Chapter 4 – Rachael meets the ranch hands

The next day Sean was sitting in the kitchen waiting for Rachael talking to Barbara who was busy cooking breakfast for all. Rachael walked down in her work clothes and Sean whistled upon seeing her getting a stern eye from Barbara and a grin from Rachael.

“Hey Boss, now you actually look like you fit in a ranch.”

“Well I need to fit in if I am to work along with my staff.” She said smiling and picking up a glass of orange juice.

“Everyone should be around in half hour and I will introduce them to you. Anyway I didn’t except you to be up and ready this early.”

“Sean just because I am from city doesn’t mean I sleep into afternoons.”

“Well you seem very different from all New Yorkers”

“Not all New Yorkers sleep late in day. Many have to work and need to get up early you know.”

“Well if they are as rich as you then they don’t, but you are different”

“Hmm let’s go meet the fellows.”

Feeling comfortable after a long time in her clean white t-shirt and blue worn out jeans which she would wear only in her house so that she is not caught in it by the paparazzi she walked out the back door towards the stables with Sean.

All the ranch hands helping in and around the stable gathered and Sean introduced all to Rachael as their boss. As soon as he announced this, Rachael heard many snickers and jokes about a woman being their boss who can’t even ride a horse or about running a ranch. Smiling at their cockiness Rachael decided to set them straight.

“Thank you Sean and all for your warm welcome.” She said sarcastically. “Now that the introductions are over I would like to know who is responsible for the cow herds on the north pastures.”

“I and Sam here take care of them” said a ranch hand from the back pointing towards a lad next to him.

“And you are?” asked Rachael trying to remember the persons assigned for each chore.

“Jacob Mam” announced the man tipping his hat towards Rachael.

“Well Jacob and Sam, you have done good job in taking care of the herd but I found some of the cattle are not branded and I would like that job completed by today evening and a count of all the cattle on the ranch.” 

“Yes Mam” saying both Jacod and Sam headed towards the truck to go check on the cattle.

“Now, as per the records we have fourteen horses and I wish to know who is taking care of their needs.”

Mitch and three other men raised their hands and Rachael enquired about their daily routine before talking to Joshua and Sean. Joshua was the oldest member of the ranch and had been working with McGrover ranch before John took over from his father. Speaking from his experience he suggested Rachael to ignore the snide comments of the ranch hands as they were still young and their ego was hurting to take orders from a woman.

“Well Joshua they just will have to leave their egos outside this place when they come to work for me. Just because I am woman doesn’t mean I can’t run a ranch.”

“You will make a fine boss mam. Anything you need help with please do let me know.”

“Joshua, you are the oldest and wisest amongst us and I would need your advice with many things to bring this ranch back from the ruins. John is a good rancher but what I don’t understand is how did he fall into so much debt?”

“After mother died, Dad has been neglecting the ranch.” Said Sean

“And the buffoon across street is bleeding John dry.” Said Joshua spitting tobacco on the ground

“What do you mean?” asked both Rachael and Sean confused

“Well the high hand O’Cauly has somehow managed to stop the flow of stream which is the main source of water to our pastures and animals on the ranch.”

“But Joshua, dad said that we didn’t have the right to stream as it is flowing from his lands and O’Cauly holds the right to it.”

“Nah, the stream comes from high up the across the mountains and flows to our ranch in the north but two years ago his men had managed to remove the fence across our side and put up their markers. John had huge words with him but O’cauly said something about a big secret he was keeping and John gave up.”

“What secret? I should talk to dad right now?” saying Sean headed towards the house.

“What else has gone wrong here Joshua?” asked Rachael determined to know everything and not let O’Cauly take this ranch also from her.

Hearing all about O’Cauly’s scheme to take over John’s ranch Rachael was seething with anger when she had heard enough. Telling Joshua to check up on Jacob and Sam, she walked into the house to find John and Sean talking loudly behind the closed office doors. Giving them time she walked into the kitchen to find Barbara muttering angrily about men and their stupid egos. Agreeing with her silently I walked away to wash up for lunch.  

On returning to kitchen Rachael found John sitting in a chair staring into space.

“Is everything alright between you two Uncle John?”

“Oh Rach, am sorry I didn’t see you there? So how was your first day with the boys?” said John

“It went ok. But looks like guys have problem taking orders from me.”

Laughing John said “You know dear they might be reluctant initially but once they come to know you, they will be persuaded to change their opinion about a lady boss. I know it firsthand.”

“I can manage the ranch hands, but I am worried about what went on behind the closed doors between you and Sean, and please do not change the subject. You tried to do it just now but not again.”

Looking strained he replied in anger “It is between me and my son.”

It hurt Rachael but hiding it she said “Ok uncle John I won’t ask what is the big secret and leave it between you to sort it out but I need to know how did O’Cauly manage to get to you write five hectares of this land in his name?”

“We shook on it; I didn’t not sign on any papers.”

“Shook on it?” she asked flabbergasted.

“For us ranchers our word is good enough.” Thinking for few minutes John said “Rachael dear, O’Cauly is a very mean man and I don’t know how he managed to know the truth about Chris. Please do not ask me what it is.”

“Well for me a word without legal papers is not enough to occupy someone’s land. I will get back what belongs to you and Uncle John I am sorry for trying to pry about your secret. I was furious at you for giving away the land knowing well what O’Cauly had done to me.”

“Rachael whatever you do be careful. O’Cauly is a very dangerous and cunning man.”

“Do not worry uncle. I can be very charming when I want to be but at the end of the day I am a business woman and I don’t let anyone claim what is mine.”  Saying Rachael left to oversee the branding of the cattle.

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