edu-macation says thusly:

farm –noun
1. a tract of land, usually with a house, barn, silo, etc., on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood.
2. land or water devoted to the raising of animals, fish, plants, etc.: a pig farm; an oyster farm; a tree farm.

ranch –noun
1. an establishment maintained for raising livestock under range conditions.
2. Chiefly Western U.S. and Canada. a large farm used primarily to raise one kind of crop or animal

[…which naturally led me to]
range -noun
17. Also called rangeland… an area or tract that is or may be ranged over, esp. an open region for the grazing of livestock.

Erm… so what are we? Farmers? Ranchers? Farm says ‘ red barn’ to me… and we’ll have one of those. But longhorns seriously say ‘ranch’ to me… and we have a ‘range’. But we’ll also have hay, which screams ‘farm’ to me. I’m having an identity crisis here. I leave it to you to decide. I’m wearing an apron no matter what.
Many of you have emailed and asked about the whole longhorn thing. ‘Why?’ you ask sincerely. ‘Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?’ ‘Why not black and white cows?’ ‘Why not horses?’ ‘What do you do with a longhorn?’ ‘Did you just wake up one day and decide you want cows?’ ‘Aren’t you an Aggie and therefore allergic to longhorns? They’re gonna take away your diploma.’

All legitimate questions.

First and most importantly, I am an Aggie Class of 1999. I see no problem with an Aggie owning, managing, and being the boss of longhorns. We will, however, be avoiding genetics that lead to orange and white hides. I’m also just kidding about the rivalry here, folks. I’m over 30. It’s done.

We will eventually have a couple of horses, for love and for work. When Ry is old enough to ride, we’ll start tackling those. Both Curt and I love to ride. It’ll happen, but later.

Why longhorns? Well, this is a fabulous story, really. See, longhorns are amazing. They are gentle and beautiful and athletic and lean and long-living (20+ years). I don’t know quite how it started, but Curt wanted cows and I wanted a barn with stalls and a pretty fence. We didn’t want to raise cows just for eating and such. We wanted a farm that was tangible and friendly. We wanted something unique. We wanted animals we could leave alone for 2 weeks while we went camping. We wanted cows with stories, and we wanted our kid(s) to grow up with them. Longhorns fit all of those characteristics plus have a Texas connection which thrills me to no end.

Longhorns have a terribly romantic history. Closer to extinction than buffalo, one man riding in to save the species, ranchers banding together to save the herd… this stuff has my name all over it! Longhorns can certainly be used for beef, though they take quite a bit longer to mature than your average commercial cow… so that’s not a major draw. Longhorns are raised to preserve history and to try for the largest spread of horns. Their horns grow throughout their life, but are largely finished before they are 10 years old. It’s really a lot like raising dogs for show. You pay close attention to genetics. You try for good matches and good confirmation and good offspring. It’s a hobby. A use for land. A part of history. A good way to practice the old ways.

What will we do? We’ll start small (like, 4 cows) and work our way up to less than 50 over the next 20 years. Hopefully, somewhere in there, we’ll have some absolutely gorgeous cows that some rich oil man would like to buy for his front yard. And we’ll sell those cows and pay for my retirement villa in Tuscany Ry’s college. In between, we’ll love on ’em and play with them and feed ’em and give ’em a good life. Yes, some will eventually feed my family and yours, but that’s part of this whole experience. It does not freak me out.

And that, folks, is the plan plain and simple like.

Here are some definitions that will help you:
cowa lady who’s had a calf OR just one of the herd in general
bull a boy lookin’ for a lady and a little action
steera boy that cannot [ahem] reproduce… these boys are for horns and meat
heifera lady over 1 year that hasn’t produced a calf… she is innocent in the ways of love
pair a mamma and her calf

I know, right?! It’s more interesting than you ever imagined possible.
OR, it’s more information than you ever wanted to know.
But I love you for pretending you love it.

Ellie, I’m hoping you’ll make cute little ear tags for all of them like the ones you consigned. Wouldn’t that be so awesome? I am not even kidding.

