Meet Your Rancher: Dan Bell

We’d like to introduce you to Dan Bell, 48, of Nogales, ArizonaIMG_2828.

Arizona Beef: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch:

Dan Bell: I am a third-generation rancher with a degree in Renewable Natural Resources from the University of Arizona. I am married to my wife of 23 years, Roxanne. Roxanne is a middle school science teacher and is also the advisor to the Arizona Junior Livestock Association. We have three children – Aidan is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade, Matt is 17 years old and a junior at Nogales High School, and Katie is 20 years old and a sophomore at Pima Community College and transferring to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture in the fall. Our ranch is a family held corporation called ZZ Cattle Corporation. It is comprised of 9 family shareholders, my parents, George and Juby, my uncle and aunt, Tom and Charlotte, my three cousins, Scott, Thomas and Chris, as well as my sister Jessica and me. Management of the ranch is handled by my cousin Scott and me, with input from my father and uncle.

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Dan and Roxanne with Wilbur and Wilma.

The ranch got its start in the mid 1930’s when my grandparents Thomas and June Bell acquired the 61 Ranch which was largely made up of a Forest Service grazing allotment. Over the years, the ranch operation has grown to Forest Service grazing, a State grazing lease, private land and private leases. In the beginning, the cattle herd was Hereford and in the 1980’s we began the transition to the Black Angus herd it is today.

We pay careful attention to our genetics, to enable our livestock to perform in our country, while at the same time providing the consumer with what they desire. We raise our own replacement heifers to put back in the cow herd and purchase high quality purebred Angus Bulls to achieve our desired outcomes. We are Beef Quality Assurance certified and do our best to constantly move forward, improving our cattle and the ranch.

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Photo credit: Tucson.com

We ranch along the border with Mexico for approximately 10 miles. The size of the ranch is approximately 35,000 acres, with a stocking rate of about 1 cow to 50 acres. We are home to many endangered species like Mexican Spotted Owl, Lessor Long Nosed Bat, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Sonoran chub (a minnow) and we have even had Jaguar presence. It is also home to wildlife like Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Javelina, Coatimundi, Mountain Lions, Mearns Quail, and much, much more.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?

The biggest change we’ve probably experienced with regards to technology would be our record keeping. Tagging animals with individual identification, along with the use of computers and spreadsheets has allowed for more information to be collected and stored and is easily reviewed and evaluated for the cattle we raise. Cattle handling equipment has also come a long way, as it provides safer environment for the both the rancher and livestock which enables us, as ranchers, to obtain data and perform Beef Quality Assurance practices.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way you raise cattle on your ranch?IMG_2824

Sometimes it is alleged that ranching has a negative impact on the environment. However, I would submit that the opposite is true. Ranching and raising cattle have positive impacts everywhere you look. They provide open space over large landscapes, enabling wildlife connectivity. We take pride in what we do. We monitor vegetation on a yearly basis to ensure we are meeting resource expectations. Through our water developments, we are providing reliable sources of water not only for the livestock we raise but also because the wildlife has become dependent upon it. The strategic placement of our water facilities allows for more uniform distribution of livestock and wildlife over the entire ranch.
We also utilize rest-rotation grazing management that allows us to graze pastures in a pattern that allows for each of our pastures to receive growing season rest 2 out of every 3 years. As ranchers, we are most interested in assuring that resources we depend on year after year will continue to provide for generations to come. If we are successful in that endeavor, then we know the livestock and wildlife will thrive.

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What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for all to consume?

As ranchers, it is important for us to continually monitor our livestock to ensure the herd is healthy. In regards to our ranch, we are certified in Beef Quality Assurance programs that provide a frame work to follow and implement best management practices for livestock handling, vaccination protocols, and preconditioning our livestock to ensure sickness is not a factor.

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What would you like people to know about you and the work you do to raise beef?

