Women in ranching are a force of nature and Amanda Dyer from Fort Davis, Texas is the perfect example She’s a combination of West Texas tenacity and Lone Star State charm; a woman who wears bunch of hats in life and always steps up to get the specific job at hand accomplished with grit and grace. Hailing from five generations in agriculture (her great grandfather was a trail boss on the Chisolm Trail), Amanda pitches in at the family business started back in the 1960s, Rancho Espuela Cattle Company. Rancho Espuela is a commercial cow/calf operation, which now predominantly raises Akaushi cattle, red beauties that are one of four breeds known collectively as Waygu – which translates as “Japanese cow”.
In addition to ranch work, Amanda runs the office on the daily for Big Bend Trailers, a livestock trailer company her father started in 2003. “Thankfully the two businesses overlap, which means that some people may get to hear mooing in the background when I forward the office phone to my cell phone,” she laughs.
“Working outdoors in the wide-open spaces, being entrusted by God to be stewards of our land and livestock, and furthering what my grandparents and parents worked so hard to put and keep together, are a few of the amazing rewards of being in this industry,” Amanda says, “and it’s also a blessing to work alongside so many kind people with strong work ethics and values – people I look up to and strive to emulate.”
Amanda mentions that as a woman in ranching, she may not have the physical strength of a man and jokes that she took up CrossFit a couple of years ago to help in that area. But, kidding aside, women working and living in the agricultural community bring strength to the workplace in countless other manners. “As women, my mom, my sister and I have had to come up with more creative and ‘easier’ ways of doing things,” she mentions. “It’s rewarding to use critical thinking and ingenuity to get a difficult task completed, and it also encourages us to find new (and maybe better) ways of doing things.”
Read on to learn more about this amazing lady and asset to the Texas beef community in her own words.
Pet: Bella, a Blue Merle Aussie
Education: BBA in Marketing & Management from Texas A&M University, Master of Science in Finance from Texas A&M University, TCU Ranch Management Program at Texas Christian University
Difficult Aspects of Ranch Life: Probably being misunderstood by the public. I cringe when I read articles or see negative posts about our industry. It hurts me to hear that people think we don’t care about the environment or our livestock. Our land and our cattle are our most prized possessions and we strive to preserve the land and protect its precious natural resources, while keeping our cattle healthy and well cared for. My family happens to ranch in an area that is too rugged for farming, so it is best suited for livestock. We are able to preserve the top soil and turn grass into a vitamin rich protein through our cattle. The vast majority of cattle ranches in the U.S. are owned and operated by families who want to preserve and improve the land for future generations as well as provide a safe wholesome product for our family and yours.
Important Ranch Skills: Communication and comfortable shoes. Funny story, not long after I moved back to help with the ranch, my dad called me to bring over some ear tags to the cattle pens where he was working. I jumped in the old ranch truck and drove over, not realizing this truck had a bad habit of locking itself after the door was shut. Not a soul was in site nor was there any mooing in the distance – I realized this was the wrong pasture and that my phone was locked in the truck. I walked a mile or more in uncomfortable shoes over to the train tracks where a train had stopped in hopes that someone would be there. The conductor was incredulous that “people actually lived out here.” I used his phone to call my Mom, who mentioned that a spare key was hidden outside the truck for circumstances just like this! She came and picked me up because my feet were too blistered at that point to walk back to the truck. I got the ear tags delivered to the proper location and we still get a good laugh over it — it served as a great little lesson in communication for our family.
Favorite Cut of Beef: Hands down the ribeye. I really enjoy the less lean cuts of beef for their flavor. I try to adhere to a paleo/low carb diet and have been off of gluten for over 10 years. The change in my health has been so worth it. It’s exciting to me that more and more research is coming out that supports beef, and even fat, as an important role in healthy diets. I strongly recommend reading or listening to The Big Fat Surprise (by Nina Teicholz) and Genius Foods (by Max Lugavere).
Favorite Beef Recipe: Outside of mesquite-grilling a steak, I really love Kalbi – which are Korean short ribs. One of my best friends from Hong Kong introduced me to this delicious staple while we were in Hawaii and I found a recipe online that is very close – Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs
To keep the recipe in line with my Paleo diet, I will make ingredient substitutions in the marinade — like coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, apple cider vinegar instead of mirin and Medjool dates instead of brown sugar. I’ll serve it with cauliflower rice cooked with butter or ghee and garlic.
Favorite Place to Get a Burger: Hopdoddy. They serve Akaushi beef, the breed of cattle my family raises.