Some time ago I had the privilege of doing a little freelance writing for the Line Rider, the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association magazine. They were featuring a ranch wife local to Malad and decided to call on me to help write her story. If there is one thing I know about this industry and the people of it, it is that we may all be doing the same thing, ranching, farming…. Whatever, but we all have a unique story of how we got to where we are now.
I just loved having the chance to hear Euarda’s story, I figured I should share it with you!
“Oh honk!” If you just heard this, you are most certainly in the presence of the one and only Euarda Daniels of Malad, Idaho. She calls herself a simple ranch wife but her years of farm living and working by the side of her husband have written some incredible chapters in her book of life.
She grew up not far from Malad in the tiny town of Holbrook on her family’s dry farm. They raised a few horses, cows, chickens and pigs while they grew wheat, barley, and other grains. Euarda loved working on the farm and was willing to jump in and help at every chance. If there was any job she could volunteer for first it would be to saddle up the horse and move the cows, but being the good farm girl she was, she did everything from working in the fields to taking the slop to the pigs to facing the nasty rooster as she collected eggs, something that thanks to her father, didn’t last too long.
At the end of every day, Euarda had the troublesome chore to collect the eggs. The gathering wasn’t so much the trouble, even though it meant searching through the hay piles for eggs. The real trouble was trying to make it back home in one piece. The resident rooster would chase after her, fly up and peck the back her neck night after night. She threatened her father that she wasn’t going to collect the eggs so long as that ornery rooster was still around but he shrugged off her complaints and just told her to take the broom to him. That was until one night he watched that ronchy rooster attack his little girl. Euarda recalls that a dinner of tough rooster soup had never tasted so good!
When Euarda was in the 5th grade, their family began splitting their time living in Holbrook during the summer months and Malad during the school months so her older sister could go to high school. There was only a small elementary school for the Holbrook students and those were the days before buses made it around. Moving took Euarda from farm living, but it was moving to Malad that permitted Euarda the chance to meet her future husband, Joe Daniels.
The excitement of boys was in the air as Euarda started into 6th and 7th grade. All her close friends were eyeing the boys in their grade and picking out boyfriends left and right. Not to be left out, Euarda figured Joe would make a fine choice, simply because she knew him, he didn’t have a girlfriend, and he was nice enough to play with. She has fond memories of playing run sheepy run and kick the can with boyfriend Joe. It wasn’t until high school that she began see Joe in a different way.
Joe and Euarda were chosen to be partners in their local church dance group as they prepared for the annual dance festival in Salt Lake City. And although dancing provided a great opportunity to be close, it was the walks home sparked her love for Joe. When she was first asked to be Joe’s partner, Euarda was reluctant to be a part of the dance company, not because she didn’t like dancing but simply because she was afraid to walk home alone past the empty park in the dark. It was Joe’s chivalrous offer to see her home safely that convinced her to dance with him. Euarda recalls that it wasn’t long after being dance partners that they began their courtship, mostly filled with dates to check and feed the cows! They may not have been the most romantic dates, but she loved them because loved the ranching life and loved being with Joe.
While they attended Malad High School, Joe and Euarda were both very involved in different clubs and activities. After high school they went their separate ways to college, but it was only a few short years before they were married and living in Logan, Utah where Joe attended USU in Ag Economics and played on the football team. Euarda has fond memories of watching Joe play and lights up as she recalls rooting for her husband at every chance she had. It was in Logan that they started their little family, having their first daughter in 1957. Following Joe’s graduation they decided to return to their roots and made the move back to Malad to help his father run their family ranch.
It was living on the ranch that turned Euarda from a farm girl to a “real ranch girl”. All the sudden she found herself working cows, hauling hay, and helping calve. Thinking back to the early days of ranching she can remember helping Joe with a heifer in a difficult delivery. He had her holding the heifer at the head to keep her still while he helped the calf. In the end, everything turned out fine- momma and baby were doing well. But Euarda was not doing so well… She was exhausted, as she felt every labor pain and pushed with that heifer on every contraction! This experience is a perfect example of Euarda the ranch wife- giving her all no matter what the cost. She loved every minute of every season working with her husband in the fresh mountain air. Even now Euarda takes every opportunity she has to haul hay, move the equipment or whatever is needed from her.
The ranch was successful and exactly what the couple wanted as they were beginning to raise their young family but financially it wasn’t enough to support the family and Joe went to work at Thiokol. Because he loved the lifestyle and the ranch, he worked both jobs for a long twenty five years to ensure that they could make it year after year. There came a time that even Euarda went to work to help make ends meet. It was during the ‘70s that they nearly lost everything as the financial climate took a big dip. They were in the middle of running their ranch, buying into the ranch, buying the farm in Holbrook, and raising a family of six when interest rates when sky high and there wasn’t enough money to go around. Euarda decided to become a CNA, working the night shift for years to help make the difference.
It was during this time that Euarda learned some tough ranch wife lessons. She loved the ranch life and always wanted it, but at times felt like she and the family came second to Joe, behind the ranch. It wasn’t until she stepped back and realized that everything they were doing for the ranch was for their family. Every ranch debt they paid off meant one more year on the ranch, something that was far more important to Euarda than the exciting family outings or fun toys. She had a new level of investment in the ranch and her partnership with Joe became more meaningful. When times got tough, she would ask herself, “What does it matter? Is what I want more important that what we have?” And then, with her priorities clearly set, she would dig in and move on. It was more important for their family to work together than to have her own wants. She realized that they might have been pocketbook poor, but in memories and experiences she was rich.
Her love of her role as wife could only be seconded by the role of mother. She loved helping out on the ranch but hung up her boots as the babies started coming. In fact, a quote by David O. McKay inspired her to turn her focus from spending her days on the ranch to spending her days in the home raising her family. “No success can compensate for failure in the home,” became her motto. It was new phase in their ranch life when she would send her husband out the door with lunch and a kiss as she stayed home to raise the next generations of ranchers. As the children grew, she would send them out to work with their dad, doing the very jobs she had done. Their successes on the ranch were her successes and she couldn’t be prouder to see her family working, struggling, fighting and thriving on the ranch.
Euarda and Joe have been longtime empty nesters now and are moving on to their final stage of ranching- passing it on to the next generation. Their children together are working to keep the ranch running and succeeding, making difficult decisions but enjoying great rewards. Looking back, Euarda is pleased with what they were able accomplish over their years on the ranch- the cattle they raised, they hay they put up and the storms they weathered. But she counts herself successful and blessed for the family she raised. If you ask her what the best times or seasons on the ranch her face lights up as she says, “Any season the family gets together!”