Ask Lem: How Long Does a Ranch Sale Take
It took just more than 18 months from listing to ownership transfer to sell the storied, 535,000-acre W.T. Waggoner Ranch.
Nearly 900 would-be buyers expressed an interest, despite the $725 million price tag.
In the end, a half-dozen potential buyers paid $15 million in order to submit a bid, and in February 2016, billionaire Stan Kroenke – owner of the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets – claimed the prize.
Many people believed that the historic estate founded Dan Waggoner in 1849 would never be sold – not just because of its size and price, but because some of the descendants of Dan – his great-grandson Buck in particular – swore to prevent a sale of the historic property.
Selling the ranch, The Dallas Morning News observed, “was the deal that wouldn’t get done, couldn’t get done.”
The Best Little Stillhouse in Texas – Perhaps Anywhere
When most people think of great bourbon whiskey, they automatically think Kentucky: Pappy Van Winkle’s, Jim Beam, Blanton’s, Maker’s Mark, etc.
Well, we in Texas know better.
Along U.S. Route 290, a little more than 10 miles west of Johnson City, is unincorporated Hye, Texas, and its largest nearby business and tourist attraction, Garrison Brothers Distillery.
Founded in 2006, Garrison Brothers is the award-winning maker of fine Texas bourbon whiskey that can stand shot glass-to-shot glass with the best barrel-aged distilled spirits originating in the Blue Grass state or Tennessee.
As proprietor Dan Garrison is proud to note, everything about his bourbon is pure Texas, from the organic corn, winter wheat and barley that comprise the sweet bourbon mash, to the pure nutrient-rich rainwater, captured on site, and filtered with an ultraviolet light purification system.
“If we’re going to make bourbon from Texas, it damn well better be authentic,” Dan proclaims.
[Hear my full RANCHCAST with LEM LEWIS interview featuring Dan Garrison. By clicking at the bottom of this article.]
These Ranchers and Farmers May Bend,
But They Won’t Break
The very heart and soul of America and what makes our country great has been on display in rural Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado since early March of this year.
That’s when a massive series of wildfires swept through more than 1,000 square miles of ranchlands and farmlands, leaving devastation that to those on the ground must have appeared a lot like the blast of a nuclear bomb.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It was throwing fireballs. It was mean, ugly. It was loud,” Gena Kirk, owner of the Kirk Ranch in Clark County, Kansas, told Harvest Public Media.
In Clark County alone, 85% of the land was scorched. The fire spread so rapidly, by some estimates consuming everything in its path at speeds of as much as 70 miles an hour, that ranchers had little opportunity to save any of their livestock and only by divine providence did all but seven people manage to save their own lives.
If Money Were No Object….
Whether your ranch is 100 acres on the outskirts of Austin or 100,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle, chances are good you value the land and all the lifestyle blessings that it provides.
When it comes to the love of ranching, size truly doesn’t matter. Many of the ranch owners I know tell me the most important characteristic of their estate is not its number of acres; it is the heritage and the legacy they can pass forward to future generations.
The H.W. Lewis Ranch, which has been in the Lewis family since the late 1920s, is about 5,000 acres – pretty much average in size by Texas standards. But the central role that the ranch has played in our extended family for nearly 90 years is HUGE. Our ranch isn’t the largest, it isn’t the most scenic, it doesn’t have the best hunting or wildlife, and its market value isn’t at the top of the charts in Texas. But me, my wife, my kids, my parents, and all my aunts, uncles, and cousins couldn’t love it more.
What recently started me thinking about all of this is an article I read last month by Elizabeth Abrahamsen on the website, Wide Open Country, titled, “10 Biggest Ranches in Texas.”
Jay and Janet Gubert Run a ‘Silicon Valley’ Tech
Company From Their Ranch in Southeast Texas
It’s nearly 1,900 miles from Silicon Valley to rural East Bernard, Texas – population 2,272 …. not counting cattle.
Just a few miles from East Bernard is where you’ll find ranchers Jay and Janet Gubert, who like their neighbors, tend to the animals, pack hay, fix fences, and raise their children. Jay is a 3rd-generation Texan with a family history of hay farming and raising Brahma cattle. Janet, who was born in Pasadena, Texas, is a 4th generation rodeo participant, who grew up doing barrel racing, calf roping, and other rodeo events.
There is something, however, about Jay and Janet that is more common to Northern California high-tech incubators than it is to residents of East Bernard, which sits at the intersection of Texas State Highway 60 and U.S. Highway 90 Alternate, about 125 miles to the southeast of Austin.
