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JoeNYC

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Hello

I’m writing a story where its world is set on a ranch in Northeastern Texas, during late spring and summer months.

Do cows give birth during these months?

Being from the city, I don’t have a clue about ranch life, so I’m wondering for those who do could be so kind to inform me.

I’m interested in what the duties/chores would be. I suspect to check the fencing, irrigation ditches for leaks, etc.

I’m also interested in the procedure to immunize the cattle, giving shots and medicine.

Besides the main house for living, what type of housing is on the ranch and it’s purpose, such as a barn?

Do ranches typically supplement their income by having farming or fruit orchards along with cattle?

What time does the work day begin and end? Is the work week 5 days or 6 days a week?

Any help on ranch life would be appreciated, thank you.
 

Soapweed

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Not meaning to sound mean, but you should probably write about something you know something about. Have the setting of your novel be in a big city, and then you will be able to tell a convincing and believable story. If you are going to write about ranch life in northeastern Texas, you really ought to spend time there to get the feel of the lifestyle you wish to depict. I have ranched all my life, but have never ever been to Texas. Even with my ranching experience, I would be a duck out of water trying to write about ranching in Texas.
 

John SD

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I agree with Soapweed. I'd be almost as lost in his Sandhills as I would be in Texas. I have been through the Nebraska Sandhills and it is beautiful ranching country. I have never visited Texas.

Every region has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. The phrase "Bloom where you are planted" comes to mind. I would feel boxed in any large city. I regularly visit a city of 60K population for medical appts and to visit my sister who lives there. I'm sure glad when I get home from that ratrace.
 

Larrry

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I'm not there either but I'd bet as a general rule late spring and summer would be to hot as a rule to calve in NE Texas. I appreciate you trying to get all the facts before you write your story. Please just give us cattleman as fair of a picture of us as possible. Good Luck
 

JF Ranch

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JoeNYC, please just forget about this venture. I agree with Soapweed. Admittedly you know nothing about the subject you want to write about, so how can you be convincing without at least some practical knowledge of your subject?

Oh, I suppose your reader will be just as uninformed as you are and they would not know the difference, but our business and lifestyle has been misrepresented too many times before and as a result, the average urban dweller is very misinformed about what we do for a living.

Whatever plot you incubate is sure to have an urban "feel" to it and it will have little semblance to our reality. As ranchers, we never come out looking very good in deals like this.
 

JoeNYC

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“you should probably write about something you know something about.”

-- I knew I’d get one of these kind of responses, but I didn’t figure it would be unanimous.

Gentlemen, if this logic was sound, then there’d be no “Star Wars,” “Spartacus,” etc. All kinds of stories that a writer never was present to see and live first hand and write about. They used their imagination.

My story is a 100 page screenplay about a teen triangle romance. There are only a few scenes that I need to show daily ranch life.

I’ve been researching articles and books on ranch life and in my research I came across this site, so I thought I post and see if I could get any info from actual ranches in the life.

I understand you're not able to assist for reasons stated and I thank you anyway for all your replies.

And I assure you my portrayal of ranches will show them to be honest, hardworking people.
 

Soapweed

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JoeNYC said:
“you should probably write about something you know something about.”

-- I knew I’d get one of these kind of responses, but I didn’t figure it would be unanimous.

Gentlemen, if this logic was sound, then there’d be no “Star Wars,” “Spartacus,” etc. All kinds of stories that a writer never was present to see and live first hand and write about. They used their imagination.

My story is a 100 page screenplay about a teen triangle romance. There are only a few scenes that I need to show daily ranch life.

I’ve been researching articles and books on ranch life and in my research I came across this site, so I thought I post and see if I could get any info from actual ranches in the life.

I understand you're not able to assist for reasons stated and I thank you anyway for all your replies.

And I assure you my portrayal of ranches will show them to be honest, hardworking people.

Ah, but there is a difference. In the case of "Star Wars," "Spartacus," etc., no one else knew anything about the subject, either. In other words, both the author and the audience were using their imaginations. If you choose to write about ranch life in northeastern Texas, you would be using your imagination but anyone with actual knowledge of the subject would know it was blarney.

Here is an example. You ask the question, "What time does the work day begin and end? Is the work week 5 days or 6 days a week?" With a lifetime of ranching experience to draw from, I can assure you that our occupation is a 24-7, 365 day a year job. Cattle are hungry and need care on all days of the week, including Chrismas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Sure, we can let things coast once in a while, but there are always things that need done on a ranch.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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Soapweed said:
JoeNYC said:
“you should probably write about something you know something about.”

-- I knew I’d get one of these kind of responses, but I didn’t figure it would be unanimous.

Gentlemen, if this logic was sound, then there’d be no “Star Wars,” “Spartacus,” etc. All kinds of stories that a writer never was present to see and live first hand and write about. They used their imagination.

My story is a 100 page screenplay about a teen triangle romance. There are only a few scenes that I need to show daily ranch life.

I’ve been researching articles and books on ranch life and in my research I came across this site, so I thought I post and see if I could get any info from actual ranches in the life.

