March a Season of Change
Hog Hunting, Rain, and Cattle Working
Howdy folks! Welcome to the Tritails Monthly newsletter.
In March, we started to see some changes around the ranch. Vegetation and wild wife begin to spring to life. Many valuable things are making an appearance, such as green grass and spring rains. There also are some new faces! New calves have some of their first interactions with us. From hog hunting to cattle working, get ready to read and learn more about the happenings around the Harrell Ranch.
"I wish they would stay this cute and little forever!" Exclaimed Helen as the truck pulled up behind two young calves. "Yeah, but then there would be no beef for sale." Says Matt in the driver's seat. "True," replied Helen as everyone in the truck had a good chuckle. There were four of us in Sam's red truck as we drove along a dirt road at the bottom of the Palo Duro canyon. On either side of us were cowboys on their horses going to and thro herding and pushing mama's and their calves on towards the corral. In front of us, Sam and Mary were driving an old Desert Storm-era Humvee. This and Sam's truck are the only appropriate means of transportation over the rugged terrain. Surrounding this rough area are steep canyon walls towering toward the beautiful blue sky. Pretty layers called Spanish skirts inlaid these walls exposing the depths of the earth. Beautiful and treacherous, a spectator would have wondered how the convoy made its way into the canyon in the first place. If it weren't for a not-so-well-known road carved into the side of the canyon, we wouldn't be down there at all. The road was long and winding as it traversed several miles and went down over a thousand vertical feet. Down it went deep into the Palo Duro Canyon, a canyon so deep that it takes its place as the second-largest canyon in the United States. It also has some pretty great grass pastures, making it a perfect place for cattle to graze.
"Faith is just so cool!!," Were Helen's first words as we arrived at the corral. She admired her younger sister, who was seated atop a noble quarter house. Faith was rounding up and pushing cattle along with the other men in the crew. Her riding skills were evident as she used her spurs to steer her workhorse with perfect precision. No cow was able to escape her as she gathered and pushed along. She performed each task in order with the utmost efficiency. The first thing to do was collect the cows into the corral. Then move them even further into the sorting pin. The sorting pin is where we separate the mom's from the calves to work both groups. The famous hockey star Wayne Gretzky famously said, "I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been." Replace the words skate and puck with ride and calf, and the quote applies perfectly to sorting cattle. The cowboy must preemptively decide where the calf will be. He must not let it escape the sorting pin. It's a skill that involves getting in front of the youngin's to scare them back while getting out of the way of the moms to let them out.
Like other domesticated animals, we must neuter the young males and tag them. The main reason for neutering is to prevent inbreeding within the herd. We want specific genes for our cattle, and that means we need specific bulls to do the breeding. The little ones hardly flinch during this process, and we do this with the utmost care. The result is a higher quality herd and calf fries. Yup, calf fries, and if you don't know what that is, look it up. As a man who did not grow up on a farm, the idea of this cuisine may have turned me a little green. However, calf fries are almost as regular as eating a potato chip for a rancher.
After all is said and done, we release all the cattle back into the pastures. The cows are happy to graze on some grass, and the cowboys are happy to feed on some sandwiches. Everyone is looking to fill up their belly and enjoy a good rest. Almost all of us have been awake since four that morning, and it's right around three that we find ourselves back at the homestead. The horses are delighted to have their saddles removed, and the humans are more than delighted for a shower. About five, there is a peaceful silence over the ranch. All is still, and the only thing at work is the windmills spinning in the early evening breeze.
Hogs are one of the most destructive animals in America. They are dangerous both to man and beast. These little devils cause over three hundred million dollars in damages annually in Texas alone. You have heard about pigs rolling the mud. For wild hogs, it is worse, much, much worse. Fields can quickly resemble battlefields after an intrusion from a passel (group of hogs). After borrowing rituals, craters up to three feet deep and five feet wide form. Crops disappear quickly after these “opportunistic omnivores” catch wind of an easy meal. The result looks like an army had launched motors and performed scorched earth. Some of our dogs will limp back to the house only to be awarded the purple heart. For us country-dwellers, this is not okay, and that is why Texas allows pig hunting year-round with no limits.
