Rancher details struggles and joys of living in the country

SAN BENITO — Some 30 years ago when Ramiro Gonzalez bought his 17-acre property, it was squarely in the country.

But the City of San Benito came to him.

“I’ve had the place for 30-some years,” he said, standing in his pasture on North Sam Houston Boulevard. “When I got it, it was outside the city limits. Now it’s inside the city limits.

“And all the people who have experienced that, it’s not too much fun, because you don’t know who’s going to be in power … I fight with them every day.”

Gonzalez has a home elsewhere in San Benito, and he says he’s got a half-dozen or so cattle at that five-acre ranchette.

But here he runs 10 head of cattle, and he’s got several with calves. He can’t disguise his love of the work, even if his isn’t the King Ranch.

“It’s enjoyable, but it’s work,” he said. “You gotta like it.

“You gotta get up every morning, and come and check your cows, and you’ve gotta take care of your pasture.”

Among his cows is a placid brown Texas longhorn with calf, and she has a special place in his cattle-raising heart.

“You won’t believe it, but I keep records and everything. That calf with the white tail? That’s her 15th calf,” he said.

“That’s a good cow,” he added. “You look at her udder, it’s still a nice, tight udder. She’s not sagging.

“Whatever they say about the longhorns is true,” Gonzalez continued. “They’re easy keepers, and they’re good mama cows.”

Gonzalez, 64, is like a lot of ranchers in the Rio Grande Valley these days — enjoying the easy living thanks to the lush green pastures.

“If you noticed, everybody’s got round hay barrels scattered everywhere,” he said. “Well, nobody’s selling any hay because the grass is coming out.

“But I tell everybody it’s going to quit raining here one of these days.”

Gonzalez said just after he bought this property, he received three offers trying to make him sell. One from the City of San Benito Cemetery next door, and two others.

“One was from the city, they almost wanted me to donate it,” he recalled.

Another call “was an extreme high number.”

“And he said, ‘You’ve got to be crazy not to take this money.’ And I said, ‘No, you’ve got to be crazy to want to give me that kind of money.’”

As he looks out at his cattle clustered in the shade of his Texas ebony trees, he looks like a man comfortable with the decision.

“Now I tell them no, I enjoy it, and its here to stay with our family,” he said. “This is what I’m going to give my kids.”