Its Head Came Off by Accident: A Memoir

Its Head Came Off by Accident: A Memoir

by Muffy Mead-Ferro
     
 

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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

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.

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.)
From the Publisher
Mead-Ferro's wonderful memoir more closely resembles a collection of picaresque snapshots of the rough-and-tumble western life and times that existed even well into the twentieth century in Wyoming. More than that, though, her reminiscences beg a question. Did growing up on a ranch imbue her with a willful spirit? Or was it the result of having a mother who apparently believed in keeping loose but ready reins on her children? Whatever the answer, Mead-Ferro seems to have come away none the worse for it.In fact, arguably better. Certainly more capable. Indeed, she misses her unique—at least to city folk—heritage so much that she is attempting to recapture just a glimmer of it for her own children to experience. Even so, there is no going home again. The family ranch was sold off and Mead-Ferro has had to settle for being a part-time rancher and farmer on the wrong side of the Tetons. Ah, but the memories. It is good to savor the memories.— Donna Chavez, Booklist
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."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762780648
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/18/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
7.80(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Muffy Mead- Ferro is the author of Confessions of a Slacker Mom, which was on the San Francisco Chronicle bestseller list has been option as a television series, and Confessions of a Slacker Wife. Mead-Ferro has appeared on Oprah and the Today Show among others. She lives in Wyoming and Salt Lake City, Utah, where she works in marketing.

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