How long have you been practicing the American tradition of ranching?
My husband and I moved our family to the ranch 15 years ago. The ranch has been in my family for over 100 years, even before that my grandparents and great -great grandparents were involved in ranching nearby.
Without a doubt, my grandmother! She was the sweetest yet toughest woman I know. She took me deer hunting as a child, taught me how to make jelly, taught me how to drive and gave me a love of gardening. Her lifetime spanned the horse and buggy days through the age of the internet. She slept under the stars as a child and later watched men walk on the moon. She did it all…helped run the ranch, raised a family, made her own soap, made the most beautiful clothes for her daughters, was involved in their school activities, was in the garden club and had the cutest, most contagious belly laugh, that my husband says, I inherited.
What breeds of livestock do you raise? What does the process of raising these animals look like start to finish? Please tell us about your typical day on the ranch…
We raise a dual purpose sheep breed, Rambouillet, bred for wool and for meat. We also raise a breed of Dorper sheep which have no wool. We also raise meat goats which are a Spanish/Boer cross. Over the generations we have raised all these plus occasionally Angora goats and cattle but the Rambouillett has been the mainstay and has been continuously raised here for over 100 years. Breeding season is first. We put our bucks into pasture with our ewes for three months. To allow them to breed. Our sheep lamb on pasture, meaning we don’t bring them in to give birth in barns. At about 4-5 months after lambing season we round up on horseback and bring in all our stock. Lambs are sold and ewes and bucks are vaccinated and doctored. In the early spring we shear all sheep and sell our wool. Like all ranchers, a typical day involves a lot of checking…checking stock, checking water, checking fences, checking minerals etc. It’s never-ending. Depending on the weather cycle we are experiencing, we may be doing supplemental feeding. Each “season” is a bit different and the work changes accordingly. Breeding season, lambing season, shearing season ..all in addition to the year round work of keeping fences up, equipment running and livestock healthy. Plus we have chickens, horses, donkeys and dogs to add to the mix.
I enjoy the country life the most… the outdoors, nature, we call this God’s Country for a reason. It is rugged and harsh country.. most everything out here either bites, sticks or stings, you have to be tough. But the rewards are the most awe inspiring sunrises and sunsets, cactus blossoms, puffy white clouds and wide open vistas.
We do things pretty old school around here. Not much different from the way my granddaddy did them. We still round up our stock on horseback and put out feed by hand. That’s exactly what I would tell a novice to do…Start by doing most things the old ways..it teaches you the “hows” and the “whys.” Then once you understand those, it’s ok to move to more “advanced” ways if you think them more efficient. Although in my experiences, that has been very rare. Now don’t get me wrong, we have been known to use a drone on occasion to find some wayward stock, but if you don’t understand how to move that stock from hours spent in the saddle then , more than likely, it won’t work to well for you.
Why do you ranch?
With out a doubt for the HERITAGE and the LEGACY! I wanted to raise my children, connected to their ancestors. I wanted my children to value hard work, honor, and commitment. There aren’t many family ranches around anymore. I want my children to understand their heritage in hopes that they would hold onto it even tighter. I think, in that regard, we have been successful. My four kids are a tough, strong, determined group and they have made our outfit what it is today. They are all out spreading their wings and experiencing new things now, but what they learned on this ranch will do them well for a lifetime.
We noticed that you also craft custom wreaths and are a floral designer. Can you tell us about the “Wreath Barn” that resides on your ranch? Do you teach folks how to make their own wreaths? Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into making wreaths and where one might find your wreaths to purchase?
I love wreaths and dabbled in making them when my kids were babies, mostly for myself and family. As my nest started to empty, I decided to take it back up and pretty soon it was becoming a business. For years and years we have had the Texas flag painted on an old barn that was built in my granddaddy’s days. When I was trying to come up with a name for my little business, I wanted something that represented the entirety of who I was as a homemaker, rancher, blogger and custom wreath designer. One day my husband was looking out the kitchen window and said “ what about “The Lone Star Barn?”
Soon, I out grew our spare bedroom so we pulled a little portable building onto the ranch across from the house and dubbed it “The Wreath Barn.” That’s where I create now and my favorite part about it is my commute to work, past the chicken coop and across the dirt road. I sell my wreaths online, in pop up shops, and occasionally teach classes locally.
What additional resources or materials do you recommend for others interested in learning the traditional skill of wreath-making?
Library books, Pinterest, youtube… the resources are endless and accessible. Really, as long as you have a pair of scissors and a roll of wire…the sky’s the limit! Whether it is herbs from your garden or high end silk flowers, the process is basically the same, adding them around a circle. The goal is to warmly welcome people home. I think that’s why wreath making has such a special place in my heart. A little wreath on the front door, or over the fireplace, or in the kitchen…always means HOME. ❤
What is the name of your Farm, Ranch or Homestead?
We just go by my grandparents last name, Robertson… so we are The Robertson Ranch or also The X7Bar Ranch which is our ranch brand.
Where are you located?
In South West Texas on the Mexico Border. 150 miles from a big city in every direction and a stones throw from Mexico.
How and/or when did life as a farmer, rancher or homesteader begin for you?
The ranch has been in my family for generations. I was not raised on the ranch but got here as soon as I could. 15 years ago.
Who or what influenced you to become a rancher?
My grandmother, Mammaw
What do you grow and/ or raise?
Dual purpose sheep and meat goats.
We do most things just like my granddaddy did. We still round up on horseback etc. Not much has changed and I like it that way.
What resources do you find invaluable to the novice rancher?
The agriculture associations such as Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association and Texas Cattle Raisers Association are a must for a novice rancher, I would suggest joining one as soon as possible. Possibly the best source of helpful knowledge for us has always been neighbors. They have seen it all and are always willing to help us through it, whatever it may be.
Do you have a favorite ranch recipe you wish to share?
I guess you’re not really a rancher in Texas if Ranchero Beans aren’t among your favorites.
Here is how I make mine:
2 Cups Pinto Beans
4 slices diced bacon uncooked 1 chopped onion
1 can Rotel
TBS garlic powder
TBS chili powder
Salt and pepper
Sort beans to remove debris and small rocks. Soak overnight in enough water to cover. In the morning drain and rinse the beans. In large stock pot add beans, bacon, onions with water to cover by 1 in. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender. Add all seasoning and simmer 30 minutes more.
What is at least one ranch tradition you uphold?
Feeding the men and hired hands myself during workings. I usually work with them from sunrise to noon…then I come in to get lunch on. I think they really appreciate it.
My children and wanting to keep this going so I can teach my future grandkids the same things my Mammaw taught me.
What words of inspiration or uplifting wisdom do you hope to impart on the future generation of farmers, ranchers, and homesteaders?
Stay strong!! This isn’t a lifestyle for the weak, we MUST stay strong so this heritage can continue. The future is important but without understanding and embracing our past, we can’t move forward.
Where can people find you/your ranch products online?
I blog about “Faith, Family and Life on a Texas Ranch” at www.thelonestarbarn.com