Many people haven't heard of Rusty and Julie Bullock ... or of the cable channel (UP) they're on. If they met them, however, they'd like them instantly; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Julie Bulloch was a high school senior, working in the
guidance office that day. That’s when, she recalls, “this little, cocky
football player” strolled in.
She had a pleasant, rooted family in Lakeland, Fla.; he was
a tough teen who had moved around Alabama, before reaching Florida. They were
opposites … and, like in the movies, fell in love.
Now they’re married, with two kids, a granddaughter … and 33
young people who, at various times, have lived with them. “She’s super
compassionate and I tend to be the opposite,” said Rusty Bulloch, who manages
to hide his own warmth for a millisecond or two.
That’s at the core of “Bulloch Family Ranch,” a feel-good
reality show on a feel-good network (UP) that seems to fit the family’s
philosophy “There are good people everywhere,” Rusty said.
Especially at their home, where they raised two athletic
kids. Amanda did softball, basketball, cheerleading and more; Brodie
quarterbacked the high school football team to an 8-2 record.
What would happen after they left? “I was actually thinkin’
we’d be out of the kid business,” Rusty said.
Not nearly. When a teen and her mom had tension, they asked
if she could live with the Bullochs. That was 18 years ago and others keep
arriving. “The maximum we had was three”
at a time, Rusty said.
Everyone lived by Rusty’s tough-love rules and everyone did
chores. “No one wants to clean the horses’ stalls,” Brodie said. “It doesn’t
smell good and it’s not exactly sanitary.”
These two opposites actually have some key things in common.
Both are big on God and hard work; Julie says she “grew up around horses” and
Rusty says he’s a “country cowboy” at heart.
He’s also a farrier (shoeing horses) and a football coach. That
last part has been a big jump for someone who admits he grew up around racial
Many of the guys staying with the Bullochs have been
football players, including some major ones. Bilal Powell, a fourth-round pro draft
pick, has started some games as a New York Jets running back; Claude Davis also
was signed for a Jets try-out, then was dropped after a marijuana arrest.
That’s a reminder that life is complicated, “It’s an
unending love …. The door is always open,” Rusty said.
One of the previous guys at the ranch was jailed for probation
violation. In the season-opener, Julie invites his girlfriend and their daughter
to stay at the ranch.
Amanda Bulloch-Masek, who has a 3-year-old daughter and has
had three recent miscarriages, was startled by that. “To have someone move in
with a child that is my child’s age and she’s pregnant was very emotional and
very hard on me,” she said.
Rusty was surprised, too. “Trust me, at (51) years old, I
know why young people have children,” he said. “It’s very trying to go from (taking
care of) 18-to-22 year-olds to a 3-year-old.”
There are also two guys staying with them; there won’t be
any more, Julie said, despite all the attention TV has brought. “We’ve probably
had at least 150 children offered to us, as young as 6 and as old as 64.”
“Bulloch Family Ranch,” 9 p.m. Wednesdays, UP
(formerly Gospel Music Channel), repeating at midnight. Season opens Feb. 26.