It was uncharacteristically warm on February 19th in Eastland Texas. We were there to shoot Wilks Ranches’ Inaugural Spring Bull Sale, but to us Oregonians, it almost felt more like summer. The bulls were outside in holding corrals for potential buyers’ viewing on Sunday and Monday morning before the sale. Some of the bulls were standing eating hay, some were laying around, but all had red tags in their left ears. “WILKS RANCH” was printed in white around their brand, a mark that these ranchers take deep pride in. What might just seem like a creative “W” to some is actually a symbol that represents countless hours of work from so many who labor toward one common goal: improving Black Angus genetics nationwide and producing superior cattle. These gentle giants looked at me through the barbed wire and steel, and I attempted to capture the sacrifice, the drive and the legacy that went into creating and caring for each one.
Wilks provided everyone in attendance with an incredible lunch from Red Chain Feeds before the sale. People moved through the serving line as they got dished up. Red handkerchiefs held down by wood rounds sporting the “W” brand ran down the tables. The smells of the food filled the sale facility. People ate and talked and laughed together. The meal was enjoyed by all, and then with full bellies, buyers started to make their way into the sale room.
The sale came and with it so did the cowboys, donning chaps and spurs, riding on horses who knew exactly what they were doing. Some were working the chutes, some were pushing the bulls into their order and then into the ring when it was their turn. All of them were putting in a hard day’s work, and none of them seemed a stranger to it. The auctioneer’s voice rang out rhythmically, almost as if to hypnotize the bulls into behaving themselves. “AY!” and “YEP!” shouted the callers, as they pointed a finger at the bidder or raised a hand holding a rolled-up sale book. The energy was almost tangible, as bull after bull walked through the ring. Beautiful beasts, with top-notch genetics, it was a sight.
One hundred and fifty bulls walked through that sale room, the top bull grossing as much as $8,700. All in all, it was a successful day for Wilks Ranches, and we are still feeling very privileged to have been a part of it. We chose this direction for our company because we love the Western lifestyle and everything that comes with it. It is not something you can fake or fabricate, and neither is the passion that drives the people living it out.