Q: Do you have wifi?
A: Yes, sort of. We have email and simple surfing.
Our satellite computer link has very limited bandwidth. This is our only choice, as DSL and cable are not available. It cannot tolerate downloads of video or music.
If we go over bandwidth limits they will restrict us to “email-only” speeds! (Been there, done that, nasty and awful!) Plan to use Red Feather Lakes or Ft. Collins libraries for downloading video and music (or figure out how to use the Hughesnet DownLoad manager!). Or, if you are very nice to her, maybe Cyril will let you plug into her DSL line.
You MUST have AVIRA (or other) anti-virus!
Finally, You should have some sort of surge protection for your machine when plugged in, and you should unplug your machine when you don’t need it! We are in the mountains, with very “dirty” electricity with many “micro-spikes” and “micro-surges” which kill sensitive electronics.
Q: Evening Campfire Entertainment???
Yup! Wednesday evening, Lars and Amy Larson will be singing ad leading singing. Talent is not required. You will be given a bucket to carry your tunes in if needed. But enthusiastic participation is required. There will be opportunities for the men to sing, for the women to sing, for anyone who can actually sing to sing, and for a few “high light spots” not requiring much more talent than ringing a cowbell and bellowing “Cow Patty.”
In years past, the female staff have often sung simple songs such as “I’ll Fly Away” acapella. One of these days, I’d like to organize the guys into singing something meaningful such as “Put Another Log on the Fire” or “Oh Lord It’s hard to be Humble.”
Friday night campfire will again include story telling or extended joke-story telling (Falling Rock, Poncho Villa, Florist Friars, etc). Everyone must bring a poem and at least one joke! Who are the story tellers?
We will be singing a special version of “Singing in the Rain” on Friday nights – be prepared to be the person who leads this – we will teach you. (Except for being humiliating, this is great fun!)
All staff will be expected to have at least three clean jokes to share with their guests at Friday night campfire. Be prepared.
Q: What about Trail Stories?
The tradition of telling stories on the trail (Lady Moon, Teddy Roosevelt’s CCC, The Halidays, The Ute’s Blue Dotted Trees, etc.) also got forgotten last summer. This will be revived again this summer. The scripts can be found at Dude Ranch Staff Orientation Articles .
(Ellen and I just spent a few days on a ranch where they do not require wranglers to have ANY horse experience – they judge applicants by their story telling skills, and then teach them how to ride and wrangle – think about it.)
Q: Wrangler: I said that I would have my CPR and First Aide cards before summer, but things came up, and… well… I sort of got distracted… and I didn’t actually finish the class… and don’t actually have the cards. Is that OK?
A: Sure it’s ok! But wranglers can’t wrangle here until I have photocopies of your cards available to the Ranger who issues our forest permit. And, of course, if you can’t wrangle, I can’t pay you… When you are ready to start work – give me the cards. (Non-wrangling staff do not need these certifications.)(Wranglers from foreign countries will have these classes when they arrive – the Forestry Service does not recognize foreign credentials.)
Q: Do cell phones work at STR?
A: When do you think that you will have the time or energy to talk on the phone????
Verizon has made some improvements, and voice seems to work in many places, and text in others.
Q: What is this about Cowboy Poetry?
A: One of the traditions here at STR is the writing and sharing of Cowboy Poetry.
Now is a good time for you to write (or steal) your first “cow-person” poem. You will probably change this poem as the summer progresses, adding verses as your experience builds. But you MUST start with something, and you MUST write it now.Your poem does not need to be long, (but should be longer than a limerick). Do NOT brush this activity off! This is a major expectation! This year I will not beg or hound people to do this — I will yell, beat and bludgen people who do not participate (this is a veiled but very real threat — Hint: I often try to add humor to my requests/requirements — but take the request/requirement seriously If you arrive without a poem, I will send you home.).
You do NOT need to memorize your poem – just have it to read!
Q: Well, thank goodness I am not a wrangler! We kitchen and housekeeping folks don’t have to do any of this stuff.
A: Good question! Yes! Yes you do! Do not show up here without a poem. If you do I will send you home.
Jokes: You will be expected to tell jokes (clean jokes) – on the trail, at table, and especially at evening campfires. Prepare yourself now! There are literally thousands available all over the internet.
All staff tell jokes. If you do not tell jokes, then you do not fit here, and I will send you home.
(Jeeze Louise… he was so nice on the phone… this sounds pretty nasty… I wonder if he really means it?)
He means it…
One last note: No! You may not have cows on my property! No. That’s final. No!
Q: What are the rifle and gun activities all about?
A: The rifle range is typically used in the late morning and late afternoon, after rides (when wranglers and housekeepers are just bushed!); and occasionally after supper (when you are REALLY bushed!). We do not have scheduled times for shooting, maybe we should.
We generally take folks out with a couple of .22’s, a chipmunk and an adult size, and we plink cans, playing cards, quarters or paper targets.
Often we will also take out “Big Bertha” – a .50 black powder rifle – just because she makes a VERY BIG BOOOM.
