A young woman's struggle with marriage and motherhood on some of the most remote ranches in the American West.
Jolyn Young grew up in the “real” northern California—the forgotten area at the tip-top of the state with small towns, extreme poverty, and about 40 miles to the Oregonian mountains. In a childhood defined by a subdivision, she decided she wanted to be a cowboy, and two years out of college, she saw that dream through, taking a job at a Nevada ranch in the search for a lifestyle subsisting of horses, cattle, and the wide open range.
Falling in love was never part of the plan.
Jim Young was tall, strong, and could ride a bronc and rope a steer like no one's business. And before she knew it Jolyn found her cowboyin' dreams overtaken by a new and intoxicating cowboy reality. With long days side by side in the saddle, nights sharing a bedroll, and the deep satisfaction that came with hard physical work in a place filled with natural beauty, it seemed life was all a strong-willed young woman might want it to be.
But when a baby-to-be suddenly spun her wild romance into a very practical marriage, and one decrepit ranch trailer home led to the next, Jolyn found her young family desperately seeking stability in what is by definition a transient lifestyle that moves with the seasons. Often hours from the nearest grocery store and half-a-day from the closest hospital, pregnancy, childbirth, and illness required a do-it-yourself mentality. With days, sometimes weeks on her own as Jim worked the farthest reaches of whatever ranchlands they currently called home—and first with one child to care for…and eventually with three—Jolyn fought profound loneliness, finding comfort in writing and company in her camera.
As the cowboy lifestyle pulled them further toward the brink of civilization and Jim's drinking became a liability, losing him jobs and sending them packing, again, to yet another, different, distant cow camp, Jolyn struggled with the knowledge that she was choosing a life of scrubbing filthy mobile home floors and bunkhouse bathrooms in order to keep her family together. It would take leaving it, and Jim, for her to determine whether a world built on risk could coexist with the responsible mother she had needed to become.
With a memoir that is brave, honest, and heartbreakingly funny, Jolyn Young has written the story of every young adventure-seeker, every new mother, and every partner who has loved an alcoholic in a whole new light—that of a campfire, on the edge of the desert night, miles away from cell phone reception.
Trailer courtesy of Horse & Rider Books