It’s 5:30 a.m. and the woodpecker that acts as Kate Williams’ alarm clock has no mercy (and, no snooze button.) Its rat-a-tat cadence signals the beginning of another day on the ZN Ranch near Saratoga, Wyo.  By 6:00, she has the water heating for their breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, toast, and coffee, and by 6:30 her family has sat down for their morning meal.

Kate and her husband Chris have four children- 11-year old Fischer, 9-year-old Hazen, 7-year-old Dusty, and 4-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzy).  Before the bus comes, the school-age children are responsible for gathering eggs, and feeding and watering the chickens, ducks, and new puppy.  By 7:15 they are off to the bus stop and a full day of school.

It’s 8:00 a.m., the kids are off, and Kate makes her way around their ranch house, cleaning up breakfast, making beds, folding blankets, picking up dirty clothes, and starting a load of laundry.  With the arrival of spring, she looks forward to outdoor tasks- cleaning out the chicken coop, watering her garden and potted plants, and sprucing up the ranch yard.  Saratoga gets over 5 foot of snow a year, on average, making sunny spring days especially welcome.

Kate is a talented photographer and makes good use of her scenic surroundings. All photos accompanying this story were taken by Kate (www.therancherswifesphotography.com).

A few mornings a week Kate fits in a workout with another young mother and neighbor.  Remote ranch life can be lonely at times, and Kate is glad for good neighbors.  

Growing up, Kate’s family moved between Nev., Mont., and Wyo., always living in populated areas.  While attending the University of Wyoming as a theater major, Kate met Chris, who planned to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, and ranch.  If Kate’s bachelor of arts in theater was not an obvious precursor to life as a ranch woman, she notes that caring for four kids, chickens, ducks, dogs, and a busy ranch yard is not without its daily dose of drama.

Late morning Kate hangs the load of clean clothes out to dry on the clothesline and puts another load in.  She is glad for warmer weather and always looks forward to hanging clothes outside again.  

After throwing together a simple lunch at noon, she and Lizzy have lunch with Chris.  Occasionally other ranch workers will join them, but often their hired hands are married and choose to head home for lunch as well.  While cleaning up lunch, Kate also takes care of supper planning and prep so she can focus on her kids when they come home from school.

The Williams Family

Kate and her husband Chris raise four children on their ranch near Saratoga, Wyo.

Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Williams is an energetic four year-old who keeps up with three older brothers.

At 2:00, lunch is cleaned up and Kate has time to squeeze in a few hours of work on her photography business, The Rancher’s Wife’s Photography.  Her upcoming schedule includes a few graduations, a wedding, and some family photo sessions.  She uses the time to update her blog and Facebook, answer a few emails, and edit a recent photo session.

At 4:00 a whirlwind of three tired school kids blows through the door.  Like any other mom, Kate serves up a snack, digs through backpacks, oversees homework, and then sends her kids out the door to play before supper.

Supper is at 6:30, followed by clean up, and an 8:30 bedtime.  She puts a roast in the crockpot for the next day’s lunch.  It goes in frozen, slow cooks overnight, and through the next morning.  It’ll be tender perfection in time for the noon meal.  

In the hush of the evening, Kate enjoys a cup of Sleepytime vanilla tea and some quiet time.  Tomorrow is Saturday and she plans to tag along horseback while her husband and kids work cattle.  Though, if you ask her, she’ll say she doesn’t consider herself the proverbial “cowgirl” and prefers her comfortable “Bogs” to cowgirl boots, and yoga pants to “Wrangler’s.” 

If Shakespeare had it right, and all the world’s a stage, with actors and actresses dutifully playing their parts, then Kate’s stage is set on a beautiful Wyoming ranch, complete with a hardworking leading man, three impish supporting actors, an exceptionally charming supporting actress, and one tired, but happy, leading lady.

All photos were taken by Kate Williams (webpage: http://therancherswifesphotography.comFacebook, Instagram: @therancherswifesphotography)

quick and easy beef roast

To make the next day's meals quick and worry-free, Kate will often put a frozen beef roast seasoned with salt and pepper and a cup or two of liquid in her crock pot before going to bed.  She turns the setting to low and, by lunch the next day, the meat is tender and ready for shredding.  The shredded beef can be enjoyed in tortillas, with rice, on a bun, in soups and stews, and beyond!  (If you like veggies with your roast, they can be added the next morning.)