Ranchers carry on history, family legacies

Excerpt and photo from Mary Wozniak: https://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/articles/ranchers-carry-on-history-family-legacies/

This is a tale of two ranches.

They are completely different, but each provides a brief glimpse into the cattle rancher’s way of life and a window into the ecosystem services they provide — benefits conservationists consider vital to protect remaining Florida ranchlands from development. They are only two of the more than 15,000 cattle ranches, large and small, that make up Florida’s 500-year-old cowboy culture.

Blackbeard’s Ranch, Manatee County

STRICKLANDSplish splash. The cattle moving toward us on Blackbeard’s Ranch looked almost like they were fording a river rather than a flooded pasture. A 4-inch rain had soaked the ground the night before, leaving them plodding along in chest-high water.

This 4,530-acre cow/calf operation is in Myakka City, only about an hour from downtown Sarasota, but you’d never know it. At the end of a nondescript shell entrance road, a sweeping expanse of what looks like a Florida savannah opens, stretching to the horizon and a tree line marking the boundary of Myakka River State Park.

The lowing herd of about 20 cows and calves came closer and closer, with a small group of cowboys and their helpers keeping them in line. The colors of the cattle and the cowboys on their horses popped bold and crisp against the luminous morning light as they traipsed through their own reflections in the water.

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