Clark and Elizabeth Kaines' aspiration to become rich and famous collides with the reality of raising their fourteen children on a harsh cattle ranch in Kansas. Their teenage children manifest their rebellion in wild ways at alarming rates during the tumultuous "hippie" ideology of the sixties. As the ranch expands during the seventies, the financial stability of the family is threatened. Finally, the last of the children matures in "the material world" of the eighties when the ranch reaches prosperity. Kitty, the twelfth child, learns after the birth of her youngest sister Scarlet that the women in the family will have to break all the rules in order for the Backward K Ranch to survive.