Together, Janet and Jay own and are the top executives at VirtualTone – a cloud-based nationwide commercial business enterprise call center that offers communications solutions for business of all sizes – both urban and rural.
VirtualTone handles more than two million calls a month, serving clients in a variety of industries, including insurance, legal, construction, government, and health care.
Food Truths: From Farm to Table
Parents, especially moms, worry an awful lot about the food they are serving their family, often feeling guilty about the chemicals, antibiotics, DNA, hormones, and engineered crops on their plates.
Michele Payn, a CEO, popular public speaker, and leading influencer in the genuine farm-to-table movement, says ignorance – along with deliberate misinformation and marketing hype – is creating a great deal of the unnecessary angst and concern.
Herself a farm girl who has been a Holstein breeder since the age of nine, Michele is on a mission to turn food confusion into clarity, and to make certain that the food we eat is raised the right way, by the right people, for the right reasons.
What’s Old is New Again When It Comes
to Cutting-Edge Ranching and Farming
Del Ficke, Owner, Ficke Cattle Company
Today’s independent ranchers and farmers confront a wide array of challenges to their survival.
These include competition from large corporate producers; regulatory interference; soil erosion; dwindling water supplies; and the migration of our sons and daughters to more urban areas.
Del Ficke has figured out a solution to these and other threats, and he has amply demonstrated them on his own land and with his family’s own livestock operation, which dates back to 1888.
Del’s Succinct Answer: Farm and Ranch more like our grandfathers and great-grandfathers did.
[To hear my RANCHCAST with LEM LEWIS interview with Del Ficke, click here.]
Indeed, Del is an outspoken proponent of holistic ranching and farming. He travels the country advocating for simpler, more earth-friendly methods of managing rural land, crops, and cattle.
That includes utilizing no-till farming; planting cover crops; implementing ultra-high density grazing; forging stronger local communities; resisting government incentives to expand and grow crops for export; and avoiding getting sucked into the vortex of always investing in the next product or service because some salesperson says you should or because others around you are doing it.
Authenticity is the Secret to Richard Lynch’s
Success as a Country Music Singer/Songwriter
For folks in or around Donna, Weslaco, Raymondville, and Harlingen, Texas, it’s not too late.
You can still catch The Richard Lynch Band performing live in your area before February is out.
For the rest of us Richard Lynch fans, we’ll have to be patient until he and his talented musical compadres return to Texas – as well as Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and other locations – later this year.
For now, I hope you’ll be satisfied hearing my RANCHCAST with LEM LEWIS interview with Richard, which I conducted this past week by phone between his performances in the Austin area.
Richard, of course, is the talented Independent Country Music Hall of Fame music artist whose chart-topping hits are known and loved for their authenticity. Richard’s music captures the heart and soul of American ranchers, farmers, and other countryfolk.
This Legend About My Great-Great-Great
Grandfather Bears Repeating
As “The Ranch Broker,” I’ve developed an expertise of sorts wrestling bureaucrats and cutting through red tape to complete complex land sales transactions. Sometimes, by the time we close a difficult ranch sale, I am exhausted.
Yet I doubt that all of my bold strategic maneuvers and white-collar ‘bruises’ would hold a stick to the savvy and bloody wrestling my great-great-great grandfather, Prentiss Lewis Goen, did with an 8-foot tall, 1,000-pound grizzly back in March of 1850.
I heard tell of my ancestor’s epic battle with the bear since the time I was just a boy. In fact, my father, Hardy Lewis, possesses the bent, single-shot rifle that Prentiss used first to wound the bear in the face, and subsequently to club it repeatedly in mortal combat.
Only recently, as part of my project to better document the ranching and family folklore that has been passed down to me as oral tradition, have I begun to discover additional, fascinating details about Prentiss and the bear.
Ranching Legacies Are Priceless Legacies
Ranch and family lore are priceless tales, passed from one generation to the next, that help us as individuals shape our sense of who we are and where we fit into the flow of people and time.
When you meet ranchers or tour their properties, history is one asset that is not immediately visible and can’t quickly be assessed.
But never doubt its value – both tangible and intangible.
I grew up knowing that my father, and his father, and his father were each ranchers. You might say that I inherited not only my share of their physical estate, but also of their love for the land, wildlife, open skies, loyalty, and patriotism.
What is that worth? Let me offer an illustration.