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Calf Fries – The Original Sack Lunch

Last week, we asked our Facebook followers if they’d be game to try Calf Fries.  For those of you less familiar with cowboy lingo, that’s one of the many names we’ve given to bull testicles. Y’all have a lot of opinions on the subject — it was one of our most popular posts. The overwhelming answer? Not only would you, but you already have. This is a book about real Texas cowboys, after all, and if you’re following along you probably know a thing or two about cowboy cooking.

Calf Fries on the Waggoner

Once upon a time, Western ranchers needed more cheap & easy nutrition, so they tried eating previously discarded cuts of meat.  Like my Mama always told me, “Waste not, want not.”  The ranchers grilled, baked, battered, and fried them into all sorts of delicious recipes.  The rest is history.  The images below are just a few of the unfiltered cowboy life photographs Jeremy Enlow captured in Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. It’s a real life look at the inner workings of the Waggoner Ranch cattle operations as they were before the sale, from beautiful sunrises to the gritty, hard work the cowboys do daily.

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Calf testicles and ears are sorted out in the field after they’re removed.

 

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Waggoner Cowboys keep close track of the ears cut to make sure every calf has been attended to.

 

Dinner on the Waggoner Ranch, cowboy style

Waggoner Cowboy, Daly Welch fills a glove with the day’s collection.  This will be supper.

 

History

We Westerners weren’t the first ones to enjoy these resourceful recipes.  The ancient Romans are the first people we know of that made use of the calf’s testicles.  They believed eating organs of a healthy animal would improve the health of the corresponding human organ; thus the common belief that Calf Fries are an aphrodisiac.  While we’re not sure about that, these organ meats are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.  There is no measurable effect on the hormone levels of humans who eat them though.

Calf Fries by Any Other Name

These days they’re called Calf Fries, Rocky Mountain Oysters, Cowboy Caviar, Swinging Beef, Prairie Oysters, Dusted Nuts; we’re pretty creative with our euphemisms.  Call them what you will, they’re a dish enjoyed by many.  See the photos below for a couple of examples of ways modern folks eat Calf Fries.

 

Calf Fries battered and fried, served with cream gravy.

 

Calf Fry Pizza

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A Photographer on the Ranch

While photographing Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch, Jeremy Enlow spent a lot of time getting to know the cowboys. Over the course of 5 months, he documented their work and way of life. Of course, the cowboys couldn’t let him leave without having him try his hand at their work!

 

This behind the scenes shot shows Jeremy giving roping and branding a go… Much to the cowboys’ amusement. Roping cattle is not in a typical day’s work for a photographer, but Jeremy gave it his best. Josh Rodriquez lent a hand, and it was definitely a memorable moment.

“Some say the working cowboy is becoming a thing of the past. And that may be. But try and tell them that. To them, ‘iconic representation’ is cliché. This is life. They are a living image of the American West. And this is an opportunity to see who they really are. These are the cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch.” -Jeremy Enlow

We’re proud to have the opportunity to take people behind the fence of this historic ranch. The time Jeremy and the Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch team spent on the ranch made a lasting impression, and showed us all what ranch life is really like. With thousands of copies of the book sold, people around the world have had the opportunity to see what these Texas cowboys do every day.

See more photos of the Waggoner Ranch cowboys on our Facebook page, where we share stories and photos every day.

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Goodbye, Summer

Summer is a special time on the Waggoner Ranch. With the kids out of school, there’s lots of little cowboys and cowgirls helping out on the ranch. The cowboys don’t mind taking their time to show the kids how to do the job. After all, that’s how you pass down the ranching way of life to the next generation.

Waggoner Ranch cowboy Josh Stacey's son helps out on the ranch

Family is important to these cowboys. Many of them learned the ropes of the ranch from their fathers and uncles. Some of them, like cowboy John Paul Welch, are the latest in a long line of Waggoner Ranch cowboys and employees. John Paul is a third generation Waggoner employee; now his son works on the ranch as well.

With summer coming to a close, there’s less little hands working the ranch. The kids will be heading back to school, leaving the cowboys to ride the ranch on their own. That doesn’t mean the kids won’t still be around. Around here, everybody knows everybody, and that includes the kids. It’s pretty hard for the young ones to get in trouble on the Waggoner with so many watchful eyes around.

