About Blackjack Oaks Ranch…
As we began thinking about retirement, it occurred to my wife, Karen, and I that we both had some of our fondest childhood memories take place on our Uncle’s cattle ranches. My Uncle Leo had a dairy ranch up in Minnesota, and her Uncle Ray had a beef cattle ranch over in Quanah, Texas. Those ranches wove in and out of a good part of our lives, and for me, my Uncle Leo was the best example of a good man in my growing-up years.
The more Karen and I talked about our ‘retirement plan’, the more we realized that we both really wanted to experience ranch life for ourselves before we stepped into eternity. With my background in Mechanical and Subsea Engineering, and her background in Finance, we decided we could probably figure this ranching ‘thing’ out, but on a much smaller scale than our uncles. With determination, we began our search for a small bit of property — and a lot of information. Our thought was that we’d find something close enough to the office to commute back and forth while we prepared for retirement, and were happy when we came across a small 20 acre place (now 40 acres through acquisition) with just the right house for us, and only 87 miles from the office. The land is on the Post Oak Savannah ecological region, and has many native oak trees. One of our favourite among the oaks on the property, is the Blackjack Oak. It didn’t take us much time at all to settle on the name ‘Blackjack Oaks Ranch’ for our place. We were on our way.
Just after we moved in, we began researching what sort of cows we’d like to have. I knew that my wife, being a native Texan, would probably prefer a native Texas breed. We settled on the Santa Gertrudis breed because they seemed to be exactly what we needed — hardy, easy births, beautiful — everything we could wish for. We bought our first five heifers in 2012 from a rancher and his son in the Santa Gertrudis cattle field who have been well-known and respected for years, Jerome and Blake Urbanosky. Both Jerome and Blake have proven over and over again to be good friends and helpers in getting our little herd growing. Jerome’s 40+ years of experience compliments our 5 years of experience very well, and he thankfully answers his cell at odd hours and stay patient through some of our strange questions. I can’t even imagine how he holds back his laughter sometimes. And as we grew in this business and met other people, we’ve also been privileged to meet other ranchers in the Mid-Coast Santa Gertrudis Association, and in the breed as a whole. We’ve added Rocking A Ranch, Wendt Ranch, BHR Ranch, and NuGen breeding to our herd, and keep working toward our goals, getting by with a little help from our friends.
At any rate, when the Gert-fever gets into your blood, it’s a humbling thing. Our herd of five grew to 20 at just 1 ½ years into the business. Our 20 acres grew into 40 acres and some leases during the same time frame. I’d swear the drive to the office also grew by about the same factor, but it probably just seems that way. Thankfully, we are both retired at this point, and at home on the ranch. Most of our driving is ‘going to town’ for groceries, etc.!
Our goal at Blackjack Oaks Ranch is to raise some of the finest Santa Gertrudis that we possibly can raise. We’d like to get to the point where our stock is useful for improving herds. We plan to achieve this by buying the best, concentrating on ‘the numbers’, and breeding to the best. We’ll be keeping our herd small, and breeding for quality. In a short time, we hope the Blackjack Oaks ‘type’ is appreciated in the breed. Now, we’re not trying to displace those people who have been in this business of improving the breed for years and years. We don’t even HAVE 40 years left in these earth-suits! We just want our opportunity to help in the breed, to meet lots of really good people, and to have a bucket-load of fun. We hope we get a chance to meet you.
Blackjack Oaks Ranch