Hello, Marin Thomas here. I’m thrilled to be a guest blogger again at Petticoats and Pistols! Before I start gabbing about the history of the bunkhouse, I want to let readers know that I’m offering a giveaway. If you leave a comment on this blog, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle copy or a signed paperback of A Cowboy Of Her Own. If you’ve already read the book, no worries—I’ll send you a Kindle or paperback of A Rodeo Man’s Promise—this book introduces you to the characters in my upcoming series for Harlequin American Romance…Cowboys of the Rio Grande.
The Bunkhouse, often referred to as the Dive, the Shack, the Doghouse, the Dump, the Dicehouse or Ram Pasture, is a symbol of the Old West and has been glamorized in romance novels for decades. But the truth about this western icon is that bunkhouses were not very pleasant to live in.
Cowboy pay on most ranches ranged from from the 1870s to the turn of the century. The quality of a ranch’s bunkhouse and chuck wagon grub often determined how long a cowboy remained on a particular spread. Cowboys did all the dirty, dangerous work that made millionaires of cattle kings. They worked at a time when there were no unions, worker’s comp, safety regulations, pension plans, or health insurance. There was no mandatory retirement age so many cowboys worked until they died.
When cowboys weren’t riding the trail, the bunkhouse became their home. The size depended on the wealth of the rancher. Most were small with several beds or cots crammed inside. A woodstove provided heat and if space allowed there would be a table and chairs, where the hands could play cards. After supper the cowboys might swap tales, play dice or practical jokes on one another.
An outhouse was usually nearby but not the most pleasant of places to visit. The bunkhouse was cold in the winter and stiflingly hot in the summer and there was no shortage of vermin who took up residence inside with the cowboys. Since most cowboys didn’t bathe during the winter months they got used to lice in their beds and on their heads—not to mention the foul odor of unwashed bodies.
This month the final book in my Cash Brothers series released (A Cowboy of Her Own) and throughout all six books I’ve included a scene that takes place in the “bunkhouse” on the Cash family pecan farm.
This modern day bunkhouse was constructed when the Cash brothers’ sister, Dixie Cash (A Cowboy’s Duty) married and claimed the farmhouse for her and her husband. All six of her bachelor brothers moved into the bunkhouse, which was a large aluminum Tuff shed with indoor plumbing.
Willie Nelson Cash (Her Secret Cowboy) works in construction and spearheaded the project. The brothers decorated the bunkhouse with a huge plasma TV, which Conway Twitty’s twins broke (Twins Under The Christmas Tree). The brothers hung rodeo posters above the beds that lined the walls and ate their meals at a picnic table, which became the scene of a family Thanksgiving dinner in (The Cowboy Next Door). One by one, the Cash Brothers married off, leaving fewer and fewer brothers, living in the bunkhouse until only Porter Wagoner remained (A Cowboy Of Her Own).
How many of you have seen the inside a real bunkhouse before? Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Cowboy of Her Own or A Rodeo Man’s promise!
http://youtu.be/YHqy9js3zjw (Youtube link to A Cowboy Of Her Own book trailer)
Marin Thomas Bio
I write women’s fiction novels for Penguin/NAL Trade and series romance for Harlequin American Romance. And I can’t explain any better than this why I love writing western romances… “The image of the West and the romance of the West are not going to die. Because it’s the very heart of America. Not only the image of a person on horseback working cattle. But the set of values that it represents. Things like individualism, independence, and freedom. And honesty, integrity. The work ethic. Dedication to your family, and conviction about your belief in God. And practicing common decency and respect for your fellow man every day you live.” ~Red Steagall
My husband and I are recent empty-nesters and live in Texas, where cowboys, pickups and country music provide plenty of inspiration for my western books. Be on the lookout in 2015 for my newest Harlequin series, Cowboys of the Rio Grande. The first book in the series, A Cowboy’s Redemption, releases in June. If you’d like to keep up to date on both my women’s fiction novels and my Harlequin romances please sign up for my Newsletter.