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Exotic Hoofstock

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Arabian oryx antelope originally from the Arabian peninsula. Photo courtesy Gary Ploch, Patio Ranch.

Year-Round Hunting Means Extra Ranch Income
But Handling and Management Require Effort

By Chester Sanders

Published September 2010

The morning mist is clearing the rim-rock and the cold brisk wind in my face is hardly noticeable. Looking for a flash of color, sillhouete or any movement that would quiet my opening day jitters of this mule-deer season, I cant help but be awed as I take in the scenery below,

Auodad sheep from North Africa. Source: Wikipedia Commons under GPL.“Ka-Bloom, thud” the crack of a rifle and the distinctive sound of the bullet finding its target rings out to  my right about 300 yards. I quickly put my rifle up and scope my kill sector for any escaped quarry from the lucky devils to the right of me, anxiously awaiting any sign of  movement or sound that would allow me an opportunity for a shot. A few minutes later I pack up and head for the other hunters to see what they have downed,

”Hey that doesn’t look like any mule-deer I’ve ever seen,” I say.

“Its an aoudad,” my father yells out too me.

“A who-dad?” I yell back. An aoudad, it turns out is a big horn sheep from the barbary region of North Africa. It was introduced to the United States in the 1950s when some ranchers from New Mexico decided to augment their hunting wildlife with hopes of bringing in revenue for the state. They thrive in our dry climate and are very adaptable to most regions with rugged terrain and cliffs or rock outcrops.

Addax antelope, a native of north Africa and relatively endangered there. Photo courtesy Gary Ploch, Patio Ranch. There is no season on them in West Texas. In the northern Panhandle they have proliferated to the point where a season has been put on them so they can manage them. They are very competitive at feeders and could probably cause a rift in native eco-system if left unchecked.

This was my first experience with exotic game other than seeing them on ranches off the highway, or at a zoo. This poses another question, how many different types of exotics are there in Texas and where can they be found?

I visited with several exotic game ranchers in Central and West Texas to get their input on the welfare and state of exotic wildlife ranching in Texas—Gary Ploch, Ranch Manager of the Patio Ranch in Hunt; Terry Caffey of the Caffey Bar 6 Game Ranch in Eden; Dan Whiteley, head foreman of the Heart of the Lonestar Ranch at Eden; and Chase Akin who operates a successful exotic game ranch near Christoval and a helicopter wildlife capture business.

Barasingha male or “bull,” a species of deer native to India. Photo courtesy Gary Ploch, Patio Ranch. The Patio Ranch holds the distinguished honor of  being the first Exotic Game Ranch in Texas. Established in the 1930s by Richard Friedrich, a businessman in San Antonio. He served as President of the San Antonio Zoological Society, and had a keen interest in wildlife. He purchased several species of exotics from the San Antonio Zoo as they had surplus animals and after high fencing a part of his ranch, an industry that still thrives today was born. The ranch has changed hands many times and is currently owned and operated by the H.E Sturmberg family.

Gary Ploch, ranch manager, says Patio Ranch offers a different hunting experience.

Their hunts can range from one-day hunts to an extended hunting expedition with top chefs who will cook an exquisite meal, top of the line accommodations in the hunting lodge and experienced guides. Ploch says Patio Ranch emphasizes being good stewards of the land, treating the animals with respect and dignity and educating their visitors about the animals.

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Herefords Produce Quality Commercial Cattle

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James L. Powell bulls graze near Fort McKavett, Texas.

By Gary Cutrer
& Chester Sanders

Published August 2010

What better, more picturesque ranch scene could there be than a wide pasture green from the summer rains, bordered by dusky liveoaks—a field dotted with red, white-faced Hereford cattle grazing serenely? When Texas cattlemen see a verdant pasture scene like that they see green all right, the green of profits that come from a productive beef animal that has been one of the mainstays of agriculture in the United States for more than 100 years.

Among the most popular cattle breeds in Texas, the Hereford is known for its adaptability and hardiness, its survivability, mothering instinct and ability, and handling ease due to good disposition, along with many other advantageous traits, chief among them the breed’s ability to convert forage and feedlot rations into quality beef.

Dudley Bros. bulls escape the mid-day heat on the ranch near Comanche. Photo by Gary Cutrer. In recent years with the growing popularity of another English breed, the Angus, and the heat and humidity tolerant Brahman, the Hereford bull has become an extremely valuable and sought after sire to produce F1 crosses on those breeds to produce cattle that sell at auction for consistently solid prices. You can like Angus, you can like Hereford, you can prefer a continental breed or an American original like the Beefmaster, but the bottom line is the bottom line. And Herefords have proven and continue to prove their ability to make money for the producer.

We contacted four reputation Hereford breeders in West Texas for their input on the state of the Hereford breed--Case Ranch Herefords in Eldorado, Texas; Dudley Bros. Herefords, Comanche, Texas; James L. Powell,  Six Mile Ranch, Fort McKavett, Texas; and Rocking Chair Ranch, San Angelo and Fort McKavett, Texas.

Case Ranch Herefords

In 1941, when the breed was advertised as the “King of the Range,” the Case family entered into the registered Hereford business. P.F. Case and his son Fred operated the family’s Eldorado, Texas, ranch, establishing a fullblood herd.  P.F. Case passed away in 1961, but since then Fred has continued the operation, now along with son and partner Pete. They’ve seen their registered Herefords go into 40 states, Canada and Mexico, and Case Herefords are recognized as a prime source of quality stock.

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Protecting Private Property Locally

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Photo by Griffin Chure of Jensen, Utah, was a Youth division entry in the 2005 Ranch & Rural Living Photo Contest.

