Growing up in a fairly large city,
I always imagined I’d end up working in a high-rise building, thriving in
the hustle and bustle of metropolitan living. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Today, I live on a cattle ranch in the tiny town of Likely, California (population: 99).
My husband Greg and I met in college while both attending business school at the University of Nevada, Reno. About halfway though our time together at UNR, he decided school just wasn’t for him. He came home one day and said,
“I’m not going back to school, I’m going to move to the ranch.”
He said this in a very matter-of-fact tone; there was no swaying him. He had made up his mind, and shortly after, he began working at his family’s cattle ranch in Likely.
Although he had made up his mind to work on his family’s ranch, I had made up my mind to finish my degree, just in case the whole cattle ranch thing didn’t work out for us. At least we’d have a back-up plan.
So for a few years he commuted between the ranch and Reno while I finished up my degree. As my graduation approached, I faced the decision: to move or not to move? I suppose you probably already know the answer to that.
About a month after graduation, we packed up our house in Reno, and headed north for Likely. That was four years ago.
Many of my friends couldn’t believe I had decided to leave behind life as I had known it for cows and wide-open space. To be honest, I don’t think I even gave it a second thought. Something inside me must have known how wonderful a simpler life could be.
I’ve discovered a new outlook on life and discovered what is truly important. I used to draw so much of my identity from a pair of shoes or designer handbag. Today, my happiness comes from the satisfaction of a job well done, taking pride in simple tasks, and living with gratitude. I have found a sense of peace and joy I had previously never known, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty: no one cares what kind of clothes you wear.
It wasn’t a seamless transition; it’s been quite a journey. The first few months after moving were difficult. I didn’t know any- one, and was on a steep learning curve with zero ranching experience.
Although I was very grateful to have a roof over my head, it also took some time to adjust to our new home. Built in 1963, the house was full of my husband’s grandparents’ old things and in desperate need of a renovation (thankfully, that came later). The house had been empty for nearly eight years before we moved in, except for the rats, mice, ground squirrels, spiders, and carpet beetles that had taken up home there. It was almost enough to send me running back to the city.
However, slowly I adjusted, and I morphed from a city girl into a girl in boots and jeans. Of course, it isn’t always easy. Animals don’t always survive. Early mornings and the stress of ranching can be taxing. However, living out here requires you to slow down, do your own handiwork, step away from materialism, and focus on the important things in life. Now I feel whole after a hard day of work or time spent working on our ranch.
One of the greatest rewards of living here is the deep sense of community. While living in the city, I never really experienced that. Out here, camaraderie and community are woven into daily life. It’s not at all unusual to get calls like:
“You’ve got cows out on the road!” and “Hey, we picked up some of your heifers, come get them anytime.”
Everyone works together for the greater good.
On any given Saturday you might find a group of neighboring cowboys horse- back around a branding barrel helping each other get their calves ready for the summer rangeland. And, you bet we spend Saturday nights spinning around a dance floor.
It’s a simple life, and it’s truly magical. I can’t believe that this is where my story has taken me, but I am so grateful it has. My hope is that I can inspire people to slow down and find contentment in a simpler life.
Copy by Chloe Mackintosh / Photography by Constance Mariena
Chloe Mackintosh, an urban girl turned cowgirl, shares her passion for interior design and ranch life at her blog boxwoodavenue.com.
This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of The Inspired Home Journal, titled “Country Club.”