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Trail Rides: A breath of fresh air in Fort Worth

Progressive Cattleman Editor David Cooper Published on 23 April 2018
giant star of hats

Some people breathe easy on the beach, in the mountains or at the spa.

I breathe easy when I step off the plane in Texas.

Something about the Lone Star State opens your eyes to the possibility of ag. Even if you aren’t able to hit the road and see the endless horizons of prairie and cattle – you can see it in the eyes of Texans and their Southwest neighbors as well.

This was my first trip to the Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Convention. This year’s show was the first in Fort Worth after years in San Antonio. But wherever the show takes place, the free spirit of Southwest cattle production is an infectious vibe.

Our Progressive Cattleman booth at the show attracted a host of new friends and associates. Cattlemen and cattlewomen from the East, Coastal Bend, Panhandle and Rolling Plains, just to name a few, shared what was happening in their neck of the woods. The year has started dry in the Southwest in 2018, and you feel the burden as producers wait for more rain. But they explain their current situation with a smile and a confident hope that days of good grass lie ahead.

James Burks, general manager of 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas, is one of my favorite guys in the business. He’s one of the first I got to greet again at the show, and his demeanor and positivity don’t fade one bit. No, you’re not supposed to have favorites. But that day I visited 44 back in the crucible drought of 2011, Steve gave me a side-by-side, let me take off with my camera and shoot pictures at will.

It is dry and tough conditions, Steve said back then, but we do our best.

He was right, and it still looked beautiful. That’s Texas.

Donnell Brown of R.A. Brown Ranch is another possessing the can-do spirit found in the throng at TSCRA. Brown presented twice at the TSCRA School for Successful Ranching seminars, once with Kelley Sullivan of the Santa Rosa Ranch. Brown’s four-breed breeding platform embraces all the genetics from across the spectrum and ideas that are applicable to starting cattle producers as well as the big guns.

Listening to both him and Sullivan, you absorb the meaning of using the tools that make cattle as productive as possible while delivering the goods to make customers happy.

And it wouldn’t be the TSCRA without a visit with the guys who wear the badge, the special rangers of the TSCRA. I had a great visit with Larry Gray, who’s retiring at the end of May after 37 years, many of those years leading law enforcement for the association.

If some rapscallion took off with my calves, Gray’s the kind of officer I’d want on the job: patient, experienced and savvy with the legal details that will yield results.

You’re in good hands, TSCRA members. Even with Gray moving on, the rangers are hard at work to keep the cattle back at home.

My sales colleague and I ended the trip at the Railhead, a Fort Worth barbecue fixture. Ribs, brisket, two sides and peach cobbler, all for $12.

Only in Texas, folks. Only in Texas.  end mark

David Cooper
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PHOTO: A Texas-sized display of western hats worn in the Lone Star State at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Photo by David Cooper.