Our family takes pride in what we do. Through our livestock, we take a renewable natural resource and convert it, into a safe and wholesome product, beef! It is an awesome responsibility when you consider that only about 1 percent of the U.S. population is providing the nutritional requirements for the country and a lot of the world.

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If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?

Rewarding!

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Matt Bell gathering cattle at dawn.

Lastly, and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?

This is extremely difficult to answer because there is a cut of beef for any occasion. For special occasions and holidays, a standing Rib Roast is on the plate. For gathering with friends, it has to be the Flank and Skirt Steaks prepared Carne Asada style. But, perhaps my favorite cut is the Ribeye.

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Springtime in Arizona

Arizona is a beautiful place, but spring happens to be one of the prettiest. This is the time of year when the desert comes alive. Flowers bloom, the grasses make a feeble attempt to grow, random rain storms erupt, and calves are born. Enjoy this collection of photos from various locations across our state.

A special thank you to Dean Fish, Cassie Lyman, Tina Thompson, Arizona Ranch Reflections, and Dan Bell for letting us share the views you have on your ranches.

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Luck o’ the Irish: The Ryan Family

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Janice Bryson promoting beef at an Arizona State Cowbelles event.

This piece was written by Janice Bryson, a great asset to the many organizations she is part of including the Arizona State Cowbelles. Janice’s family has a long history in ranching in Arizona and with their Irish lines, this seemed a perfect opportunity to feature the history of her heritage. Enjoy the history of a great Irish family who made their lives in Arizona along with a delicious Irish Beef Stew recipe to help your family celebrate the holiday!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  We Irish like to think everyone has little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and while it was originally a quiet day of church and family in Ireland, I think the Americans decided to make it a much more rowdy celebration which has spread around the world!

My great-grandfather William Ryan, born in County Tipperary, Ireland, arrived in the Globe mining camp in January 1881.  Several years later, he met my great-grandmother, Anna Mary Moloney, who come to Globe from County Limerick to work for her Uncle Denis Murphy.

Many Irish headed to the American West to strike it rich drawn by the reports of silver, gold and copper strikes.  A number of military forts were established to protect the miners from hostilities around the newly established mines and settlements.  This was a great age in Arizona Territory for an entrepreneur; who was going to feed and supply all the miners and soldiers arriving daily?  Many pioneer ranchers and farmers stepped up to help fill the needed food supply.

Most cattlemen in Arizona Territory followed the Texas system of ranching – cattle were left to graze on the free range to take care of themselves without supplementary feeding.  Denis Murphy branded the Wine Glass and ran his cattle northeast of Globe.  He also ran a butcher shop in conjunction with his ranch and even offered home delivery service.  The butcher shops would slaughter their cattle outside of town, doing the work at night. The meat would be cooled in the evening, brought into town before daylight and hung in homemade iceboxes. The shops would usually be sold out by noon and remained closed until the next morning.

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Denis Murphy and his cowboys lined up at the Wine Glass Ranch outside of Globe (1895).

We do have one story about Denis that has been passed down in family history.  He didn’t like his cowboys to ride the best horses into town on a Saturday night and tie them to the hitching posts outside of the Globe saloons.  He preferred the old horses to be stolen if there was a horse thief in town.

William Ryan became the night foreman at the Old Dominion Smelter and bought and sold cattle as a sideline.  He was also a livestock inspector and with his brother-in-law, John Moloney, established the first real dairy in Globe using range cattle.  I imagine they were a far cry from the current fine dairy cows we see today.

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Ryan cattle crossing the Verde River at Box Bar.

In later years, William and his sons leased rangeland on the Apache Reservation in the White Mountains for their cattle.  His oldest son, William Albert, was my grandfather who with his bride Edith settled in an isolated cabin on the Reservation in 1912.  The Apache men had not seen many caucasian women and would watch her through the window when Will was out riding.  She would offer them lunch which they gladly accepted; eventually, the novelty wore off and they no longer watched her.

