!

on Mar 21, 2013

Shirley, I have had to learn that the hard way. My girlfriends in town like to get together pretty frequently, and I'm sure I seem anti-social, but calving season takes top priority...so I just say I'll see my girlfriends in the summer -- once the pairs are out to pasture, cows are calved out and planting is done!

And, absolutely a crockpot is a woman's best friend! I also take meat out to thaw the day before, so I can easily throw it on the grill when we get inside (yes, we grill year-round!)

Darcy (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Great post! I'm only 30, so I don't know if I have the whole ranch wife thing down too, but one thing I always try to do is be patient, and love my husband unconditionally. It's hard work running a ranch, and a little extra patience - especially at the end of the day during calving season - can really make a difference in a marriage.

I agree with Shirley - my favorite crockpot recipe is PW's Drip Beef; place a roast or stew meat in the crockpot, cover with a jar of pepperoncinis & their liquid, add a Tbs of italian seasoning, and a can of beer (or cup of water). Place on low - and walk away for the day. Then shred, and place on rolls with a slice of cheese. No man has ever turned away one of these sandwiches! :)

As for the laundry....Simple Green is your friend. I add a 1/4-1/2 cup in every load of "barn clothes" along with my regular detergent, and you'll be amazed at how much that helps. I have a front loaded, so if you have a top load, I'd probably add a bit more.

Sorry for the long comment....but thank you for this post. It's great to have a place where ranch wive's can cheer each other on.

on Mar 21, 2013

Darcy, I love your comments! Yes, PW's recipes are great! My husband loves her lasagna!

I have never heard of Simple Green; I will have to look for it the next time I'm shopping. Thanks for the tip!

And, absolutely its important to have extra patience and love this time of year in a marriage. We have learned to laugh at the little things, so we try to make the hard work fun. It's so much better when you can smile and laugh while working.

Thank you for your thoughts!

Darcy (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Most people use Simple Green in their shop....it pulls oil off of concrete, etc. But it's all natural, and I've used it my laundry for years. It is especially good at taking that dingy/greasy feeling out of jeans. I buy it in gallons at Costco, but you can also buy it in gallons at Home Depot, or in smaller sizes at any grocery store in the cleaning aisle (it usually isn't next to the laundry detergent).

on Mar 21, 2013

We don't have a Home Depot or a Costco around here, but I'll try Menards or Walmart and see what I can find. Thank you!

Joy (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

You probably won't find Simple Green in the laundry section, but instead look for it in the automotive section of your store. I use it for everything! Spray on directly as a laundry stain remover. Put some in each load of work clothes. Use it as an all-purpose cleaner for mopping floors. I first discovered it when having a company car detailed. The previous driver left a stain on the gray cloth seat that appeared to look like a cup of tobacco juice had been dumped on the seat. I told the guy at the car wash/detail shop I didn't know if he could get it out without shampooing or something drastic. He said he'd try this first...and sprayed on this green stuff and took a little brush and scrubbed for a little bit. It took it right off. I asked him what it was, and he said, "Simple Green." It made me a believer! Amazing stuff!

on Mar 21, 2013

Wow! It does sound like it could be a very versatile addition to my cleaning/laundry regimen! Thank you!

Charlie Powell (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

The best thing you can do is stop watching reality television if your workload is as described.

Next, realize there is nothing based in reality on those programs other than the humans in the roles. These productions are much more like professional “rasslin” than they are documentaries. If it were a true, real documentary look at daily life for anyone, it would:

