It’s May. That means shorts and flip flops for many parts of the country, but around here? The flowers are just starting to be warmly coaxed out of rest from their sleepy garden beds. Most days are gorgeous and sunny… …but the mountains are quick to remind us that we can do little to predict the weather this time of year. So on yucky days, we turn to inside jobs. One of our first pre-season tasks is getting the staff quarters ready for our new and returning employees. We love welcoming the new members of our ranch family and showing them the magic of this place as they help wake her up and bring her alive along side us. And while we wait for them to start trickling in, Cheri and Tammy hit the flower beds! Uhhh…. wait. That’s not Tammy. She’s taking the photo. So….that’s CHRISTINA! Well, well folks. What did we tell you? That you would fall in love with this place? That you would never want to leave? That you would come by yourself as a guest, make incredible friendships and then quit your great job and leave your friends to move across the country? Oh. We didn’t tell you that? Well….we’re telling you right now it might happen. And it DID to Christina here! She moved to Colorado just a few months ago and treated us with a weekend visit and some help in the flower beds. Around here, that’s some good quality girl time playin’ in the dirt. The boys were hard at work elsewhere on the ranch. And then lo and behold, who ELSE might come driving through the front archway, but our very own Sue and Dale! Yaaay! We were so happy to see these guys after their trek back from Florida for the winter! This awesome couple has been apart of the ranch for 15 years and THEY TOO started out as guests here on their honeymoon. After just a couple of years, they made the move out West and have been our Head of Maintenance and Assistant Ranch manager ever since. (We’re so lucky.) Welcome home guys! There is plenty to do, but many hands make light work and in just our first week of opening, we’ve made a lot of headway on our chore list. Down at the barn they’re washing pads and oiling leather. Most of you will recognize this gal! We’re incredibly lucky to have Miss Electra back on our wrangling staff this summer. Not only is she one of the sweetest cowgirls we know, she’s one of the hardest workin’ ones to boot! Allow us to introduce the newest cowboys around these parts! Nick (aka “Bear”) and Logan have been hard at work getting the lay of the land and jumped right in with all the work to be done. These awesome guys will be leading the trails this summer with our lucky guests and you’re gonna love them as much as we already do! (But probably not as much as they love oiling saddles. Lots and lots of saddles….) Now as you might guess, where there are animals, there are fences to fix and posts to reset. So the petting farm pen is getting a makeover this week with the help of the barn crew as well. Ok, quick game: One of these things is not like the others…(take your time.) We finally got our new babies and mama settled in their own pen over on the ranch. We quickly learned (after many failed attempts to keep them in—so uhhh….we guess that means we slowly learned—but that’s beside the point) our littlest Nigerian Dwarf goat is quite the explorer and we had some fencing to do! Then we decided they needed some “toys”—which for goats means lots of things to climb, cross and play on. The building supervisor was extremely thorough in her inspection of the new additions and the entire building process. Only the best materials and tools were chosen by the team. And under close supervision, everything was completed up to the highest standard. And tested endlessly for quality. Wednesday was one of our favorite days of the year! After 7 months of resting up with their buddies, we head out with horses to round up the rest of herd and bring them back home to the ranch. Once the lead horses head for the pens, the rest follow suit and although the adrenaline part is over, the fun is just beginning! Now let us take a moment and introduce you to another fella you’ll be seeing a lot of this summer. Cory has been a part of this ranch his entire life! You probably don’t recognize him all grown up, but as a boy he was joining his grandfather on many Tuesday nights for Western Entertainment in the rec barn here on the ranch. His grandpa, Jim, has been entertaining our guests for 20 years now! And Cory is quite a handy cowboy as well. He received a degree in training horses (they have a DEGREE for that?? We missed out….) and has lent his skills in the training of some tough horses in the county. We’re so happy to have him on our team this summer. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet! Once the herd is gathered, the next fun step is sorting and catching. Most of them happily greet us at the gate and seem as anxious as we are to get them home! But there are always a few who need sweet-talked! But it’s not too long before we’re loading them up by the trailer full for the rest of the short trip back to the ranch. And who wouldn’t be ready to be greeted by THIS crew? Nothing says “welcome home” like a syringe of de-wormer paste, ya know? But after a sniff and a squeal from the new horses, A feeder freshly loaded with hay, And a long drink from the crystal clear water tank, Everyone is quick to settle in. After a long day for everyone, the herd is safely home and THAT makes our hearts happy! So once again we’re happy to welcome back some of our returning staff. Laura is joining us again (also a former guest—see the common thread here?), but has joined the ranks of management as the Lodge Hostess this year in charge of the main lodge and dining room. She’s going to do a FANTASTIC job and you can bet she’ll be joining the dance instruction evenings on Wednesdays as well—she picked up some awesome moves this winter! And KAYLN you may remember worked for us a couple of years 2 summers ago. She met her husband here at Bar Lazy J and they were wed on the ranch the Spring of 2012. They headed back East last summer, but missed it enough to both join us again this year which we were QUITE happy about! Alex will be assisting Eddie the chef in the kitchen for all your delicious meals this summer and you’ll soon know why we love to have men in the kitchen! Our last new staff members to arrive so far are Nick and Lorien. Nick has only been here a couple of days and jumped right in with Dale to assist with all the maintenance projects pre-season brings (there are a LOT). This Ohio native has a deep, distinct accent you’ll love. And Lorien -- ever ready with her beautiful smile—has already impressed us with her hard work and attention to detail working on Crew for us this summer. She and Laura have been ultra busy lemon oiling all of the wood in all the ranch buildings and if you’ve been here you KNOW what a big task that is! Whew! We can’t wait for you to meet them! And of COURSE, we are quite happy to have Mrs. Sue Suskin back in the office answering phones and filling the remainder of open cabins available for the summer. There aren’t many weeks with availability, but we still have a few, so be sure to call quick if you’re thinking about joining us with your family for a week or for a shorter getaway during our Adults Only weeks in September! Don’t miss all the fun! So we’ll leave you with a little teaser about our tree we mentioned at the end of last summer that we had to bring down when it sadly died. Leave it to Jerry and Cheri to take the opportunity to bring another thing of beauty here to the ranch and enable the “heart” of that historical tree to remain here where it stood for over 100 years. They commissioned a tremendously talented local artist to turn it into something spectacular and our next post will be all about its transformation into a unique work of art we know our guests are gonna love. So stay tuned! As soon as it’s completed we’ll share it with all of you! Happy Trails!!