"It will really help me embrace my role as the 'girl of all work,' which I understand is the lowest member of the ranch community."
The rift: rocky relations with Robby
Maura gives a brief tour of the outhouse.
Maura rides at cowboy training camp.
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Maura is an intelligent and independent Maryland native who recently started a Ph.D. in anthropology at Stanford University. She is fiercely opinionated, well read, and well traveled, having hiked the Himalayas and lived in India. Maura is an accomplished equestrian as well, and as a teenager took part in hunter, jumper, dressage, and eventing competitions. She is proud to call herself a feminist and says she has a rebellious streak.
"I believe that's my bedroom -- in the kitchen, by the hearth. I think that it will really help me embrace my role as the 'girl of all work,' which I understand is the lowest member of the ranch community, second only to Howie the dog."
Maura is a recent immigrant to America and has been taken on by the Cooke family as a "girl of all work," or domestic servant. In exchange for passage to the frontier plus room and board, she will cook, clean, and perform other domestic tasks on their new cattle ranch. She has no immediate family and very little prospects for her future other than work or marriage, so she owes a great deal of gratitude to the Cookes for bringing her into their family and including her on this adventure.
As the "girl of all work," Maura is the lowest-ranking person on the ranch. She must assist Mrs. Cooke in the management of a well-ordered home. Mrs. Cooke will determine which chores are Maura's responsibilities. In order to earn her keep, Maura will meet each morning with Mrs. Cooke to discuss the day's priorities. Much of her work will be in the kitchen of the ranch house. She must always get her material for breakfast ready before going to bed for the night and fix the fire so it's ready to light. It is expected that the women of the house will share the burden of kitchen duties. These include preparing and cooking meals for the family, maintaining the safety of the food supply, and cleaning. The women must also complete the laundry, ironing, bathing, and baking. They are expected to water, maintain, and harvest the plants in the garden. They are also responsible for keeping these plants safe from rodents or other predators. The women must care for and feed the domestic animals housed near the ranch headquarters. The "milch cow" and chickens will be entirely dependent on their care. Maura assists the Cooke women in maintaining the food stores and watering and maintaining the garden. Knowing how to "sew plain" is imperative, as Maura may be called upon to do additional sewing or mending for family members.
Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York and Wall to Wall Television.
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