once asked my father what he thought was the greatest innovation or improvement
made to the ranching industry during his time. I was thinking in terms of four-wheeled
vehicles, stock trailers, livestock auctions and long-distance livestock hauling.
His answer came as a surprise.
He believed the livestock scales located
on ranches was the greatest improvement and explained:
"You can weigh a
sample of the livestock to be offered for sale giving you an advantage over the
buyer. Once sold, the true weight with the least amount of shrinkage can be obtained
immediately taking away all guesswork.
believe scales can be paid for in just a few uses bringing in more money for the
After I went into business for myself I learned the importance other people placed
on scales when I built a set of corrals with scales southwest of Perryton.
After testing and within a few months, word passed and almost all cattle sold
in the area were weighed at my scales with the owners insisting I take a per-head
fee for the service. When we had a good wheat pasture year, almost every day in
the early spring saw trucks arrive to unload, weigh and reload.
brand inspector from Canadian
made me a deputy brand inspector and gave me a book in which to record owners,
numbers of livestock and brands passing over my scales.
every time I checked the log book it contained checks paying for the convenience
of weighing. It seems my scales had become a valuable community asset.
ranch in New Mexico was originally a partnership which was eventually divided
because of the bad health of one partner.
We took the south side of the
ranch which had no improvements. We brought in ready-built houses from Lubbock,
the cowboys built stock sheds and a set of corrals were constructed of railroad
ties and war surplus steel landing mats from WWII.
Scales were installed and the site also quickly became the shipping point for
many neighbors as well as a delivery point to receive cattle being summered on-the-gain.
The brand inspector for Quay County came to inspect shipments on a regular basis.
We once leased a ranch on the Canadian
River that had a set of wire corrals, scales and a large pen containing wooden
troughs for feeding cattle. The site was located in a large cottonwood tree grove
with brush around the edges.
My father and I approached the pens one morning
to feed the cattle and found a huge buck deer inside the large pen picking up
crumbles of feed.
stopped in the gate to watch him jump the fence and escape into the brush. This
must have been the only buck deer on the Canadian River who didn't like to jump.
By the time he finally escaped through the wire corrals we had to spend a couple
of hours repairing the holes and bent places where he flattened it like a bulldozer.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" October 21, 2008 Column
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