We all know that time breeds familiarity, and the time that I have spent on the truly unique Frying Pan Ranch has ingrained it in my head as more of a mythical figure than an assortment of land surrounded by fences. The ranch itself has a rich history and storied details that make it more of a fictional character than a great western landscape. The obvious character would of course be a bronc stomping’, smooth-talking, bow-legged cowboy that has been the representation of western culture for the last hundred years.
If the Frying Pan were a person, they would have a long stride, a lean face, and a voice that would blow past you at 40 miles an hour. First impressions aside, they would be a pretty nice person with plenty of Texas hospitality. I would like to picture them as having a short Texas drawl that just sort of skips over half the vowels in a word.
Much like the ranch itself, this Frying Pan fella would be old but somehow you’d still know that he has a history that goes back farther than he lets on about. From bottom to top, he would be dressed in tall stovepipe boots that have a steep heel on them, just like the steep cliffs and canyons where the Llano Estacado drops off into the mesquite-covered plains. The spurs worn on his boots would spin round and round like many of the functioning windmills that still harness the power of the plains to pull water up for the ranch’s residents.
He would walk slowly from the weight of his batwing chaps, which were made from a whole Frying pan cow on either leg, and even though they look punchy, he just wears them to show off how big the FP’s cattle can get. Holding up faded jeans would be a belt that wraps around his skinny waist like a rattlesnake around a gate post, a sight that is almost too common on the Frying Pan.
Next up in our cowboy’s wardrobe is a bright pearl snap shirt. He doesn’t wear it for fashion, but because he thinks that one of these days, the buttons will pop open rather ripped off when he gets snagged by a mesquite thorn; it hasn’t worked yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. He wears a red wild rag to represent the red rock canyons of the northern end of the ranch. He has a brand new pair of leather work gloves on his hands, but they are just one of many pairs that will eventually be replaced, because of the original barbed wire fences on the ranch that tear up gloves faster than anyone can count.
Now of course this cowboy of ours has to have a big pan-handle-bar mustache like all western icons do, but in this case, it represents the vast grasslands that cover the upper lip of Texas and create excellent cow country for man and beef alike. Most crucial to this character, though, is his backstory–the memory he has of the Comanche trading at the modern headquarters, of the first barbed wire to go up in north Texas, and of the many people whose lives were directly tied to this place. To top it all off he wears a big white Stetson; one, to shade his face like the few cottonwoods and riparian areas that create an oasis and provide a reprieve from the summertime heat, and two, because the good guys always wear white.
The Frying Pan ranch has enough history to make up a dozen lifetimes, and plenty of features to outfit a whole cast of characters across its many pastures. It’s a beautiful old ranch that may take a little bit of warming up too at first, but it has a soft side, and, if you take care of it, it will take care of you.
Max grew up in the small town of Crestone at the foot of the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, where he graduated high school just before joining the Ranchlands team as an intern. Max began his internship in South Dakota, helping us start the young horses in our breeding program. Over the course of his time with Ranchlands he has worked at several of the properties we manage, finally landing at the Frying Pan Ranch in Texas, where he lives now.