Ellen Tom, of Tom Brothers Ranch in Campbelton, about 50 miles south of San Antonio, is an accomplished Texas rancher – and she’s also a member of Texas Beef Team. Founded in 1857, Ellen represents the sixth generation in her family’s ranch that, today, spans across 7,000 acres and runs about 300 head of cattle. The cattle are primarily black Simmental, SimAngus and Simbrah breeds that are genetically suited to the hot and humid climates of the Gulf Coast region.
Ellen first started learning the ropes as a young girl making the daily rounds with her father to check on the “cinnamon top” (Simmental) cattle and later raising heifers for show. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Master’s degree in Agriculture Leadership and Development. Today she works alongside her uncle, focusing on herd management, marketing and sales, attending industry events, and more.
“Ranching is definitely a dirty, gritty job,” says Ellen. “The nastiest thing I’ve ever had happen was a cow’s abscess exploding and covering me with pus from head to toe. The guys couldn’t stop laughing and said it made their ‘Top 10’ list of things they’ve ever experienced on the ranch. Finally, someone was kind enough to bring a wet paper towel to wipe my face and an employee drove me home in the bed of my truck because I smelled so awful.” Yet, just another day in the life for Ellen.
For a good read, check out the online history of Tom Brothers Ranch. The backstory reveals that founding matriarch, Ellen Campbell Tom, lost her husband to a Longhorn goring shortly after moving out to their new ranch home on the isolated frontier. Instead of packing up and moving back to town, this determined woman kept the business alive and thriving (with a “gold only” policy for customers) while raising five children under continual threat of Indian raids and cattle stampedes. Strong females obviously run in the family!
In addition to running a ranch, Ellen runs, does yoga, barre, and weight training as part of the weight loss and fitness journey she embarked on two years ago. Her favorite race just so happens to be her first race ever run wearing the Texas Beef Team jersey – the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo’s Stampede 5k. Ellen’s goal is to run a half marathon in the near future, as soon as the race scene gets back to normal and she can fit in the training.
Read on to learn more about Ellen, running, and beef!
Other Ranch Products: Wildlife hunting and also sell direct ranch-to-consumer freezer beef.
Pets: Dolly, the Corgi.
Hours Worked: It depends on the time of year. Seven days a week from daylight to dusk during calving and breeding season, which runs September through January. Summer is slower because we try to do as little work as possible with the cows and focus more on pasture management and equipment maintenance.
Ranching Difficulties: So many factors to profitability are out of your control – weather, market prices, negative press, and pandemics.
Ranching Rewards: Watching newborn calves find their legs and stand for the first time, customer feedback that our breeding philosophies are working for them, referrals from the community about our outstanding reputation, and producing a safe, wholesome source of protein to feed the world.
Interesting Story: Ten years ago, I was selected by the American Simmental Association to represent them at the World Simmental Congress in Australia. There, I met an Aussie breeder who is now a good “mate” and has visited me here at the ranch twice and last year my family and I made the trip to visit his family and cattle farm in Australia. I love that the lifestyle of raising cattle is a shared connection with so many from around the world. We have had many international visitors to the ranch over the years and when I go on trips I always try to squeeze in a local farm or ranch to visit. Ranchers are so hospitable and are always eager to welcome visitors. I extend the invite to any of my fellow Beef Team members who would like to see a generational working cattle ranch in south Texas.
Favorite Beef Cut: Filet Mignon, rare!
Dairy Products: Give me all the cheese!
Favorite Beef Recipe: Marinated beef fajitas with creamy poblano pepper strips.
Favorite Beef Cooking Method: Grill
Favorite Nearby Burger Joint: Mr. Juicy in San Antonio
Active Hobbies: Running (I’m on the Texas Beef Team!), yoga, barre, and weight training.