British White Cattle Ranch in Beautiful Southeast Texas
J.West Cattle Company
Rolling hills, thick woods, deep ravines, and green pastures . . . .
The Ranch is located on one of the highest points in Tyler County, Texas - an area of rolling hills in the beautiful pine forests of East Texas on the northeast corner of US Highway 69 and Recreational Road 255 just north of Colmesneil, Texas. It was established by George Grafton, Grafton Oil, Houston, Texas, in the early 70's. Mr. Grafton was finally able to call it home in 1987, when he retired and built a beautiful home on the perfect hill top. The first year or so I could swear I felt his presence as I stumbled through a long period of growing pains (that I'm still having) learning what care-taking a ranch is all about.
The land is a mix of pasture, woods, and deep ravines cut by small tributaries of Boyd Creek lying to the North. While small by Texas standards at about 212 acres, it seems just about perfect to me and the cattle seem to agree, having taken pretty quickly to their new East Texas home. The acreage is largely native woods, having about 90 acres of improved coastal and coastal/native mixed pasture. The woodland thicket that surrounds and cuts through the pasture acreage is a vital habitat for deer and wild hogs and other native wildlife species, and adds beauty and depth to the horizon that are priceless. Sadly, this part of Texas has been heavily logged and the thick forests that were still present in the 60's are gone from many surrounding counties and Tyler County has suffered as well - I hope this ranch will continue long into the future with it's wooded areas intact, and perhaps one day there will be pines and hardwoods so mature their foliage shrouds out all under growth and that one could again drive a horse and buggy amongst them without a problem, which is the way it once was in this area of Texas a very long time ago.
There are many old and stately white oaks along the ravine banks, as well as a wide variety of other native trees and vines. Lots of beautiful white oaks and old pines were lost along the ravine banks during Hurricane Rita, and many years will pass before the damage from Rita's hit will no longer be so apparent. No doubt one day the petrified wood found by someone in the creek beds will be there as a result of Hurricane Rita. The woods as well have some excellent examples of Turkey Oak and Blackjack Oak, which are my favorites next to the majestic White Oak.
Mayhaw and muscadine vines are rampant in some areas along the creek beds, but I've yet to recall my East Texas roots well enough to make a jar of jelly from them. Not that it's necessary for me to waste good fruit in the effort, because in the spring time you can still find excellent jelly from our native vines along the road side from very able jelly makers.
And of course there is lots of yaupon. While some find it a tiresome plant in this area, the female yaupons that put on their berries every season are very beautiful and cuttings make a beautiful decoration for the home at Christmas . I'll locate a new gate or fence line if I must to save a very large, mature specimen of the female yaupon. I think the cows really like the stands of yaupon, besides eating the leaves (and no, that doesn't make them ill in the least) they very much like moving through thick old stands of yaupon for a good scratch some seasons of the year - and I'm convinced there is something in the yaupon leaf that is a natural fly repellant!
Besides the wonderful native vegetation, the ranch has 9 pastures for rotation, a great set of cattle working pens ready for most any trailer to load up! If you'd like to come by and experience a walk through a herd of gentle and contented British White cattle here at the ranch, you are more than welcome . . . just give me a couple days notice.