Jerry Cargill has kept his Waskom farm going strong after being in the family for more than a decade.
“The farm was originally purchased by my grandfather in 1905,” Cargill said. “It’s on both sides of the highway (Interstate 20). On this side of the track there are about 250 acres and across the highway, there’s a track over there and about 365 or 370 acres in size, so it’s a little over 600 acres.
“My grandfather was a cotton farmer and a rancher,” Cargill continued. “He cotton farmed and ranched it up until sometime around World War II. When he became sick and one of his sons was serving in World War II, one of my uncles, he was able to come home a little bit early to take care of his father. He took the farm over and they were still cotton farming a little bit, but he got more into the ranching side and got into more of the cattle business part.”
Cargill was one of six children. His father worked for a pipe-fitting business in Texas City during World War II.
“He was working at a plant that made aviation fuel so he didn’t have to go into the Army itself, he just worked in Army-related business,” Cargill said. “Then after that, he decided to come back to East Texas and settle down back in the early ‘50s.”
Eventually, the farm was divided up among the family.
“I was one of about 12 first cousins, so this land was being left to all the heirs, my father’s sisters and brothers and subsequently their children, so it was going to get passed down to the third generation and I was going to own an undivided interest in a pretty good sized piece of land with about 10 or 12 different people,” Cargill explained. “About 30 years ago when I was working, none of my aunts and uncles had passed away at that time so I decided, ‘I’m going to approach the aunts and uncles and see if they might consider selling me their interest in this farm so I don’t wind up having 12 partners.’ So, through the process of about 10 or 12 years, I slowly purchased the interest of each of the aunts and uncles.”
Cargill retired in 2011, just a couple years after he decided to remodel the farm house where he and his wife now reside.
“I created something called Cargill Cattle Company,” he said. “I always had cattle here even when I worked in Dallas. I had a few mother cows here, and I would keep the mother cows and come down from Dallas on the weekend. Then when I retired, I had to decide whether to keep the cattle or not and I said, ‘I don’t need more hobbies that don’t pay.’ So I was looking for someone who had experience with cattle. So I met this young fellow, Hugh Young —he’s a Marshall boy, about 35, I met him through Jack Dillard who’s an auctioneer around Marshall.”
Cargill said the partnership has been great as he takes care of the business side of things and Young has taken care of the cattle aspect.
“He said, ‘I’m in the cattle business and I love it,’” Cargill recalls of meeting Young. “I said, “Well, I need somebody who can help me understand whether you can make any money in the cattle business. Can you make money with cattle?’ and he said, ‘Sure you can.’ I said, ‘Well I never have. It’s always been a hobby. Why don’t you write me a business plan and tell me how to make money with cattle.’”
Young did just that and wrote plans — and a business partnership was launched.
“We’ve actually been in business for about three years now, and we’re up to about 150 mother cows and we decided to get into the stocker business, which is where you buy the cattle, raise them, condition them, fatten them up and then sell them to a feed lot,” Cargill said. “We started the process last year of buying stockers. We buy them at 400 pounds or 500 pounds. We keep them for 60 or 90 days and put a couple hundred pounds on them and then we sell them to the feed yard. We did about six truckloads of stockers last year. We’ve done three so far this year. We have one truckload we just bought across the way.
“So we’re in the stocker business and we’re in the cow-calf operation and thirdly, we decided we’d take a group of steers each year and we’ll condition them, we’ll fatten them up and we’ll sell them,” he said. “So we actually sell some cattle but not too many.”
Young is now the general manager of the Cargill Cattle Company as he oversees all aspects of the beef cattle operations.
Before retiring, Cargill and his wife lived in Dallas, where he was a salesman and she was a teacher. He said there are many things he loves about the farming business, mostly being outdoors.
“I tried a few other adventures,” he said. “I got into the landscaping business, the composting business, the tree business. I’ve fiddled around with several different things. The barns I filled to accommodate several of those entities. I’ve always loved being outdoors and this is about as great as it gets right here.”