Oprah’s Ralph Lauren Interview Was … Odd!

I really do like Oprah, and I appreciate soft, feature news as much as anyone. But I found Oprah’s interview aired today with Ralph Lauren on his RRL Ranch outside of Telluride, CO, to be a bit corny.

The ranch landscape is incredibly gorgeous, but how many ranch owners can afford miles and miles of peeled log teak fence?

Lauren has several large hand-painted teepees on his ranch, which are also amazingly beautiful and create an incredible scene against the sharp mountain backdrop. But inside these teepees are fully furnished and better decorated than my home, so how authentic can they really be? The Indians certainly didn’t live like that when they lived in teepees, and, sadly, even today many on the reservations still don’t live in anything nearly that nice.

I also found it odd that Oprah was so awe struck over a working cattle ranch. Oprah has spoken out against beef consumption on more than one occasion during the past 25 seasons of her television show.

And here’s the most absurd part of the actual interview. Oprah’s hardest hitting question to Ralph Lauren was, “Where did the idea for the polo shirt come from?”

Lauren didn’t really answer it other than to say that the polo shirt is a representation of the brand.

Hilarious! Yet I’ll bet this Oprah episode, being one of her last on network television, had more viewers than any hard news program of the day. That’s both odd and sad.

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Buck, Ram, Ewe, Dam and Wether or not we know animal designations

When I was in fourth grade my class did a crossword puzzle and one of the clues was “A female sheep.” Having first cousins as sheep farmers, I was the only who knew this was a “ewe,” and I also knew how to spell it!

The scary thing was that this was 30 years ago and this happened in the heart of farm country in eastern South Dakota! I wonder how many kids in big cities would know this today?

A “ewe” is just one classification of a sheep; the term refers to a female sheep. In fact, the first five capitalized words used in the title of this post are names of types of sheep. A buck and a ram are male, intact sheep. A ewe is a female sheep and a dam is a mother sheep.

Some of you probably thought I spelled “Wether” wrong, but this is a play on words. A wether without the first “h” refers to a male sheep who has been castrated.

Take a look at all of the proper names for different animals at this Enchanted Learning site. So if you want to sound like an animal expert, the next time you are talking about a baby penguin, call it a chick. Or if you are referring to a group of penguins, you could sound really intellectual and worldly if you call it a rookery.

My First Trip to the Ranch

This is the scene from the car window these days as we drive through the pasture to get to the in-laws house.

This is the scene from the car window these days as we drive through the pasture to get to the in-laws house.

Handsome Hubby and I became engaged while we were attending South Dakota’s land grant institution East River. I had never met his parents, so the first long weekend we had, we took the long trip across the state to his home and family ranch.

East River is predominantly farm country, and I was about to visit a ranch. At the time, I don’t think I considered the differences to be much more than subtleties. But after nearly 18 years of marriage to a rancher’s son, I have certainly come to understand that there are almost as many differences as similarities between farmers and ranchers. I noticed one difference right away on that first trip.

As we edged closer to the ranch as an engaged couple, it seemed as though Handsome Fiancé was somehow trying to prepare me for the visit. “This is a ranch,” he said. “It’s nothing fancy and there are cattle around.”

After a few statements like that, I said something like, “Well, it’s not like you keep the cattle in your front yard, is it?!”

As it turns out, the answer to that question depends on exactly what you consider the front yard.

It was spring – calving season – and we turned into the driveway of the ranch, crossed a cattle guard, and proceeded to make our way through a herd of cows and baby calves. About a quarter mile later we crossed another cattle guard, leaving the pasture, and made our way towards the house.

I sat speechless. Technically, I suppose, the pasture wasn’t exactly the front yard, but I had sure never driven through someone’s pasture on the way to their house. East River you drive up to the house first and the barn and cattle (if there are any) are generally behind the house.

I’ve gotten used to the concept now. In fact, for a few weeks at certain times of the year our visitors must drive through a herd of cattle before reaching our house, as well. I’m sure some of them think it’s strange. But now I just wish that we had a second cattle guard at our place – because that sure would save on having to get out and open the gate!

City Girl from Farm Country Moves to the Ranch

I grew up in one of the largest South Dakota communities on the east side of the state, or East River as South Dakotans say. Agriculture east of the Missouri River in South Dakota consists mostly of growing crops with some livestock production done primarily to supplement income.

My family moved to the country, just a few miles outside of town, the summer before I started ninth grade. But we didn’t choose country life for agricultural purposes. My father is a diesel mechanic, and he wanted to build a large shop for his work. The only animals we ever had were my mom’s Shih-Tzu and a few outside cats, and the closest thing my dad did to farming was to plant and tend a shelter belt of trees around our place.

Uncles, aunts and cousins, however, exposed me to farming as I was growing up. There were cows to milk, sheep to shear, corn to combine, and hay to bale. I spent weeks visiting these relatives during my summer vacations from school. I remember the farm talk, and I remember some of the actual activities. But overall my actual experiences were fairly limited.

My experiences are still limited, but I am learning more about country life and ranching all the time. It certainly is a lifestyle choice as much as it is a career.