It’s funny how life throws twists and turns at us. Little did I know that in the Fall of 2014 would I begin a journey on a path to find one of my true passions – cattle ranching. After retiring from my professional career of 32 years and being blessed to have the opportunity to “help out” my brother-in-law with his row crop farming, real estate, and construction operations doing the books and running the grain cart during harvest, never in a million years would I have thought we would one day be in the cattle business.
It all started with Wilbur, a 2 month old Black Baldie that was abandoned by his mother in a herd down the road. The owner called my brother-in-law, Jose, and offered him as a bottle calf for his granddaughter, Madison, for the county fair. I'll never forget the evening we went and checked him out. He was laying in the pasture, basically skin and bones on the brink of passing. My sister, Donna, insisted we take him and care for him, and all I kept thinking is where are we going to keep him, we are not set up for cattle and know little about caring for a very sick calf. It just seemed hopeless. Wilbur was scooped up, put in the back of the ranger, and brought up to the house where he lived in the office off of the garage for several months. We learned how to tube a calf, bottle feed, the cost of numerous vet visits and that having a calf requires lots of clean up when they live indoors. Wilbur eventually graduated to a make-shift pen in the garage, and once some fencing was complete, to a small pasture down by the equipment barn.
I guess word got around about how we saved this calf. At a county fair fundraiser in March of 2015, I was approached by a local rancher and asked if I needed another bottle calf. He had a set of twin heifers that the cow couldn’t handle. By this time I was all in, so of course we took on Charlotte, our second calf. Charlotte was much different from Wilbur, she was healthy and an aggressive eater and we learned very quickly to be on guard when feeding to avoid her strong head butts! Charlotte is still with us today and thriving. Sadly, Wilbur passed away in July 2020. He will be missed.
In the Fall of 2015, my brother Glenn and his wife Tina wanted to get in on the cattle action, so we purchased five bred commercial angus heifers and were just beside ourselves when the calves started coming in the Spring of 2016. By this time, I was hooked! We called them The Fabulous Five, came up with the name, Legacy Ranch, and started naming the cattle after our ancestors. Alvina, Hattie, Agnes, Millie, and Olivia… yes we name all of our cattle!
Prior to the first calves being born in the Spring of 2016, we were at a neighbors, and I was wandering around checking out their cattle when I spotted the most beautiful cow in the pasture. I asked what the breed was and was told it was a Shorthorn. By the next Saturday, we were proud owners of our first, Rockdale Twinkle Margie (Vivian, after Aunt Vi and the character in Pretty Woman). She came to the ranch groomed and looking like a million bucks, thinking she was going to be a show heifer. Little did she know she was going to be a working girl, and she adjusted to her new role quite nicely.
We couldn’t have just one Shorthorn, so early that summer we traveled to Cyclone Trace in Iowa to attend their disbursement sale. Here is where we purchased CYT Augusta Pride 5177ET (Cecelia) and learned that some of these cattle bring a nice profit. We were excited about someday having that prospect with our own herd! So, we AI’d Cecelia to Hot Commodity and in the Fall of 2017 our first Shorthorn was born on the ranch, our now pride and joy herd sire LR Commodore’s Pride (Commodore). I will never forget the day he was born. Donna was here by herself, and she had gone down to the barn and saw that Cecelia had started calving. I pulled up in the driveway and she nervously told me what was happening. We hurried down to the barn together after we called Jose and told him to get home ASAP. Mind you, the Fab Five all calved fine without any assistance. I didn’t know anything about pulling a calf! We get down to the barn and Donna is in a panic saying “What do we do? What do we do?” I am trying to remain calm but I didn’t know what to do. His little hooves were out and his head was peeking out, and he had his tongue sticking out. We grabbed his hooves which were ice cold, and gently pulled, getting nowhere. Not knowing what else to do, we stayed with her in hopes she would have him. At this point I was very concerned. Finally, Jose made it back and he and I started pulling again. When we finally got him out, he just laid there and I thought he was gone. I wasn’t ready to give up, so I got down and started rubbing on him, and low and behold, he started moving and breathing. You never saw a group of happier people when that little bull calf made it.
Since then, we have traveled to Greenhorn Cattle Company in Ohio and have purchased many nice females to build our Shorthorn herd. Jose and I love the Shorthorn breed for their docile trait, excellent quality of marbled beef, and I in particular just can’t wait for calving season to see what colors we get- it is truly like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get. Except you know they all will be beautiful! The anticipation of a new calf being born is like Christmas morning every time, hands down. I have also been known to put a Shorthorn bull in with the commercial Angus hoping Glenn will not notice, but don’t tell him!
Glenn wanted to build the Angus herd, and with the help and advice of Brian and Kim at Smith Valley Angus, we also have a respectable group of Angus cows who have given us some great bulls and replacement heifers. Glenn spends numerous hours researching EPD’s to improve the genetics in our herd and we continue to expand on this and stand behind all of our animals.
I could probably tell a story about each calf, but really need to wind this down. If you really would like to know, friend request me on Facebook, and you’ll see a picture and a story each time a calf is born.
As of now, we have 75 head of Registered Shorthorn, Shorthorn Plus, Registered Angus and Commercial Angus on Legacy Ranch. We are a family operation which includes Jose’ and Donna Cruz, Glenn and Tina Mundwiller, and myself, located in the valley of Rhineland Missouri. We wanted a way to provide our children the opportunity to experience and enjoy agriculture. We strive every day to love and care for our animals, treat them as best we can, learn something new every day, and absolutely enjoy doing it. It’s the thing that brings joy to us each and every day. And we hope it shows in the quality of our cattle, we sure are proud of each and every one of them!