Vaquera ranch has about 42 acres, half of it is wooded, and the other half has been cleared for pastures. There is also a lake on the property, which had shrunk down to pond size due to the drought, but at least it still existed, and by now the water has risen again to almost normal levels. It is perfect for relaxation and also fishing. Two miles away from FM 535, the ranch benefits from tranquility and accessability at the same time. Our friendly neighbors are very supportive of our operation, generously overseeing the occasional horse poop at the roadside, where we frequently take our horses out on short trail rides.
The ranch boasts 3 pastures, two paddocks, a roundpen, and an arena, providing adequate facilities for keeping and training our horses. Our broodmares share a smaller pasture, which we recently had fenced foal safe. They have a large shelter for protection from the weather, and this is also the place where they will foal come the time.
Our yearlings and two year olds are being kept in the two paddocks until they start their training, and become easier to catch. Then they will be let out to join the larger herd of horses in training.
But there are not only horses to find on our ranch, we currently have 4 cows and a baby steer, 2 goats who are due to kid in February (we are all looking forward to fresh goats milk!), two dogs, cats, and our newest addition: a baby pig. The pig loves the dogs and the horses, and follows them wherever they go. His squealing when he can’t keep up with a loping horse always produces laughter!
With 7 kids ages 16 to 3 years old, it never gets boring around the ranch. They are all homeschooled, which allows them to help a lot from shoveling horse poop, feeding and watering, to keeping the property clean and safe. Not all of them like horse back riding, but they all have ridden before. Whenever we have a colt that needs to be started, the kids do a tremendous job desensitizing him. They are incredibly skilled in scaring horses by screaming, throwing objects around, and all the sudden appearing in places the horse would expect them the least. This way the horses learn very fast, that not everything that moves and makes a noise (or two), is going to kill them. The heart attacks get less and less, and some horses come to the point, they even seem to enjoy all the action around them. Also, as soon as the colts are safe to ride, I put all my kids on them, from the tallest to the smallest to get them used to different riders, and they also learn about the many different ways, people can get on (and off) the horse.
Probably very confusing at first, but none of the horses has been killed so far (even though at the beginning of their training, some of them are convinced they will not make it to see the light of the sun again lol). To really believe it, you will have to come out and visit Vaquera ranch to see for yourself, breathe some farm air, and just relax… Our doors are always open for visitors, just call ahead to make sure someone is here to show you around, which usually is the case.
We finish with Sherwood Anderson’s famous quote on what a rancher’s life is all about:
“I go about looking at horses and cattle. They eat grass, make love, work when they have to, bear their young. I am sick with envy of them.”