Title: The Home Ranch
Author: Ralph Moody
Series: Little Britches series, book 3
Major Themes: Cowboys, Horses, Pioneer Life, Ranching, Farming, Ralph Moody, Colorado, Family Read-Alouds, Autobiographies, US History 1900-1950, North America, Books for Boys
Synopsis: Ralph spent the summer working on a ranch in Colorado as a cowhand, learning many lessons for life.
I have enjoyed the Little Britches books ever since I discovered them in the library, over 25 years ago. I read all eight books aloud to my siblings back then, and then to my own children about 10 years ago. Now, we’re reading them again, and I’m enjoying them just as much. These are wonderful stories. The entire family enjoys them, and they really appeal to boys, as well. We finished The Home Ranch today. When I asked which story they wanted me to read from, out of the seven we’re currently reading through, this was the unanimous choice!
After Ralph’s father died, he had to help make a living for his family. He spent the summer he was 12 working away from home on Mr. Batchlett’s ranch. He had been hired to go out on trading trips with Mr. Batchlett, and actually did go out on one—when he had to endure a terrible dust storm during which men and animals ran out of water and couldn’t see where they were going for a day and night. The rest of the summer, he worked on the ranch, rounding up cows and calves and cutting them out of the herd as needed.
Ralph learned a lot about life that summer. He ended up working with a girl about his own age instead of with the men—and learned from her how to do his work! He also learned a very important character lesson the night old Hank got them both lost in the mountains and he didn’t know if he would get out alive. There were some very rough times, and rough men (Trinidad made life hard for Sid for awhile). There was also young love. The interactions between Ralph and Mr. Bendt, and Ralph and Hazel, really made a great story.
The Home Ranch is perfect for boys who love cowboy tales. This is a real-life cowboy story, one that horse-lovers will enjoy, as well as those who like to read about pioneers. This book is definitely a first-hand account of a way of life that doesn’t exist anymore. The language is a bit rough (see my warnings below), but the story itself more than makes up for that. And, not only is it a great cowboy story, horse story, and pioneer-life story, it is actually a great character-building story. Ralph learned some much-needed character lessons and was able to relate them in a very natural, appealing way in this book.
WARNING: Chapter 2: Hank says “by dogies” five times. Chapter 3: by jiggers, by dang, by dogies, daggone you. Chapter 4: why in blazes, daggone shame. Chapter 5: “swearing at the bay”, dogged if you didn’t, this little devil, son-of-a-gun, dang near put me afoot, by dog, dadgummed, by diggity, what in the blazin’, worthless son-of-a-gun. Chapter 6: you little devils. Chapter 7: by dogies, Hank began to cuss, Hank was cussing two more times, gittin’ pretty dad-gummed big, by dogies seven times. Chapter 8: by dogies three times, dadgummed twice. Chapter 9: daggoned, dang me, by dang. Chapter 11: darned weasel four times, by jiminy, darn dodo. Chapter 15: by dogies two times. Chapter 16: by the old Harry. Chapter 17: jiminy. Chapter 18: dang shame, that little devil, dag-goned, wish by dang twice, little devil, by dogies, I’ll be dogged, so danged fast. Chapter 19: by dogies twice, be danged careful, that danged maverick, that dag-goned outlaw. Chapter 21: doggone rough. Chapter 22: dang right. Chapter 25: too danged dangerous, great bulls o’ Bashan. Chapter 26: by dogies twice, a violent fight in the bunkhouse. Chapter 27: I’d be danged, by dogies twice. Chapter 28: that danged blue mav’rick. Chapter 29: Ralph wanted to kiss a girl.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults