Among all the Extraordinary Families submissions, there was one that really stuck out. It was the Lees, a family who lives and works on a 1.1 million acre cattle ranch in Frenchglen, Oregon.
1.1 million acres? That must be a typo, I thought.
It was not a typo and the Lees went straight to the top of our list. Who wouldn’t want to see what bringing up kids is like when you have to drive 90 miles to the closest grocery store? Who wouldn’t be curious about a five-year-old girl who spends most days riding a horse named Nacho alongside her mom and dad?
Turns out, raising kids on a ginormous ranch has lots of similarities to raising kids anywhere else. There are rushed breakfasts, bedtime books and much needed baths.
It’s just the scenery is a lot more spectacular. And the tantrums happen during things like roping lessons, instead of when someone takes away an iPad.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Panther and Levi and their daughter Samantha. Panther is a long time reader of my blog. In fact, I remember she responded to a post I wrote about odd names, saying— “Imagine being named Panther as a little girl!” Panther did not grow up on a ranch, but somehow she found a lifestyle where her name makes perfect sense.
After watching the video, Panther said that it gave her more perspective on what’s important.
“Sometimes I get exasperated by the whining and tantrums, which there were plenty of that day. But there were so many more good moments in the day than bad ones. The video made me realize how little the tantrums actually matter.”
I asked her how she hoped her family might inspire my readers.
“I hear often ‘I wish I could move to a new state, do that job, see that country’ etc. You can! You can do whatever your soul wants to do. Sometimes it’s hard and scary, but that makes the end result even more worth it.”
When asked if she thought their way of life has impacted the way she parents, Panther said, “Ranching has definitely made me a free-range parent. While I’m working or doing chores, Sam is exploring by the creek with the dogs or trying to convince the horses to follow her around. She has constant freedom to explore which most kids don’t get. But I know that her adventurous spirit would be alive no matter where we lived.”
Lastly, Panther said that the video really helped solidify how lucky they are that work and family and their ranch are all intertwined. “I love that ‘family’ is the core of everything in our lives.”
Please leave a comment in support of Panther and her beautiful family below.
This post is part of the “Extraordinary Families” series sponsored by Allstate. “Extraordinary Families” aims to show what life is like, sun up to sun down, for families facing (and overcoming!) unique and challenging circumstances. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated to protecting what matters most.
Couldn’t watch the video, its private. But what an awesome place to grow up!
It should work now!
I have no idea why but I was tearing up! What a great way to grow up and a great way to learn some life lessons.
I also have no idea why, but I teared up as well. Gorgeous video and family!
I seriously love that you added the video component to this series! This family is so sweet! I was in awe watching that little girl, who is only a year older than mine, ride that horse like a pro 🙂
Your family is so beautiful! I love how you have such clear goals of the traits that you know will make your family and your daughter strong and successful, but they are traits that will allow her to grow and develop as her one person… a strong creative person. Congratulations on these big accomplishments! Thank you for sharing your family.
Does the child have a stable education? It looks like she just runs around all day.
These Extraordinary Families are wishy washy. Like the shy kid with the non verbal sister. The mom focused more more on the shy kid then the non-verbal sister who was 4!
Before you go invade some more homes, how about you check on your own kids? They live in a broken home where parents up and go on six week business trips. No wonder Harlow doesn’t like other kids. She doesn’t even get 1-1 with her own parents. #failuremom #mommyshorts
You have no idea what you are talking about. First of all, this was shot over the summer and Samantha started kindergarten at a school this fall. The non-verbal sister in the last post was two. Secondly, I don’t know what six week business trip you are talking about. I went away for one week. Then came back, went away for a weekend, then came back, went away on an overnight, then came back and went away on another overnight. I also left them in their dad’s very capable hands. Harlow likes other kids just fine. This comment makes me so sad because I hope it isn’t the beginning of the end of a community that has always been kind and non-judgmental.
It’s not. This person needs to learn to read the facts before insulting people’s parenting. Or better yet, let’s not insult other people’s parenting at all. Y’all are doing a great job.
Please don’t get disillusioned. We love your content. This person is clearly struggling in their own life and projecting onto you.
I think you are awesome, Ilana! You’re children are both perfectly loved, percocious and delightful.
And, Panther your family life truly inspires me. I love the free range parenting, the dedication to pushing through hard things, and the riding for the brand!
I love this series, Ilana! Thank you.
If you watch the video, they talk about school.
Is this comment even for real? Oh my word. Some people, man, some people… Might be time to get a day job instead of trolling around the internet.
I personally like the (surely unintentional) pun at the beginning. She sure does have a stable education! Get it? Stable, like a barn? Where horses live? Right?
Ha! In that case, she is one of very few kids with a stable education! Well played, Panther.
I thought this video was AMAZING. Samantha will probably grow up with such a great work ethic, so much respect for both people and animals, and so many other great values! Panther, it seems like you and Levi are doing a great job. I don’t have kids yet, but I really hope someday I can raise my children on a ranch as well…Hopefully a lot less land and a little closer to a city 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!
Ilana, I also read your blog religiously even though I don’t have children yet. You seem so awesome, and seem to have such great children as well. I really look forward to your posts! Thank you for sharing your life too!!
Yes, why is it that bath time seems to always be a surprise to our kids?!? Mine is the SAME way.
