Two generations of the Patton family join to form Two County Ranch
Paul and Anna Patton of Conway, Mo., married in 1992, having a shared love for horses, and created a blended family that included children from previous marriages. They enjoy spending time with their combined 20 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
They have now been married 27 years, which shows that sometimes “you just know” as Anna said with a smile.
Paul was born in 1938 and remembers how different his childhood was at that time. He mowed hay with a team of mules.
“Everything we ate was either raised or grown on the farm,” Paul said.
He has always had livestock and especially loves handling horses. They currently have three riding horses, two Missouri Fox Trotters and a Tennessee Walking Horse; Friesian mares they drive that are expecting foals this spring; and a miniature Sicilian donkey named Pokey, whose main job is being a grandkid magnet.
They also keep a small herd of Missouri Fox Trotters that belong to their daughter-in-law Leslie.
Paul and Anna have ridden their horses across the country. They are members of two horse organizations; the Southwest Trail Riders and Back Country Horsemen of Missouri and the national organization. Back Country Horsemen of America is a volunteer trail advocacy group that maintains, protects, and preserves trails for future trail riders to enjoy.
At Two County Ranch, Paul and Anna and their son, Richard and his wife Leslie, have partnered to run a cow/calf herd with mostly black cows that are a quarter horned Hereford and three-quarters black Angus. Paul likes this mix because the horned Hereford is a good quality bull to use with polled cows.
“I like them better than polled Herefords,” he said.
When they originally started running cows in 1992, they knew they wanted a black cow because they seem to do well at the sale barns. Richard explained that the black Angus has been heavily advertised as a quality meat.
“Angus cattle typically mature faster and therefore are ready for market sooner,” he said.
They started with black stock cows and eventually invested in black Angus bulls.
Together they run more than 100 head of cattle, not counting the calves. Paul has 50 head and Richard has 40 and they have another combined herd, but Richard provides management for all. They own 170 acres at the Two County Ranch main property where Paul and Anna’s home is located, 40 acres that are owned by both Paul and Richard, and another 65 acres where Richard runs his cows. They rent additional pasture east of Conway, Mo.
“One thing we do is vaccinate yearly and supplement as needed.” Paul said. “We prefer to have our cattle calve in the fall and sell the calves off in April or May.”
They use rotational grazing to improve pasture quality, either through their already fenced pastures or with electric fence.
Their pastures are primarily made up of fescue, clover and Orchardgrass. They fertilize as needed, but very seldom plant seeds, although last year they no-tilled wheat and turnip to have a fuller pasture, according to Paul.
“We also bale hay for horses and cattle; small square bales and large round bales,” Anna said.
Some pastures are set aside for grazing, some for hay and some for both depending on weather conditions. The haying and baling decisions are made depending on the needs for each particular year, drought conditions and how many cattle and/or horses they have. They do purchase hay if needed, but try to plan ahead for their own needs.
Richard and his wife Leslie also raise Boer meat goats and Katahdin/Dorper cross sheep on their property, which is adjacent to Paul and Anna’s. He likes this mix because he thinks white sheep usually sell better at auction. Their goats have just started kidding. They’ve only had the sheep for about two and a half years, but so far they like this cross. Richard says he likes running sheep because when it’s time to load them up, he can load them with a bucket of feed and they’ll walk right into the trailer.
“For cattle, you have to have more equipment like corral panels and chutes. Sheep are just easier,” he said.
Paul isn’t too sure about the sheep and goat business.
“I just like the cows,” he said shaking his head.
Anna confided that she thinks of Paul as a great husbandman.
“It’s an old-fashioned biblical word that means someone skilled in husbandry who tills the land and takes good care of his animals. I’ve never seen anyone care for his animals the way Paul does. He knows each one as an individual and notices if something is wrong before it causes greater harm to their health.”
Paul and Richard keep the family operation going strong. In addition to the cattle operation, the family owns and operates ProGas, a propane business servicing the rural community within a 30 mile radius.
At Two County Ranch they also offer overnight stabling accommodations for people traveling with their horses. They have a large barn with box stalls and outdoor runs for the horses and RV hook-ups for the larger horse trailers with self-contained living quarters.
The barn is made entirely of solid oak that was harvested on Two County Ranch and built by Paul and Richard. Richard and Leslie were wed there in 2013 under the covered entryway between the massive beams supporting the old fashioned style barn. Paul and Anna also celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a big barn party.
The couple hope these will be just the beginning of many happy family reunions and weddings to be celebrated at Two County Ranch.