John Travolta starred in a popular movie called “Urban Cowboy.” It showed a sharp contrast between a working cowboy and one who liked the country look. Now let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with urban cowboys. They do exist as do urban ranchers.
Recently our county has been flooded with new arrivals from the city of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States. Our close proximity to the city and our relatively cheap land make Grimes County very desirable. They are used to paying tens of thousands of dollars for a lot in the city and think nothing of paying high prices for the land in our county. Therefore, the price per acre in our county has skyrocketed. This is great for locals who want to sell, but those who want to expand their existing property find themselves incapable of competing with the new, inflated prices.
We have several neighbors who moved up here fairly recently to enjoy the country life. One of the first things they do is install huge floodlights to illuminate their property all night. This really mars the nightscape I had become accustomed to enjoying. I personally like the fact that the sun sets and the moon and stars reflect back a small portion of that light at night. I do not appreciate the new light pattern cropping up all over the county.
The next step for urban ranchers is to buy livestock. Some immediately buy cows, some goats, some donkeys or chickens, and some a menagerie of all kinds. We now have signs hanging on our county road that read, “Lost: Red heifer.” Of course when you talk to your neighbor about his lost heifer, he reveals that she has no markings, no brands, no eartags, no type of identification except for the fact that she is a red heifer. Good luck finding and proving she is yours!
A few years ago one urban rancher purchased a bred cow from Cross Creek Cattle Company. We had no idea that the man, who shall remain nameless, was completely clueless about ranch life and cows. He was in constant communication with my father asking him everything from feeding, fencing, and other aspects of caring for the cow. My dad was shocked by how little this man knew, but was more than happy to help for the cow’s sake.
Finally, the cow delivered her calf. The man called all excited because it was a bull calf. “What are the chances of that, Mr. Holliday?” “What are the chances of having a bull calf?” “We are so lucky!”
My dad thought, “What is he talking about? The chances are 50/50.”
My dad said, “Mr. Rancher, I guess I am not understanding your question.”
The man happily replied, “When I drive down the road, there is only one bull per pasture. Since my cow had a bull calf, I must have something pretty special!”
What can you say to that?
For anyone who thinks they might want to live in the country, welcome. Please learn all you can about ranching, farming, and country life. Then leave the city behind, literally.