I have decided to dedicate a series on West Texas ranchers called “Why I Ranch.” Each month I will highlight a rancher in West Texas and ask them to share their story about the ranch life.
This September, Mr. John Treadwell will share with us his story on “Why I Ranch”.
John ranches in Tom Green, Menard, and Schleicher counties. John is the recipient of the 2006 Statewide Lone Star Land Steward and Leopold Conservation awards. John has a mix of sheep and cattle on his operation and holds resource stewardship at the top of his priorities.
How did you get your start in ranching? I grew up as an unpaid cowboy during the peak of the screwworm infestation. Getting rid of those flies is one thing the Government did correctly. Later, after college and the Navy, I got a lot of pleasure from gardening, producing food for my family and neighbors when I lived in Dallas and gardening was also a stress reducer from my corporate job. Years later, after I sold my business, my son Brian asked me to assist him in his guiding/outfitting hunting business based on the family’s 4000 acre ranch in West Texas. We soon outgrew the home ranch and needed to lease other properties for hunting, but were appalled at the condition of the available ranches. We decided to look for a block of land that would enable us to manage the deer, quail and turkey populations to ensure sustainable and controllable numbers for our hunting operation. He eventually found two adjoining ranching properties for sale and we had 8000 acres in Eastern Menard County. Hunting alone would not float the note so we added cattle and began dividing the existing pastures to apply our version of high intensity/short duration rotation system so that we could bank grazing and would not need to feed our stock during the winter.
How important is agriculture to your family? I think my family is more aware of what goes into the food we consume, and are appreciative of the work we go to in order to produce it. But, a lot of gardening is not fun and the same goes for chickens, sheep and cattle. So often there is recognition but not commitment.
What makes ranching in West Texas so unique? West Texas ranching causes one to be cautious in his planning because nature is so unpredictable and we are so near the desert as far as rainfall’s reliability. We need to be continuously grateful for what we receive because it could easily be worse.
Do you feel like there is enough emphasis on agriculture in K-12 education? I think that some exposure to plant and animal growth and behavior could be part of Biology but since no university has a degree in sustainable ag or organic ag, where would the instructors come from?
Who did you learn the most from along the way? I’d have to credit Rodale, Allan Savory, Walt Davis and Jimmy Powell and of course Holistic Ranch Management. I observed my Grandfather and Father as being the opposite but still influential. Make a plan, observe, and re-plan.
Thank you John!