All hunters in Texas are hunting hogs as a means of control, not eradication. Likewise, Harrell Ranch is performing control measures to ensure the safety of human beings, dogs, cattle, crops, and land. That being said, we’d be lying if we didn’t point out the thrill of the hunt. Aaron has racked up the most kills this year because,. faith and him are the most active workers on the ranch. I always fantasized about Buffalo Bill, but with Faith and Aaron, we might say Hog Head Harrell's. Okay, not appropriate, but honestly, they do a great job controlling these buggers. Like, for instance, the other night.
It was right around dusk when Arron and Faith were on their last bit of chores for the day. It was about that time to relax and kick back when Faith spotted across an open field about twelve of the black furry beasts. Looking at each other, both Faith and Arron realized that their work was not cut out for them that day. Before taking any action, the two headed back to headquarters to pick up Sam and gear. Having heard about the issue, Sam was already getting his shotgun ready for some action.
The sun had eased back behind the horizon, and the only source of light was the headlights on the truck and a few spotlights. The truck slowly crawled along. Aaron in the passenger seat with the shotgun, Faith in the middle seat with her eagle vision, and Sam driving along. The truck pulled into a field, and Sam killed the ignition. All the lights went off, and things went silent. Even though it was dark, Faith scanned the area with her eagle vision. Time passed, and all was silent. It was several moments later when there was a rustling about a hundred yards away. “Over there,” Faith whispered. The hunters had spotted the enemy.
The truck all at once sprung into action. The ignition, headlights, and spotlights all came on simultaneously. Sam hit the throttle and sent the truck barreling into the field. The pigs squealed at their approaching doom and took off across the terrain. They were no match for the speed of the farm truck. Sam and Faith spoke words of instruction and encouragement to Aaron as he leaned out the window with the shotgun.
It is needless to say that some of those furry devils met their maker that day. The three had cleared close to a dozen of the nuisance from the ranch that night. They will never create problems for our fields again. It was only several days later when another two dozen were hunted down. This time Faith was behind the trigger after spotting a passel that numbered close to a hundred. Our hands have many skills, and hunting is essential. The ranch literally could not survive without these means of control.
It was about the week of the 13th when I opened up the weather to see a
prediction for significant rain. On the ranch, we like to proceed with cautious optimism regarding long-range weather forecasts. However, it was hard for me not to have excitement over the matter. Even with an inch or two of snow here and there, it has been a dry winter. The grass was drying out, and wildfires became more of a nuisance. We were praying, and God was hearing our prayers and your prayers for us. On the morning of the 21st, I received a blizzard warning on my phone. With clouds building and winds coming from the east, things were promising. The wind started howling about four that afternoon, and the rains came. There was a large amount of rejoicing and thanks to the Lord. After all was said and done, there were a couple of inches of rain. We heard several of our readers had prayed for us, and we appreciate your prayers. The rains allow us to continue our operations and produce some of the best quality beef in the world.
On the ranch, we have a lot of dogs. Aaron and Faith have two dogs. Ollie is a beautiful German Shepherd mix, and Oakley is a Great Perrine. Our hearts skipped a beat early in the month when Oakley broke her leg. It was an unavoidable accident with no one at fault. We were worried about her.
However, she is now doing quite well. She is learning how to walk and run with one of her legs in a cast. We haven't known if she will heal, need surgery, or amputation. Oakley brings so much joy to the hearts of all the men and women who meet her. She is wild and always roaming the ranch looking for adventure. She is also loving, loyal, and caring. Oakley is always there to ask for some pets and hug. She may only be a dog, but she's family to us; it only made sense to add her to our prayer request section.
Dinosaur Size Steaks
In April, we look forward to a new restock. This restock will include the infamous cowboy steak or tomahawk. This steak is the show stopper at any party. The "Fred Flintstone steak," as my dad calls it, is so large it can feed up to four people. However, even with the size of the steak, the real treat is the flavor and juiciness of the steak. The juiciness is acquired through simple means. Bone, left, on!! What this does is it seals in part of the steak where juices would generally escape. You also never throw away the bone before gnawing the meat off of it first. The best stuff is always close to the bone, and let's face it, your wife already compares you to a caveman anyway.
Good beef, quality beef, shipped to your door!
That’s what we do at the TriTails store!
You can feel free to disregard this part of the newsletter, but we always need prayers. Please do not think we are asking you to only pray for us but rather just add these things to the things you already pray for. We really appreciate and believe in this.
- A continuation of blessings, especially rain.
- For tritails to continue in growth.
- For Aarons and Faith’s dog Oakley, who has a broken leg.
Thank You so much, and don’t hesitate to let us know if we can pray for you.