Welcome to Burning Dress Ranch!
Sometime last year, I heard a news story about women gathering together to burn their wedding dresses to celebrate their divorces. I felt so sorry for these ladies. You could tell they were still angry and hurt. I didn’t think burning their gowns was much of a solution to soothing bitter hearts. At least, not in the long run.
Then what was?
My brain started turning. I write Westerns. How could that help women? I played what-if. What if there was a ranch run by women? And what if this place somehow facilitated healing? And what if the ranch owner was—AVOIDING A SPOILER HERE—let’s just say, special?
The first thing I had to know for sure—could women REALLY run a ranch in the Old West? I mean, come on, that’s kind of a man’s world, right?
Wrong. There are several historical examples of women running successful ranches, but only one that I could find where women did the same work as the men.
Eastern Montana is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and lonely places in the US. It is not an area for the faint of heart. The weather, the wide-open spaces, the solitude…it’s the kind of place that makes you or breaks you.
Which is why the story of fiery redheads May, Myrtle, and Mabel Buckley is all the more remarkable.
When Franklin and Susannah Buckley started having children, surely they hoped for boys. After all, farming in the Dakotas and ranching in Montana was man’s work. But the Buckley daughters were born for this land. Franklin was smart enough to know it…or perhaps his precocious, fearless, ambitious daughters gave him no choice. They bloomed on those prairies like wildflowers after a snowy winter. Their father’s ranch hands taught the girls to ride, rope, shoot, brand, round up, even break broncs. The cowboys called them, with affection, the Red Yearlings.
Confident in his daughters’ abilities, Franklin turned his 160-acre ranch in Terry, Montana over to the girls. This freed him up to manage the farm in North Dakota, tend to other business ventures, and serve as a state representative.
In 1914, neighbor and friend Evelyn Cameron photographed the girls working and playing on the ranch. Cameron wrote an article about Montana cowgirls and featured the feisty ranching sisters doing what they did best. While this article spread their fame to Europe, the girls had already been fielding invitations from Wild West shows and even President Roosevelt. Turned ’em all down flat. May, Myrtle, and Mabel were ranchers. The profession was no game to them. The most play-acting they did was posing for the now famous and very collectible Cameron photos.
So, a female-run ranch was not only plausible, it was historical fact.
And Burning Dress Ranch was born. It is a place where hurting, broken women can go and learn a trade, rebuild their confidence, come to believe in themselves. Some will even get second chances at romance. But true healing and happiness come when they give their hearts to the Lord.
Then, where does the burning dress come in? And why does Miss Sally seem to have so many special gifts? I’ll let you read A Distant Heart (Burning Dress Ranch Book 1) to find out!
So, I’m no feminist, but I believe women are great at doing what needs to be done. Do you know any women like this? The old pioneer stock? I’d love to hear!
Comment for your chance to win an ebook (5) and one winner gets a $10 Amazon gift card!