Tim and Gayle Foster
Fickle weather, market forces, and catastrophic events can run, even a long-standing ranch, into ruin. But, Gayle Foster of Rathman Ranch says it’s God’s timing that has been the biggest blessing behind the successful cow-calf operation she owns and operates in Bastrop county with her husband Tim.
Gayle’s story begins well before her time, as most ranching stories do, with her “PaPaw,” Joe Philip Rathman, starting a ranch on land he purchased in Red Rock, Texas in the 1930s. His son and Gayle’s father, Joe Lee Rathman, worked by his side, eventually creating Rathman Feedlot and also joining Lockhart Livestock Auction as part owner. When Gayle graduated from Texas A&M University, she worked with her dad in daily operations at the feedlot and auction until his sudden death from a heart attack at age 58.
“With the unexpected passing of my father in 1993, my mother, Adlinie Rathman, and I were challenged with managing all aspects of his business endeavors,” explains Gayle. “At the time, I was a single mother running a feed yard in a man’s world, along with my mother, but we prevailed.”
“Before he passed, my dad had met the man to whom I am now married, Tim, several times. Tim was a cattle buyer and frequented our auction barn,” elaborates Gayle. “Dad told a good friend of mine that he had plans of introducing Tim and I, thinking that we were a good match. I agreed to meet Tim at a street dance in Bastrop one weekend. My father saw us together at the dance on Saturday, then passed away the following Tuesday. Although my dad and I never had to opportunity to talk about it, I know in my heart that he would approve of the direction his business took (now transitioned from feedlot to cow/calf operation) in the years after his life on Earth. Tim playing such a pivotal role in our family’s life, as a father and business manager, allowed our family and children to be prioritized. Today, our grown children, Weston and Joelle, are pursuing professional careers, yet their roots remain with Rathman Ranch. God’s timing truly blessed Rathman Ranch.”
“Ranching takes rugged men (editor’s note: and women) unafraid of huge risks to take on Mother Nature to raise cattle. This approach has nurtured an attitude carried in our family DNA,” says Gayle. To this day, despite the ups and downs of life, and the transitioning of their business model from feedlot and auction to cow/calf operation, the Rathman family business thrives on. Read on to find more about this inspirational woman in the beef industry, in her own words.
Three Things You Might Not Know: 1) My children, Weston and Joelle, were both recipients of a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship through the 4-H program. Both showed cattle at the major livestock shows across Texas, promoting the beef industry; 2) I am a member of the Texas Beef Team and my favorite race is Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run in Austin, TX; 3) We have two miniature ponies named Ellen and Portia.
Education: I have a Biomedical Science degree from Texas A & M University and was employedt at Lockhart Livestock Auction in the 1990s. Tim’s background is in cattle buying. My son, Weston, earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2012 and is a Board-certified Equine Surgeon at Brazos Valley Equine Hospital. My daughter, Joelle, graduated with an Animal Science degree from A & M and is currently a second-year Dental student at UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry.
Hours Worked Per Week: I am not able to quantify that . . . a lot!! Hard to say because ranching is not a job that you leave at night, and go back to in the morning. We are on call 24 hours!
Most Difficult Aspect Ranching: The hardest parts are the unpredictable nature of the weather, economy, and the government. We are always at the mercy of these three factors, and they are always changing, usually beyond our control.
Unique Ranch Life Memory: My daughter’s involvement in 4-H and showing cattle led to a fun opportunity for our family. Joelle and her steer, named Lunchbox, were asked to play a small role in “Deep in the Heart,” a movie telling the life story of Dick Wallrath (a huge supporter of the 4-H program). Joelle and Lunchbox are in a movie scene where Dick Walrath gets in a bidding war to purchase her calf at a livestock show. It was a fun and unique experience for our family, and we can watch it over and relive it as many times as we like!
Active Hobbies: I enjoy walking in races with my daughter, Pilates, fishing, and babysitting my grandson, Grayson.
Favorite Beef Cut: Filet Mignon
Favorite Beef Recipe: Beef with Red Wine Sauce
Favorite Beef Cooking Method: Grill
Best Hometown Burger Joint: Texas Grill in Bastrop. Ask for the “Beef Burger” when ordering.