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‘If you love this lifestyle, then do it’

Gilda V. Bryant for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 May 2021
Aerial shot of a cow herd

Success did not happen for Marion and Jared Wine overnight; it took constant communication, precise planning and intentional work strategies to reach their goals.

Marion and Jared met at Blinn Junior College and continued to date when they attended Texas A&M University in Kingsville.

Marion and Jared Wine and children

The couple married in 2013 and moved to Matagorda County located on the Texas Gulf Coast. Jared built fences and performed day work for ranchers. Armed with a degree in range and wildlife management, Jared successfully trapped feral hogs and coyotes for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services agency. He gained invaluable experience as a feedyard pen rider and hauling livestock. Jared enjoyed working with cattle and established the Wine Cattle Company LCC, with Marion’s encouragement.

The beginning

Since it was difficult to find property to rent in Matagorda County, the Wines moved near Alice, in Jim Wells County, also on the Texas Gulf Coast. Leasing land, they continued to educate themselves about the livestock business. “We faced the typical challenges in this part of Texas, such as dry weather and finding labor,” Jared admits. “There was a steep learning curve for managing cattle and buying and selling them. I learned what’ll make money and what won’t; what works and what doesn’t.”

Fortunately, Jared found experts and other ranchers willing to mentor him. He hired a cattle buyer for the first few years he developed his preconditioning program. Jared began buying stock because he knew which animals his customers wanted, and he was confident he could make the best deals.

“Now, I buy everything,” Wine explains. “I sit in the sale barns, usually Monday and Tuesday. If I have to venture out of Alice, I’ll buy Wednesday through Saturday as well. I try to see where the hole in the market is. Right now, I’m buying 200- to 300-pound steers and heifers and 800- to 900-pound cutting bulls. I have nearly 600 650-pound steers. I’ve done well with 400-pound heifers.”

Jared and Marion's daughter watches the activity

Jared purchases animals with Brahman, Beefmaster and Brangus genetics. Because cattle fever ticks, which spread cattle fever, can become a serious health issue in his county, all animals he buys are dipped at the sale barn. He works closely with Texas Animal Health Commission inspectors to eliminate ticks in his herd so he can ship cattle to out-of-state buyers.

A beef nutritionist advised the Wines to add a complete mineral package to the ration, which increases immunity for poor-quality or lightweight animals. These newly weaned thin calves are weaker and take more babysitting, although they have the potential to do well.

The Wine home, acreage for crops and preconditioning yard are situated on 150 acres. Their preconditioning yard has lots, pens and bunks, feed storage and equipment. Rations composed of milo, corn and silage are stored in a silo. A modern mixing truck delivers this blend to animals twice a day.

When the Wines first started the preconditioning yard, they could not mix feed, buying bulk loads instead. “Jared bought a red, rusted-out single-cab Chevy C30 for 600 dollars at a little junkyard in town,” Marion recalls. “We clamped a 3,000 dollar feed bin on top of it and fed thousands of head of cattle for a year or two. It was hard to fill the feeder on the back of the truck. Today, our mixing truck saves time [and doesn’t waste feed].”

Besides the preconditioning pens, the couple leases pastures for their two cow-calf herds, also known as Wineglass Cattle Company. The acreage located several miles south of the preconditioning operation is arid and brushy. Marion calls those cattle brush hoppers. Unlike the northern herd, she says these females are more snorty and waspy – typical South Texas cattle. The northern herd grazes in a pasture that benefits from extensive brush management. Closer to the preconditioning yard, it is also home to their Wagyu bulls.

All hands on deck

Marion has learned how to move animals safely, vaccinate, brand, castrate and identify sick cattle. Since their home is near the preconditioning pens, she says their six-year-old son spots ailing calves from the living room window, to boot.

Cowboys are working calves

Like many ranching couples, the Wines have divided the workload. Employed as a chemical engineer, Marion stresses safety as her family works around cattle and equipment. She tracks trends and statistics, such as beef exports. She also studies market conditions and state and federal legislation changes. Marion maintains the books, and Jared provides most of the manual labor and purchases animals. Recently, Jared had to revaccinate 600 steers, and Marion helped him at the chute.

What challenges has this couple faced when working together? “We get along pretty well when we work cows,” Jared explains. Laughing, he adds, “We’ve done it long enough that we know what not to say, what to say and when to say it. We learned by trial and error. We have two small kids, ages 6 and 3. Marion’s a lot of help, and our son is handy for a 6-year-old. We try to keep the kids as involved as we can. I want them to be around the operation and not resent it. I want to make sure they know we’re building this business for them.”

The preconditioing yard

“We have learned how crucial communication is,” Marion reports. “Anything can go wrong when you’re working with hundreds of herd animals that also weigh hundreds or thousands of pounds. The struggles we face today aren’t the ones we tackled when we first started. It’s nice to work with Jared and know what he’s thinking and what [tools] he will need.

“The most important thing is not to be busy but productive,” Marion continues. “My number one goal is to keep the kids front and center, keeping them involved and making sure they have a role in [our operation].”

For the love of cattle

Now that the business and family have grown, the Wines face a new challenge – time management. “When we first started, it took a lot of time,” Marion shares. “We didn’t have the best equipment or the money to invest in machinery that could make a job easier and save time. As we progressed, we’ve purchased time-saving equipment that is more efficient. While we freed up time with improved pieces of equipment, we are also busier with the growth of our cattle business. The hardest thing we deal with is how to better utilize our time so we’re the most efficient at whatever we’re trying to do.”

Jared Wine on horseback ropes a calf

“There will be highs and lows [in the market],” Jared warns new ranchers. “Markets swing; everybody knows that. There’s nothing we can do to control them. We have to ride the wave. Stick with it and know the reward is there. Be persistent. If you love this lifestyle, then do it.”

“I want to help people understand what they can do if they choose to get into ranching,” Marion concludes. “It’s expensive, and it’s hard to do. Don’t quit and don’t take no for an answer. I can’t tell you how often we were told ‘No.’ Every time we turned a corner, we heard ‘No,’ or ‘It’s not going to work,’ but it did. We had to think outside the box and use what we had instead of focusing on what we didn’t have. I encourage everyone to get established one baby step at a time. When we started in 2014, we had three pregnant heifers. That’s all we had. Today we operate our preconditioning yard, which holds 1,000 head, and we raise 200 mama cows [in two pastures].”

The Wines are just one example of the next ranching generation. Our traditions, values and cattle are in good hands. end mark

PHOTO 1: This aerial shot shows the Wines checking on one of their cow herds.

PHOTO 2: Marion and Jared Wine make sure their children learn about the cattle business at the preconditioning yard.

PHOTO 3: Jared and Marion’s daughter watches the activity from the perfect perch.

PHOTO 4: Cowboys are working calves at the preconditioning yard.

PHOTO 5: The preconditioning yard has a capacity of 1,000 head.

PHOTO 6: Jared Wine on horseback ropes a calf for branding and vaccinations. Photos provided by Marion Wine.

Gilda V. Bryant is a freelancer based in Amarillo, Texas.