1. Not be scripted at all; these are.
2. There would not be two to four shots of the same person saying the same thing from different angles. The lack of such footage to edit in would be apparent, as it is in true documentaries.
3. Sound quality would suck because people would not be miked up for perfect sound and asked to repeat what they said in a sit down segment.
4. Lighting really? You think the perfect lighting of all those shots just happens by chance for HDTV?
5. There would be little or no corporate sponsorship and few advertisers would cue up to buy time around them. Do you honestly think any reality star actually purchases with personal funds everything you see in the shows? Do you think their wardrobes come about by pure chance? Not hardly.
6. If your “real life” were a hot commodity, a different sector of television producers would be tearing your fence down to get to you. Reality TV exists on your unreal or surreal life.
Before you wish to be featured and you shoot photos to try and resemble a production’s promo photos, watch the Documentary Channel. Yes, I know, too boring, camera wiggles too much, can’t hear what they were saying well, there are these fuzzy areas over things like logos and brand names, and you’d never wear what those people are wearing.
Also, spend some time reading about the great lengths people go to actually conduct research in sociology and anthropology by NOT influencing the people they study.
Be careful what you wish for. A production company may just come calling. Name one such program that is not exploitive.
Are these programs successful? You bet. Would you and your friends be able to live out your life normally on camera as you fantasize it? Not a chance. Would the dignity and value of your daily ranch life be featured? No. Who among you drinks a wee too much? That will be featured. Who’s a little overweight and wishes they weren’t? Who’s the drama queen among you? And I’m sure you all get along with all your in-laws and neighbors perfectly and there are no family conflicts to exploit and broadcast to the world? Oh and there are no people in your past they could dig up completely without your knowledge and cut them in for the final production to provide “contrast,” right?
Finally, if you truly want the public to see your real life in film or television, pool your money, solicit unrestrained corporate money, form a non-profit, and then spend the time to seek out and pay, up and coming film documentarians/directors. Watch a lot of documentaries so you know what you want. “Produce,” the film yourself with the goal of hitting and winning a major film festival and push to have it picked up for distribution. Or shoot a “sizzle reel,” and have a marketer shop it to TV execs. for pick-up. Only then, will you have a chance to be portrayed accurately.

on Mar 21, 2013

Charlie, apparently the sarcasm in my post was lost on you. Yes, I realize that these reality shows are far from reality. And, yes I know these people are exploited for entertainment. Frankly, I have no real desire to watch every episode or be on an episode myself....I was just having a little fun with this post -- NOT to be taken literally.

on Mar 21, 2013

Amanda, if you produced "Real Life Ranch Wife" few viewers outside of agriculture could comprehend the content.

on Mar 21, 2013

On the contrary, a show like that might introduce the rest of the world to the women behind the food they eat. It could be a positive thing, too!

on Mar 21, 2013

We can always hope viewers could grasp the complexity of your lives. Talk about "multitasking"!

on Mar 21, 2013

Who among you drinks a wee too much? That will be featured. Who’s a little overweight and wishes they weren’t? Who’s the drama queen among you? And I’m sure you all get along with all your in-laws and neighbors perfectly and there are no family conflicts to exploit and broadcast to the world? Oh and there are no people in your past they could dig up completely without your knowledge and cut them in for the final production to provide “contrast,” right?

It's been done. They called it "Dallas"

on Mar 21, 2013

Yes indeed. I think in this world where there is a reality show spin-off at every turn, most of us know it's not the life it's cracked up to be.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Love the idea! And I agree, wouldn't trade my rural life - I used to think I would, however. :)

on Mar 21, 2013

You and me both. At one point, I wanted nothing more than to have a big city life, but today, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Be flexible!!! if you can be flexible and not let interruptions stress you out, your life will be so much better. Just go with the flow and if your house doesn't always look like something out of a Better Homes and Garden magazine, then that is OK. A true friend won't judge you!

on Mar 21, 2013

So true! I always wish I had the time to decorate my home with cute Easter and spring decorations, but with calving, there is simply no time! I figure I can dust and scrub in June when calving is long over for the year! :)

Tana Beckstead (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Love this Amanda! Thank you for being the voice of us ranch wives everywhere!

on Mar 21, 2013

Thanks, Tana! It's nice to know other women can relate!

on Mar 21, 2013

Us guys married to you ranch wives would be in deep do-do without you.

on Mar 21, 2013

Hahaha, yes you would! (At least my husband would anyway! He would eat cereal and frozen pizza every day!)

on Mar 21, 2013

Amanda, as I posted above: if you produced

"Real Life Ranch Wife"

few viewers outside of agriculture could comprehend the content.

