Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Cure


“Mommy, why does the medicine that makes my throat feel better taste so yucky?”

This from the kid whose vitamins are glorified gummy bears. His idea of ‘tastes bad’ is when the cough syrup is grape-flavored instead of bubble gum. He should’ve been around back in the old days, when we were forced to choke down cod liver oil for everything from sniffles to sprained ankles.

Okay, I confess, I’m not quite old enough for the cod liver oil, though I do remember a bottle in my grandmother’s cupboard. The same bottle. For all of the years in my memory. Shoved clear into the back corner where the younger members of the household hoped its existence would be forgotten. Come to think of it, since my mother now lives in my grandmother’s house, it might still be there.

When you live an hour’s drive from the nearest medical facility, home remedies become a necessity. If we were true pioneers, this is where I’d tell you a harrowing story about the time my mother removed my brother’s appendix with a pocket knife by candlelight in the middle of a blizzard, then patched him up with a sewing needle and baling twine.

Sadly, nothing that exciting ever happened. I would have been glad to hold the candle for a chance to see a real live appendix, especially in the middle of blizzard, which were downright boring, being stuck in the house and all. Except that year we were snowed in at Christmas and the blister on my hand got infected. There’s a surprising amount of entertainment value in watching a red line creep up the inside of your arm when you know you can’t get to the hospital.   

Thank goodness for the Epsom salt. It was our cod liver oil. Upset stomach? Mix it with water and drink it. Infection? Warm water and Epsom salt soak. Hemorrhoids? Um, well, you get the picture.

Close behind the Epsom salts came Mentholatum. The miracle in the little green jar, a mixture of petroleum jelly and enough menthol to melt the paint from the walls, let alone the congestion from your sinuses. I’ve been told to rub it on everything from the bottoms of my feet to underneath my nose. For sore throats, our family tradition is to massage a healthy dose on your chest and throat, then warm a tube sock in the oven and pin it around your neck. Can’t guarantee it’ll cure what ails you, but it sure feels good. I highly recommend, however, that you remember to take it off before you get to work the next morning.   

My dad preferred to treat us with hot whiskey and honey. I’m not sure it had any medicinal value, but it did shut us up.

Then there was that time a couple years ago when I had a persistent sinus infection. My older sister sent me a recipe for a warm water and salt solution which, once mixed, I was supposed to shoot up my nose with a syringe. Flush the infection right out of there, she said.

Or I could just go jump in a swimming pool feet first without plugging my nose. Same general effect.

I’ve tried a lot of home remedies, and I will admit, some work really well. Ginger ale for nausea is a proven winner. The chunks whacked off my Mom’s aloe vera plant soothed burns and scrapes and stinging nettle rashes. The jury is still out on whether it was the WD-40 or the Celebrex that healed up my uncle’s sore knee. But there is one remedy I can swear by.

Start with one frazzled mother. Fill a bathtub with nice steamy water. Bubble bath is optional, but never hurts. It also helps if she pours a glass of her favorite wine. Submerge the mother in the hot bath. Recline. Close eyes.

Guaranteed to instantly cure constipation in six year old boys.


Monday, March 14, 2011

My Cheatin' Heart


Yeah, yeah, I've been a little scarce around here. And I confess...I've been off fooling around with another blog.

About a year ago I lost my head and volunteered to help with the Montana Storytelling Roundup. Last week I got even more stupid and offered to set up a website for them. Those who know me are now giggling hysterically. Yes, email generally pushes the limits of my techiness, and this blog drives me to near distraction on a regular basis. But a couple of more savvy friends chipped in with advice, and I now have a mostly functional site up and running.

Soooo...*drumroll*....without further ado, here it is: Montana Storytelling Roundup

Pop over, check it out, let me know what doesn't work. Better yet...mark the dates on your calendar.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Fellow writer and frequent visitor Bill Kirton has done me the honor of nominating me for the Stylish Blogger Award. To any of you who've been around a while, this makes perfect sense, style being practically my middle name, summer or winter.

There are two catches to this award. First, I have to pass it along to a few of the blogs I consider most stylish.  So in no particular order, here are four you really should check out:

For the real dirt, as in red Wyoming dirt, on ranching.... Red Dirt in My Soul

For true style and great food..... In a Miniskirt

For gorgeous photos and custom jewelry and HORSES...... The South Dakota Cowgirl

And because she always makes me laugh.... A Rock in My Pocket

Assuming you haven't wandered off to one of those great blogs and failed to return, part two of this award is to tell you seven things about myself. Unfortunately for you, they didn't specify that it had to be seven interesting things. So...hmmm. 

1. I have worked as a cook, a bartender, a cocktail waitress, an athletic trainer (sports medicine for those who are unfamiliar), a physical therapy aide, an insurance salesperson and a medical biller.

2. My college degree is in secondary education. I am supposedly capable of teaching any kind of science to high school students. I spent one tortuous school year in Grande Prairie, Texas proving this supposition wrong. 

3. If I'd known it was going to take me that long to get through college, I would have gone ahead and went to veterinary school. 

4. Last week, my son said, "Mommy, I hope you're a doctor when I grow up."  Either he's having a little trouble keeping his pronouns straight or he's also hoping for a BMW when he graduates from high school. 

5. I refuse to watch movies or read books where they kill the horse or the dog or a main character. This pretty much rules out anything written by Larry McMurtry or westerns starring Kevin Costner. 

6. Forget vampires and zombies, Jurassic Park gave me nightmares. For weeks. 

7. I actually remember life before cell phones. And some days, I remember to turn mine on. Sorry, honey. 

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Answers

I've noticed that a lot of other blogs have occasional question and answer sessions. Since I have no idea what else to write about, I figured I'd do the same. I've been accumulating questions for a while now. Here are the answers to some of the most frequent.

Q: Do you still have snow?
A: Just a few drifts around the yard.

Q: How can newborn calves survive in that weather?
A: Indoor arena = spoiled cows

Q: I bet all that snow makes working cows a challenge.

Q: Going to any rodeos this winter?

Q: Are cows mean?

Q: Why in the world do people become Montana ranchers?