"Wife," one longtime resident of Blanco Canyon was overheard sighing, "we've spent most of our forty years here just waiting for a rain!" Blanco Canyon, on the edge of West Texas' Cap Rock, is a land of charm and brutality, generosity and denial, exquisite beauty after a rain and harsh death when the rains don't come. It is a land where over a hundred years ago one Captain J. C. McNeill started a cattle ranch in the mistaken hope that range and weather conditions then prevailing would continue. It is a land where his descendants still raise cattle, but with full knowledge now that any good years will have to carry them through some lean ones too. The story of Texas cattle raising has been told from the perspective of the big ranches. Here it is told as seen through the eyes of a small landholder and his family. J. C. "Cap" McNeill III was born on the SR Ranch in 1905, grandson and namesake of the ranch's founder. His memories and family stories provide anecdotes that show the region's way of life over the last century. From unusually full files of early-day correspondence and his own experience he culls the essence of the cattle business as it has been successfully practiced through changing conditions and times by one family. The economic hardships that have periodically assailed area ranchers are vividly described and incisively analyzed. The hardiness, intelligence, and gentle humor of a native who knows both his business and his roots paint a picture of ranch life as it has been known by few whose families did not similarly persevere on rugged land.
J. C. "Cap" McNeill III was born in 1905 on the Crosby County ranch his grandfather had bought in the 1870s. He spent most of his professional life managing the ranch until his retirement in 1983. He now lives in Kerrville, Texas.
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