Its Head Came Off by Accident: A Memoir

Overview

Its Head Came Off by Accident is a humorous, yet poignant reflection on gratitude and loss. It describes a childhood that takes place on a vast Wyoming landscape—more than 6,000 acres near near Jackson Hole and adjacent to Grand Teton National Park—where the author grew up with adventure-crazed, raucous brothers and friends, and a colorful collection of Western characters, most particularly her own mother. Mead-Ferro's desire to move back to her childhood homeland from the city is weighed with how she ...

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Its Head Came Off by Accident: A Memoir

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Overview

Its Head Came Off by Accident is a humorous, yet poignant reflection on gratitude and loss. It describes a childhood that takes place on a vast Wyoming landscape—more than 6,000 acres near near Jackson Hole and adjacent to Grand Teton National Park—where the author grew up with adventure-crazed, raucous brothers and friends, and a colorful collection of Western characters, most particularly her own mother. Mead-Ferro's desire to move back to her childhood homeland from the city is weighed with how she felt when she did live on the cattle ranch, always unsure if she fit in.  
 
When Mead-Ferro's mother is killed in a freak horse accident while herding cattle, Mead-Ferro faces the loss not only of this profoundly influential person but of the entire ranching operation: a century-old legacy. After she and her brothers sell the family ranch Mead-Ferro attempts to recreate the landscape of her childhood—particularly the privileges and responsibilities of land, animals, and real work—as a bequest to her own children.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mead-Ferro, sister of the current governor of Wyoming, grew up in the still-wild, wild West of the 1960s and ‘70s, and here beautifully chronicles the colorful history of her family and the land. Muffy and her brothers experienced a childhood where the kids didn't ask a lot of questions, the parents didn't provide much information or punishment, and everybody simply did what they were supposed to do in operating a cattle ranch. The kids had the run of the ranch's thousands of acres, exploring junk in its old shop, fashioning a teepee out of the hide of one of the dead bulls, and learning to drive a tractor before they were teens. Despite all of the wonders and adventures, the ranch didn't hold the same allure for the author as big city dreams, due in part to a complicated relationship with her mother, Mary. That woman's unparalleled skills as a rider, cattle driver, and rancher had the effect of making her daughter feel inadequate—she seemed to be a woman "whose boots I would surely never fill." It's only after years away and Mary's sudden death during a cattle drive that Mead-Ferro decides she wants a little less of skyscrapers and concrete and buys her own tract with a view of the Grand Tetons. She overcomes some of those lingering insecurities, taking up the ranch life that dates back to her great-grandparents, a sign that you can go home again. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Plodding memoir about a woman's Wyoming childhood and her adult attempts to live up to her ranching heritage. When bestselling author Mead-Ferro (Confessions of a Slacker Wife, 2005, etc.) unexpectedly received the clothes in which her ranchwoman mother Mary had died, she was on the verge of giving up her cattle ranch. She had returned to her native Wyoming with her family to make a part-time go at the profession that had defined her parents, especially her mother, but setbacks and doubts about her own abilities as a rancher caused her to almost abandon the project. However, the sight of her mother's clothes caused her to rethink her plans and awakened memories of a childhood spent on the range. Her family's multiple Jackson Hole ranches were "literally the stuff of postcards and paintings." Mead-Ferro realized that this beauty and order, along with everything she experienced on that ranch, were the fruit of three generations' worth of commitment and sacrifice. In tribute to her forebears, she chronicles their lives, starting with her great-grandfather. While he accumulated the land and cattle, his son solidified the family's reputation by becoming governor and later, a Wyoming state senator. His daughter, Mary, and her husband then became stewards of the land. The author provides some vivid details about the mechanics of ranch life, but her awkward, strained attempts at folksiness, marginally interesting character portraits and general lack of insight make for unsatisfying reading. A mostly dull rendering of the author's attempt to "live up to [her] birthright."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762780648
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 965,163
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Muffy Mead-Ferro is the author of the best-selling Confessions of a Slacker Mom and Confessions of a Slacker Wife. She’s been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, and Talk of the Nation, and in publications such as The Atlantic and The London Times. She and her family reside in Salt Lake City and  Alta, Wyoming.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Alfalfa 1

2 The Lower Ranch, Pete and Mary 12

3 Sylvia and P.C., Cliff and Martha 28

4 Houses, Barns, and a Hole in the Ground 43

5 The Men 58

6 Wrecks and Near-Wrecks 74

7 The Martins 82

8 Real Work and a New Horse 99

9 Riding Up from the Drag 112

10 A Fissure in the Landscape 126

11 Little Joe 137

12 A Slow Dissolve 150

13 Back to the Pig Farm, and to Mormon Row 156

Afterword 171

Acknowledgments 175

About the Author 176

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