It’s a general thought that not much goes on here in the off season. Right? We sit relaxingly in our lazy boys and wait out the winter cold until Spring. Only working 4 months out of the year must be pretty awesome. Oh to live at Bar Lazy J…… BWAAAHAAAAAAAAHHHAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAHHHAAAAAAAAAAA-HAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHAHAAHHA  (deep breath) HAHAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAHHHAAAAHAHAAA. Oh man. Thanks for that. Needed that laugh. <wiping tear> Ok now let’s get back to reality and get everyone up to speed on what’s been going around here the past few weeks!      Hopefully everyone got their annual ranch newsletter (if not—we’re happy to add you to our mailing list!) and got the rundown from owner Cheri about all the good stuff that’s been going on this winter and who will be coming back to join us again on our staff this next summer. There were very few positions to hire which is awesome and we can’t wait to welcome them to the bunch in just a couple of weeks! Anxious to see the returnees as well! Due to a “camera delay” (don’t ask), we got behind getting new photos of what’s been going on lately, so on the day we got it fixed, we headed out for a quick snowy photo shoot. This was one of the rare storms we got this winter and it was over in about 15 mins, but it made for some great shots in that short time!  016-001042 Most horses turn their backs to the wind, but some defiantly face it…. 046-001056059-001002-001010102109-002111-001127-001198-001204-001 They caught a peek of the fodder truck! Ha! 234 Horse angels! 276-001309-001 wire[6]      Although the snow was light in our valley this winter, snow pack in the high country was good and here is one of our favorite past times this time of year! Never a bad day to be in the mountains with good 2-legged AND 4-legged friends! IMG_1043      And as much as we love the snow (that’s not sarcastic—we DO love it for about a month!)…..since the summers are obviously a teeeeny tad bit busy around here, winter does allow for just a bit of “play-time” as well. And you can bet if we get to travel, it’s likely to be somewhere warm! Jerry and Cheri took an extra special trip south to Costa Rica, but what REALLY made it special, is that they planned it with several of our guests! (See? We all can’t get enough of one another!) 10383503_1011397142208282_932176280124016330_n      It was some totally different riding, but beautiful just the same. So don’t think you’re the only one who rides horses all the time and STILL takes a vacation going horseback riding! New horses, new friends and new things to see make our already favorite thing, that much more wonderful. 11016178_1020526781295318_7504064380494783177_o10848576_1020533367961326_917092443232744118_o11051982_1019406558074007_8733609106716553212_o10985871_1019340241413972_1349690657154304004_n      As you can see—they made the most of each day! Riding, hiking, zip-lining . Hmmmm…..that sounds vaguely familiar….but I can’t seem to put my finger on it……. Oh well. It’ll come to me. wire[6]      And no sooner did they pull in the drive back home at the ranch, that an old familiar face around these parts pulled in for a stop at “home” as well—Mr. Dan Carter! 003      Now if you weren’t here back about, ummm….say—13 years ago…you probably won’t recognize this Georgia native, but Dan was a wrangler and farrier for the ranch for several years and has since gone on to run a large animal vet clinic. His lovely wife, who we finally got to meet, is also a vet and we had fun showing her around the ranch and taking a stroll down memory lane. 009 Checking out the staff photos from all those years ago! 014      It is truly a thrill when former staff come see us again and a reflection of the real ranch family you get yourself into here. We love that folks from all over the world as guests and staff consider the ranch their second home and drop in any chance they get. And here’s another one to prove our point! Christina was a guest who came all on her own, left her job and moved to Colorado after she fell in love with the area and now comes up to spend the weekend every chance we can get her! She’s become a dear friend and the weather was just warm enough to ride so you better believe we took advantage of that! IMG_1318       Now don’t think she didn’t have her fair share of work to do. This is a ranch after all. So we sat out by the river with come music playing, drinking drinks and eating trail mix. Lots and LOTS of trail mix. Her assignment? Help us decide which deluxe combination we’ll be welcoming our guests to their cabins with this summer. We knew this wasn’t a decision to take lightly. We’re talking about our GUESTS here after all people! After multiple tastings of a dozen different bags…we painstakingly came to a consensus. So there. You can all rest easy knowing that your trail mix choice has been chosen. And all ages approve. *Whew!