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Neither of them blinked.
Dust motes hovered in the sun streaming through the open barn door. Gabe Coleman leaned back on a wall and took a deep breath. The heavy scent of farm animals filled his nostrils. Familiar as it was pungent, the aroma that had been a part of his entire thirty-one years calmed his nerves.
The conversation was going about as well as he’d expected, but damn if he’d give up yet. He resisted muttering stubborn jackass and scrambled for a new tack. “Look, I showed you the receipts for the past year. Expenses went up, our projected revenues are still far less than they need to be.”
The face before him remained motionless. Shit. Definitely not working.
Another idea struck. “I read an article in the Calgary Herald last week. Rancher down by Pincher Creek was ready to go bankrupt…”
Gabe trailed off. Suggesting their section of the Coleman ranch was getting closer to that same situation was not the way to make his father listen to reason.
Three feet across from him, broad nostrils twitched for a second then the ancient donkey reached down to grab a mouthful of grain before turning his back on Gabe.
Even the animals seemed tired of listening to him try to come up with a way to save their lives.
He pushed himself up and headed toward the tack room. If nothing else, the ranch itself provided a million distractions. The reality of working the land sucked—enough damn property to make a man look rich, and not enough money coming in to keep putting food on the table throughout the year.
Giving up wasn’t an option, but hell if he knew what was at this point.
The saddle had barely landed on Hurricane’s back before his mother’s voice carried from the house side of the yard.
“You got any spare time today?”
Gabe tossed her a smile even as he wondered why she hadn’t made her request to his father. “Was going to go check the creek and fence lines, but there’s no rush. You need a hand with something?”
She nodded. “I want to plant the garden this week and need more room. Can you turn over another few rows?”
Shit. Now he knew why she’d waited until Ben had headed into town after breakfast. “Ma, you already have enough garden you can barely keep up. You sure you want more to deal with?”
Dana Coleman looked her age that day, but the determined jut of her chin warned him he’d be breaking sod before long. They came by stubbornness honestly in their family, from both his parents’ sides.
“Every bit we grow is less we buy, Gabriel. And I figured a little extra wouldn’t go amiss—there are always people who want fresh produce.”
They stared at each other for a minute. Gabe hated the entire situation with a red-hot passion. He had ideas he thought could improve their circumstances, but beyond ideas were only half-started and hidden projects, none of which were going to bail them out of trouble. Using the donkey to practice talking about finances was supposed to make talking to his family easier, but hell if he wanted his ma to be the one worrying. “You can’t save the ranch by growing more carrots.”
“Well, I can’t save it sitting and complaining that the cost of feed keeps going up either, can I?”