I understand you're not able to assist for reasons stated and I thank you anyway for all your replies.

And I assure you my portrayal of ranches will show them to be honest, hardworking people.

Ah, but there is a difference. In the case of "Star Wars," "Spartacus," etc., no one else knew anything about the subject, either. In other words, both the author and the audience were using their imaginations. If you choose to write about ranch life in northeastern Texas, you would be using your imagination but anyone with actual knowledge of the subject would know it was blarney.

Here is an example. You ask the question, "What time does the work day begin and end? Is the work week 5 days or 6 days a week?" With a lifetime of ranching experience to draw from, I can assure you that our occupation is a 24-7, 365 day a year job. Cattle are hungry and need care on all days of the week, including Chrismas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Sure, we can let things coast once in a while, but there are always things that need done on a ranch.


It was a chilly 6 am Sunday morning when he came in from checking hfrs. Hows that for a opening line? :D
OR It was 3:25 Am as i sat at my computer reading ranchers.net waiting for the heifer to calve.

Joenyc I hope you aren't to hurt by our advice but you just found out ranchers are honest and we will answer questions and help someone out if they are trying to learn but we also call Bullshit when we know someone is bluffing which you would be doing trying to tell a ranching story.
It would be like me trying to write West Side Story, and I don't mean the west side of the ranch where I run the breeding herd. :D
 

Soapweed

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Larrry said:
So what happens if this guy writes his story and gets it all wrong. He asked so we have only ourselves to blame. This is a perfect opportunity to tell our side of the story and try to ensure he understands our role in agriculture. I agree it is a lot more information than he probably expects in order to understand the industry.
Missed opportunity.

You have the same opportunity to tell our side of the story as anyone else, go for it. :wink:

It might even be a wonderful chance to promote Herefords. :)
 

JF Ranch

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JoeNYC said:
And I assure you my portrayal of ranches will show them to be honest, hardworking people.

Obviously, it appears you are bent on completing this project. My guess is, it will be feeble from our perspective.

However, if this is important to you and you want to do it right, you "must go there" and experience it for yourself. There is very little any of us here could type for you that would help with your research anyway. Only by actually spending adequate time on location, acquiring the necessary understanding that your subject deserves, will you do ranching a service.

Otherwise this will only be a story hatched by a city dweller, for city dwellers in whatever romantic setting you are attracted to. Most likely, it will be all wrong from our perspective and in the end, misrepresent us and ultimately misinform your reader.
 

burnt

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JF Ranch said:
JoeNYC said:
And I assure you my portrayal of ranches will show them to be honest, hardworking people.

Obviously, it appears you are bent on completing this project. My guess is, it will be feeble from our perspective.

However, if this is important to you and you want to do it right, you "must go there" and experience it for yourself. There is very little any of us here could type for you that would help with your research anyway. Only by actually spending adequate time on location, acquiring the necessary understanding that your subject deserves, will you do ranching a service.

Otherwise this will only be a story hatched by a city dweller, for city dwellers in whatever romantic setting you are attracted to. Most likely, it will be all wrong from our perspective and in the end, misrepresent us and ultimately misinform your reader.

:agree: what he said.

Even if someone from that area could tell you what you want to know about life on a ranch there, it would not begin to do for you what actually experiencing it would.

Is there a possibility of you making a connection and going there? There's obviously a lot of mistrust to overcome, as you have already discovered, in making something like this happen!

:?
 

Larrry

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Philippians 2:4
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Hebrews 13:16
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God
 

I Luv Herfrds

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Come on guys he at least wants to know about ranching instead of just guessing.

Joe my advice is go over on to cattletoday.com/forum there are a lot of guys from the area you are interested in on there. It is a sister site to this one.

Joe I have read stories done by different authors on areas I know that were so far off base and full of BS you knew they were never there.
I admire the fact you want to be truthful in your story instead of just writing BS.
 

JoeNYC

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Soapweed says, “If you choose to write about ranch life in northeastern Texas, you would be using your imagination but anyone with actual knowledge of the subject would know it was blarney.”

-- Realistically, 99.9% of the teen audience for this story isn’t gonna have actual knowledge of ranch life and probably not care, so I could get away with being lazy and not doing the research to get an accurate portrayal, but I take pride in my work and if I have to spend extra time and energy to get the life right, I don’t mind.

Right now, the ranch work scenes I’m thinking of include tagging and vaccinating calves during the calving season of early March and a case of an assisting a distressed calve birth.

I’ve researched articles from the veterinary universities for the proper procedure, so I believe I’ll be able to portray it accurately.

I Luv Herfords, thanks for your suggestion. I’ll check it out.
 

JF Ranch

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Hey JoeNYC,

What is your vision for this screenplay? Would it be for a movie, television or general theatrical use? (note that I don't understand your business well enough to know how to ask an intelligent question!)

