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Growing up on Wagon Wheel Ranch

Growing up on Wagon Wheel Ranch

Billy The Goat Following A Young And Sassy Kim Ambra Down The Driveway At Wagon Wheel Ranch

I grew up thinking I lived on a farm. I like to joke now and tell people that I was once a ranch hand. In the back of a neighborhood, off Route B, down a gravel road, was the Wagon Wheel Ranch. My childhood home. The house that built me.

What made this 15-acre plot of memories a ‘ranch’ was simply a sign that hung above the driveway that proclaimed, “Wagon Wheel Ranch,” with two old wagon wheels hung on each side. Throw in a barn, a few horses, and our pet goat Billy … I really thought I was roughing it on the ranch.

I am a city girl at heart, so therefore the “ranch life” was hard for me. (I am cracking up even typing that!) My dad is the father of four daughters — three of which hated farm chores. And by farm chores I mean the occasional waking up before 8 a.m. to clean out the barn or feed the horses.

The Wagon Wheel Ranch is where my nearest and dearest memories were created. So many of those stories are still talked about at family gatherings and we are brought to tears from the laughter. One of my favorites — my dad traveled for work when we were young, so my sisters and I were occasionally left to run the ranch. (I truly cannot say that without laughing.) One morning my oldest sister and I were sent to feed the horses. My mom is washing dishes and looks up in time to see the horses running past the kitchen window. Outside she hears my sister and me screaming.

After further investigation, she finds us in the hayloft screaming our heads off. We were scared to death of those horses, so all it took was one sideways glance for us to drop our buckets and take off running. Hearing my mom’s version of this story is even funnier!

Kim Ambra and her sister doing chores in classic black and white striped prisoners costumes.
Kim Ambra and her sister doing chores in classic black and white striped prisoners costumes.

Occasionally my sisters and I were known to strike up an attitude or complain and my parents liked to teach us valuable lessons. If we complained about the few easy chores they asked us to do, that would often be followed by a not-so-easy chore. One particular day our complaining led to us clearing the brush from an unused and overgrown horse stall. After about 15 minutes of weed-whacking, my sister and I thought it would be fun to hit up the costume box and wear prisoner uniforms for the rest of our shift.

Although the ranch work was hard, and the days were long, we always had fun! I walked our pet goat around on a leash. We dressed our barn cats up in doll clothes and always wondered why they hated us. I have thousands of memories ingrained in my heart.

We were all so sad when my parents sold that house. The day before closing, my oldest sister and I decided to visit the Wagon Wheel Ranch one last time. On our exit, we decided to shimmy up the post and take the ole’ wagon wheels with us. We tied them to the top of my sister’s Grand Am with our shoelaces and proudly took them to my parents’ new home (another shake-their-heads moment for Ken and Sherry).

Fun fact — my mom grew up on actual ranches in Wyoming and my grandpa was a real-life cowboy. So I definitely know the difference, and know that we were nowhere near roughing it on a ranch. Kudos to the real farmers and ranchers out there!

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