Successful ranching combines cattle, markets, weather, grass, and skilled workers to make a profitable business. Yet ranching is more than a business; it is a way of life. The diary of Watt R. Matthews, one of the heirs to and manager of the famous Matthews’s cattle holdings near Albany, Texas, provides behind-the-scenes details of not only the business but also the life and times of one of modern ranching’s most successful figures.
The goal for Lambshead Ranch, located about 120 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas, has always been to convert grass into beef cattle at a profit. In Lambshead Legacy: The Ranch Diary of Watt R. Matthews, Janet Neugebauer’s carefully researched annotations place Watt and his ranching efforts in the larger context of the industry—from the branding pens and the winner’s circle at a stock show to a board meeting of a national breed association and times with fellow rancher Lyndon B Johnson.
The diary, focusing on Watt’s life from 1951 to 1980, contains Watt’s records of the number and kind of cattle, the work completed on them, the pasture they were moved to, and their sale price. Also Watt recorded the weather at Lambshead, the names of visitors, and the parties, with the names and number of people who attended. At times, Watt referred to the diary to refresh his memory or settle factual disputes.
Frances Mayhugh Holden’s introduction focuses on Watt himself—his early years, education at Princeton, family responsibilities, and commitment to preserving the ranch’s historic heritage and natural environment. Along with Neugebauer’s scene-setting, a picture of a steady life without hurry or stress and filled with the savoring of each piece of ranch work develops.
In keeping with the tradition of Interwoven and Lambshead before Interwoven, two previous books detailing the Matthews family’s and the ranch’s histories, this addition to the series reveals a man whose love for his work and dedication to his ranch’s history built the legacy of today.