Did you know that Texas female operators have increased approximately by 50% and the number of acres they manage by about 15% since 1997? For August we are featuring Sandra Pfeuffer. Sandra and her family ranch just outside of Christoval in Schleicher County. Her family is extremely active in 4-H and there isn’t much that this woman doesn’t do. As I am sure you could say about all women ranching and raising families in Texas – they do it all. Here is Sandra’s story…
How did you get your start in ranching? I have always been exposed to ranching because my Mom’s side of the family has always ranched. My mom married a carpenter and she stayed at home and raised 7 children, took care of the homestead and made sure we stayed active in 4-H and/or FFA when we were growing up. However, my actual start in ranching, was when I married my husband Ray in 1996. I was working at Tyson Foods in Seguin, Texas and he worked for his dad, who had an earth moving business, and ranched on the side. The Pfeuffer Family, like my mom’s family had been ranching since they immigrated to Texas. In 1999, my husband encouraged me to quit my job at Tyson to be a stay at home mom, aka full time ” Ranch wife”, I remember my boss telling me I was making the “biggest mistake of my life, you will never be happy as a rancher’s wife, you won’t be able to provide insurance for your family, you will never have enough, because every successful rancher had a wife who worked a “real job”, you will get bored.” I am glad, I took his advice with a grain of salt, and still decided to retire from my”real job” and begin my life as a rancher’s wife. Doing whatever my rancher husband, needed me to do. For the record, I am happy, we do have insurance, we usually have enough, I still work, just don’t get a paycheck, and I am hardly ever bored.
How important is agriculture to your family? Agriculture is our life, our income is totally dependent on agriculture. Agriculture has provided our children with valuable lessons and values, that we hope they will pass on to the next generation.
What makes ranching in West Texas so unique? I have always said “That being a rancher is like being a quail. Something is always after you.” You have to be vigilant and keep watch on the water, the weather, the predators, the market, the cows, the sheep, the goats, the horses, the fences, the bills, the tax collector, the list goes on and on. When you ranch, something is always going to happen that causes you to take two steps back, and you need to be ready, so when it happens you can quickly step forward again. We try to be very proactive controlling brush, Ray spends most of his time improving the land, we want to have as much grass as possible to make it through the drought. Being in West Texas is unique for many reasons. The weather, you never know what the weather is going to be like. Most days your praying for a rain, and then there will be that day when a massive cold front blew in overnight, it’s freezing, and your out fixing water gaps that got knocked down in the rain over night, using every ounce of strength, to try to stand up a fence gap with shit and everything else frozen on it, while trying to be thankful for the rain you just received. Definitely, have to be careful what you ask for in West Texas. Lightening, I have lived in four different areas of Texas, the lightening in West Texas is by far the most impressive, it can definitely have you gathering spray trailers and neighbors in a heart beat. But the most unique thing about ranching in West Texas is water. Most, West Texas ranches utilize well water, so water definitely determines what your day will be like.
Do you feel like there is enough emphasis on agriculture in K-12 education? NO! I don’t think children today realize how important agriculture is to our society. I am thankful for programs like the Extension Service and the Farm Bureau that are trying at the elementary levels. But, I would like to see more effort at the middle school and high school level when the kids are starting to actually think for themselves. We really need to impress on them the importance of agriculture and reinforce what we attempted to teach them in elementary school.
Who did you learn the most from along the way? My husband, he has been doing this his whole life. It is what he does and what he is good at. He has trained the kids and I well.