story of RedBuck Ranch began in 1993, with a dance between a "grizzly-looking,
campfire smoke-smelling" cowboy, named Johnny West, and a proper
"citified" girl, named Billie Shepherd. By the end of
the dance she not only knew "his" story, but also the
names of his horses. "Red" was an aging sorrel, and "Buck"
was a beautiful buckskin with tiger eyes. After the dance, she rode
off into the "way-past sunset" February night in her beloved
Mustang convertible, leaving the cowboy without anything but her
name, and a "maybe" chance meeting again.
The first date was the traditional dinner and a movie. It consisted
of a trip to Safeway for her to pick out a frozen dinner and a video
of her choice--to be viewed at his place. This set the tone for
the simplicity of their relationship, with their next date being
dinner and a movie at her home. Only this time, it was a home cooked
dinner and a movie he selected from her video library, and viewed
on her "52" big-screen TV!
Johnny and Billie spent the next six months learning about their
differences, enjoying their common areas of family and friends,
and laughing at Billie's inexperience with "the cowboy way"!
It was decided by Billie that she should leave the cul-de-sac existence
that had been a way of life for the past twenty-three years. Her
home was decorated in all shades of white, necessitating the cowboy
head immediately for the shower upon every arrival. It was decided
this was not going to be a place to bring Johnny, and "Red",
and "Buck" to live happily forever after!
Johnny spent that summer of 1993, painting cabins at Stoneman Lake,
with Billie roaring up the highway in the little red convertible
every Friday night. The two of them would sit under the trees,
peering at the lake, dreaming of a place they could call their own--where
the horses would be there, too. They discussed many names: "Billie/Buck"
Ranch, "Billie The Kid's" Ranch, "Wild West"
Ranch, and when they came upon "RedBuck" Ranch, in honor
of Johnny's two horses, it seemed like the most natural name in
the whole wide world!
By March of 1994, after many months of Johnny driving around looking
for the perfect place to show Billie on the weekends, he finally
remembered the incredible place he used to ride "Red".
It was located in the middle of the desert, near the Tonto National
Forest. It was instant "love of the land" the minute Billie
saw it. The five acres was purchased that same day, a late Sunday
afternoon, as she demanded he drive straight to the realty office.
The agent was stunned to have such an adamant buyer for such a desolate
piece of desert property, as nothing else existed for miles around.
November 1994, Johnny and Billie sold her
cul-de-sac home, convinced her children she really was moving to
the desert--with a cowboy--to live in a horse trailer, until the
dream could be built. The horse trailer, a "cowboy motor home"
was comfortable with a queen-size bed, hot running water, a shower
in the back (once the horses and "droppings" were removed),
and equipped with "old-time" cookboxes on the outside
of the trailer. What more could a girl want, besides a comfortable
bed, a warm campfire dinner every night, a truly magnificent desert
setting, and a devoted cowboy who would build their dream!
The horse trailer was shortly replaced with a "luxurious"
fifth-wheel trailer which would be home until the next November,
when the grand two-story, Santa-Fe style home would be completed
by Johnny's unwavering persistence to provide Billie their dream.
At the same time, Billie's convertible was also replaced with a
small, sensible utility vehicle, as the desert roads were too hard
on the beautiful little sports car, and Billie was too accessible
to the many open-range cattle, including Brahma bulls, who actually
charged the "little red" Mustang with the top down, one
had been there less than a week when they celebrated their first
Thanksgiving "on the land". Sixteen family members were
invited, and most of them were unsure how Billie, who had traditional
ways of doing things, would adjust to the lack of conveniences this
new way of life presented. However, they also saw the beauty
of the land around them, and they trusted her to know what she wanted.
They were proud of her commitment to the dream and to the cowboy.
The first Christmas was welcomed with simple pleasures of a crisp
morning campfire. The trailer was unadorned with neither a tree
nor a Christmas light, but Johnny and Billie didn't miss any of
the traditional trappings. They had given each other the best Christmas
yet--a dream of things to come.
They cleared their own land, mostly by hand, dug their own trenches,
and laid conduit for their electricity and telephone, and still
they waited a full three years for the luxury of a telephone. Meanwhile
a 455ft. well had to be dug for water. The day the well "came
in" was celebrated as if it had been an oil well! And all the
while, Billie made the seventy-four mile round-trip to work in the
city each day, while Johnny faithfully ramroded the building of
Meanwhile, "Red" and "Buck" stood patiently
in their corral waiting for the infrequent rides into the beautiful
surrounding desert. They were the namesake of this dream,
and all who came to visit RedBuck Ranch were made aware of their
The next Christmas, 1995, was celebrated in the new home, and heralded
the beginning of new traditions for the combined families of Shepherd
and West. The children, all adults, finally saw RedBuck Ranch
as the new home where "their" children would learn the
"cowboy way", and now also--the "cowgirl way"!
Then in March of 1997, Billie said "it's time to build again",
and Johnny said, "so soon"? Tired, I think--he wanted
her to re-evaluate this decision; but determination was her way
of life, and he knew it was useless to protest. The addition
began in May, and so began the "Hideout" at RedBuck Ranch.
It wasn't called the "Hideout" from the beginning; however,
when a friend mentioned this was the perfect location to "getaway
from it all", the "Hideout" bed/breakfast was born!
It was to be another major undertaking for the cowboy, as his impetuous
cowgirl now also wanted to add a beautiful pool, spa, and waterfalls
to their already "oasis" of a desert.
Sadly, during the middle of construction, one hot summer night,
the beloved "Red" staggered uncontrollably, making one
valiant attempt after another to right himself. Anguished cries
came from both Johnny and Billie. By early morning's light, the
fight was almost over for this gentle, thirty-two year old namesake
of RedBuck Ranch. He was buried in the pasture under the RedBuck
Ranch entry sign which greets all visitors. The budget was
another sad, but not as dramatic matter. What started out to be
a "bunkhouse" concept evolved into a luxurious, private
retreat with more amenities than this cowboy or cowgirl had ever
experienced. It was to be a place where adults could come to "play
like children", and still revel in adult luxuries--like the
"candy-apple" red clawfoot tub, which she begged him the
"Hideout" needed! Finally, in October 1997, the
"Hideout " at RedBuck Ranch was completed, awaiting the
guests who would come and experience the best that RedBuck Ranch
and the "Hideout" had to offer, including the spectacular
views surrounding this desert "oasis". Johnny and Billie
would become the chief bottle washers, maids, chefs, host and hostess.
It had been the cowboy's and cowgirl's dream, and now they wanted
others to "come see the dream, and come share the dream"!
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