We've been breeders of Texas Longhorn cattle for over 30 years. Smitten by the looks of some trophy steers on display at the Austin Livestock Exposition, we then sought out several area breeders and visited their ranches….saying we wanted some of those with the “reeeally big horns”….not fully realizing that those had been steers! What we actually wanted were breeding-age females. Ahhhh… being swept away by the huge horns…we had to learn fast!
This was a new experience for us; for a number of years we had been running black stocker pairs and some grazing steers, but at the time were currently “out of cattle”. Bitten by the Longhorn bug, we found some flashy, solid-bodied females at the Stonewall Valley Ranch. Our purchase and subsequent loadingof the cattle came complete with the instructions to “take this whip, get in the pens with those cows (50!), and cut 'em out!” Oh My Gosh!....amazingly enough, and really wanting the cattle, we actually complied! We acquired more cattle by attending lots of sales and it didn't take long before we soon outgrew our place of 18 years near Mohamet, about 30 miles northwest of Austin. Motivated to improve, to increase, to learn, and to show….we decided to move our ranching operation over to Lampasas, and geared up to “head 'em up and move 'em out.” Our new area neighbors were very excited and the party lines were buzzing with “…the Longhorns are coming!”
A big boost to the Lucy Creek herd and for building a real genetic base, came with the huge Plains National Bank Sale held in Lubbock in 1985. They dispersed several hundred head of Longhorns and sold cattle for two consecutive 10-hour days. It was not only a great buying opportunity for us, but we were commissioned to purchase cattle for another rancher in the Lampasas area, also. What fun! Those foundation females, some with brand new bull calves at side, became the basis of our Lucy Creek genetics; and some of those little bull calves ultimately became our big herdsires.
Our cattle, plus all the activities that go along with being active in a registered breed, have helped us make many wonderful new friends, and have enabled us to stay in touch and connected to several lifelong friends; Mike and Laney Weise, (Voca, Tx) and Dr. Lou Shields (in the Brenham area)— yes, we go way back with these folks! ….and we just might have sold them on raising Longhorns, too! It's been great, too, connecting with good friends, Carol and Wes Chancey, (also in Lampasas) and watching their herd grow with a sound genetic base. Through the years, in the show ring or simply as spectators, we've loved comparing notes and sizing up the competition with Carolyn and Wilton Wilton, Barbara and Jimmy Homer, and many others.
We've had a great deal of fun along the trail—dedicated to our endeavor and enjoying every aspect of this wonderful breed of cattle. We have traveled, showed (and enjoyed many successes—various Futurity Winners and Championships, including our World Grand Champion Female in 1991, Fina Joya) and served in the TLBAA, the STLA, and in several of the affiliates. Bill was on the very first show committee that dealt with drafting conformation guidelines, rules and regulations, and formatting the actual show circuit…what an experience that was! We, as breeders, know that you can learn a great deal simply through observation and listening….both from friendly, hands-on cattle folks and from academia professionals making presentations. Through the years, we've lead, hosted, judged, studied, supported, and very typically and enthusiastically…. worked our boots off!
Currently, an additional direction we're taking at Lucy Creek Ranch is offering the facilities and services to host day retreats for adult church groups, ideally offering a country respite, sharing the land and our vintage l931rranch home with others. We really like for people to come visit and we enjoy fellowship groups, so this seemed like another fun and logical avenue for us. We're now retired and just might have some time to try new things. Guests are always smitten when they see the Longhorns “up close and personal” and are excited about the Kodak moments they offer. A really special time for us, too, is when our grandchildren (and their friends) come for a ranch visit —city kids with free range are something to behold! Whether boating Huck Finn style, dropping from a rope into the creek, or bouncing through the pasture in the golf cart or pick-up truck, it's wonderful to know that some real country memories are being created.
We, ourselves, have many years of great Longhorn memories….a wonderful storehouse full. We feel challenged by new cattle experiences, we continue to seek new information, are happy to share whatever the years and the breed have taught us, and we feel blessed by the many incredible people we have met along the trail.
Wishing you blue skies, green grass and… lots of horns!
You can visit Bill and Anita Wappler at their Lucy Creek
just north of Lampasas or find them online at www.lucycreekranch.
Their Austin phone number is (512) 345-3280.