“You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.”
—My father, Gary Donahoo
My father was right. No matter how far I’ve gone, from city to city to earn degrees and teach, my hands and heart have led me back to the land where I was born, Cortez, Colorado.
From birth to four years old I lived in the “Pink House,” which I have now transformed into my “hands on healing” massage and educational workshop studio for guests and locals. My Pink House memories are rosy: I would run out with my little dog Minne (who I loved for 17 years) and a swimsuit to meet my grandpa in the pasture to play while he irrigated. I still remember his leather gloved hands on his shovel and the shovel digging in the moist loam soil. I fell in love with the soil. The feel, the smell, and the color. All of it! My grandpa nicknamed me Podunk at birth and never referred to me by any other name.
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a horse. My father began taking me for rides as an infant and I started the sport of rodeo at age 5. My love of horses continued throughout my childhood up through high school and college where I competed on the Montezuma-Cortez High School Rodeo Team, the Colorado State High School Rodeo Team, and the Central Arizona Community College Rodeo Team.
I graduated with a BS in Agriculture, a Vocational/Career-Readiness Teaching Certification, and two minors—one in Renewable Natural Resources and the other in Wildlife Biology and Fisheries Sciences from the University of Arizona. Now, back on Podunk’s Ranch I have a horse, I am working on getting my seat back and plan to ride often and hope to run barrels again someday.
Soon after receiving my degrees, I married and began to have children. I practiced my love of teaching by homeschooling my four kids for over ten years. I value those years so much as I can see what a benefit it has provided to my children. I think it was the hardest, lowest paying job I have ever enjoyed so much. Our land was a rich environment for teaching life skills, such as, cooking, nutrition, health, animal husbandry, tool use and building, small business management, art skills and so much more (my kids even had their own business selling golf balls at the age of 6 and 9)! The values I instilled in them were: to work from your heart, listen to your body, and don’t let fear dictate your life moves.
Later I began my journey as a high-school teacher for 10 years and received the State of New Mexico's "Most Passionate Rural Teacher" award. I also founded and directed the "Family and Consumer Sciences Program" where I taught nutrition, life skills, culinary arts, hospitality tourism and recreation, and FCCLA leadership.
Teaching, combined with the care of my children, the land, our horses and other animals taught me the power of my hands to heal. To this day I love to use my hands to mend fences, feed my cows, prepare nutritional meals, and give therapeutic massages.
Podunk’s Ranch is my dream come true: To live on my family’s 3rd generation land and make a living by enriching our soil, providing our guests and community with grass-fed beef, culinary classes and other work-shops, and creating a truly healing space for locals and visitors to stay for an hour, an afternoon, an evening or more.
See you soon on Podunk’s Ranch!