Poco Bueno was a legendary champion cutting horse out of the Waggoner Ranch. Kinda funny that his name is Spanish for “pretty good.”
Poco Bueno was foaled in 1944 by King P-234 and out of Miss Taylor. E. Paul Waggoner of the Waggoner Ranch bought the brown yearling in Stamford, Texas for $5,700. Cowboy Pine Johnson broke the brown stallion, and the pair found themselves in cutting fame. They won prize after prize until Pokey, as he was known on the Waggoner, was sent back to the arena in 1953 to earn his AQHA championship title.
Poco Bueno sired 405 registered foals: 36 AQHA Champions and 3 that are in the National Cutting Horse Association’s Hall of Fame (Poco Mona, Poco Stampede and the renowned Poco Lena). His bloodline is still seen throughout the United States.
Burial Fit for a Champion
The brown stallion died in 1969. Per E. Paul Waggoner’s will, Poco Bueno was buried standing up across from the Waggoner ranch entrance at Zacaweista. A four-ton granite marker marks the special spot to this day.
For more unfiltered images of the Waggoner Ranch check out the book “Cowboys of the Waggoner Ranch” by photographer Jeremy Enlow.
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.
Calf testicles and ears are sorted out in the field after they’re removed.
Waggoner Cowboys keep close track of the ears cut to make sure every calf has been attended to.
Waggoner Cowboy, Daly Welch fills a glove with the day’s collection. This will be supper.
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
Follow these links for more
- Recipe: Calf Fries with Cracked-Pepper Gravy via Grady Spears and Good Morning America
- Recipe: The Nasty Bits: Testicles, Grilled & Fried via Serious Eats
- Calf Fries: a nutty food quest via Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Rocky Mountain Oysters via Thrillist
- Rocky Mountain Oysters Are What?! We Try a Dish of Cowboy Lore via NPR
- Jeremy Enlow samples calf fries pizza at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse via Instagram
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Ranch? Follow us on Twitter and let us know!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.