on Mar 21, 2013

I doubt BRAVO would even consider such a thing, but I do think cattle women have stories worth telling, and I think people would enjoy them.

on Mar 21, 2013

Discovery Channel's Animal Planet did a series a few years ago, "The Last American Cowboy". It involved some neighbors of ours. There were some pretty hearty gals shown there, could have been a series in itself about the wives.

on Mar 21, 2013

I remember that show and enjoyed it, too. I agree that the women could have made a spin-off all on their own!

sodak rancher (not verified)
on Mar 22, 2013

I thought there would be a second season of Last American Cowboy, if there was, we did not catch it. Do you know why there wasn't? Really enjoyed that show.

on Mar 23, 2013

It would be interesting to see where those ranches are now as compared to when the series was filmed.

Mathena (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Hey, ham sammich makes the world go round.
I know if it wasn't for my Mom keeping us fed I probably would look like a boney cow on her last leg.

on Mar 21, 2013

Haha! I like the visual, but glad your mom is taking care of you!

on Mar 21, 2013

Great fun post Amanda! So true, women in agriculture wear so many "hats"! It is a great feeling knowing A of all we aren't alone, and B of all that we can be so versatile! Schedule f...how kind of you to admit that you would be in deep. Most ranch men would be!!

on Mar 21, 2013

It is reassuring to know we aren't in this alone! I love the responses on this post so far! Thank you!

Katlyn Rumbold (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

I love this idea! I think it's important that America begin's to see the face who grows their food. Us farmin' gals have a lot on our plates! (pun intended)hahaha

on Mar 21, 2013

Thanks, Katlyn! I'm hoping a lot of people share this post in the first step toward telling the story of women in agriculture.

Emma (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Good intentions, but sadly they would probably make the same mistakes of many other 'real wives' shows. (CMT's Texas Women). Drama and sex sells and they would chose cast members who would most likely not represent the whole and be an embarrassment.

on Mar 21, 2013

You're probably right, Emma. This post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek though. I do feel like women in ag are worth celebrating and have great stories to tell!

Lindsey (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Growing up on a cattle ranch myself I see everything you write about. One meal my mom used to always make is this great one pan wonder she calls Beef Corn Dandy. All you do is brown a pound of ground beef then mix in a can of corn, a can of diced tomatoes, and then when its all mixed and heated add cheese to the top. She usually paired it with corn bread and fruit of some sort. Dinners were always made quick but they were the best ones because you never knew what time you were going to get to come in and eat and what would happen after dinner you had to run to do.

on Mar 21, 2013

I just read this recipe to my husband; he's requesting it for dinner tonight!

Lindsey (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

That is awesome! If you make it, I hope he likes it.

Cynthia Nelson, Nelson Ranch (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

Awesome post!! Yes, us ranch wives do alot especially during calving season!. I had to work night shift last night at our local rural hospital, drove home with a double mocha (1hour 30 min drive) , came home to my husband who just came in at 1000 am saying he had a flat tire on his tractor this morning and could not finish feeding the fall pairs up the road, still had 15 calves born since yesterday that need to be tagged as well, etc. I needed to get some hay to some of my horses from another barn, so no sleep again this am until at least 1 hour or so more. Boy, I really don't know how we do it all!!! I better get my 4th wind.... Been up since 2 pm yesterday afternoon, at least it is sunny and not snowing now! We really do love this life to make this place work for all of us

on Mar 21, 2013

Sounds like you need a good night's sleep, that or another double mocha!

