A black and white photo hangs on the wall of the Edmundo Quiñonez home in western Dallas County that shows a 13-year-old boy and other family members riding in a horse-drawn buckboard wagon across the dry desolate countryside of Durango, Mexico. The scene could easily belong to the mid-19th century instead of the mid-20th century when it was actually taken. Edmundo Quiñonez, owner of 220 acres, 100 Black Angus cows and three horned Hereford bulls, smiled as he pointed out that he is the young teen in the photo.
“My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather all kept cattle and horses but my father also had 11 children. We each had to go out and find our own way in the world. And that is what I did when I came to America.”
Edmundo arrived in the United States in the mid-1970’s after riding in the back of a truck with 54 others for several days. Life in America began in Chicago. “I can do a lot of things and I have,” he laughed. “When I came here I did not speak English and I could not drive a car, but I had a wife and three kids so I had to learn fast.” He worked a variety of jobs, including welding and factory work. He drove a Chicago cab and for several years, and he drove 18 wheelers all over the US and Canada.
“I’ve seen all of this country,” he smiled while seated upon one of his 15 horses, “but I’m a farmer at heart. This is what I love to do. When I saw this part of the country, I knew that this was where I wanted to be.”
One of his favorite customers in nearby Laclede County calls Edmundo, “a real cowboy," and he chuckled at that description. “I grew up around mad cows, bulls and rattlesnakes,” he said. “I did dairy cattle in southwest Missouri from 1990 until 2005, but I’ve gone to all beef production since then. We get black baldy calves, good calves as a result of the black Angus cows with the horned Hereford bulls. My bulls are 2,400 and 2,600 pounds and I have one four-year-old bull that is 2,800 pounds.”
Training horses and stock dogs is another big interest but he smiled as he confided that “horses are easier to train than dogs. The secret is to not be afraid of the animals, whether it is horses, dogs or cattle.” He pointed proudly to the flank of one of his horses. “I still use my father’s ‘Q’ brand, just like he did years ago in Mexico.”
Edmundo Quiñonez and his wife, Elena obtained US citizenship in 1982. Elena admitted that adapting from life in Chicago to a much quieter way of life in rural Dallas County was not an easy transition. “I didn’t like it here at first,” the soft spoken woman shared, standing outside her home, “because it was so different from Chicago, but it is quiet and no one bothers you. I really do like living here.” Edmundo and Elena have four grown children who continue to live and work in Chicago. “They have good jobs,” he added, “and that is where they grew up.”
Edmundo Quiñonez smiled when asked what his advice might be for anyone starting out today. “I have seen a great many changes over my years here, but this truly still is a great land of opportunity. If you want to get started in farming, ranching, agriculture – don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. Don’t ever believe that. You will have to work hard and there may be some high fences to jump, some obstacles, but you have to be consistent and keep going. You may have to take a job with a company first and save money, but always keep looking forward to the future.” Edmundo began by first buying 40 acres, then adding 90 acres, and then more acreage to arrive at his current 220.
“I don’t do computers,” Edmundo Quiñonez concluded with a shake of his head. “They are not for me. I’m sure I could learn the computer, if I would really study it, but studying is something I never got to do, just no real opportunity to go to school. But I’ve learned anyone can succeed if they use common sense and are willing to work hard,” he added with a grin and a shrug, “and that is all right, too.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here