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Cowboys and cattle ranchers were the first group of European settlers to move permanently onto the Great Plains. They did so, to a degree, by adopting or. Rooted in necessity and shaped by the land, the Mexican cowboy tradition –s After the Spanish arrived in Mexico in , ranches. In addition to being a rancher, Bubba is also a skilled carpenter, and thanks to In fact, when she and Bubba were planning their wedding, she wanted a Jaclyn never dreamed of dating a cowboy, but Booger Brown swept her off her feet.
American colonists flooding into Texas during the s were primarily farmers and not ranchers, but they quickly saw the significance of lush pastures where cattle could thrive with minimum care. Men who came to Texas to plow and plant became cattle raisers. Cattle raising remained a domestic industry during the republic and early statehood, supplying the small urban population, immigrants, and the bartering trade. In the s and s ranchers continued to drive small herds to New Orleans.
A few hardy souls headed north, principally on the Shawnee Trailseeking feeder areas in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa, where they could fatten their cattle and ship them to markets in Philadelphia and New York. Herds also were trailed west through hostile Indian country to the California goldfields. By Texas cattle ranching was shifting from Southeast and South Texas to the north central frontier. For the first time cattle brought cash revenue to Texas, although the annual increase in herds far exceeded exports.
During the Civil War Texas furnished beef to the Confederacy until the summer ofwhen federal armies closed the Mississippi River to traffic. Cattle multiplied until they were estimated at eight per capita of the population.
At the end of the war, steaks and roasts were selling in eastern markets at twenty-five to thirty cents a pound, while a mature, fat Texas steer could be bought for six to ten dollars. The same steer was worth thirty or forty dollars at the end of the trail. Texas was cattle rich, but the way to market was through storms, across swollen rivers, and into hostile Indian country. Within two decades more than five million head had been trailed to outside markets.
In the late s, after the Indian menace ended in Texas, the cattle industry leap-frogged to fresh pasturage in the Davis Mountains and the Big Bend, and on the plains of west Texas. Contrary to general views, the Texas cattle industry was not founded entirely on "free grass. O'Connor, Richard King, Mifflin Kenedyand scores of other antebellum ranchers operated on their own land from the beginning.
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Other cattlemen who wisely bought land after the Civil War while their neighbors were scorning it included Charles Goodnight, William T. Swenson, and William D. Early Anglo-American ranches generally consisted of a primitive headquarters surrounded by open range. In the earlier-settled part of Texas, ranchers owned the land on which their improvements were built, but as the frontier advanced, stockmen set up quarters without benefit of title or surveyor's lines.
When the real owner appeared, the squatter moved farther into the unsettled domain.
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Before the advent of barbed wire infew stockmen acquired land on which to graze cattle. Their primary need was a favorable site from which to work cattle and to control the water, which in turn controlled the range. Even foreign capitalists who invaded the range country in the cattle boom of the early s bought only enough watered land to hold the range. As markets could not absorb surplus Texas cattle, ranchers soon looked north to the unpopulated range that extended to the Canadian border and covered the entire Great Plains east of the Rocky Mountains.
While sending mature steers to slaughter markets, they moved breeding stock into New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Dakota, Colorado, the Cherokee Outlet, and western Kansas and Nebraska to start new herds.
Methods of handling cattle, range terminology, and range practices developed in Texas spread with the herds across the western part of the United States. The Panic of momentarily crippled the cattle industry, but beef recovered rapidly and zoomed into an unprecedented boom that peaked ten years later.
Pamphlets describing the "Beef Bonanza" flooded Great Britain, and English and Scottish money at the Matador, Rocking Chairand other ranches competed with eastern capital in acquiring herds and range rights. The industry had grown up as individual enterprise, usually managed by the owner; now the corporation entered the field with all the advantages of mobilized capital but with the disadvantages of nonresidence and hired managers.
By the end of the nineteenth century the transformation of ranching to the closed range was practically complete. Open-range drift fences were superseded by a complete enclosure of the ranch holdings.
Railroads invaded ranch country, and corporations subdivided their holdings into smaller pastures for better range utilization, improved livestock management, and sale. Panic and drought in brought hard times, but the men who owned their grass and were free of debt were doing business when the upward tide returned.
During World War I the cattle and horse market boomed, but the decade of the s brought deflation and bankruptcies. The owner-operator who resisted the temptation to speculate came through safely. Price recovery from the slump was slow, however, and another setback followed the bursting of the stock-market bubble in Cattlemen and their financial backers were soon in deep water, and a desperate government, for the first time in history, extended aid to the cattle industry through agricultural credit agencies.
Although the help was of some benefit, prices continued downhill, droughts plagued the land, ranges were overstocked, and grass was scarce. In the government intervened with a desperate remedy—a program to buy and kill cattle to buoy a depressed market.
As the government generally destroyed the culls—sick, crippled, and scrub cattle—many ranchers used the payments to upgrade their herds. After the slaughter, the rains came again and the range grassed over.
In addition to slaughter markets and outlets in corn-belt feedlots, a new cattle range developed. Farmers in the southern states suddenly saw cattle as a means of utilizing acreage taken out of cotton culture. Texas herds supplied much of the seed stock from East Texas to Georgia.
By the s beef cattle had returned to the major farming regions. Although much of the industry was conducted as a range enterprise, stock farming with small herds increased and became soundly based on a crop-livestock system. Origins in Texas Cowboy driving cattle to market Ranching first started in Texas, with ranches mostly manned by Mexican cowboys called vaqueros. In Texan ranchers drove many Mexicans out, and claimed the cattle left behind. The Civil War started inand Texans went off to fight.
The cattle roamed free as huge herds grew up. On returning home, the Texans started rounding them up and driving them to sell in places such as New Orleans and California.
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The 'long drives' - first 'open range' ranch Map of the cattle trails Realising that there was a great demand for beef in the north of the USA, the Texans drove their cattle north on a long drive to Sedalia in Missouri, where they were loaded onto trains for Chicago.
Two Texas ranchers, Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving, pioneered a second trail, to Denver in Colorado, where they sold their cattle to gold miners. Ina rancher named John Iliff the 'cattle-king of the northern plains' won the contract to supply beef to the Sioux, who had been forced onto a reservation in the Black Hills.
These fenced-in, self-contained ranches became the modern ranches of today. Modern ranches operate like efficient machines -- miles of fencing, irrigation systems, corrals for holding sheep and cattle, loading chutes and trailers. The cattle drives of yesteryear -- when cowboys would round up and physically lead a herd from one location to another -- are slowly dying out.
These days, ranchers typically move cattle via truck and trailer. Some ranches use traditional cattle drives as a tourist attraction instead. But it still requires a lot of work to keep a ranch running smoothly. Ranchers must take care of the animals, the land, the machines and perform dozens of other jobs.
And they hire ranch hands to help out.