[This just in.] People. The cows are here. Yesterday, I was not a farmer slash rancher. Today, I am. Crazy!!! We weren’t expecting this for a couple more weeks, but it just worked out for Dave to deliver four late last night. Please come over immediately. I have pie. And cows. And also chickens and a very cute child.
Excuse me, now. I have to go talk to them. Make sure everything’s alright out yonder and such. See if they’re happy and whatnot. I’ll try to get an interview if they’re willing.

About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

12 responses to “edu-macation

  • sunday

    YOU ARE WAY TOO COOL!!! i want to talk to a longhorn. can i please teach rylie how to ride a horse! how about we call your little place a rarm or a frange. i like all of those. i am sure you will make something super cute and those words will all of the sudden look really neat and not at all awkward. you know were going to need names and pictures of all the long horn. oh wait i hear you aren’t supposed to name them if you are gonna eat them!

  • Kristen Moore

    whoa!!!!! whoaaa! when you get a big, rolling fence commissioned, that means you are a grown up. when you own large animals with horns, that means you are a grown up too.
    this is mulder history making right here. congrats on the new members!

  • Bec

    Mary Kathryn, “innocent in the ways of love” made me laugh so hard – out loud, at my desk – that I nearly fell out of my rolling office chair. Dear. MERCY. (And I know that you are not kidding about being over the rivalry – I know you well enough.) 🙂 I will send you my “cut off the horns of the wicked” shirt as a reminder if necessary!

  • Jimmy

    Who’s pretending…..

    And where is Curt’s tractor in this picture?

  • thekooiet

    WHOOOOO! I totally want to see their lineage…do they call cows a pedigree? You have cows and we have dogs…a match made in heaven….now if they ever need to be herded, you know who to call. 😉

    How fun is that…you can sit on your front porch while sipping lemonade and watch your cows. Love it.

    Get those horses soon.

  • EllieRichellie

    Holy Holy @#$^^&. I’m not kidding you, I actually typed that my bathing costume was inspired by Donovan’s Reef, and then changed it to Blue Hawaii b/c I didn’t think anyone would catch that cultural reference. It’s official. We were separated at birth.
    And also, I think that an invitation to make ear tags for Longhorns is the ultimate flattery. I will get to work immediately. It is right up my/our Wild West/crafty/cowgirl couture ally. Love this post. . again. I’ve got to quit saying that every time you write something.

  • Jessica, Myron and Rylie

    ohhhhhhh, yer Rylie is going to have so much fun watching those today…..


  • CortneyTree

    Look at your cows!!! HOW COOL! I am just dyin’ of envy over here.

    I think that when Webster’s definitions fail to lead you to an exact match, you have to go with what feels right, and I just think that “the Mulder’s Farm” sounds so much more appropriate that “the Mulder’s Ranch.” That may be due to my unnatural hatred of Ranch Dressing though, and the way everyone in East Tennessee pronounces it “rainch”.

  • ebadrina

    Way cool. Rylie is SO lucky! All Rory gets is a turtle.
    You have a fence, a barn, and some livestock. I think you are entitled to name your place out there. Like Mulder Fields or Four Maple Farms. You can even go east coast on us and have a one-name reference, like MontMulder.
    “Hey, where are you going?” “I think I will retire to MontMulder for the rest of the weekend. Please do stop by if it suits you.”
    Personally, I think you need to continue your branding strategy and name the place TexasNorth Farms.

  • KatieKate


    That’s so funny.

    Now, the place will certainly be called TexasNorth. Absolutely. The suffix is still up for grabs.

    Mitchell (Curt’s brother) wants to call it Mulder National Park. MontMulder is growing on me 🙂

    And we’ll send you a longhorn, Eddy- you think there are livestock limitations on your lease?

  • Amanda


    Just thought I’d let you know that I booked a flight to western Michigan and me and the baby will be there soon. You are living my dream life on your farm…ranch…range…can I wear your aprons and make apple pie and watch the sunset and feed your cow-longhorns? It would make me feel real special and Stella would think I’m cool, I’m sure.

    OK, thanks.

  • Miss Laura

    OH. MY. I’m so tempted to drive over there right now and camp out on your leathery couch with a mug of hot chocolate and a blanket to watch those cows. Man. Wow.

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