The Road to “Ranch Hard”

It has been 6 months since I first set foot on The Ranch as a permanent resident.  Although enthusiastically motivated by love, I could not ignore the hand wringing of my inner City Girl.  How was this going to work?  I have lived all of my life in cities.  I was accustomed to a comfortable cocoon of concrete.  Had I gone mad in swapping the relative comforts of city living for dirt roads and a 15 minute trek to the nearest “decent” grocery store?   Maybe a little, but the transformation that has occurred during my tenure on The Ranch perhaps says as much about me, as it does about the power of The Ranch.  The transition has not been easy, and it is by no means complete.  At times it has been down right painful. I have found though that picking up new skills, letting go of some of my neurosis, and broadening my appreciation of the absurd go a long way in helping to soften the blow.

The Ranch is a wild place.  Like Sparta, it is not for the weak.  When I came to The Ranch, the depth of my survival skills were, shall we say, limited.  It is safe to say that I could lead a search and destroy mission through the opening hours of the First Call Sale at Neiman Marcus, with the steely eyed discipline of a Recon Marine, but that was about it. I had purposely remained relatively ignorant about anything even remotely related to being “handy,” save a desperate, practically at gun point, late night lesson in sheet rock repair, facilitated by my one of my best friends who is an unapologetic slum lord.  In any event, suffice it to say, that I hadn’t the slightest clue where my fuse box was, much less how to use it if things suddenly went dark.  If there was a major disaster, such as a broken water line, a large spider, or heaven forbid, if my internet went out,  I figured I would just call my Dad. I learned quickly that such nonsense doesn’t fly on The Ranch.  As a long time resident of The Ranch, “Uncle E” would say, I would have to get “Ranch Hard.”

During these 6 months, I have made huge strides in the “Ranch Hard,” department.  I now know exactly where the circuit breaker box is in the house, and I have used it on more than a few occasions.  But survival skills on The Ranch call for more than just being savvy in the midst of ongoing construction and general chaos…it literally means knowing how to survive.  By all reasonable calculations, help IS NOT nearby, and even if it happened to be, it would take the authorities a while to get onto the property and sort out the exact location of the crisis. (Anyone who as read my piece titled “Ranch Ingenuity: The Wisdom of Looking Away,” will know that chances are “the crisis” would be found in the Bermuda Triangle of: heavy machinery, power tools, and my Beloved.)   One has to be able to think quickly on The Ranch, or risk being overrun.

Even the seemingly simple act of going to the grocery store presents unique challenges.  There are no more quick jaunts to Whole Foods.  My geographical location, not only requires me to drive almost an hour to get to the nearest organic-food-snob holy land, but it forces me to do something I never had to do before–plan ahead.  Trust me, I could more readily find a pound of “the devil’s lettuce,” than I could find a terrine of pate’ de canard, in these parts. In a pinch, yes, I can drag my butt to some grim alternatives such as the GMO den commonly referred to as Safeway, or a poser Whole Foods flanked by soap averse hippies, but frankly, at times, I’d rather get a tooth pulled.

In my previous life, I was able to keep things like dirt and dust at a comfortable distance. I was obsessive about cleanliness.  There is no place for such idle foolishness on the Ranch.  Why?  It would be too exhausting. There is a thin veil of the most aggravating, powdery, dirt on almost everything. EVERYTHING.  It’s the kind of dust that would make Steinbeck shudder.  My once immaculate car, now looks like I am a frequent flier at the county tractor pull.  The shine on my once glorious shoes has been replaced with a filmy, tan haze.  No matter what I do short of wearing a protective smock at all times, there will be large smudges of dirt or a filthy paw print on me guaranteed.  These days, I consider it a minor victory if I make it through the day without a co-worker asking me if I just had a nasty fall in the parking lot, or if I had been attacked by something.

My Chucks, Gucci loafers, and Cole Haan wedges nestled between My Beloved’s hunting rifle and straw hat…if you look closely enough you will see the dust…

The Ranch has gotten to me on a few occasions during these 6 months.  Whether it was my stockpile of extraordinary wines that was “cooked” due to inadequate storage conditions, the achingly slow internet connection I have since being “off the grid” equals “air card,” or the lumbering chaos of living in a house while it is under construction, I have had my share of meltdowns.  My Beloved, the patient, generous soul he is, knows when and how to talk me off the ledge.  He assures me that the proverbial dust will settle.

Thanks to the Ranch, I am, for the most part, now able to kill spiders on my own. I now know the difference between a tractor, bulldozer, excavator, and auger.  I can even navigate my way around the Tractor Supply Company. Never fear, my inner City Girl is alive and well.  Yes, I am a long way from Paris, but now I am home.

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