Ranch Views From A Town Girl – Coronavirus, Calving, and Karma

View from my remote office with constant companion, Walter. Photo by Cathy Moen.

Cathy Moen

I had a health scare last year that landed me in the hospital on April Fool’s Day, 2019. I thought I had a bad case of indigestion and was regretting the decision to eat an entire bag of Tootsie Rolls the evening before. The pain got worse during the night to the point I thought I might be having a heart attack. Unfortunately for me, it was calving season and Mark said he could take me to the hospital after his last calf check of the night. Learning I was less valuable than a calf and probably easier to replace certainly put ranching into perspective. The mystery as to why ranchers are becoming an extinct breed was solved that night. They’re dead! The ranch wives died waiting for Uber to find them, and the ranch husbands were murdered by the wives who survived.

I finally made it to the hospital, and it turned out there was nothing seriously wrong with me that a lifestyle change wouldn’t cure. Hate it when the joke’s on me. My first thought was to change my address to a place where cows and cowboys didn’t exist, but after thinking it through, I said goodbye to my beloved Tootsie Rolls instead. Still trying to decide if I made the right decision.

View of Wildfire from Hay Meadow – Working too close to the Cameron Peak wildfire. Photo by Cathy Moen

The 2020 calving season was going much better for us until Coronavirus reared its ugly head. I wasn’t too concerned because the ranch is 30 miles from civilization where the virus probably couldn’t find us, and I work in Wyoming where social distancing is a religion. I figured my world wouldn’t change much despite the approaching pandemic. I was wrong. My employer buckled under the hype and mandated that all “non-essential” staff begin working remotely from home. I was still trying to come to grips with my perceived value to the ranch when I discovered I was also considered non-essential at work. They didn’t understand what they were sentencing me to. I was being banished to a wilderness area for an undisclosed period of time and we were running low on paper products. This truly was Apocalypse.

Fast forward six months—I’m adjusting quite well to quarantine despite poor internet, frequent power outages, and wildfires burning all around us. I’ve found there’s a solution to every problem. When I can’t get the internet, I take a break. When I don’t have power, I take a break. When the smoke from the fires swell my eyes shut, I take a break. I’m saving hundreds of dollars on fuel when I only have to walk ten feet to my office. Makeup, hair products, and soap have become as non-essential I am. We raise our own meat, the neighbors share their eggs, the Schwan truck comes every two weeks, and I’m now certified in online shopping. I’m thinking I’ll never have to leave the ranch again. You know who isn’t adjusting too well? Mr. I-Don’t-Have-Time-For-Your-Heart-Attack. He’s not used to having a wife home 24-7 who’s taken on the role of his supervisor watching and questioning his every move. No more knocking off early for him and Happy Hour doesn’t start til Mama’s happy. Nobody’s more anxious for this pandemic to end than my independent husband. His COVID-19 pandemic has a different name and it’s WIFEY-2020. I truly believe this is payback for placing cows above my medical emergency last year. Karma is a funny thing.

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