Sarah McKenzie Evans is proud to be part of McKenzie Land and Livestock, a family-owned and operated ranch established in Pecos County, Texas (around Fort Stockton) more than 120 years ago that also has operations in New Mexico. The ranch runs black Angus and Angus-cross cattle and uses performance-based genetics. The ranch markets efficient, top-performing cattle that are well-adapted to the rugged environment of West Texas. Their motto is, “Tender Hearted, not Tender Footed Bulls.”
Today, Sarah lives with her husband and children, about 100 miles from McKenzie Land and Livestock, but gets out there a couple days per week to take care of hands-on tasks. Sarah’s ranch responsibilities include marketing seedstock and performing day to day ranching activities. “I don’t mind getting dirty,” she laughs.
“Work is definitely full time in agriculture, there are no set hours. Some weeks the work is non-stop while other weeks it is 40 hours, give or take,” she explains. “Since I no longer live full-time on the ranch, I also run some of the cattle closer to home on property that my husband, Curtis Evans, owns” says Sarah, illustrating just how much ranching is in every corner of her life.
Sarah’s sister, Lydia May and her husband Anthony, live at the McKenzie Land and Livestock ranch, along with their parents Houston and Laura McKenzie. Anthony manages the farm while Lydia helps manage the ranch along with working as a Physical Therapist at Pecos County Hospital.
“My 76-year-old father still runs the ranching part of our operation . He claims he is retired, but he still works 12 hours a day. The difference is, he can now take a nap,” says Sarah smiling. “My mother has just retired as the bookkeeper after 45 years of service and now helps out whenever we need her. She will drive tractors, feed cows, or whatever we need!”
As to be expected, ranch life has its fair share of challenges and rewards.
“Resilience against the weather has been the most challenging aspect lately,” explains Sarah. “We are currently experiencing a severe drought in Pecos County and some parts of our ranch have gone without rain for more than 12 months.”
Her grandfather used to say the meanest thing about a drought is that you don’t know when it’s going to end. But in the meantime, while they wait for rain, the family has secured safe places to pasture cows close by and at another one of their ranch properties in New Mexico.
“But the undeniable benefits of this lifestyle are working outdoors with cows and family,” says Sarah. “It’s all so very rewarding, especially watching the next generation learn to love agriculture and continue our business.”
“They are pretty normal teenagers, and are active in sports, FFA and 4-H, showing heifers in the county shows,” she explains. During the summers my kids are integral to our ranch operations, working full time and helping with special projects, like our annual cattle sale.”
Sarah says another benefit of ranching is knowing you are part of an industry that provides a quality protein to nourish growing families, including her own. She loves all the cuts of beef, with Ribeye, Chuck Roast, and Ground Beef being delicious and convenient choices for her own family table. Cooking on the grill is always fun to Sarah, but she says you can’t beat a slow cooker or pressure cooker to fit in with busy family life.
“In fact, Easy Green Chile Beef in a pressure cooker is one of my favorite ways to prep meals and also have great leftovers” she says. “It’s amazing in burritos, stew, egg scramble, stuffed in a potato, piled atop rice, and beans. It’s great with anything really.”
*Sarah’s Easy Green Chile Beef
- 2 lbs. beef stew meat
- 13 oz. tub frozen diced green chiles
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 13 oz. beef broth
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
Add olive oil to pressure cooker (like Instant Pot) and use sauté function to brown beef, onion, and garlic for about 3 minutes, stirring and flipping meat pieces around as needed. Beef will not be cooked through, only seared on the outside. Add broth, cumin, salt, and pepper to pressure cooker and pressure cook on high for about 2 hours, or until fork tender. Makes about 8 servings.
An interesting side note about the family is that they are all active outside the physical demands of ranching. Sarah was previously a member of the Texas Beef Team and still runs some, although now is focusing more on her strength. Lydia May and Anthony, her sister and brother-in-law, are also committed to their fitness, doing a cardio sport or strength training nearly every day.
“And, my dad, who is well into his 70s, continues to ride the Hotter than Hell 100-mile bike ride in Wichita Falls every year and racks up 70 miles per week training on his road bike,” Sarah gushes!