Cooley worked his stubbled chin between his callused fingers. “There is a bathroom with a shower in the barn, and a microwave, refrigerator and couch that pulls out into a bed in the office. Guess we could make it work, but you’ll have to get up and out of the office by daybreak every morning.”
“No problem.” Samantha gave the dusty cowboy a hung. “Thank you!”
Cooley gave Samantha a tour starting with the main guest house. It consisted of a large two-story structure with a balcony and patio below stretching the length of the building which offered a stunning view of the Continental Divide. She learned it contained a commercial kitchen, mess hall and fifteen suites complete with a fireplace. On the way to the barn, Cooley pointed out the bunkhouse.
“Where is everyone?” she asked, noticing no one in sight.
“Hands are working, and our guests are out on excursions. You’ll get to meet the staff at super tonight… everyone’s due back today.”
“For now, let me introduce you to some of the horses,” he said, leading her into an old gambrel roofed barn, with a hay loft above and three one-story extensions; one out the back and one added on each side. “Most of the horses are turned out or working, but you’ll get to know them all soon enough,” continued Cooley.
Samantha glanced down the long rows of roomy tie stalls. Samantha was glad to see only a few box stalls that housed the owner’s private mounts. The tie stalls would be a breeze to clean. “How many horses are there?”
“We have a few broad mares that are out to pasture all summer and twenty head of working horses. This is a fully functioning cattle ranch as much as it is a dude ranch, so our horses fill both roles.”
Cooley explained the horses are turned out during the day and brought in at night since bear and mountain lions visit the ranch occasionally. The tour ended at the office and tack room where she would be sleeping. He showed her a locker where she could keep some of the stuff and moved the essentials in from her car. Then Cooley promptly gave her lesson on operating the utility tractor and trailer and put her to work mucking stalls.
“Supper will be around seven depending on when all the parties get in the horses tended to. You’ll eat with the fellas in the bunkhouse tonight,” he called back to her as he exited the barn.
Samantha looked forward to meeting the crew she would be working alongside all summer. If they were as cool as Cooley, they’d be alright.
Around five, Cooley found her finishing up the stalls. “Stalls look good. That your last load?”
“Yes, sir. I mean Cooley.”
Cooley chucked. “Well, if you’re going to get a shower before dinner, now’s the time. I brought a “do not disturb” sign from the guest house for you to hang on the bathroom door, just in case. I’ll be bringing the horses in. Come find me when you’re done.”
“Thanks, will do!” As Samantha rushed to dump her last load and park the tractor, she suddenly became anxious. What if the guys don’t like her, or don’t approve of having a girl around? Or worse yet, what if they act rude or inappropriate? Good grief! What had she gotten herself into?