Only On 6: The Cowboy Way

Published: Oct. 29, 2012 at 4:27 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM CDT
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Ranching and farming continues to be the heart and backbone of Texoma's deep roots. Unfortunately the modern day cowboy lives a lifestyle that is slowly disappearing.

Zach Parker, Owner of Parker Ranch, is willing to sacrifice just to follow his dream. He is a self assured Texoma cowboy who's devoting his life to the pastures that once belonged to his grandfather and great grandfather.

Parker comments, "Getting just filthy and nasty, the blood sweat and tears of it keeps them away from this business. It would be nice to see more of them go into the family business and take it over."
Parker is not unique, but he is a minority. There just aren't that many young producers like him taking over for older retiring ranchers. Often times the family tradition is lost and families are selling the land they once called home. 
"Their parents might get to old to take care of the place like it should be, so it's either leased out or sold because it can't be tended to."

Hard labor is not the only problem younger farmers and ranchers are facing. Parker said, "The death tax could be so burdensome on them. They can't keep the family farm or ranch in tact, so they have to sell it off to pay the taxes."

Parker added, "Huge cooperation's are buying up 100's of thousands of acers that use to be family owned. That doesn't leave the option for younger generations to come back in and operate those family farms."
The ones who have become the next generation of full-time ranchers or farmers are beating the odds.      
"This isn't easy because you're relying on mother nature and health and the markets. Everything is against you if it doesn't rain." Parker added, "You can see we've been through a two year drought and we've gotten some rain, but in those dry times you have to know how to manage. You have to make it to where you can stay in business and pay bills."
Parker, a graduate of Texas Tech University said it takes more than strength to run a successful operation, it takes a degree.   
"You can work so hard, but that doesn't always turn out profitable or successful. Hard work is just a step in the right direction."

The beef industry is vital to Texas economy. Parker said despite what people may think, right now is the right time to get into the industry. He said agriculture, due to the drought and do to the demand,  is more profitable. A tough lesson to learn in some cases in the younger generation cowboy. 
"They expect a lot more for less. I mean everybody wants to have a large bank account and do less work to have that. For some reason that mentality has carried over into this business."
No matter the challenges, Parker hopes to see younger generations come back and work on their family farm and ranch. Where cowboys and cowgirls still herd cattle from horseback on open pastures, reminiscent of the way it was done by their fathers and mothers, truly believing that it's still is a great way of life.

"We need to get back to the basics and principals that my grandfather and grandmother once instilled in my dad and me. It's to appreciate the opportunities that we've been given and to make the best of it."

Natalie Garcia,   Newschannel 6