Melody gives everyone a personality quiz. Danny scores an 84 making him a fun and spirited person. Melody scores an 87 giving her a warm and fuzzy personality. Brad scored a 98 which is a sparkling gem. Ted scores a 65 which gives him the personality of an asparagus. Ted says there must be a mistake, but the others just give him a hard time.
The gang notices some orange vested surveyor on the grounds. The kids hope that Mr. E is building something such as bigger bunkhouses or an Olympic pool. Instead of standing around guessing, they decide to ask Mr. Ernst directly.
But Mr. Ernst is meeting with a real estate agent, and the deal looks close to closing. Left alone, Mr. Ernst looks in the mirror and asks himself who he's trying to kid. The kids all enter and excitedly ask him about the construction. But Mr. Ernst is very evasive, and tries to deflect every question into a new subject of discussion. But the kids persistently ask about the surveyors, and the more Mr. Ernst evades, the more persistent they get.
The kids follow Mr. E into the lodge, where a surveyor pokes his head in. He wants to measure the lodge because it's the only building that isn't coming down. Mr. Ernst reluctantly gives in and reveals that the Ranch will indeed be sold a commercial real estate developer. A shopping mall will be built where the Bar None Ranch now stands. The kids are in disbelief. Mr. Ernst claims that it's a pure business decision, and that the money from the sale will fund his new venture. He opens the lodge safe and pulls out a square patch of grass. Ernst's Miracle Desert Sod. Grass that grows in sand.
He leaves the kids to answer the phone ringing in his office. The kids are still in a state of shock. Danny calls the news awful. Brad wants to hear what Lucy says about this...
Meanwhile, Mr. Ernst is on the phone with Ralph from the Circle J Ranch. Mr. Ernst thanks him for taking the horses in. Buddy is outside though, and he eavesdrops on his dad's conversation. When Ralph asks why Mr. Ernst is selling the ranch, Mr. E admits that money wasn't the biggest factor in the decision. In fact, Mr. Ernst loves the Bar None. And though he always fancied himself a cowboy, he's come to realize that he is, was, and always will be an accountant from New Jersey.
The kids catch up with Lucy at the corral, and she's been in the know for a while. Ted asks what they can do, but Lucy is very pessimistic and bitter. She's been kicked off a ranch twice before because of developers, but there's little anyone can do because the land values are just too high these days. All she can do is look for another ranch job.
Buddy mopes into the gathering, and Melody reminds him that his dream of going home will soon come true. But Buddy isn't really happy.
Ted wonders out loud about how Mr. Ernst seemed to love the ranch, that running the Bar None was his dream. Buddy tells him it is. He talks about the phone conversation he overheard, and he tells the other kids that the only reason he's selling the ranch is because he doesn't think he's a cowboy.
Ted feels that if they can convince Mr. Ernst that he's a real cowboy, he won't sell the ranch. Well, seeing as they're desperate and have little to lose, the gang goes along with the plan. Buddy has his doubts.
At the corral, Ted is wearing his Long Rider coat and cowboy hat. His squirt gun is filled and he's ready to give Mr. Ernst the chance to be a quick draw killer.
Mr. Ernst comes by with a wheelbarrow full of sod. Ted interrupts him and tells him how he always dreamed to live in the Wild West and have a showdown with the other top gunman in town. Mr. Ernst enthusiastically agrees, but quickly catches himself. Looking down, he quietly tells Ted that he was dreamed about that too. Ted talks about needing a quality opponent, a real cowboy. Brightening up, Mr. Ernst tells him that he'll give it a go, warning Ted that he's up against some pretty fast hands.
Buddy gives his dad his holster belt. Before putting it on, Ted stops to savor the moment. Getting a little impatient, Mr. E tells Ted to get started. So they face off. Fingers twitching and eyeballs squinting, they intently watch each other for the first move. Then Mr. Ernst's belt falls down his legs. Quickly pulling them back up, the face off resumes. Buddy yells "Draw!"
With lightning hands, Mr. E whips out his squirt pistol and flings it to the ground. He pounces on the weapon, stepping on the barrel while pulling up the handle. He looks at the broken squirt gun and grimaces. The plastic barrel is stuck into his foot. Ted finally draws and with a fretful look, fires three squirts over his shoulder in defeat.
The plan moves to phase two. Danny and Brad are in the corral with Buddy in tow. This time they'll try some lasso work. Danny reminds Brad to encourage Mr. Ernst no matter how lamely he throws the rope. Danny interrupts Mr. Ernst and his wheelbarrow of sod, and asks him if he could demonstrate his lassoing. Mr. E get himself completely tangled up in the ropes. Mr. Ernst stomps off shaking he head and muttering he's no cowboy.
The kids meet again at the boat house. Ted says that this time, he has the perfect plan, but the other kids are discouraged by the recent events. Ted says that they need to make Mr. Ernst look like a real wrangler.
Ted lays the plan out, leaving nothing to chance. Brad, on a horse, will act scared when she's sees a rubber snake Ted will place in her path. Mr. Ernst will have no choice but to be a cowboy hero.
But the door to the boat house opens. Mr. Ernst comes out shaking his head. But the he quickly understands their noble motivation.
Everything is about ready in the main courtyard. Danny comes across the snake, and is amazed at Ted's good job rigging up the rubber snake. He takes his place as Mr. Ernst comes out. With a walkie talkie, Buddy passes the signal to Melody, and Melody starts Brad on her horse. Brad comes up to greet Mr. Ernst, but at the sight of the snake, the horse becomes agitated.
Brad tells Mr. Ernst about the snake. He plays along. He fearlessly strolls over and picks up the reptile.
Meanwhile, Ted arrives next to Danny with the rubber snake. The fishing line was harder to attach than he thought. Danny quickly shoots a glance at Mr. Ernst realizing that he has a real snake.
The kids quickly surround Mr. Ernst. Brad tells him how her horse really seemed scared. But he tells them he knows the whole set up, and that the snake around his neck is fake. He now knows how much they loved the ranch, and that made him understand his love for the ranch too. The sale has been called off plus his sod was turning brown.
So Mr. Ernst has come to realize that he doesn't have to be a cowboy hero. But when Ted finally convinces him that the snake slithering around his neck is real, Mr. Ernst passes out.
Later, Ted has taken a retest and Brad has the new results. He now scored a 55 which makes the personality of an onion seem interesting. Mr. E finds the kids and tells them that he's to be called "Cowboy Ben" from now on. And to demonstrate his newfound cowboy prowess, he mounts his horse...and ends up facing backward in the saddle!