Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Details on the Bush Ranch

Seems like there's been a little debate on the size and operation of the Bush ranch. I thought I'd see if I could provide a bit of additional information.

The Bush ranch is in Crawford, south of Dallas, about 20 miles west of Waco. The 1550-acre property is small by Texas ranch standards, but was sold as a parcel of a larger property. The property was purchased by the Bushs in 1999 during Bush's second term as Texas governor with money thought to have come from an approximate $14 million profit in the sale of the Texas Rangers. They paid a reported $1.3 million for the property (about $800 an acre). The parcel was part of a larger ranch still owned by a family named Engelbrecht. Kenneth Engelbrecht leases the grass rights for cattle. I was unable to find how many head of cattle they run at Prairie Chapel specifically, but the Engelbrecht operation is a sizeable one and they do actively run cattle on the land.

The new house was designed by Austin architect David Heymann. They also renovated a 60-year-old farmhouse on the property. I don't know if they lease mineral rights down in that part of the country like we do out in West Texas and don't know if there are any active wells on the property.

Does Bush work his ranch personally? Of course not. My father has been a farmer all his life but I've never seen him on a tractor. He's been lucky to have good tenants to farm his section and a half in north Texas. That's the way it works out there -- lots of people have farms and ranches and they keep a lot of good farmers and ranchers employed. For many people, farm and ranch management is serious business and for others it takes very little time. Some leave much of it to their tenants and others are very involved. Often, the manager's level of involvement is proportional to the amount of income the realize from the property. For a small operation, it's not a full-time job, but I'd call it more than a hobby. But whether they farm it, ranch it or manage it, they all still sweat the the weather, talk to their tenants, worry about water pumps, and ask if it rains every day. It's hard to explain how outsiders come to love this land and life. A lot of people live in that part of the country their entire lives and don't understand it, or they hate it and run.


At Thu Feb 24, 09:30:00 AM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Lessee, takin' what I know about animal units and grass and grazin' -- I'd say 1,500-some-odd brushy acres in Central Texas is about equal to 150 or so cleared in eastern Oklahoma, where I hail from, where it actually rains pretty regular. These days, that is just enough land, and cattle, to give you heartburn, and you got to keep a job in town. Bush does have a job in town. I envy him and his spreadlet!

At Thu Feb 24, 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Doug said...

So Bush is an absentee landlord. Got it.

At Thu Feb 24, 09:26:00 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

No. He's an absentee owner. Big difference. That means just what you've seen. He has someone who runs the place on a day-to-day basis. He probably would have a direct hand, even as president, in hiring a day-labor or any other cowboy. But when he's on the premises, he is the head honcho. That might mean he's "playing cowboy" to some. BFD. WhatEVER. He may do so. He can burn the sumbitch down if he wants to, since it's his place. ... Holy Gawdlemighty, I wear a Western hat on the road and back home, and back in my 10-year stompin' grounds in Texas, even though I haven't fed, led, hauled, mauled or done otherwise to a bovine of any sort for about seven or eight years -- and then it was for fun on a friend's place outside Bellevue, Texas. There hadn't been a dang cow or calf on land in my family's hands for 30 years. But I will get my own bunch of grass wrapped in leather on the hoof again before I take my egress from this life. ... Sorry, I just realized my gin was talking. I'll hush. ... Reagan started this, you know, with his dang wood-choppin' on his ranch in California. He, on another hand, actually was a horseman, which makes his alleged photo-ops realer in some ways than Dubya's. ... By the way, I was probably a little stingy with those eastern Okie acres in comparison to Central Texas. I mean, Waco ain't Dalhart, rainwise.


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