Cattlemen are more than just a hat

Published 11:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

By Harold Brummett
Denmark Star Route

Jimmy White is a cattleman. It is no surprise since his Daddy was a cattleman as well.  Jimmy White wears a big cowboy hat, is whipcord thin and looking at him there is no doubt who he is. 

There is a phrase that says “all hat and no cattle.” Well, Jimmy has a hat and cattle. This is not to say that Jimmy hasn’t done other things, but he came back to cattle.

Email newsletter signup

 Jimmy came by the trade honestly. Jimmy’s Daddy, Mr. Rodney White, worked for the phone company as his day job but spent all his other time trading cattle. Mr. Rodney White would be out in the country working in his telephone truck always keeping an eye out for someone who might want to buy or sell a few head of cattle. 

My father Audley and Mr. Rodney White had a long cattle relationship that was sometimes contentious when haggling about price. Rodney would pull out his pad and pencil from his shirt pocket and calculate what price he could offer.  The price agreed upon had to be mutually satisfactory so the business and personal relationship would continue. 

After building my house and place, I ran a few cattle. Not many, but Mr. Rodney White and later Jimmy would come by and relieve me of a few heads every now and again. 

Mr. Rodney White’s conversations as we walked over the pasture were always about the cattle, land and best practices. There would be lectures that any college professor would have been proud to give on markets, buyers, sellers, sale barns and processors. 

I tried to keep up, but not being a real cattleman Mr. Rodney White would soon run ahead of me in the details.  It was during one of these conversations Mr. Rodney White exasperated at my slowness of grasping the science, declared I was too old to understand the Cattleman trade.  You had to start young and grow into it. Like Jimmy. I nodded and agreed.  

Jimmy White and I have known each other since starting grade school at Yocona. Jimmy bought out the last of my herd.  I watched the descendents of some of the cattle my grandfather gave my father loaded and shipped to Jimmy’s pasture. I can ask Jimmy today if he has some of my old herd left, and while all have long gone to market, Jimmy can recite which cattle he has that are descendents of those I sold him. 

I still belong to the Lafayette Cattlemen’s Association. Cattleman of the Year award has been awarded to Jimmy and his dad Mr. Rodney White over the years and rightfully so. Cattlemen are who they are. Profit and loss numbers is how the score is kept on paper, but a Cattleman has to have a love for the cattle.  

Concern for the cattle motivates cattlemen to pull a calf at midnight, get up before the sun and feed hay in a frozen field, and spend a Saturday night tending an injured or ill cow and calf. 

When night has fallen and the wind is right I can hear Mr. James’ cows lowing from across the highway. 

For a moment it sounds like part of my own long ago herd calling and I pause straining to hear.  I am not a cattleman – but I know who is.