While we still have isolated ranches, think of the days of no roads and riding horseback to the ranch house.  Will and Edith’s oldest son, William Paul, was born in White River and placed in an Apache papoose to be taken to the ranch.  At the age of 2, he walked behind a man chopping wood and was hit in the head with the back of the ax.  Will grabbed him and rode horseback many hours to the doctor in Fort Apache. Little William recovered but Edith was a very worried mother for four days before she knew if her son had survived his accident.

My father, Emmett Ryan, continued in the cattle business and in later years my family had cattle ranches at Florence Junction, Wenden and my favorite ranch, the Box Bar on the Verde River.  Lots of fun memories of them all for my family.

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Round up of Ryan cattle gathered off the reservation (1929).

Life was tough in Arizona Territory and we are thankful we have so many modern conveniences to make our life better today.  Thank you to those pioneer cattlemen who persevered against all odds to provide food for the new Territory.  After all – those hardy pioneers needed plenty of ZIP – zinc, iron and protein provided by beef – to do their jobs.

St. Patrick’s Day was not all work and no play back in the day – St. Patrick’s Day Balls were held in settlements with heavy Irish populations such as Globe, Jerome, Bisbee, and Tombstone. Globe even held a baseball game between the “town boys” and the Old Dominion Copper Company on St. Patrick’s Day in 1890. Before either side had gained a point, the only ball burst.  It was stuffed with rags and the game continued with the town boys prevailing in the end.  Wonder what the baseball players of today would think of that game?

An Old Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.  May the wind always be at your back.  May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Irish Beef Stew from Fidel Murphy’s Irish Pub, Grand Cayman

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves and serve topped with chopped fresh parsley.

 

Meet Your Rancher: The Menges Family

The Menges Family and their ranches are in Graham and Greenlee Counties, where they run a cow-calf ranch. Please enjoy the interview below to learn more about this ranching family.

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The Menges Family.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch:
Jeff is a 4th generation lifetime rancher. He graduated from NMSU with degrees in range management and animal science. He grew up in Catron County, NM, on a forest service ranch. We have three sons; Ben, Mark, and Luke. We have two ranches operating as one unit along Gila River and Bonita Creek areas.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?
The use of ATV’s instead of horses on the ranch has made us a great deal more efficient than in generations past because we can check waters, cattle, fences, etc. much more quickly. Also, solar technologies are advancing rapidly and now are available to draw water from wells as deep as 800 feet. We use solar technology on many of our wells on both ranches, which is clean energy and a reliable resource for us in Arizona.

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Moving cows on the ranch is made easier with ATVs.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch?
Our ranch headquarters is relatively easy to access, and we welcome those who would like to learn more about ranching to visit the ranch. We engage with the local community a great deal by hosting ranch day experiences, meetings and workshops.  One misconception is that grazing riparian areas is detrimental to the resource; however, we have proven that that is not the case, in fact, it is highly beneficial.

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Menges Ranch headquarters.

What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for the consumer?
Providing the cattle with adequate nutrition and clean water to drink all year long are the most important things we can do as ranchers to keep our cattle healthy

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A beautiful ranch view.

What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
We believe  if we take good care of the land, it will take care of us and our cattle. We believe in careful stewardship of the natural resources, which in turn allows us to provide a safe and wholesome product for the consumer.

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Jeff Menges horseback.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Diverse

Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Grilled rib-eye steak

Editor’s Note: Suzanne is an extremely progressive and active member of the Arizona State Cowbelles and the American National Cattlewomen (ANCW) as well as a founding member of her local chapter. The Cowbelle organization works to promote and educate about Arizona beef by interacting with consumers at various events such as the Ranch Day programs Suzanne has helped put on for many years. This program offers the opportunity for school-aged children to visit the ranch to experience and learn about all aspects of ranching in southeastern Arizona. Dr. Menges is currently developing a leadership training program for ANCW. She didn’t brag much about herself in these answers, so we wanted to do a little of it for her. 

