One weekend in October, we took a little road trip up the Winnemucca way. What set out to be a day trip with no real intention turned into be a meeting of kindred spirits. We headed to the Bell ranch to look at their breeding program. We found great cows, calves and bulls, but what we didn't know we'd find were two individuals who hardly knew the inspiration they were.
The Bell Ranch. Lilla and Woodie Bell. Walking onto their ranch was a step back in time. Have you ever felt like you were meant to be born 100 years ago? My heart beats stronger anytime I'm around these iconic ranch women. Often time we talk about the ranch and the men. And there is no doubt the place and pride they serve. But in my eyes, the real backbone of any operation is the ranch wife. I choke up just thinking about it. These women who I've come to know so briefly, inspire me so greatly. When I say the amount of time I've been around them is only long enough to share a few stories and a meal, this is the honest truth. If there was a way, I could be a shadow to their soul, a sponge to their wisdom, and a student of their ways I would. In a heart beat. They've never met a stranger, and have a way of instantly making you family. Just being in their presence is an inspiration.
This first blessing happened about a year ago when I got to meet the one and only Marilyn Sastacha. I can only hope to be half the women she is when I'm 80. To hear her stories about how she worked cattle, raised babies, kept a home, cooked the meals and still has the energy today to "kick ol whitey in the belly" was more than speaking passage to my soul. Her home, when you walked in, smelled like love. A long kitchen table is where we sat, for not nearly long enough. But when I squeezed Mrs. Sastacha good bye, I knew, when I grow up, I want to be JUST like her.
This weekend, the very blessing happened again. Lilla Bell! A true ranch wife. She was the brain, beauty, and dream behind their prized registered heard. Her quiet speech, gentle way, and porcelain skin at 80 spoke volumes. She chauffeured us around the ranch and then promptly excused herself at 11:30 to put the biscuits in the oven. Little did we know she also prepared us stew for lunch. We made our way to her kitchen. When we walked in the house, it was wood stove warm, it smelled of years of hard work and passion, and instantly, I found myself wishing to be born 100 years ago. They moved to the ranch in the 70's and as we stood in the kitchen I could still feel as if we were still meant to be visitors 40 years prior. The pictures, the stories, and the homemade biscuits warmed my soul. I knew I wanted to be her too when I grew up.
I didn't grow up on a ranch. I'm not 5th generation anything cattle. I'm not from a ranch way of life or family. But it has somehow found it's way into my soul. It pulls me too it stronger than addiction. It halts me in my tracks and slows my pace down. It feeds my passion, my love, and my desires. Words can't describe it. Or at least I search to find the words to portray the calling it has on me. There's a yearning in my heart to be Mrs. Bell and Mrs. Sastacha one day.
I want to never meet a stranger. I want to stand on my front porch and squeeze that younger generation with the same intensity these ranching women have bestowed on me. I aim to be that ranch wife, one day ranch mom, who not only feeds mouth with a home cooked meal, but fills souls with love. To be that ranch wife who braved the freezing temps to pull calves and feed cows. Who throws a stew on when friends or soon to be friends come to visit our ranch and cattle.
That is woman.
That is ranch wife.
That is me!
To all the ranch women out there and those aspiring to be..... You are braver than you know, wiser than you can believe, and inspire with more passion than is conceivable. You are the rock, the glue, and the heart of any operation. Thank you for blessing me with the minutes I've been honored to spend with you, it will forever change my life for eternity. You my friends are the real ranching legacies.