Happy Monday! We had such a great weekend of fellowship and friends. Although leave-takings are hard, we’re so blessed to have friends that are like family all over the place!
Today’s post is about something fairly unique to the agriculture (or maybe ranching specifically, I don’t know)–the housing. On a ranch, housing is part of a cowboy’s salary. This is the kicker with ranch jobs–when you move jobs, you move, and you don’t get to pick your house. And on ranches, you’re just not sure what you’re getting into with the housing situation, and a house can be a deal-killer or a deal-maker.
So, the interview process for cowboys is a little different than for jobs in town. Often, the spouse/partner goes, too, even if they will not be working for the ranch. The interview rarely involves sitting in an office and hardly ever involves a suit. Most of the interview will be conducted in a pickup, and maybe over lunch at the local diner. The wife will go to meet the boss and maybe his wife, ask questions the husband may not think of (where are the schools and the churches? Is there any kind of grocery shopping nearby? How close is the nearest hospital/doctor’s office/decent-sized town/Starbucks/Costco?), get a feel for the area, quite importantly, check out the house.
You can bet while the men are talking shop and feeling each other out, the wife will be eagle-eyeing their potential future home and making notes about what it needs to feel like home (paint? Contact paper everywhere? 47 boxes of Brillo and a prayer? Maybe just a light scrub with something floral? Demolished? Absolutely nothing, sign us up right now?) This is especially true if the ranch is out in the sticks, which is pretty much the definition of a ranch. It’s no fun to be ready to move into a place and realize there are things you need before you move in and town is two hours away and waiting for the ole Amazon Prime box to show up isn’t an option.
I’ve called five different ranch houses “home”, ranging from a glorified actual homestead cabin with not a single kitchen cabinet for food storage and a bathroom wall that didn’t reach the ceiling thus making for some really interesting interactions with guests to a double-wide modular with ancient blue carpet to our current (wonderful) house. It’s also the scariest part (for me) about job-hunting other than the actual job part, because a job could sound great–starting colts! No farming! A nice truck and trailer! Annual bonuses! Kids welcome! Angels singing on high! But then you might get there, and the house is (at best) a womp-womp of aged linoleum, sketchy kitchen appliances, outdated everything, and tiny closets, or (at worst) a haven for moldy carpet and water damage that’s basically a horrible case of hantavirus waiting to happen.
I’ve lived in both of those situations. While instilling much character and perspective and gratitude for better things, my overwhelming feeling about those (very) humble abodes is: no mas, por favor.
I might be exaggerating a little. Actually, retract that–I’m not. I haven’t had to live in anything truly awful, but I’ve known people that have (like rooms above the processing barn in a feedlot where you get to share your washer, or a trailer that was condemn-able when Nixon was president).
And because housing is part of a cowboy’s salary and most ranches aren’t rolling in money, what you see is probably what you get unless you want to put in money or have Junk Gypsy-level skills with various saws and spray paint (#lifegoals). Sure, they might be able to have the carpets cleaned and most places will allow you (or encourage you!) to paint (enter the Revere Pewter vs. Gray Owl conundrum). But if you don’t like the appliances, or the bathroom gives you the heebie-jeebies, you’re probably going to have to live with it.
I lived in a house once where the oven grossed me out so bad that I cooked everything in a little convection toaster oven. It actually worked out fine because I lived alone and practically lived on baked chicken breasts and homemade pizza, but for a family that just won’t do. Unless it’s a family of mice, which you can bet lived there too.
Again, no whining here, especially because I’m far enough removed from those houses that those times are character-building and funny. We have a lot of funny stories about birds flying in through the woodstove and then out through a broken window after much excitement, or the owner lighting a water heater with a lighter instead of the “use this to avoid explosion” starter, or a washing machine full of dog food brought there piece by piece by particularly doomsday-afeared mice, or finding various personalized wedding gifts heaped in a box in the kitchen that were left there after the previous occupants’ not-so-amicable divorce. In those situations all you can do is laugh and maybe do a little bemoaning of the fact that you didn’t share the same initials as the not-so-happy couple because some of those gifts were actually pretty cool.
Our new house, though, has none of those things, hallelujah! It’s definitely the newest home we’ve lived in, and looks the least likely to be secretly infested by mice (or rattlesnakes!) of any of our previous residences. I’m excited to share our transition from our big, old, sprawling house we currently live in to the much-smaller-but-super-functional house we’re moving to. I’m a little nervous but also excited about the challenge of purging and streamlining our belongings to fit in an entirely new space.
And also for dog kennels that aren’t right underneath the bedroom window because we got a puppy. His name is Scooter. And he bark-howls allllllllll the time.