Meet Your Rancher: Dr. Sam Garcia and Family

Ranchers: My dad, Ruben Garcia, and I, Samuel Ruben Garcia, ranch on the Rancho La Playa, Rancho El Fresno, and Rancho Santa Gertrudis. My uncle Ramiro Garcia ranches on the Rancho La Higuerita and my uncle Sergio Garcia is on the Rancho El Alamo Rancho El Henry. All of the ranches are in Sonora, Mexico about 40 miles south of Douglas, Arizona. My wife Christina and I, with our son RJ and daughter Celeste, live and work in Tucson, Arizona.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch and what you do now:
I grew up around cattle ranching and it has been a lifelong passion of mine. A majority of my time has been spent working with my family on various ranches. When I was growing up, ranching was a tough business, but I stayed true to what I enjoyed and pursued a career that kept me close to my passion. Growing up in Mexico was great, but there was a limit to the amount of education I could receive and my dad decided it was a good step for me to learn English and further my education in the United States.

At age 11, I moved out of my home and made a new home with Alfonso and Teresita Gonzales, who were working for the Dobson Cattle Company in Benson, Arizona. They took me in as if I was their son and added an abundant amount of knowledge about cattle and horses by doing the many chores expected of a ranch kid. After three years, I moved back to Douglas, Arizona where I finished high school.

After high school graduation, I attended two years at Cochise College and finally decided to transfer to the University of Arizona (UA) where I received a Bachelor in Veterinary Science in 2008. I then spent a year at the ranch with my dad to reenergize before venturing back to the UA to complete a Master’s in Animal Sciences in 2011 and a Ph.D. in 2013. After graduation, I took a job as a Lecturer in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. In 2014, I started as the manager of the Food Products and Safety Lab, which includes an animal harvesting facility, where I am now. I still continue to ranch with my father.

My grandfather was an accountant-turned-businessman-turned-rancher. He was a cattle buyer for many years and was able to purchase most of the ranches owned now by my family.

The ranches are desert ranches. Many improvements have been done to make them successful. Infrastructure that includes water distribution and storage, cattle working facilities and fencing have been our focus.

How did your ranching background get you to where you are today?
From ranching, I learned hard work and dedication, which have been most relevant to my career. You should never give up on your goals but remain flexible in how you accomplish them.

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Dr. Garcia with Zane Campbell, a 4-H member from Kingman, AZ after winning the Steer of Merit Award at the 37th Annual Mohave County 4-H Carcass Contest.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch and what happens in a harvesting facility?
One important thing to note is that most citizens in Mexico are still one generation away from the farm and ranch, so they know the reality of how food is raised. I’ve noticed people in the US, who are, on average, three generations away from a farm or ranch, are removed from how food is grown and raised.

There is also a misconception about the quality of Mexican cattle. The reality is that cattle raised in Mexico can be quite competitive with cattle raised in the US and are held to high standards while experiencing many health checks before entering the US market.

As to the Food Product and Safety Lab which houses the UA’s harvesting facility, we strive to be transparent in all we do. We serve as an educational facility for both students and Arizona ranchers while also providing meat for the community and harvesting services to Arizona farmers and ranchers.

What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch and in the harvesting facility every day to make sure you are raising and preparing safe beef for consumers?
At the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab, we ensure that all strict USDA regulations are followed. Protocols are in place to ensure the meat produced is safe and wholesome for my family and the consumer’s family to eat!

At the ranch, we make sure health and nutrition of the animals are the number one priority. With healthy animals, everything else falls into place.

What is the most important piece of information that you want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch and in the harvesting plant every day?
I want to emphasize that the meat produced in the US is the safest in the world. Also, Sonoran ranchers who export cattle into the US are contributing to this wholesome food supply.

 

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Dr. Sam Garcia can be found at the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab at the Campbell farm.

 

 

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Sensational

Lastly, and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Aged Ribeye grilled on mesquite with sea salt/coarse salt. Medium Rare.