Thank you for showing a glimpse of rural life. I live in a very rural area (although not to this extreme) and it’s great to see this perspective. What a wonderful family! It looks like Sam is one lucky girl to have such an amazing experience!
Love this family…what an inspiration! As is every creation of mommyshorts! Thank you so much for sharing and using your platform to teach others about alternative ways of doing things. You are making such an impact in bridging the gap between different types of people in a time when it is so desperately needed. Thank you mommyshorts!!!
I cedar the awesome.
I think this is a pretty magical existence– Fo sure.
Love seeing how capable kids are when given the chance. Love seeing how capable moms are without all of the luxuries and conveniences that we all have learned to rely on so heavily.
Awesome job, Panther.
This is such an amazing series, Ilana. Thanks to everyone that works on/supports this series being made. I want more! Haha. Loved this one, and that picture of Panther at the end is beautiful. Such a cool family.
Panther is an awesome person! My daughter still love the real authentic lasso that she sent her along with some of her own personal horse riding ribbons. While we have grown apart over the years, I always feel so honored to have been given the opportunity to learn about her experience. And I can’t believe Sam’s in kindergarden already! These are some of the most genuine and authentic people you could ever meet.
What a wonderful and inspirational story! They seem like a lovely family and it’s so interesting to see how different people live all around the country.
What a great experience!! Thank you Ilana for sharing this family’s story with us. It is so cool to see how other families live and handle everyday family issues.
Oh and Ilana, do not worry about your community. From what I can see through your posts, you and Mike are doing a great job with the girls. Unfortunately it seems some people cannot be happy unless they are bringing others down.
There are about 1550 reasons I love this!
Most def cedar! Panther is a helluva chick and her lifestyle is inspiring for sure.
What a great reminder that we can all live such different lives and yet, in the end we all just want the same for our kids!
WHAT IS CEDAR???
Love this video. Wonderful to see different families. This is such a worthwhile series. Thank you Mommyshorts for providing it-and Allstate?
This was so cool to watch! Insanely gorgeous scenery and just really interesting to learn about life on a ranch. I am curious though–how often do they make that trek to the grocery store??? Thanks Panther and family for giving us a glimpse into your lives!!
Wow! They are definitely amazing and an important part of what makes America and awesome nation. Makes me wish I got my kids outside and into nature way more often than they do.
This is the family I was anticipating the most, and the video was just amazing. I live in a very flat area, so I was just mesmerized by the scenery and hills on their property. Sam and Nacho are adorable together. And the picnic table dinner? Love it! I wish I could jump through the video and join in.
I teared up too! I love this family!
Wow! Just WOW! What a life. As hard and rough as it looks to work outside all day it seems like the most peaceful lifestyle. Thank you for sharing a bit of your lives with us. You’re doing a great job parenting, you can see it in your daughter’s eyes.
“If you don’t have somethin’ nice to say, then don’t say nothin’ at all” – Thumper the Bunny from “Bambi”
This installment of Extraordinary families was amazing. I’m so happy that their family found this path in life that makes them all so happy. They do SO much but still prioritize family and it’s inspiring. What a wonderful looking life!
Dear Ellyn- I feel bad for the 39 kids your teach and their families because of you. Get off this page, stop following Ilana, and don’t come back. The only people who follow blogs just so they can say mean and nasty things are miserable people. I am sure as an educator (by the way which does not give you free reign to make accusations against people you don’t know) you understand the idiom “Misery loves company.”
-All the REAL mommyshorts fans
Loved. These always seem to get me teary eyed.
I can’t even. I know I shouldn’t engage but I really can’t bear when people use comments to make blanket judgements and calling kids “monsters” is just plain wrong. Playing up at drop off is not a sign of bad parenting (how does not wanting to say goodbye to a person make them a bad person?) and being overwhelmed at a social event at which you are the centre of attention does not mean you don’t like any people. One parent leaving a child in the care of the other parent for a short amount of time does not indicate neglect or trauma and a quote from a deliberately humorous social media account does not provide conclusive evidence of bad parenting. There is no “one rule fits all” guide to parenting, even within one family, which is why parents of all walks of life can come together here at Mommy Shorts and share together. And Harlow’s sparkle, sense of humor, ability to be true to herself, winner smile and inner confidence suggest to me that she knows she is deeply loved and valued for who she is whether she kicks up a little fuss about drop off or not, and surely that’s all any of us want for our kids? The End.
Cool! Very happy to see Samantha wearing a helmet too 🙂
What a lovely segment! “It’s just dirt!” – loved that comment from Samantha’s dad. I grew up rural and I say that to my husband re: our two kids all the time, lol. Seeing that little girl grow up so strong and capable reminded me of how important it is for people to have different upbringings/experiences. This series is so well done and I can’t wait to read/see more 🙂
Ilana, is there a way to block commenters, because, seriously, no one wants to see the negative worthless comments that do not contribute anything to the post what-so-ever.
I LOVE that you included a rural family. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, and raising my kids in a slightly less middle of nowhere it’s wonderful to see this shared. Thank you for including it!
I love this series, watching these videos makes me so excited to have kids someday and getting to see a glimpse of various lives is so cool since it shows there’s no one size fits all approach.
Ilana- I rarely comment but I’ve been following since Mazzy was a sushi. So you’ve kept this non-Mom interested for over 5 years now, no worries your supportive community has your back 🙂