Head about 80 miles east of Amarillo and you’ll run into McDowell Ranch located in the small town of Shamrock, Texas. This family-run commercial cow and stocker cattle operation is led by this month’s featured beef producer, Pat McDowell, along with his two brothers, John and Mark. The siblings mark the family’s fifth generation in the agricultural industry and together they use those collective years of hands-on experience, wisdom and “hard work ethic” upbringing to manage a ranch with several hundred cows and stocker cattle, along with farm acreage that yields corn, cotton and wheat.
Pat and his wife, Liz (who also owns and runs a cattle operation on her side of the family and is a lending officer in a local bank), have two grown daughters and four young grandchildren. “Family and heritage are both very important to us,” explains Pat. “Our daughters are not involved in the daily cattle operations, but being raised on the ranches, they make sure their kids are around cows and horses starting at an early age.”
The grandchildren are shown how to feed cows, care for the horses, and feed the occasional bottle calf – they love it! “We believe it is important for them to get dirty on the ranch while playing and learning. We try to make almost every ‘job’ they accompany us on a learning experience,” elaborates Pat.
As you might guess, the McDowell’s have served plenty of beef at their family table over the years. “Liz always has frozen, pre-cooked hamburger meat for me in the freezer,” says Pat. “Ground beef is my go-to quick lunch or ‘not-cooking’ supper night. A quick microwave thawing, a flour tortilla, a little cheese and some Rotel and I am fed, full and back to work.” Since the couple lives more than an hour from a ‘large’ town, there is always a roast in the freezer waiting to be prepared for the weekend meal.
Pat’s schedule is robust, running between daily ranch operations and serving in numerous industry leadership positions which currently include sitting on the boards of Texas Beef Council and Texas Farm Bureau. However, he says that he relates to the Texas Beef Team in that Liz rides her bike almost every day, except in the coldest part of the winter. “We live in the middle of a cow pasture, so her riding conditions are gravel, sand, or grass,” he explains, “but she is always smiling when her ride is finished. She loves the exercise and the feeling and energy it gives her.”
A few weeks ago, Pat had the opportunity to share a meal with a trade team of meat buyers from Central and South America when they came to visit Amarillo. One of them said “I bet you keep the best cattle and eat them at your home, then sell us the ones that are not quite as good”. Pat replied with a comment showing his passion and confidence in the Texas and greater U.S. beef industry. “Absolutely not,” he said, “we buy almost all our Beef at Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart. We are very picky about what we eat and Sam’s always has a very high-quality beef presented in a very professional manner. Odds that the beef we are buying was raised on our ranch is small, but we believe the overall quality of any choice-grade beef you buy will be a great eating experience.”