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Cowboys of the Muleshoe Cattle Company Reunited

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By Jessica Crabtree

It was a sunny Sunday, May 7, 2017. A day unnoticed by most; however, it was a day for the history books, a day of priceless worth. On this day men and their families gathered to reunite and talk of days long ago. These men were once all cowboys on the Muleshoe Cattle Company.
Occasions such as this have happened in the past. Generations of cowboys and their families gathered to pay tribute to the ranch, those passed and present. Generations of families were raised on the Muleshoe Ranch, a place far larger than most recognize. On that celebratory day, Stefanie Clayton, daughter of Jerry and Judy Bolton, granddaughter of Bob Bolton, rallied the guests and offered words of great greetings saying, “Six cowboys started all this. From it, they all grew into a family. And today we gather as that family joined with our heritage.” After Clayton led all in a blessing over the food, a meal was served and the camaraderie commenced.

Muleshoe Cattle Company originated when Howell E. Smith traveled from his home town of Cookeville, Tenn., to Texas. Upon entering the Lone Star state, some say he first went to Athens, then made his way to Wichita Falls after he married the sister of well-known businessman, Sid Richardson. While in Wichita Falls, Smith made a living working at the First National Bank. It was from banking that he transitioned into the cattle business, partnering with Red Dillard in the late ‘30s. This began Smith’s empire and his first leases, the Jolly Ranch and the River Ranch. Buying yearling steers, Smith gradually added to his lease country raising it to large proportions.

Much of what is Clay, Archer, Montague and Wichita Counties was once vast pasture land, grazed by steers carrying the Muleshoe brand on their left hip, a makeshift upside down U. During Smith’s 40-year span in operation, he leased approximately 115,000 acres across North Texas along the Red River, eventually leasing land in Montana and the Dakotas. Cattle numbers totaled 30,000 head along with ample numbers of ranch-raised horse flesh.

“We called him ‘Smith’ or ‘Mr. Smith,'” said former cowboy for Muleshoe Cattle Company, Ronnye Benton. Benton spent six years on the Muleshoe. “I was 24 when I went to work for Smith. We went a lot of places and had a lot of fun. We worked hard, though. It was good times, all I ever wanted to do,” Benton said. He went on to say other than a short stint rodeoing, he cowboyed all his life. He recalled Muleshoe Cattle Company as being “wild and reckless, good times.” As the afternoon began, stories flooded the room at The Rock Barn in Henrietta. Stories could not be told without the mention of two vital men, both of whom were highly respected and revered as good men and great cowboys, ranch manager Bob Bolton and foreman Don Mobley. Bob Bolton had a 28-year career at Muleshoe while Don Mobley’s career there lasted 40 years. It was said to be Don’s only job other than drawing a check while in the military. Both men raised their families on the Muleshoe and were able to see their sons grow and come to work on the ranch as well.

Ronnye Benton remembered Bob Bolton as “As good a boss as I ever had. Don, too.” Benton recalled that Bob Bolton was as good a ranch manager to work under as he was a cowboy, something he passed down to his son Jerry. It was the same as Don Mobley did to his son Gerald who was literally born on the Muleshoe at the Bodecker camp, saying he was raised with essentially 20 father figures.

Countless men worked for Smith over a span of 40 plus years, all of whom respected Smith. Men from various backgrounds and areas worked for different lengths of time. Some have passed on, while others live to tell the stories those can’t. These men are Don Mobley, Bob Bolton, Gerald Mobley, Jerry Bolton, Perry Wheeler, Ronnye Benton, Eddie Crowley, Kerry Bowen, Lloyd Chadwick, Earl Wayne Reese, Harry Whitley, Ed Whitley, A.G. Roderick, Royce Roderick, Charlie Ozee, Marvin Ozee, David Ozee, Garrett Ozee, Swede Swenson, Tom Pettit, Bill Stone, Troy Stone, Lewis Capps, Melvin Capps, Jim Wright, Jr. Mowery, Billy Joe Mowery, Leon Wines, Ray Wines, Roy Keen, Pete Green, Jimmy Green, Luke Smith, Virgil Bowman, Tom Shawver, Earl Shawver, John Herman Weer, Pete Felty, Jack Lofton, Press Pippin, Tom Riley, Ed Hamm, John Lindsey, Vic Swartz, Chuck Richie, Salty Lankford, John Cocker, Ellis “Big Boy” Cates, C.L. Dickey, Charlie Hawley, Snooks Burton, Ed Heller, Sid Mayes, Buford Chambers, Charles Cobb and A.D. Mayes.

To read more pick up a copy of the July 2017 NTFR issue. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.

Muleshoe cowboys Ronnye Benton, Jerry Bolton and Don Mobley. (Courtesy photo)

Howell Smith, owner of Muleshoe Cattle Company. (Courtesy photo)

Muleshoe cowboy, Ronnye Benton. (Courtesy photo)

Muleshoe cowboy, Don Mobley. (Courtesy photo)

Muleshoe cowboys, Bob Bolton, Luke Smith and Jerry Bolton. (Courtesy photo)

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Country Lifestyles

When a City Girl Goes Country

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By Annette Bridges

It was one of those necessary, yet very sad days in the life of a cattle rancher. We had to say goodbye to our bull, Frankie. We returned from the agonizing drive, and I felt compelled to sit down and ponder how to write an ode to a very good bull.

I have read all the rationale on when it is time to retire a bull. The average age for many ranchers is around eight years. Our Frankie was beyond his prime. We probably knew last year it was about time for him to retire. His lack of enthusiasm when he returned to the herd after his spring hiatus was a clue.

The very slow start to our spring calving this year, and cows that never conceived confirmed what we did not want to admit last year. It was time. Frankie was a handsome and gentle giant. A Charolais mix, but he could be fierce if he felt threatened.

To read more, pick up a copy of the May issue of NTFR. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Country Lifestyles

Lacey’s Pantry

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Lacey Vilhauer

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 package of taco seasoning or 2-3 Tbsp
homemade taco seasoning
2/3 cup water
16 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
4 oz. can diced green chilies, undrained
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 Tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Roma tomato, sliced thinly

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, then brown the ground beef. Drain.
Add the taco seasoning to the ground beef and 2/3 cup water. Stir well and let sauce thicken.
Transfer the ground beef to the prepared baking dish, spreading it into an even layer. Sprinkle the diced green chilies over the ground beef layer. Combine the shredded cheeses and sprinkle them over the ground beef and chilies. Set aside.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks, placing the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl, and the yolks into a separate medium-sized bowl. Add the heavy cream, flour, salt and cayenne pepper to the yolks. Whisk to combine.

To read more, pick up the June issue of NTFR magazine. To subscribe by mail, call 940-872-5922.

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Country Lifestyles

Jesses Jewelz

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By Jesse Kader

This month western meets safari with this fun army green jumpsuit. I love a good jumpsuit that is simple but stylish and can be accessorized in so many ways. This one especially caught my eye because of the western yoke detail. See this and more at www.jessesjewelz.com

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