Author Archives: blackinkdiane

blackinkdiane
A native Californian turned proud Texan, Diane is a lover of traveling, hunting, hiking, piano playing, and prank wars. She is thankful for her wine country roots, but has found her place with the happy and polite people of West Texas. She is currently attending Texas Tech University pursuing her master's degree in agricultural communications, and is interning with CAB during Fall 2017. The most important thing to know about Diane is she is always laughing - don't ask her why, because she doesn't know.
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On the ranch, On the road
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Words two live by

“That was probably it,” my gut tells me as I drive past a charming farm house lining a dirt road on the outskirts of Spearman, Texas. I dial the first 8-0-6 number in my recent call list, not sure which brother will be on the other end of the line. It was Chance, who was traveling up from Pampa, Texas, with wife Erica and kids Maddox, Bristol, and Cayler. Sure enough, his twin Collin had already told him they had seen me drive by.

Moments later I am greeted with a gracious hello and hot cup of coffee from Collin and Lacee Bowers. Their sons Casen and Crüe peer up at me below the brims of their cowboy hats and murmur a shy hello. Chance and Collin’s older brother Chandler, his wife Jenna, and daughters Anleigh and Hadleigh arrive soon after.

We venture 20 minutes down the road to the family’s X Cross X ranch – on their mom’s side – where Collin oversees heifer development and farms wheat. The three brothers run a complementing ranching and farming operation of commercial Angus cattle, wheat, corn, cotton and milo. Chandler and Chance manage operations in Pampa, with Chandler heading the farming and Chance the cow-calf aspect.

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Grandparents Joel and Joyce Lackey still live on the Hansford County ranch that has been in the family for four generations.

After photos and a tour of the ranch, we head back to Collin’s house for the ‘official’ with him and Chance. I ask them to describe a week in the life.

“It depends,” is the immediate answer, followed by a chorus of laughter. “Every question can be answered as, ‘it depends.’” No two weeks are the same, as the unpredictable Texas Panhandle climate sees extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum. Plans are never permanent, yet planning is still a necessity.

“You can’t live day to day in this operation,” Chance and Collin agree. “You have to be looking ahead of what you’re doing. Not just a week ahead, but months, even years, ahead.”

“Everything is seasonal,” explains Collin. Getting ready to cut corn, plant wheat, wean calves. “It’s always preparation, always a ‘be ready to do this.’”

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Chance, Chandler and Collin run more than 1,200 head of commercial Angus cattle, which includes 200 or more replacement heifers.

Long-term planning is essential to building a strong replacement heifer herd. It starts with a great bull, paying particular attention to low birth weight and calving ease EPDs (expected progeny differences). However, selecting the right females is where the money is.

“We keep the heifers that stick with AI or breed with a cleanup bull the first 30 days,” says Chance. “That way you keep fertility in your herd. That’s huge for marketing our calves. We can get a set of calves that are within 10 days of each other. When we go to sell them, they’re all going to weigh the same.”

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The brothers’ home-raised cattle grade around 90% to 95% Choice and better than 40% Certified Angus Beef brand.

Farming is vital to sustaining the operation. When either the cattle or crop market falls, the other is usually able to balance the books. Wheat also enhances the cattle operation; one of this year’s goals is to feed steers and cull heifers all the way through to the feedlot.

“We try to get everything on wheat,” says Collin. “It’s a great way to get them up to that feeder weight.”

“The cost of gain on wheat depends on the year,” says Chance. “The bigger we can get [steers] into the [feedlot], it’s going to be a happy medium.”

Yet there is a component of business planning that does not pertain to cattle and crops.

“The hardest part is the generational deal,” says Collin. “The first one builds it, the second enjoys it, and the third one loses it, is how that usually goes.”

But, “We’re fourth and fifth generation…and we’re not only keeping it together, we have expanded it,” says Chance. “Everything’s everyone’s in our family. It’s a family partnership.”

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To the Bowers crew the family’s X Cross X is more than just a brand. It represents their commitment to the family operation.

The brothers have already started to instill in their kids the lessons passed down through all generations of the Bowers and Lackey families.