We hope you’ve had a good summer! Follow us on Twitter to show us what your ranch life looks like using #MyRanchLife.

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Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch Around the Globe

It’s exciting to see our book travel around the world. Printed in North Texas, copies have sold in 49 of 50 states… But it doesn’t stop there! We’ve also shipped to Austria, Australia, Aland Islands, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Norway, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea and the United Kingdom. For a small, family-owned business, this global reach is incredible.

Kids on the Waggoner Ranch work hard

Where in the world have you taken Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch? We know that the book has traveled farther than we know. From international visitors picking up a book at our pop up galleries, to U.S. residents sending copies as gifts, the story of these cowboys has traveled far and wide. If you own the book and you live outside the United States, head on over to our Facebook page! We love hearing from our customers and want to know where you are reading the story of the Waggoner Ranch cowboys.


The Waggoner Ranch spans more than half a million acres in North Texas. Family owned from 1849-2016, it is the largest ranch under one fence in the United States. In 2015, Jeremy Enlow traveled to the Waggoner to photograph the 26 working cowboys in the cow camp division of the ranch. The result is his first book, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. The book documents the day to day lives of these cowboys, preserving the way of life on the ranch before it sold.

Since the sale, approximately one-third of the cowboys have been laid off or retired. Icons of cowboy life, such as the cook shack and bunkhouses have closed. As such, Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch is a last look at a living piece of Texas history that is rapidly changing.

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How ‘Bout That Texas Sky

There’s a lot to see on the Waggoner Ranch. With more than half a million acres, there are lakes, pastures, and homes. But one of our favorite sights? That beautiful Texas sky. There’s no doubt you’re somewhere special when you look up at this view. From the deep gold of morning to the bright blue of afternoon, every hour brings something new.

When the cowboys finish breakfast and start trailering their horses out to the pasture, the sky is still inky and dark. Soon, the deep orange sun will rise, silhouetting the cowboys as they ride. In the afternoon, the crisp blues seem incredibly bright. Of course, the Texas sky is riveting, but it’s not the most impressive feature of the historic Texas ranch. “The land on the Waggoner is beautiful,” remarks Jeremy Enlow, “but it’s the Cowboys on the ranch that make it a special place.”

“This handsome collection of photos taken at the historic Waggoner Ranch in northwest Texas—the largest ranch under one fence in the United States, with more than 510,570 acres—portrays the fading cowboy lifestyle pioneered by “lean and dusty riders who braved the wild to make room for a herd.” –  Publisher’s Weekly

 

What’s your favorite part of Cowboys of the Waggoner RanchFollow us on Twitter and let us know!

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Cowboy John Paul Welch

Cowboy John Paul Welch’s family has a long history on the Waggoner Ranch. In fact, he’s a third generation cowboy, working alongside his son — that’s right, 4 generations of Welches have cowboyed on the Waggoner.

Portrait of Waggoner Ranch cowboy John Paul Welch by Jeremy Enlow

John Paul is also the man behind one of the most memorable quotes in the book.

“What makes a good cowboy? Pay attention. Keep your mouth shut, and keep your eyes open. Stay out of the way, and try to help when you can.” -John Paul Welch

Our followers have taken to that advice with a lot of enthusiasm, sharing the quote frequently… We think we could all stand to benefit from it, cowboys or not. John Paul went to college and came back home to the Waggoner Ranch, carrying on the family legacy. “Always as a kid, I’d been drawn to being a cowboy,” he says. “Solitude. Don’t have to deal with a whole lot of people. I like horses, being outside, not dealing with a whole lot of stress. Just the way of life.”

Join 24,000+ people who love cowboy life on our Facebook page to read more cowboy stories every day.

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Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch at the Van Cliburn

Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch photographer Jeremy Enlow had the honor of photographing the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. This prestigious piano competition has been a pillar of classical music in America, and it all started right here in Fort Worth, Texas.

