I love hot cowboys with muscles from working hard, a work ethic that never quits, and an attitude to match. If they’re tall with the ability to dance and laugh at themselves, so much the better.
Let me tell you, folks, there are REAL cowboys out there!
Because I write erotic cowboy romance (ménage with a happily-ever-after), and there’s only so much you can learn from books and the Internet, I spent my summer vacation getting hands-on ranch experience, paying for the privilege of learning from those who live the life. (You can too, see below.)
My Bride Train series is set in Montana Territory in the early 1870s, so I headed to ranch country southwest of Billings. The work hasn’t much changed over the last hundred years and there’s always more to be done than hands to do it. Back then, however, there were dozens of men for each available woman.
I fed animals, moved cattle on horseback, drove a tractor and discovered they don’t have brakes. I helped sort sheep, got charged by a bull, and stepped in every type of manure you can think of. (I’ve heard a lot of bull over the years but this was the first time I saw it up close and personal.)
One of the biggest ranch jobs, spring and fall, is to gather cow and calf pairs to check them, brand the calves, and turn bulls into steers. I was honored to be part of the ranch family invited to participate in a spring gather done the old way, by horseback.
We were southwest of Columbus, Montana, at an altitude of about 4,200 feet. We needed horses because the canyon walls rise hundreds of feet, some at a thirty-degree angle. See photos of that day (and others) on my Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reece-Butler/319225498159135.
During those few weeks I learned a heck of a lot, and not just about ranch work. Life is close to the edge when you’re riding a horse miles from nowhere with no cell phone reception and the weather closing in. You have to trust in yourself and your horse. There’s nobody else around.
There’s a scene in The Badger City Gang, Bride Train #7 (August 2012) where Kate, the heroine, diverts cattle from stampeding over the edge of a cliff. She does it even though she’s being lashed with cold rain and hail. She stands her ground (on horseback) as longhorn cattle race toward her. She endures the cold, wet, and pain, proud of conquering her fears and surviving the elements to help save the ranch.
In 1872 women were the legal property of their husbands. Even when they were widows and inherited property, the law favored men. I used the hailstorm to prove to the trio of McInnes men that Kate should be seen as a partner, not a useless Eastern lady.
Sad to say, this scene was based on truth, only the cattle weren’t diverted. We had hail one day the size of golf balls. A ranch nearby had baseball-size hail. They lost most of their cattle when, terrified from the pain of the hail, they stampeded off a cliff. No insurance covers that destruction, so local ranchers donated cow-calf pairs to help them start over again.
That weekend we went out and kicked our feet up, swing dancing to a live local band. I danced with every man from twenty to eighty who asked, and had an absolutely fantastic time. That’s how you get through the hard times, by putting everything into living.
My cowboy heroes (three ranchers for every heroine, happily-ever-after) survive weather, varmints, rustlers, crooked officials, and—most dangerous of all—giving up their heart.
Reece Butler’s hands-on ranching experience was organized by Montana Bunkhouses Working Ranch Vacations at http://www.montanaworkingranches.com/.
About the Author: I love to create wonderful stories about strong men and women who make their own decisions and live, or die, by their actions. They don’t find it easy to face their past, or the personal demons who haunt their lives. But, through love and eventual trust, they find their way to a happily-ever-after.
I’ve devoured books since first grade but didn’t discover the joy of romance fiction until 2004. A year later I joined the Romance Writers of America® and began learning my craft. In 2009 the first book in my Bride Train series, Barefoot Bride for Three, won the historical category for the RWA’s Passionate Ink (unpublished erotic romance) Chapter. As of August 2012, seven “Bride Train” books have been published.
I’d love to hear from readers at Reece@ReeceButler.net.
e-books can be purchased via http://www.bookstrand.com/reece-butler
Personal web page: www.ReeceButler.net
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