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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Scales revolutionized ranching

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

I 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.

I believe scales can be paid for in just a few uses bringing in more money for the least expense."

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.

The local 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.

Almost 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.

Our 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.

We 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
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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