When finished with this effort, is there any chance of having you offer it to us here, to see what you have produced?
 

eatbeef

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If you really want to write a book on ranch life, you need to experience it for yourself. It is not an 8-5 job, it is a lifestyle where there is no end to the work and you do not have a set schedule. I apologize, but I had to laugh when you asked if it was 5 or 6 days a week. My husband showed me this post and thought I would have some insite on the subject. My husband runs our ranch, by himself, 24/7. He cannot take time off, and there definately are no vacations. Our life is run around the cattle, haying, etc. Ranching is long and hard hours. I joke almost year round that I am wife #276 (or whatever the herd count happens to be that time of the year). We don't have a large operation, but it is large for our area. We supplement income with my job as registered nurse which allows me to work 3-12 hr shifts a week and help on the ranch when our 11 month old son allows. Most of the time our son only sees his dad when we ride along hauling hay, feeding, or giving rides to move equipment. I must reiterate, it is LIFESTYLE. We may list ranching as an occupation on forms but we take pride in raising food for our consumers as well as the care we take for our animals. Jealous wife here, but I'm pretty sure the cows have gotten flowers more times than I have, haha. My husband works his butt off for us and so that we can be the establishing generation of our ranch. My husband's family is not involved in agriculture, his dad works at a hospital in maintenance and his mom is an apartment manager. I grew up on an irrigated farming operation. Ranching is a huge commitment and the works does not end at 5 or 6 and sure as hell is not 5 or 6 days a week. We can't tell a hunger calf with no mama that sorry it's past 5, you can get fed in the am or have a crop of alfalfa lay on the ground the night before a huge chance of rain so we can go golfing. I strongly encourage you to spend some time, as much as possible, on a working family ranch. You will soon learn that it is not a job. And yes, we have a barn that is used for cows that need help calving, i.e. pulling a calf or drafting cavles to new mamas. And most of the time it is cleaner than my house. In my opinion if you don't go to a working ranch and experience it for yourself, your book will be a failure and you will be failing all rancher's and our families. Portray ranching as it really is and not what you read on the internet or in a book, especially if you have no idea of what really goes on on a ranch.
Sincerely,

EatBeef's wife
 

Clarencen

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If this is what you want to do, I would say go for it. But first I would do a lot of research. First, ask yourself some questions. What do you really want to tell? Why did you chouse NE Texas? What is the theme of your story? and other questions. find all you can about the area you are writing about. Learn the climate during all four seasons High and low temperature, average temperature and rain or snow. learn what the country looks like, what grows there. Learn something about it's history. Put together about three times as much information as you really need, then you have something to fall back on.

I prefer to read non-fiction, but have learned a lot from fiction writers who knew their subject well.

I will only answer one of your questions. Cows can calve any time of the year, any month. ranchers can control the time of year by when they put the bulls out. Cows have a 285 day gestation period. Ranchers may chouse different times of the year to calf for different reasons. The weather is one, available time, feed source, available shelter, their market etc. I live in southern South Dakota, most ranchere here calve in March and April. A few do calve during the summer months and some in August and September, it just depends on what fits their operation. Some shelter is necessary if they have calves born in January or February and usually more time and labor is involved, but the calves will be bigger in the fall at weaning time and at market time.

If yu follow Ranchers Net you will find that some ranchers to the north of me calve in barns during the cold months, some of them do so as they farm also, and want calving out of the way before it is time to start farming.

Stick around on ranchers net, don't be afraid to ask questions.
 

tumbleweed_texn

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Although I tend to agree with the others on writing what you know about, I commend you for atleast trying to get it right by asking.

That being said, I was born and raised in NE Texas and grew up ranching there. I would be happy to answer your questions and help you out as best I can. There are others on this forum I am somewhat envious of because they have a gift of painting pictures with words. I always wished that I could do that, but I'm a better BS'er. If you would like just send me a PM and I will give you my phone number.

Again, I am happy that you are atleast asking instead of writing it blind. When a real cowboy or rancher sees a half-assed attempt about our way of life, it tends to get under our skin. I hope this is'nt a Broke Back Mountain type story. Let me know if you wanna visit. Good luck.

Tex
 

Soapweed

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tumbleweed_texn said:
Although I tend to agree with the others on writing what you know about, I commend you for atleast trying to get it right by asking.

That being said, I was born and raised in NE Texas and grew up ranching there. I would be happy to answer your questions and help you out as best I can. There are others on this forum I am somewhat envious of because they have a gift of painting pictures with words. I always wished that I could do that, but I'm a better BS'er. If you would like just send me a PM and I will give you my phone number.

Again, I am happy that you are atleast asking instead of writing it blind. When a real cowboy or rancher sees a half-assed attempt about our way of life, it tends to get under our skin. I hope this is'nt a Broke Back Mountain type story. Let me know if you wanna visit. Good luck.

Tex

Good for you, Tex. I hope Joe takes you up on your offer to visit with him in person.

Recently I read a book entitled, "RANGER CONFIDENTIAL: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks," by Andrea Lankford. This is a different type of book than I normally read, but it was very interesting. The lady lived the life she wrote about, and she absolutely knew from whence she spoke. I have a whole new appreciation and respect for park rangers and what their daily lives entail. For my reading interests, I love true personal accounts. Truth is better than fiction any day.
 

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