“In 1990 we heard the wilderness call to us, and God help us, we answered.”
So begins Accidental Cowgirl: Six Cows, No Horse and No Clue, the cautionary tale of two greenhorns who spent twelve years trying vainly to run a rustic cattle ranch on the fringes of California’s Six Rivers National Forest.
These were two city folk who had met through a newspaper ad in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in 1984, and were looking for Shangri-La (a relaxing country retreat),
in the far northern wilds of Trinity County, California.
“Before we could say, ‘What were we thinking?’ we found ourselves the stewards of 120-acre, lush, Twin Creeks Ranch, which came with six cows, two cats and a flock of wild turkeys.” (The former owner also tried to throw in his old dog, but they had to draw the line somewhere.)
Carl was a California transplant from New York City, whose knowledge of the ranching life was limited to pulling weeds in his mother’s rose garden. She was an interior designer raised on a rustic chicken ranch in Soquel, California, who had spent most of her life trying to forget her humble beginnings.
There was never a more unlikely pair. But they persevered, though both were over fifty when they began their rural adventure.
First, they made the mistake of naming their cows: Big Mama and Baby, Hortense and Hamburger, Pansy and Peaches and Paco and Curly and, well, you get the idea.
It was crazy. It was also funny and sad. They worked their tails off, and in return, were given one of the most uplifting experiences of their lives.
You’ll laugh out loud as Mary Lynn Archibald recounts the couple’s struggles as they tilt at their own personal windmills. When you can’t believe it really happened there’s a photograph showing it did!
Accidental Cowgirl is a hilarious backwoods romp and a wonderful, fast read. If you’ve ever had the yen to get back to nature, read this book first. If you can put it down before the end, you’re doing better than I did!
—Reviewed by Jeane Slone, Author of She Was a Spy in WWII and two other novels.