* The things we do for you…. 043      Other projects include a new room in the bunkhouse to accommodate all our guys. We have more staff than ever! 020 wire[6] And here’s another thing we do in the winter I bet you don’t know about. Conventions!      Yep. Dude Ranch Conventions. A bunch of people who love the west and  love to share it with others all in the same place sharing stories, laughs, ideas and burdens. It’s as awesome as it sounds. And each winter there are 2 that Bar Lazy J attends. The National Convention (ranches all over the country) took place in Arizona this year and our head wrangler, Lauren, joined Jerry and Cheri at the hosting ranch Tanque Verde. Talk about a different kind of terrain! 10610761_10101244247011251_4538465952121480585_n      Then just 2 weeks ago, the Yurich family headed to Denver to join them at the Colorado convention with 22 representing ranches from all over the state. You want to know what happens at a Dude Ranch Convention? This might be top secret but…. here’s a peek. Shhhhhhhh! First of all this happened. Truly. It was fairly epic to say the least. They served us hors d' oeuvres on a school bus as we headed to downtown Denver and the historic Rockmount Western Wear store for more snacks, drinks, shopping and catching up with our dear friends. 105109114 We were then asked if we wanted to check out their “amazing view” from the roof, so we took the elevator (yes that’s an elevator!) and made our way up. 126 The views…..were…. 121 …different than what we’re used to. But beautiful to see the old buildings and more people than we typically see the entire summer! Ha! We enjoyed it immensely! 124 We thanked our hosts and headed back! 133 But not the way one might imagine…..  that is a kazoo my friends. A kazoo. 144 So is that. 142 And that’s a belt snapping. 161      And THAT is a banjo. On a school bus. Flying down the interstate filled with the owners of the top ranches in the state. And it. Was. Awesome. If you could hear the laughs and banter between ranch folk who have known and loved one another for decades, you’d understand why we are happily able to recommend other ranches when our weeks become full. Truly the term “ranch family” encompasses such a broader group of folks who, like us, love what they get to do. 150 Conventions also include a fun trade show for checking out new stuff for the ranch and also for the gift shop. You get to try it our before you buy it! 166171 We know all about this booth! 175 Then there are some presentations, IMG_1250 Guest speakers, IMG_1239 Special recognition dinners, 196 Entertainment and dancing, 197 And balloons. (Of course.) 182 Always fun to see everyone, but always nice to get back up in the mountains again! 188 wire[6]     Denver is usually much warmer than our elevation, but it was mild enough while we were away to melt everything almost entirely! The water was completely frozen when we left, but we came back to an open Colorado River! And that means time to get the waders on! 214                                                                                                                                                                      Melt off has definitely been earlier than most years, so that meant an early mud season. And muddy pastures means muddy horses, so we moved them a few times over the past couple of weeks to minimize the wear and tear on the grass and to let things dry out a bit. 029      Here are Lauren and Mark bringing over part of the herd! We had a few new horses in the string who had to “learn the ropes” and kept trying to break out of the group. And when one goes—they all go! But they got ‘em rounded up and moved across the road. Never get tired of the sound of horse feet clopping on the road! 038048-003059068 We do, however, get tired of fixing gates. Lots and lots…of gates. *sigh* 075 wire[6]    Lauren and Mark have been handling the fodder this winter and Lauren caught a short clip of what it looks like to let the horses in to eat every day. See if you can tell how they feel about it….     And in case you were wondering, THIS is how we receive our barley seed! Yes those giant bags are FULL and as hard as it is to believe, in just six days, THAT: 11075731_10101323879057991_1610544358_n11082820_10101323879033041_452970969_n Becomes THIS! We can’t wait to show all of our guests this summer! 11006406_10101334493222121_3236540306135019943_n wire[6] And just when you thought you’d seen it all—here’s a smile for ya as we sign off until next time! 11074137_10101315236542661_1663583720_n Thanks for stopping by friends!