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Ranch Team

Written by Jennifer Womack

Ranch wives, we’ve all been there…. contemplating one of life’s most important questions. I recently found myself in this sticky situation, mentally wrestling with, “tow?” or “be towed?” 

“Can I have a third option?” I asked Chris. Some days, like this day and many others, he doesn’t think I’m funny. There are no third choices. My options – both of them – are clearly before me. And no, I can’t have a day or two to think it over. I think he needs more friends, people more willing to help him with these sorts of tasks.

Driving the lead truck as we took the ranch pickup to the mechanic would mean more responsibility – keeping us safe on the interstate, going the correct speed and so on and so forth. I’m equally sure, however, that even if I’m the one being towed, finding myself with very little control over speed, destination and more, a certain amount of what happens will still be my fault. I was right.

And we’re off, in search of a new injector and a skilled mechanic for the ranch pickup. Clearing three miles without hand signals or stopping, I note this as a new record. Then began the hand signals. My standard answer to hand signals is to smile and wave. The more Chris sends unclear messages flying through the air, the more I smile and wave. About the time my smile and my wave ran out of growth opportunity, we pulled over for the first time. Smiling over.

“If you would brake a little when we crest the hills, I wouldn’t have to speed up so much,” reminded Chris.

“If you wouldn’t drive like my Great Aunt Bertha, I might not need to brake quite so much,” I replied. Today, I’m still not funny. The remainder of the trip is uneventful as I concentrate on not hitting Chris’s bumper, not running over the towrope and not in any way complicating the situation. I manage to maintain this routine for the next 80 miles, setting yet another new record and keeping his hand signals to a minimum.

I’d barely made it a month, however, before he posed yet another weighty question….

“Would you like to push the four-wheeler or walk and get the pickup?” A little weed work just turned into a lengthy hike across a deep draw. 

“Romeo, Romeo…. I’ll push the four-wheeler,” I replied, realizing that if I could just get it rolling my chore might not be all that bad. 

Rolling I was. I rolled right past the rendezvous point (news of this location must have been communicated using hand signals). While I was making progress, Chris was crossing my trail a ways up the canyon, just out of eyesight and earshot. Pleased with my rapid progress, I took a little snooze in the meadow and wondered what was taking him so long. Meanwhile back in the woods, Chris was on yet another hike wondering just where I’d gone pushing one fairly large machine.

It’s these reasons and others that cause us to only nod and smile when friends in town make the observation, “If you really want to test your marriage, try building a house together.” 

“Yes, we can imagine that must be tough,” I say. “Just keep it all in perspective. And, when necessary, seek out the tallest grass in the meadow and lay low until things blow over.”

Jennifer Vineyard Womack is executive director of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and a freelance writer. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 307-351-0730.