By AMY LINDBLOM
Lois O'Day, a fifth-generation Tuolumne County resident, has learned skills in her lifetime that could land her a job in one of many professions veterinarian, cook, welder, gardener, baker, game warden or paramedic.
But she is doing exactly what she wants with her life, and said she could not be happier.
O'Day is a rancher.
A capable and successful one at that.
Because her husband, Jerry, has a full-time job as a construction driller, O'Day is the sole hand at the OD Bar ranch off Jacksonville Road south of Jamestown.
This tall, gray-haired woman can pull a breech calf out of its mother's womb in the morning after setting rolls out to rise in the warm kitchen, fix a few fences before lunch, put on a pot roast for dinner, toss out some hay in several pastures for the cattle in the afternoon and check to make sure the newborn calf is nursing properly. If not, O'Day can milk the mother and bottle-feed the calf. "Jerry has his job and I have mine," she said, waving her hand across the golden hills surrounding her home. "I get to go outside and take care of all you see.
"And I love every minute of it. I laugh a lot, and if I get stressed, I bake."
But O'Day doesn't eat as many of those delicious biscuits and cakes as she once did
In the late 1990s, she weighed far more than she does today. But in five years, through sheer will power and attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings, she shed 160 pounds.
On days when the cattle and fences don't need her attention, O'Day has time to can and jar tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits she grows in her garden.
But each morning before she gets her 50-year-old body out of bed she talks with God in her morning "devotional." All her life O'Day has been a Methodist and has attended just two churches, the one in Jamestown and now the one in Soulsbyville.
She and her husband hold Easter sunrise services on the ranch each year, after which O'Day serves up a big country breakfast, including her famous homemade biscuits, for 200 or so parishioners.
The woman likes to work.