Handbook For the Hired Hand

If you've been thinking of a move to fresher air and simpler living but can't buy your own piece of land, this essay will help you learn what you need to know for a position as a hired hand.

| March/April 1973

  • 020-069-01
    Conservative attitudes notwithstanding, women often do the same kind of work as men on a ranch.
  • 020-069-01a
    Your duties as a hired hand on a farm might include feeding chickens.

  • 020-069-01
  • 020-069-01a
WANTED: Responsible man or couple for ranch work. References
preferred, experience necessary. Two-bedroom furnished house
and beef supplied, plus $400 per month. Call or write Albert
XXYYZZY, Alzada, S.D.  

Of course, the ad I've just quoted is hypothetical . . . but not very, because such notices appear often these days. Often enough, at least, that a man (or couple) who wishes to live the good country life with pay can realistically consider ranch work as an alternative to the city grind.

If you've been thinking of a move to fresher air and simpler living but can't see your way clear to buying your own piece of land, rural labor can give you many of the same satisfactions. And if your plans do include a homestead, the job of hired hand is a good prelude . . . a chance to build your experience and earn some cash at the same time.

What Kind of Man Buys Plowboy?

Let's look briefly at the advantages of a job as hired hand (or as an absentee owner's manager of a ranch or of several ranches . . . another possibility that's opening up these days).

[1] When a rancher employs steady help, he almost invariably supplies a house . . . and a good worker can get additions built on if his family increases.

[2] Part of the hired man's wage is usually paid in fresh, home-grown food: beef on western ranches, milk on dairy operations, or similar compensation depending on where you work. In addition, garden space is available and you'll have the chance to keep a milk cow (for your own butter, ice cream, coffee cream) . . . or chickens for eating and for eggs . . . or horses and other pets. Growing your own plants and animals outside working hours will increase your enjoyment, reduce the cost of living even further, and bring closer the day when you can have your own land.

[3] Even though you're working for someone else, you'll have freedom as a hired hand since the work's pace moves with the seasons. The job is hard during summer haying, slower in late fall . . . and in winter, once the feeding is done, you're through for the day unless you have to cut wood for your fireplace. And think of all that space and clean air you'll have to enjoy your spare time in!

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