Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Grassmaster Cattle, Illustration and Notes

Grassmaster is a registered trademark for the cattle here at Selah. The program to develop a Bison/Cattle cross started in 1975 when Buddy and Evelyn Francis and their two sons were living here and Buddy was affectionately known as the "Cow Aggie".  J. David was interested in Beefalo, which was a Bison (American Buffalo)/Cattle cross, but the reproductive success rate was low. Buddy and David hoped that a lower percentage of Bison would avoid the reproductive problems but still produce a tough animal that could eat a wide range of native grasses, climb hills, and produce good meat. The Grassmaster is 1/8th Bison, 3/8ths Brahman, 1/4th Herford, and 1/4th Semmental. The colors of Grassmasters vary because of the mixture of types of cattle. 

In 2005 Scott Grote, our current ranch operations manager who deals with cattle, goats, and wildlife, felt that inbreeding might become a problem, and recommended that we get some new blood into the herd by having new bulls. The new bulls are Angus, so we have more little black calves running around than we used to. To me it seems that the grassmasters are still pretty, sweet, non-threatening cattle. Our dog Cory might offer a different opinion. He sometimes gets too close to a calf for its mom's comfort level, and she moves toward Cory with an expression that he understands. He looks away and heads for the safety of a human. When we first got him he tried chasing cows, but he apparently thought better of that, and quit.
This is a water color version of the black and white illustration that was done for the book Water From Stone. Each chapter has an illustration and the chapter for this one is titled "Grassmasters and Beef Candy Bars".
I assume that this calf belongs to the cow in the picture. I asked her but she continued chewing her cud and didn't answer.

Two young calves at a water trough with their moms.

A group of cattle on a hillside.
Photo by Chris W. Johnson

A brindle cow with cropped horns. 
Photo by Chris W. Johnson

A calf on a hillside. Mom is nearby but not in the picture.
Photo by M. Bamberger

Cattle ranching is certainly a tradition in Texas. It has changed since the days of the long drives across the country, but it still is an important part of Texas ranching. 

Some people consider cattle stupid. However, since our animals know their way around 5000 acres, know where water and their favorite grasses are, I can hardly think of them as stupid. I find them entertaining and especially love to see calves playing in the fields.

1 comment:

Kallie said...

Thank you for this public window on Selah! Makes me miss it...

Beautiful shots. I would like to know when (month and year) each shot was taken. Surely that spring green grass wasn't from this year?

Calves PLAYING in the fields? I'd like to see that!