The Fort Worth Herd, the popular daily Texas Longhorn cattle drive launched in the Stockyards in 1999, has retired the last of its original steers. But at the same time, it’s welcomed two new five-year-olds, Joel and James, donated by a Missouri rancher.
The 18-year-old Sancho, a red-and-white-speckled steer with a 90-inch horn span, retired a week ago to the 100-acre Parker and Tarrant County ranch of former Fort Worth City Councilman Jim Lane, who headed up the formation of the Herd to honor the city’s heritage.
Sancho’s been getting used to his new digs and managed to startle Lane’s herd of Angus, who’d apparently never seen a steer with horns.
"He’s been eating, sleeping, and laying around, doing what retired Longhorns are supposed to," said Lane, describing Sancho, who’d done the eight-minute, twice-daily amble from his barn down Exchange Avenue and back an estimated 9,000 times, as a "model city employee.
Meanwhile, back at the Stockyards, Joel and James, who arrived by truck Thursday, have been getting used to their new digs.
"They’ve never seen a horse before," the herd’s trail boss, Kristin Jaworski, said Monday, as the black, brown and white James moved in close to study Jaworski’s horse.
Jaworski said the Herd figured it was time to retire Sancho after he started to drop to the rear of the 16 steers on the less-than-quarter-mile cattle drives.
"We decided to retire him while he’s still got several years left," Jaworski said. "Nothing particularly wrong with him at all. He just served us well, and we thought the reward was going out to pasture."
Fort Worth launched the cattle drive with 15 steers, each representing one of Fort Worth’s decades. The herd expanded to 16, donated by breeders as far away as Washington State and Florida, Jaworski said.
Sancho came from the El Coyote Ranch in Kingsville, where he was born in 1994.
Joel and James came from a ranch in Mansfield, Mo., near Spriingfield.
Janet Olmstead, their owner, said her husband’s taken a job in Arkansas, and the family is moving and selling their farm.
James and Joel were the last of their herd. Olmstead said she didn’t want the two – who aren’t siblings, but have grown up together – to go to slaughter.
"I just bought these steers with the intention of keeping them forever," she said Monday from her farm.
Through a friend, she learned about the Herd. The Herd sent a handler to pick the steers up. "It was a perfect fit for us," she said.
The two steers have distinct differences, Olmstead said.
"James is a little heavy," she said. "He loves to twist his horns at you and make you think he’s going to do something, although he never does. Joel is tamer."
And "James is especially regal," she said. "He’s always held his head high. Joel is more of a great big puppy dog."
Joel and James will likely join the Herd for cattle drives sometime in the next three weeks, Jaworski said. In the meantime, Olmstead has called every day to check in.
"I plan on seeing them once a year," Olmstead said. "I can’t wait for them to get to where they can walk with the herd. I intend very much to come down."
- Scott Nishimura, Star-Telegram Fort Worth City Hall reporter
PHOTOS: (Upper left, Sancho, Jim Lane and family; bottom right, James and Joel in their new digs)