Monica Minzenmayer – Rowena, Texas

November & December 2020

Monica Minzenmayer

A passion for cattle-raising runs deep in Monica Minzenmayer’s family. She’s a 7th generation rancher/farmer who has traced her ancestry in cattle ownership to date back continuously for 174 years.

“The first generation of cattle-owners in my family immigrated from Germany in 1846,” Monica explains. “Every generation owned at least some milk cows, but most also ran a herd of beef cattle. It was just a part of country living. My dad recalls having milking contests in the mornings before school and my mom tells stories of making homemade cottage cheese with my great-grandmother.”

“I grew up helping with my dad’s cattle herd and bought my first 200-pound calf at age 13 from the auction barn. I took care of it and let it graze and grow in a pasture behind our house. When it was about 600 pounds, I sold it. Every year my siblings and I would buy and sell calves. We would make a couple hundred bucks, but moreover we would learn priceless lessons about hard work and animal husbandry,” Monica elaborates.

Today, Monica is sharing this love for ranching and farming with her own family that includes husband Paul and their two children, Matthew and Elizabeth. The couple owns High Cotton Farms in Runnels County where they have been growing cotton, wheat, and hay, along with running an approximate 400-head cow-calf operation since 2002.

“We love raising our family on the farm. Our kids have grown up seeing and understanding the circle of life and the process of raising crops and animals for food. They have learned so much about taking care of animals and the land. We pride ourselves in making sure we are good stewards of the land so that our farming and ranching continues to be sustainable into the future.”

Monica loves the hands-on aspect of working a herd of cattle, calling many of the ranch duties an “all-hands-on-deck” family experience that also involves her son and daughter. Calf season is Monica’s favorite time of year and there is plenty to be done. “The first-time mother cows need to be checked multiple times per day to make sure they don’t have any problems with birthing.  Occasionally, a heifer needs some birthing assistance, and it’s always so satisfying to help her out and end up with a healthy baby and mom,” says Monica.

Despite her endless duties as a mother, wife, and agricultural business owner, Monica also excels at a profession in education. She’s the dean of the grammar school and 4th grade homeroom teacher at Cross Classical Academy in Brownwood, Texas.  “I am equally as passionate about education as I am about agriculture, and love combining the two and educating students about farming and ranching.”

Oh, and Monica is a runner!  She first took up cross country and track at age 12, earning the suiting nickname “Dynamo” for her boundless energy. She still trains regularly, role-modeling that running and fitness are a great way to maintain energy levels at any age.  Monica’s favorite race to date has been the Aggieland Triathlon for the challenge and excitement of running on the campus of Texas A&M University. She is currently training for the Shannon Trail Series, three races in the San Angelo area in early 2021. “I really dislike running in the cold, so this one challenges me and gets me out of my comfort zone,” she laughs.

On-the-Job Education: I grew up working cows with my dad and grandpa. From an early age we learned how to herd cattle, open gates, avoid the bull, and keep a herd calm and healthy.

Hours Worked Per Week: Hours worked with the cattle varies by season and my availability with juggling teaching and raising kids.

Challenges of Ranch Life:  For me the hardest aspect is when you have a sick cow or bottle calf. We care deeply about the health and wellbeing of our herd. I will bundle up a newborn calf and nurse it to health anytime of the day or night, if needed. I’ve splinted up broken ankles and brought babies into my kitchen. We really do care about our animals.  Also, weather can be a major challenge for us here in West Texas. During droughts, the grass quits growing and the water sources dry up. It becomes hard to find places that the cattle can graze and find water.  Often, we have to haul water in tanks to fill troughs for the cattle which is very time consuming and expensive. We spend a lot of time on our knees praying for rain!

Rewards of Ranch Life: We like to have calm happy herds, so it is so satisfying to pull up to a herd and have them come running because they know they are going to get some cow cake. Also, it is very rewarding to feed our own family and other families with high quality beef from our herd.

Funny Questions: We have traveled extensively to 29 states and 21 countries around the world. My favorite questions asked by people who find out we are from Texas and own cattle are, “So do you have horses and do you ride them everywhere?” They totally envision Texas ranchers operating like the old Western movies. It’s fun to tell them that our horses are 4-wheelers and a bag of cow cake. We keep our herds tame and well trained so that they just come running at the sound of a vehicle and a bag of feed. While we do still wear boots and hats, ranching nowadays is much more high-tech than the days of cattle drives in the Old West.

Favorite Beef Cut: It’s hard to beat a grass-fed, grain-finished ribeye grilled to a juicy medium-rare. It has to have a generous dusting of garlic power to be pure perfection.

Favorite Beef Recipe: I love to make beef fajitas with a skirt steak. I will marinate it for a day in the refrigerator and grill it on our pellet grill to get that smoky flavor.

Favorite Beef Cooking Method: A pellet grill is my beef cooking go-to device. I use it for steaks, fajitas, brisket and even making beef jerky.

Favorite Hometown Restaurant: Our part of Texas is famous for Lowake Steakhouse. It has been open since 1951 and makes the best steaks and burgers around.

Active Hobbies: I am a lifelong runner with trail running and triathlons being my favorite. I also enjoy biking, wake surfing, water skiing, swimming, and snow skiing.  I love living in the country and running the deserted dirt roads and turnrows at sunrise.

Beef Team: TI am a member of the Texas Beef Team and I love it! Thank you for your advocacy! As a cattle producer, I appreciate the message you share with athletes about the health benefits of beef. I love the connection the Beef Team makes between rural and urban athletes and producers to promote and learn about the beef industry!