The Cowboys of the Wellborn 2R Ranch
The Cowboys of the Wellborn 2R Ranch
Cowboy. The word alone stirs the soul and conjures images unique to each of us. The cowboy has been depicted as romantic, inspiring, heroic, adventurous and even nostalgic. His work uniform of boots, hat, chaps, spurs and a rope has been mimicked by children for centuries. He is America’s most enduring hero.
Because such mystique and myths surround the cowboy, many people assume there are no more cowboys tending cattle on the open range. Admittedly, the cowboy is harder to find in this terabyte world.
There are still pockets of America where traditions transcend technology. In Texas cattle still graze the grass sown slopes and prairies between the Red River Valley and the Rio Grande. And at Wellborn 2R Ranch there are still cowboys, real cowboys, that ride the range and are stewards of the land and livestock they oversee.
In Texas the term “cowboy” means one thing: authentic. The state is home to some of the best cowboys in the United States. Their uniqueness is not revealed by what they say, but by watching them. These cowboys earn a living taking care of cows and the range they ride, day in and day out. They do it with a skill that is bred in them, honed by hours in the saddle and honored by those around them.
Those cowboys and cowboy traditions are alive and well at the Wellborn 2R Ranch. This isn’t just a job for them; it’s a business like no other. And we want to share the pictures and stories of our cowboys, our ranch and our cattle with you.
For our cowboys, their company vehicle is a horse. Their office is the open range. Their schedule planner is the weather. The office water cooler is a stock tank. Their work friends are the four-legged kind – horses and dogs that help them get the job done. Happy hour is closing the gate on the corral at the barn before it’s completely dark outside. Social networking is done from the kitchen table, late at night, calling neighbors to see if they can come help gather cattle. On-the-job training is what they give the young horses they ride as they go about their day to-day activities. It is a life of solitude, as they spend most days working their country alone. Those that live it don’t take it for granted; they are appreciative students of the land and grateful disciples of traditions.
To this elite crew, a man isn’t a cowboy unless he can make a hand horseback – his reputation depends on it and there is no room for mediocrity. He has to be able to rope cattle in the pasture and ride snorty broncs from sunup to sundown. These men know horses and they know cattle. They know how they think, their habits and how to handle them.
When the spring bluebonnets are blooming, these cowboys can be found in the branding corral, around a ring of fire where smoke swirls around branding irons. While the herd settles, they serve up coffee and colorful stories. They smell of singed hair and sweat from flanking and branding the year’s calf crop. Their talents are on display as they quietly maneuver through cattle-filled corrals and skillfully rope baby calves’ feet to bring them to the branding fire. A cracker-jack shot from a roper will elicit dust-stained smiles from the rest of the crew and earn him bragging rights, at least until the next roper throws an equally great loop.
Saddle leather is creaking long before sunup as these cowboys spend the summer months tending to their home country. They ride beneath cloud tumbled skies as they check on livestock, fix windmills and repair fences. As summer fades, they roam their pastures in silent serenity as the autumn breezes wrestle warm colors from the trees.
They crunch through frost-embellished grass on brisk October mornings, navigating pastures for the big fall gather. They trot out together, their spurs singing in cadence with their horse’s gait. They ride in reticence, speaking a language only they understand; one that is spoken in hand gestures, head nods and a horse’s position.
To see these men at work during the fall weaning season is like watching a live choreographed show. A cowboy and his horse can guide a single cow through a sea of cattle with ease while the rest of the cowboys hold the herd. They sort the calves off the cows in corral alleys, boiling with choking dust making it hard to see, but somehow they don’t miss a cut. As the trucks are loaded for the rancher’s annual pay day, the cowboys place their bets, guessing the weaning weights of the cattle. Pride is the only wager with the winner receiving an approving nod from his colleagues.
In winter, they trudge through freezing weather checking new baby calves and chopping ice in the stock tanks. It is a thankless job. There are no accolades sung for these knights in leather. Texas cowboys of long ago gave birth to America’s greatest folk hero, The Cowboy, and the cowboys at Wellborn 2R Ranch continue to be worthy heirs of their predecessor’s history and legacy while raising the most wholesome, delicious beef you could ever eat.
During the year we have a smaller number of employees taking care of the ranch. But during our Spring and Fall works we need extra hands to gather our country and work our cattle to be as efficient as possible. Because of the time-honored ranching traditions that are still in place at the Wellborn 2R Ranch many area cowboys like to join our crew. These guys are seasonal help and paid by the day; they are referred to as “day workers” on the ranch.
Some days the line up sounds more like a Who’s-Who of rodeo cowboys and horsemen showcase than a cow working with Cody Lambert, Ty Murray, Jim Sharp, Ross Coleman, Justin McBride and Chris Littlefield among the skilled cowboys that have been on the Wellborn 2R Ranch day working crew.
These men aren’t cowboys for the company perks. They aren’t cowboys because they love to be outside in the blistering heat and withering cold. They aren’t cowboys because the risks are high and the pay is low or because it’s one of the most demanding jobs known to man.
It’s beyond all bounds of reason they are cowboys. It is a calling from deep in their soul they can’t deny. They are cowboys because even before they were born, that’s what they were made to be. God gave them a kind heart and an honest spirit to care for some of His greatest creations and most beautiful landscapes.
“The Next Generation” Part of our sustainability program at Wellborn 2R Ranch is ensuring the next generation has the skills and ranching education to continue the long-established traditions at the ranch. Foreman Caleb Johnson’s kids have grown up in the saddle helping during Spring and Fall works. Children from some of our day workers have also been coming since they were old enough to ride.