Ranchlands film and photography intern, Lucy Maude, describes her first few weeks with Ranchlands and the contrasts from her former life in the city.
I’m sure we’re all aware of, or can take a good guess at, the narrative of Making Sacrifices and Understanding Hard Work that comes with interning on a working cattle ranch. Five o’clock wake ups! Manual labour! Cold! Spending an hour digging a motorbike out of a ditch you ran it into! No Starbucks! It’s a tale as old as time: non-country people venturing out and learning, through various hijinks, that maybe (just maybe) the city doesn’t hold all the answers to a fulfilling life that they thought it did. As a born and bred city kid I’ve had my own share of such experiences out here, some more noteworthy than others. The process of turning the town mouse into a country one is long and laden with pratfalls.
- The grocery store is a forty-five-minute drive away. Thirty-five of those minutes are to get off the ranch road and onto the highway, and fifteen of those minutes are just getting to a road that does not leave a dust trail behind your car.
- By some miracle of globalisation, the grocery store sells Nutella. This is bought in the largest quantities possible and hoarded in the pantry (which, in my case, is a large mailbox on top of the fridge) with dragon-like obsessiveness.
- Winter’s arrival, and the decision to light the open-grate gas heater that is the bunkhouse’s sole source of warmth, is judged by when the Nutella becomes too cold and hard to spoon out of the jar.
- Through Facebook, I see a friend post pictures of a trip to New York. There is an absurd amount of people in these pictures. Before now I have never not lived in a city, but somehow you forget that not everyone lives on 87,000 acres with twelve other people. Cows outnumber us like, two hundred to one.
- The other day someone else on the ranch texted me at 8:20pm asking for an errand, and opened by asking if I was still awake. Going home and spending New Year’s Eve with friends might pose challenges, given that my bedtime here is averaging around 7:30pm. Red Bull mixers it’ll have to be.
So between such life-shattering events as these, along with various Thoreau moments that I have resisted making smug Facebook statuses about only with difficulty, I find myself gradually adjusting to life on the prairie. I don’t think I’ll ever wake up and have it feel normal, but where would be the fun in that if it did?
By Ranchlands Film and Photography intern, Lucy Maude.