Laurie Johnson (not verified)
on Mar 21, 2013

We are currently lambing and calving, because last year we went through 2 months of night checks and being the "smart" people we are, thought it would be good to do it all at the same time to keep the barn warm and if we are getting up for lambing we might as well get up for calving. We have been proven wrong! We have been able to get our 40 ewes all lambed out in 2 weeks, and calves are just starting. I feel like I am a terrible wife because 2 weeks worth of laundry built up and cereal or pizza seems to be our supper of choice for the last month. I am not sure I have cleaned since we started lambing. I think I need to find a cooking/cleaning lady! :) The crockpot is a life saver when I remember to do it in the morning before leaving for work. I recently saw that Mary Lou King won Unstoppable Moms on the Live with Kelly tv show and she is truely an inspiration to all of the farm wives out there! I don't think without farm wives much would get done!

on Mar 21, 2013

Hi Laurie! I hope lambing/calving goes smoothly even though it's a crazy time! I will have to check out that Unstoppable Moms segment..pretty cool!

Hope to see you at the Auxiliary meeting in a couple of weeks!

Tara (not verified)
on Mar 22, 2013

Amanda,

This was wonderful! My husband sent me the article; wouldn't the world be suprised at what farm and ranches wives do!

I agree that friends that are not agriculturally connected have trouble understanding how our plans and lives revolve around what's going on on the farm. That during calving season and wheat harvest, those two things take priority. The be flexible comment is so true! My mother-in-law and I will be half way through fixing supper to take out to the field, with a pie in the oven, and have to left to go help move the tractors and combine, but I LOVE my role in it all! It's a great life!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 23, 2013

I love your comments and will definately try Simple Green! I am a veterinarian who grew up as a farm girl. I've owned cattle my whole life. I am married to a farrier who grew up in the city. I'm fortunate to work part time from home for the local vet school, but I love cattle and I am trying to grow our herd. My husband shoes horses full time so I take care of the kids and the cows while he is working. I really look forward to reading comments about trying to balance everything and keep the house clean at the same time!

Joan (not verified)
on Mar 25, 2013

I have been a farm wife for 55 years and my husband is 78 and still going strong. He will never retire..I still do all of the ranch and farm bookwork. I remember those days when I still could juggle 15 things in the day. My tip for cooking quick meals has always been a pressure cooker. You can brown meat add potatoes and carrots on top add chicken or mushroom soup and have dinner in 10 minutes. I gave all of my daughter-in-laws a pressure cooker but I don't think any of them use it. My mother always used one so I guess you have to grow up using them. You can have fresh green beans cooked with bacon and onion all done in 5 minutes. Try one you might like it. I don't miss the days I spent running and working so hard, but I wouldn't trade any of it for any other life. Farm and ranch life is the best .We will never leave our country home until we are forced to.

Laura Lea (not verified)
on Mar 26, 2013

My go to crockpot meal is Beef Stroganoff. Here is the recipe:
1 lb. beef stew meat (I use round steak cut in 1 in. strips, 1 can mushrooms drained, (I use fresh), 1 can golden mushroom soup, 1 can cream of onion soup, 8 oz. cream cheese, 8 oz sour cream and wide egg noodles. Put meat, mushrooms, and both cans of soup in crockpot, cook on low for 8 hrs or on high for 4 hrs. Half hour before you serve put sour cream and cream cheese in. Serve over noodles.

I also use the crockpot liners so I don't have such a big mess to clean up. I have to triple this recipe because my family loves it so much.

My kids love to take it to school in their Thermoses that I got them, that will keep the food hot for 7 hrs. I also send food out to the feild in them, if the guys are not that close to home. You can find them in the camping section at walmart. They hold 2 cups of food and they are around $16.

Trish Ollerich (not verified)
on Mar 28, 2013

I think this show would be great for America...as the years, even months go by people in American are getting further and further out touch with the farm and ranching life style..I think this is a great idea in getting our message out to the and letting American know what Ag is all about..I think its our duty to educate them about life on the farm or ranch, I'm sure they(most) are willing to listen.

Mary Ann (not verified)
on Mar 29, 2013

Yes farming and ranching is all about timing and observation. It has always been important to me as a ranch wife to drop everything else and go immediately when called. With 2 way radios, I am at the beck and call.spent the day tagging calves and teating up a pair of twins and a bum calf and chores. Wouldn't trade it for anything and am still actively involved after 43 years of marriage. Don't look close at my house right now, if you were to happen by.....but that's okay.

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A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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