It's Texas brag time! Once we could brag that we were the largest state in the Union, but not anymore. Even so, we can still brag, for surely that is what Texans do best. The "brag" this time is that south Texas has the largest ranch in Texas ... the famous King Ranch.
Perhaps at one time we could brag that the King Ranch was one of the largest ranches in the world. But not anymore. Today, the South Texas King Ranch has a total of 825,000 acres. Next in size, and located in Texas, would be the Waggoner Ranch with 590,527 acres. When we compare acreage worldwide, we are truly out ranked by ranches that are found in Australia. Two ranches in Australia far surpass Texas with Ana Creek Station at 6,000,000 acres and Alexandria Station with 4,000,000 acres.
Even so, the King Ranch has always been in the forefront with conservation, education for the children of the ranch hands, and with up breeding of both the cattle and horses on the ranch. From the original lank and rangy long horn cattle, to the Santa Gertrudis breed and from the cutting horse to Assault, a triple crown winner, the King Ranch has always accepted the challenge of improving the herd and conserving the soil.
Perhaps at one time or another, all of us have dreamed about living on a ranch and being a real cowboy or cowgirl. What fun it would have been to have been one of the cowhands who herded the longhorns on the long cattle drives to the Kansas market. Even in this day and age, sleeping on the ground under a star filled sky, sitting around a campfire and eating your meals prepared by the camp cook, could easily be every young child's dream.
Although we may not have experienced living on a ranch, we can still experience a little of what it would be like by attending the Ranch Hand Breakfast. Annually, the City of Kingsville teams with King Ranch to bring to us the Ranch Hand Breakfast. The breakfast is always offered the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year the breakfast will be offered on Saturday, November 23. Breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. Youngsters, as well as the oldsters, can enjoy a heaping plate of eggs, refried beans, biscuits n' gravy, sausage, tortillas, coffee and orange juice. It is a great way for young and old to experience just a little of ranch life.
But this event is not just about eating. You will enjoy watching the Texas cutting horse as the horse instinctively follows the lead of the cowboy and separates - or cuts - from the herd the cow or steer that the cowboy has indicated to the horse. The horse and rider become as one - a true team - to make this happen.
Branding is another ranch experience that not everyone has witnessed. You will get to hold the branding iron as you "brand" a piece of wood to take home as a souvenir. Branding, or marking, the cattle with your registered mark is how the rancher indicates this animal belongs to me.
A true art practiced by the camp cook is Dutch oven cooking which will be demonstrated in the preparation of "pan de cam po" or camp bread. Heaping coals underneath and on top of the Dutch oven must be exactly right not to bum the thin crusty bread. So, so good, especially with honey - and dripping with butter would make it even better. Try it, you will like it.
Attending the Ranch Hand Breakfast would be a wonderful experience for grandparents or parents to share with a grandchild, or for parents to share with their child. Why not build a memory that will last forever?
King Ranch is located in Kingsville. Visit their Facebook page, King Ranch Visitor Center, or their website at https://king-ranch.com/visit/our-tours/, for more information or to learn about their tours and other events.