On very rare occasions I will bring out .357 magnum or 9mm revolvers or .308 rifle to play with selected adult friend-guests.
There is a very structured set of rules and practices which I will preach at you when you arrive, with demonstration, return demonstration, and final “check out.” The process is a bit oobsessive-compulsive, but with a bunch of kids running around, safety is a big big issue – the chipmunk is a very dangerous little gun! All wranglers, and hopefully housekeepers will be able to work the rifle range. Kitchn staff are always welcome, but so far have not shown much interest.
You are welcome to bring any weapons that you want. I just ask that all weapons and all ammo be locked in the gun closet, or under DOUBLE LOCKS in your rooms.
Q: What advice do you have for me. I want to be successful.
ALWAYS tell the truth. NEVER say “That’s not my job.” Management here can work with just about every issue, but we cannot work with lies or laziness.
ALWAYS obey the Barn Boss and Head Cook. NEVER argue in front of guests.
When on horseback or at the rifle range, ALWAYS be quick to obey the lead wrangler or the range master without discussion. If you have questions, you can ask later and he/she will explain. Obey immediately, learn explanations later.
Balancing “Guest Delight” and safety is a continuing, never ending challenge. This may be your first set of adult responsibilities with serious consequences. Err on the side of safety.
If your idea of this job is “I’ll ride horses with guests during the day and drink beer with them at night.” Then stay home – you will be voted off the ranch by your peers in a week or two. This is not a vacation, it is a job.
Ellen, Dan and Justin all believe in “Public Praise” and “private ass chewing.” Sometimes we slip (well, Dan and Justin do).
Q: I was wondering if an arrival at your ranch June the 1rst will be ok for you (I plan to arrive in the afternoon at the airport).
Set your travel/arrival dates for the best price on your tickets!
Yes, you will need a day to recover from jet lag, and the first day at altitude can be a challenge.
The first few days your job will be to follow someone as their “shadow.”
Q: What is the most convenient way to go from Denver airport to the ranch?
We will pick you up!
When you have them, send us your flight number, departing city and arrival time, and one of us will be at the airport.
Carry a copy of your visa and signed contract with you for customs.
Q: It is quite difficult to find western boots in France and there are very expensive. If you don’t mind, I will arrive without boots and will buy a pair as soon as possible.
Do NOT spend money for western clothing in Europe! Or anywhere else for that matter. Wait until you get here! The prices here are much more reasonable. Also, the students will be selling “gently used” clothing at the end of the semester – very good prices! You should be able to buy boots for less than $125. (I just bought a pair of boots “on sale” for $70.)
When we first opened the ranch, we did not have “Activities” as such. We lived in a cowboy culture and were “true to the ideal of the old west” (or we thought so); we had horse back riding and we had evening campfires. Over the years, successful ranches have changed our model to more of a “multi-soft-adventure” experience with things for each member of the family to enjoy: rock climbing, white water rafting, disc golf, fishing, etc. At first, wranglers led all activities.
When we first opened, we also had two housekeepers who, 4 days a week were bored out of their minds by lunch time when all rooms had been cleaned. One year the housekeepers magically turned themselves into “Kangaroos.” They hopped around the ranch and created and took over many of the activities. Some years this worked well, and other years it worked out not-so-well.
After lots of thought and discussion, we have decided to create the position of Activities Wrangler. This person will be a wrangler most of the time, but part time will plan the schedule of weekly activities and will make sure that each of those activities has staff (housekeepers & wranglers) to lead those activities. Please understand clearly that ALL wranglers and housekeepers lead activities. We will train you for each activity. Summer here is a three ring circus!
The Activities Wrangler is not responsible for DOING all of these non-riding activities, s/he is responsible for making sure that SOMEONE is assigned – in other the words – the air traffic controller. S/he will be able to write “promoted to manage Activities Program” in their resume. Yee-haw.
Our Facilities Manager, Matt, is in the midst of building at least a dozen projects, defrosting frozen septic systems, changing light switches, planning painting projects and fixing ten thousand other things. He will need an assistant. Are you handy? Can you change the oil in the tractor? Calk a bathroom sink? Interested? Email Dan or Matt or Marisa.
I See By Your Clothing that you are a Cowboy,
You See by My Clothing That I’m a Cowboy Too,
We See by Our Clothing That We Are Both Cowboys…
[Smothers Brothers 1967-1969]
If you need shirts or jeans or official authentic cowperson boxers, please, do NOT spend enormous amounts of money buying these at home. Fort Collins is a university town, and come May, the students are all heading home and used clothing stores have an abundance of shirts and jeans (I don’t know about boxers) for cheap. There are at least 5 used clothing stores in town, selecvtion is good and prices are cheap.
You can find straw (summer) cowboy hats reasonably cheap at Tractor Supply, the Ranchers Co-op or JAX. Unless you plan on getting married or buried, an expensive felt hat is just too hot. Likewise, chaps (west of the Mississippi, pronounced “shaps” with soft sh sound) are really really too hot in the summer. We wear “chinks” which are knee length and have a fringe. But these are NOT required!