The Ranch Table
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
In the spirit of Thanksgiving & family gatherings, I’m reminded of the many meals served in our 120 year old farm house. If these walls could talk, what stories would they tell? I imagine farming & ranching dinner conversations have changed quite dramatically, but has the role of a ranch wife?
I’ve heard many renditions of Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer”. Here is an excerpt I love from one of those renditions entitled “So God Made a Rancher’s Wife”:
God said “I need someone who can cook meals that can be ready in 20 minutes or sit for 3 hours, who knows how to stock a pantry & fridge because town is 30 miles away.”
Here are a few tips to help you fulfill this duty:
1. Ranch Table Etiquette
Don’t expect or prepare for anything fancy. No linens or special forks. I typically serve meals “family style”, which limits your workload. No dress code is followed and you most likely will need to scrub your chairs after the meal. Your guests jeans, boots & coveralls may be carrying some extra “sauce”, so be prepared.
2. Generations Passed Down
As young as age 7, I can remember watching my Mom & Grandma swap recipes, plan meals & coordinate dinner schedules for the field. They each knew their role & I honestly never heard them complain about feeding or cleaning up after guys. Their food was hearty, home-made & always delicious. I’m very nostalgic and love having Grandma’s dishes, but these aren’t for everyday man use. I can still remember my Grandma’s plates. Can you? I think back to those days and do my best to fill those shoes.
3. Meal Planning
Meal planning starts the night before. We have freezers of beef & wild game, so the challenge is to come up with a new, flashy dish that fills their bellies - literally bringing “farm to table”. I have learned to keep a well stocked pantry, but to also be flexible & learn to improvise. Learn to substitute recipes & meals given what you have.
4. Be Flexible
Ranch activities can change from moment to moment, depending on the weather, equipment, or any variable. For example. It’s noon, the food is warm and ready, but I suddenly get a call that the bulls got in with the heifers and it’s “gonna be a bit”. I have been married just shy of 15 years and have learned what this terminology means. The crock pot is my best friend. Dinner on the ranch can occur anywhere from 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM.
5. Cook for 5, Plan for 10
I’ve learned to plan extras, no matter what you’re serving. Most likely, your husband will ask the veterinarian to come up for lunch. In that case, slap some jeans & makeup on and look like a “professional ranch wife.” Leftovers will become your favorite bail out meal, when suddenly you’re called out to help sort cattle instead of cook.
6. Dinner Conversations
Dinner conversations are ALWAYS ranch oriented. We talk cattle sires, stock numbers and sale reports. Talk of management plans & money are often sensitive topics, but so critical to everyday operations. Support their discussions, as this may be the only time they can talk without 400 head of cattle mooing in the background.
7. Food Delivery
When the boys are too busy to come inside for a meal, I often deliver. Now, I’m no Jimmy Johns, but I can make a heck of a field lunch out of my “food truck”. Field meals require organization, flexibility & your desire to be “neat & clean” to be thrown out the window. Grab & go meals are fitting along with the required sweet treat!
The role of a ranch wife has many chapters. We are talented women who can juggle any challenge God sends our way. Generations have passed and tables have changes, but ranch wives role as the “family glue” hasn’t changed. We are providers, for young and old, with a warm meal & a soft hug, and it is our duty to continue that tradition when our daughters step into ranch life.
God’s Blessings ~