Adventures in Cattle Ranching

Sometime around when I was ten years old, my grandfather was getting ready to retire from his law practice and move to the country. He had been invited to a place called Indian Hammock and fallen head over heels with a lifestyle of raising horses and cattle and going hunting. Probably those things had been in his heart since he was a little boy. My mom and I would go up to visit on weekends and holidays and she (mom) even learned to ride a horse while I was away one summer so she could surprise me. It didn’t go well, but she really tried. Eventually, my grandfather bought a piece of property north of Okeechobee and set about creating his dream. He had a huge Appaloosa named Freckles and a smaller one for my grandmother who also was very into this new lifestyle. He bought some cows and one particularly ugly and mean bull. He also made friends with all the local ranchers. I remember learning from him all the different breeds that were on the ranches surrounding Okeechobee and I remember them all to this day. He also took mom and I to our first rodeo, something that I have continued to enjoy since. I share all this so that it will make sense why I chose this adventure.

Each time I drive out to visit my mom, I pass a huge and very well known ranch. It is known for the family that started it, their eye for land and water management and breeding cattle that can handle a subtropical environment.

About a year ago, I saw pictures from their ranch and a beautiful spring that was on the property. I knew I really wanted to see it, and had heard that they occasionally had tours as part of a venture into agri-tourism. So, about a month ago I saw an ad for a fundraiser for the St Lucie Audubon chapter. The fundraiser was a tour and breakfast at the ranch. I signed up right away!! There is a book that is now required reading in many Florida school systems by Patrick D. Smith called “A Land Remembered” . It’s historical fiction, about the history of Florida through one particular family. The tour I was going to take of the Adams Ranch would show what I think most of that book is based upon…..another reason for me to be drawn to do this tour. If you have any connection to Florida and you have never read the book, please do,it’s a wonderful story.

So, the morning of the tour, I arrived at the ranch and was impressed by the facilities. We were given the choice of breakfast first or tour first. I chose breakfast first (diabetic, remember). In hindsight, I should have chosen your first to see more early morning birds. It was a nice breakfast with eggs and ham, potatoes or oatmeal and a wide assortment of fruit. After eating we went into the “Bud Adams Museum”. There were all sorts of artifacts that had been found on the property and many awards that Mr Adams has received over the years. The ranch is manned now by the fourth generation. The museum also has a cedar slab table that must be 20 feet long. I wish I had asked if it had come from a tree there. We watched a video narrated by Bud Adams himself (made in 2008). The video gave a brief history of the ranch and the strain of cattle developed there. Braford cattle was developed to handle our harsh climate. One thing , in particular, that I found interesting was that they selectively bred the cattle to have brown fur around their eyes because the one with white fur around their eyes got eye cancer, presumably from our harsh sun. On the tour later, we would learn quite a bit about the practices they developed for water management and how they would raise and lower the water table

On to the tour…. it was in a huge school bus that the windows had been taken out. The property is gorgeous and I felt as if I was transported back in time. The family has recreated the original houses to show what it was like back around 1900. I wish we could have stopped at the spring, I would have loved to photograph them….even with the sulfur stench.

We stopped for awhile to view 2 of the herds and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. They are gorgeous.

We saw one good sized alligator.

One strange thing we saw, that I can only think was because of the strange weather this year , was a swarm of lovebugs (they usually only come out in May and September).

The trees were gorgeous and the Spanish moss too. We saw wild Lilly’s and resurrection ferns too.

The tour was over too quickly and I would definitely do it again. I’d love to see one of their cattle auctions too. Enjoy the pictures!!






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