My name is Cristi Walker and I was born and raised in Owyhee, Nevada (Nevada/Idaho border, literally) on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation  – 100 miles from the nearest town. I am of Shoshone, Paiute, Portuguese and Italian descent. My paternal Grandfather came from Pyramid Lake, my Grandmother’s family from Paradise Valley and Maternal family is from the Austin, Nevada area.
Our mother, Margaret “Maggie” Cunha, was a Home Economics Teacher and our father, George Walker was a straight up Cowboy, Horseman and Cattle Rancher. We grew up tough, but learned more than most kids – somehow, I figure that taught us to do better. With that said, I left to get an education; where I chose work, over school and eventually just came “Home” - where I knew my heart was.
Today, my husband and I raise Angus cattle and have a Brood Mare Program [thanks to Bill & Marie Kane] which consist of mainly blue, red roan working cow horses [sired by a grandson of Peptoboonsmal]. We consign through the Van Norman Production Sale in Elko or we’ll sell outright as people are interested. Ryan teaches Agriculture at the High School here in Owyhee and has taken up making saddles. I learned how to cover stirrups from Spider Teller and my sister-in-law Laura Estes builds our cinches.
This time of year, my daily work schedule includes waking early, layering up, getting the wood stoves loaded, hoping that the truck will start and drive to find the feed crew to get our older cows fed. Then I head to join up with the MT Ranch crew and help them feed for the day. I get home to break ice, grain and feed animals we have around the barn which varies from yearlings colts, calves, to cats, dogs and includes any stragglers. I then head up to get a tractor to load for first year heifers and believe it or not, a dang Ford truck will run by itself in low 4WD – all I have to do is jump out and onto the flatbed to feed (TG for 3 & 4x4 bales!) When I get home, I load once again for the following day and try to find something to cook for dinner. I usually have a little bit of a break while I wait for the guys to get home from school, so I attempt to get laundry or housework done…but then it starts all over and I head out to feed in the saddle horses and mares. In the midst of all of this chaos, I do try to find time to eat and also work in the saddle shop - haha!
I never really understood why people would always say there are “not enough hours in a day” – I now know! Every day is an adventure though – whether it be thick ice, mad cow, mad husbands (haha!) burnt food, tough hands, being treated like a guy sometimes or lack of fresh flowers…I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
My favorite time of year would have to be late Summer/early Fall – the haying’s done, we get to start gathering cows and sometimes we actually get to head to town to watch local junior rodeos or county fairs! However, our most memorable times come in June before we turn out to Fall ground. Because we run in common with several other local families, there’s always plenty happening around branding time; whether it being witness to a great early morning bronc ride to watching a nice horse working a cow at the rodear, and of course there are always plenty of laughs and good conversation over an excess of food at the “cowboy buffet” before the work begins again.
Every girl should want to become a ranch wife – there’s definitely never a dull moment! In closing though, I do have to say that I am truly thankful for my husband Ryan and Monte Cummins [the son that adopted us] because I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them.