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Continued from True and Enduring Love

In Cody, Yry lived “as one of the family” with Willard and Elaine Rhoads and their children, Jody and Howard. She arrived the week before Easter during spring branding. The calves were smaller than the ones branded in the fall at the CX—too small to run through a chute. Willard roped each calf, whereupon, with the rope still taut, her job was to “bust the calf” and tie three legs, then to straddle the prone body and hold it still till the branding, blackleg injection, castration, dehorning and earmarking were completed.

My clothes and me too are all covered with blood when we have been at it a little while. Tho it does not effect me [sic] at all. I suppose it is one of those things that many women cannot stand.

She rhapsodized about ranch life, bragging that she rose around six and was riding by nine. Her chores varied: riding fence, circling the cows and calves to make sure everyone was suckling as they should, pitching hay and manure, helping Willard dig ditches and build an earthen dam.

“Willard always tries to spare me. He must think I’m weak and it just burns me up.”

She was learning to drive a team and to ride bareback. Willard, concerned about increased rustling due to wartime meat rationing, frequently sent her to check the cattle. After supper, she and Willard sometimes played checkers. The Rhoads turned in around nine or ten. Not Yry. She stayed up until near midnight, writing notes and letters or reading. With an air bordering on defiance, she declared she needed less sleep here than when she lived a tired, nervous life in the city. Everything she was learning about herself and life in the west supported her conviction that she belonged in the west. And what didn’t fit she was determined to force.

They (the Rhoads) introduce me to people as their dudine and that takes the wind out of my sails as I’ve always hated what that word, “dude” stands for.

During quiet moments, Yry ruminated abut the ranch of her dreams. There would be only enough chickens to supply eggs, since she wasn’t fond of chicken meat—especially now that she knew how filthy they are, pooping every which way into their food and water. She apparently overlooked the same habits in beef cattle. She would have only one or two milk cows so she could milk them by hand rather than using expensive and finicky DeLaval milking machines.

She helped Elaine with shopping in Cody and was fascinated by the Indian women on the streets, hawking beautiful, handmade silver jewelry. She referred to them as squaws. Shocked at the price of produce, she was suddenly aware that her requests for more raw fruits and vegetables was an imposition. At least at the ranch they had plenty of fresh dairy products and wonderful meats, including elk and deer meat, which suited her dietary needs very well.

Continued