In 1958, Dr. Irl Allison announced his intention to establish the competition. The first event was held in 1962. Unlike most other music competitions, Cliburn competitors stay with host families. This allows the musicians to experience Fort Worth’s culture in a unique and personal way.

Jeremy Enlow photographed the Cliburn piano competition in Fort Worth, Texas

Rachel Cheung, of Hong Kong, Finalist and Audience Award 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Sharing in the spirit of Texan hospitality, Jeremy sent each of the finalists home with a signed copy of Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch. That means books are now in Berlin, Hong Kong, Moscow, South Korea… and a little closer to home, Philadelphia and Kansas! For many of these musicians, the book is the closest they’ve ever been to American ranch life.

You can see the full gallery of Jeremy’s Van Cliburn Piano Competition photos here. The images include shots of the pianists in action, as well as portraits taken around Fort Worth (let us know if you recognize where they are!). To see more behind the scenes photos and special images from the event, be sure to follow Jeremy on Instagram.

 

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A View of Thistle Hill

If you’re from Fort Worth, you’ve probably heard of Thistle Hill. A historic mansion from the city’s “cattle baron era,” it is one of Fort Worth’s more impressive landmarks. For people familiar with the Waggoner Ranch, though, the home is even more significant. W.T. Waggoner had the house built for his daughter Electra when she married. He didn’t want her to move too far from home, and this house did the trick.

Jeremy Enlow is an advertising and media photographer based in Fort Worth Texas

On a recent photoshoot for Cook Children’s, Jeremy Enlow was able to capture an unusual photograph of Thistle Hill. Typically photographed from the street, this image shows the enormous size of the home and it’s unique position in Fort Worth.

During her 19-year marriage to Albert Buckman Wharton, Electra and her family resided in the Fort Worth mansion. After their divorce, she moved to Dallas. Electra was a prominent figure in Fort Worth society and the heiress of the Zacaweista section of the Waggoner Ranch. The town of Electra, located near the Waggoner, is named in her honor.

Nowadays, Thistle Hill is a protected historic building available for weddings and receptions. You can take a 360° virtual tour of the mansion here.

Love Texas history? Order the award-winning book Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch today to get an inside look at the ranch Electra Waggoner grew up on.

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Share Your Ranching Stories #MyRanchLife

 

Since we debuted Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch in 2015, we’ve gotten to hear from hundreds of people about life on America’s ranches. From the 23,000 Facebook fans who share their stories with us to our active Twitter community, we love waking up every day and hearing about what’s going on in your neck of the woods.

That’s why we’re inviting you to share your stories with us using the hashtag #MyRanchLife. Whether you follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, share your story using #MyRanchLife for the chance to be featured on our page and connect with other people enjoying ranch life.

Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch wants to hear from you #MyRanchLife

The ranching way of life is important, and we want to preserve and celebrate it whenever we can. From your morning cup of coffee to cattle drives, show us what your ranch life looks like. We can’t wait to hear from you!

 

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Happy Independence Day!

“Being a life long Texan (and you’ll understand this if you’re one too), I have seen more than my fair share of ‘The Cowboy Life’ portrayed in the worst way by some slick New York or Los Angeles artist/producer/photographer/journalist… In my travels, it never fails, that I am presented with some misconceived and ill informed lore of how Texas, Cowboys, and country life if portrayed elsewhere. So when I heard about this book – I was naturally skeptical, and fully expected some mockery and over zealous portrayal of country bumpkins, akin to another horrible Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland performance.. I was horribly, horribly WRONG.”  –Amazon book review, (May 7, 2016)

Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch is made in Texas by Texans

This Independence Day, we’re celebrating the 26 cowboys on the Waggoner Ranch. These men are American icons, carrying on a way of life that is older than Texas. We’re honored to preserve this piece of American history and celebrate the integrity and independence they represent.

The Waggoner Ranch was founded in 1849 by Dan Waggoner. He and his son, W.T. Waggoner, steadily grew the ranch. Now, it is the largest ranch under one fence in the United States. With its long history and legendary stories (Theodore Roosevelt was a regular guest on the ranch!), it is truly an American treasure.

“The land on the Waggoner is special, but it’s the cowboys who make it a special place.”Jeremy Enlow

 

 

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