Skip to main content

She howled for help on Twitter

By Linda Petty, CNN
Shreve Stockton greets Charlie the coyote.
Shreve Stockton greets Charlie the coyote.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Author and photographer tweets in frustration and gets an artist as assistant
  • Shreve Stockton is the creator of DailyCoyote.net Web site
  • Kentucky artist Sarah Frary is headed to Wyoming to be her helper
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- When an overwhelmed Shreve Stockton tweeted: "I need an assistant!" she considered it more of a joke than a serious request, because she couldn't pay a salary.

"I can't even offer room & board, only a camp trailer named the Psychedelic Jellybean & an unlimited supply of milk!" she tweeted last month.

Shreve is not a celebrity or executive requiring a personal assistant, but a published writer and photographer who lives in a log cabin on 40 acres in the rolling hills near Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

Her homestead includes a dog, tomcat, dairy cow, baby calf, young bull she's training to work like an ox, two horses and, of course, Charlie the coyote.

She feels overwhelmed with the daily care of all the animals. But she'd also like to share her home with visiting assistants because "it's becoming so rare in America to have the time and space and the openness of the rural landscape that is shrinking."

The only "luxury" she will be able to provide a starving artist is the time "to work on whatever they want art-wise" in their off time, without having the stress of coming up with money for rent or utilities.

Her ad was only posted for a day or two but drew around 100 responses -- with one person offering to pay her for the opportunity to be her assistant. She directed them to an application.

She shared a few of the forms with her boyfriend, Mike, a trapper with the Bureau of Land Management, who found all the applicants interesting and told her if he had to choose, he'd have to move into a tent so they could all move into his house.

The application also came with an unusual warning to all would-be helpers that there would be no petting, no face-to-face time and no "hanging out" with Charlie.

The wild-born Charlie earns his keep by allowing Shreve to take photos of his everyday activities and write about him in her book as well as on her blog -- both titled the Daily Coyote. She's raised him since he was 10 days old, after his parents were shot for attacking sheep.

Although he walks on a leash, co-exists with Eli the cat, plays with Chloe the dog and often visits inside Shreve's house, Charlie does not like strangers. So for everyone's safety, her new helper will not be visiting inside the electric fence that surrounds his territory.

But that's OK with self-taught artist Sarah Frary of Kentucky, who plans to move into the trailer and spend part of her days helping Shreve with household tasks such as cleaning milk pails and maintaining her Web site, and the rest of her time on her art.

Frary, 23, expects the experience will have a "monumental" effect on her drawing, painting and screen printing. She describes her current drawings as "very primordial and ancient feeling," while her new boss calls them fantastic. Frary has already started blogging about her new life and plans to set off later this month.

She sought out the position because Shreve's "energy and everything about her just completely resonates and it's something I connect with." Shreve was a little concerned about sharing her space with a stranger, but said she felt "a kindredness" with the young woman, who has been working as an apprentice tattoo artist in Louisville, Kentucky.

Frary also performs "live art," which she describes as taking place in a theater during a concert or play with her perched near the edge of the stage, painting on a large scale that has her "throwing paint and finger painting -- getting crazy with it."

The work-exchange program will give Shreve more time to "concentrate on her next artistic endeavor." She has a few ideas percolating and hopes to decide on one "the day after my new help arrives."

Frary, a tattooed former military brat, feels her arrival won't go unnoticed, with her PT Cruiser covered in stickers she describes as bizarre and with an interior sporting a bobble-head Mr. T and feathers.

Shreve landed in Wyoming after her own unusual journey, a solo, cross-country trip from California to New York on a motor scooter. After reaching her destination, she returned to the shadow of the Big Horn mountains to write about the trip on her Vespa Vagabond blog.

While she fell in love with Wyoming instantly, the author says it still felt like another planet at first and it was a year and a half before she "fully got into the rhythm of this life."

Because Frary's father was in the Air Force, she says she's used to having to uproot and adapt to new places. She also describes herself as being outdoorsy, pretty adventurous and a nature person who loves to challenge herself.

The two women will have to work out their schedules and computer differences: the Wyoming resident only knows Macs, while the visitor has built her own PC.

Shreve plans to teach Frary how to market her art on the Internet and is willing to teach her how to mend real fences and care for the animals. The older woman picked up her skills watching and helping her neighbors.

"I'm a pretty gung ho, hardworking person, so I'll probably get my hands on everything," says the painter, who expects a full, disciplined life in the country with fewer distractions than the city.

But there is one service Frary says she probably won't be able to provide to Shreve's satisfaction: cooking. She says her mother hated cooking so she never learned. She has been taking lessons from a vegan friend who doesn't use any animal products.

Cooking takes a lot more planning on the homestead because the nearest grocery store is about an hour away.