Our cows had to be adapted to the rugged environment of the Canelo Hills in order to be productive. Fortunately our neighbor Tom Hunt on the Rail X Ranch had developed a breeding program of high-quality Red Angus cows bred to the smaller Red Brahman bulls. Their heifer calves were a smoky, red roan color, with long legs, rock-hardened feet, and carried the fifty percent Brahman blood that made them heat tolerant and willing to walk long distances to water.
Every year, Tom would sort through his calves and save to top end of the females for me. They were always the same price, a small premium over market, but more than worth the money. When bred back to a Red or Black Angus bull, they produced hardy five hundred pound calves at weaning time, always in high demand by feeder and stocker operations. When the Rail X was converted to a subdivision for house sites and ranchettes, Tom retired and we lost our source of replacement heifers. We filled the gap by keeping back the heifer calves we produced with our own cows.
Finding a source of rock-footed Angus bulls was also a big problem. At first, I tried McPhee Ranch in California, but the sissys got so tender-footed that they couldn’t find the cows. Later we found the U Bar Ranch in Gila, New Mexico who had country like ours. Environmental adaptation is crucial to productivity in cattle as well as horses, and I often think the same is true of people. The few times I've had to live in town, I didn't accomplish a whole lot.