By Dan Byfield

Published May 2010

In 2007, five courageous mayors in eastern Bell County, Texas formed the very first sub-regional planning commission utilizing Section 391 of the Texas Local Government Code as their basis to fight and stop the Tran-Texas Corridor through their five school districts.

It worked and now, the entire TTC project is flickering out like a shooting star.  

That’s the real story behind the demise of the TTC.  Through a strategy only promoted by American Stewards of Liberty, a non-profit private property rights organization located in Taylor, Texas, those five mayors initiated a process that today is revitalizing and protecting the rights of citizens in our State through an effective local control process called Coordination.

Coordination is a simple word with an extraordinarily powerful legal meaning found in both federal and state statutes that requires government agencies to “coordinate” with local government in developing and implementing plans, policies and management actions.

Photo by Kylene Harvey was an Animals and Nature category entry in the 2009 Ranch & Rural Living Photo Contest. American Stewards showed the five mayors where the important language was found in the Texas Local Government Code and they immediately formed a planning commission to take advantage of the coordination strategy.  The first meeting they called was with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) to begin “coordinating” their state plans to build the Trans-Texas Corridor through their jurisdiction.  

TxDoT was not prepared for what happened next.  The five mayors, through the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission, adopted a policy that stated “No Trans-Texas Corridor shall be allowed through our jurisdiction.”  From that point, they demanded TxDoT begin coordinating their plans with their policy.  It was that simple.

Through the three coordination meetings that followed with TxDoT, the mayors discovered that TxDoT had not followed the federal environmental statutes properly.  So, they began demanding the federal agencies in charge of enforcing the federal laws force TxDoT to follow the law.  Naturally, TxDoT resisted, but the more they resisted, the more the five mayors pushed back.

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Clinton Hodges Believes in Potential of Hair Sheep

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By Gary Cutrer
Editor

Wesley, left, and Clinton Hodges survey one group of their hair sheep just east of Sterling City, Texas, on a cool December day. Photos by Gary Cutrer.

Clinton Hodges believes the future of the U.S. sheep industry lies primarily in raising and marketing hair sheep. As co-founder and manager of Lamb Marketing Specialties, a cooperative involving 10 West Texas lamb producers, Hodges, based in Sterling City, Texas, has developed links to retail markets for the co-op’s lambs by forging relationships with several outlets including a slaughter plant in Fort Worth--Belgian-owned Frontier Meats.
However, because of the difficulty the cooperative has had getting a foothold in retail with their relatively small but steady supply of pooled lambs, interest from other co-op members has waned considerably.

Scott McGregor of Christoval, president of LMS, said the group has not been able to get much traction with the big retailers and distributors.

“We’ve worked diligently—I know Clinton has—he’s worked really hard,” McGregor said in a recent telephone interview. “But, if you can’t kill ‘X’ amount of meat and deliver it to HEB you can’t compete.”

Hodges’ commecial sheep are White Dorper crossed with St. Croix. Some have a little Rambouillet in them for more size. Photos by Gary Cutrer.

Though the LMS cooperative will be put in a “holding pattern,” according to McGregor, Hodges carries on. He plans to continue marketing lamb under the coop’s trade name, “Sterling Lamb,” and, provided the other members consent, will take that trade name as his own. He plans to resign as the coop’s manager and make the business part of his Hodges Ranch operation.

The Sterling brand was not chosen because of his hometown of Sterling City, Hodges says, but because the name rings with quality. He says quality is what will continue to differentiate his lamb products from competitors, especially imported lamb from Australia and New Zealand. Lamb producers down under certainly have a big supply but their lower priced lamb that floods the market and that many U.S. outlets purchase is of inferior quality, Hodges says.

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Fort Concho -- Past, Present and Future

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Cory Robinson, left, and Cindy Bishop stand in front of the row of restored officers’ quarters at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark in San Angelo, Texas. Photo by Gary Cutrer. By Robert Bluthardt
Director, Fort Concho
National Historic Landmark

Published November 2009

To the many people who drive by daily on South Oakes Street just south of downtown San Angelo, Fort Concho has been here forever, and in a way, they are right. The two dozen limestone buildings that surround the currently lush Parade Ground date from the late 1860s and 1870s, and they represented the first permanent structures and settlement in the region. In the years that followed, “Santa Angela” established itself as a “whiskey and sin” village across the Concho River to separate the soldiers from their monthly pay. Over the next 22 years, the fort and the town grew and prospered together, and both underwent many changes when the U. S. Army marched away fron Fort Concho forever in June 1889.

The arrival of a railroad connection in 1888 and a second, direct rail line in 1909, helped San Angelo grow into an agricultural and ranching trade center. The old post had new occupants as civilians took up the homes that the soldiers abandoned.

The Santa Rita oil boom to the west in 1923 brought vast wealth to the city and soon the community had a new city hall, county courthouse, movie theater, hotels, office buildings, churches and a new neighborhood, appropriately named Santa Rita. Much of modern San Angelo stems from that 1923 oil strike. Meanwhile, historic preservation of Fort Concho starts in the 1920s, with the dreams and vision of Mrs. Ginevra Wood Carson, an effort that continues today nearly 90 years later.

Today, Fort Concho is considered among the best preserved frontier forts west of the Mississippi, and the long effort to save and restore it is as old as those of nationally known sites like Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and Greenfield Village near Detroit. The fort board and staff have been guided by a simple premise to physically restore the post to its 1870s appearance, but make it serve the widest possible audience within the broadest level of public service and education. That expanded mission within the heart of a major West Texas city justifies the motto, “Not Just a Frontier Fort.”

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August 2014

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