“You’ve got to educate your kids so they know what they’ve got. And how to handle keeping it going,” says Chance. “We’re where we are today because our dad drilled that responsibility into our heads.”

“And work ethic,” reminds Collin.

Time, and a proven family track record of preparing the next generation for responsibility. As we bid our farewells and I head out the driveway, I can’t help but feel proud of the Bowers family. Their enduring spirit has sustained through the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and countless droughts. It is truly an impressive story, and one I am grateful to share.

May your day be bright and your smile brighter,

Diane

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On the road
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C-A-BOOYAH!

It’s the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving and already several homes and businesses in Frisco, Texas, are adorned with Christmas lights. My friends and I drive through a shopping center, on the hunt for a dinner worthy of skipping Thanksgiving leftovers. Specifically, we’re searching for the bright red glow and unmistakably playful letters spelling MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes.

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MOOYAH’s Natalie Anderson-Liu is a CAB brand fan now, too.

Earning the number 11 slot on Fast Casual Magazine’s  2017 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list, MOOYAH is well recognized as a standout.

 

“We’ve been about quality since day one,” says Natalie Anderson-Liu, MOOYAH’s vice president of marketing. “We are so proud of our food and we’re confident that consumers are going to love it because the quality is so high, that we then have a ton of fun with it.”

According to the franchise’s website, the restaurant is “a place where Certified Angus Beef ® and a chalkboard drawing wall can comfortably coexist.” Intrigued, I set out to take part in the coexistence.

Walk through MOOYAH’s front doors and forget passive. The waitstaff has already taken note of you, offering a friendly welcome. The place is abuzz with laughter and conversation that enhances its lighthearted atmosphere. And the menu features burgers made from the world’s leading brand of fresh beef.

Before launching with the brand just over a year ago, Anderson-Liu and other MOOYAH execs visited the CAB Culinary Center in Wooster, Ohio, to learn more.

“We got an in-depth look at what those 10 science-based specifications look like,” says Anderson-Liu. “It was the specifications that really struck me. And then the heritage aspect of it, with the ranching families. The passion of the team is really what energized me to come back here and make sure that we’re telling the story appropriately,” she adds.

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Encouraged by MOOYAH’s fun atmosphere, friend Jenna Holt-Day (left) and I don’t feel awkward posing for some candids mid-meal.

“I used to think why do we need to put their logo on things? What does it matter?” She says, “Then I learned and thought, ‘Wow. This logo is very, very powerful.’ And since then, we put it on everything.”

She’s not exaggerating—even the napkin holders boast the mark.

Perhaps it was an easy decision because the brands have a shared commitment to quality, and that lends creditability to MOOYAH’s “Seriously Fun,” mantra.

“We can’t have the fun without the serious,” she says. “We cannot say, ‘Hey, come play with your food. Have an awesome experience at MOOYAH. You’re going to love the burger. We are focused on quality,’ without having some proof points. And that’s what Certified Angus Beef brand provides.”

Burgers made with CAB® highlight MOOYAH’s mouthwatering menu.

Consumers can find the same logo at grocery stores and can see it’s a premium product. That’s another way CAB “contributes to why we have such a huge fan base of people who love our burgers,” says Anderson-Liu.

Her theory holds true in my case, as my association with the brand is how I discovered MOOYAH.

And now there is no going back. Indeed, there was a synergy between the high-caliber food and chalkboard doodles that made our dining experience way more enjoyable than a trip to any old fast-food chain. As my friends and I walk out the front doors, our “hanger” settled and taste buds satisfied, I can’t help but brainstorm what I’ll order on my next visit.

May your day be bright and your smile brighter,

Diane

 

 

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Schepisi preparing steak
On the road
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Ready For Rory?

I strain my ears as a few people wander into the kitchen of the Amarillo Country Club, pondering if those new voices match the one of chef and TV personality Rory Schepisi. “You’ll know when Rory’s here,” Executive Chef Joey Guzman assures me. Right on cue a burst of laughter erupts from the kitchen staff. “That’ll be Rory.”

The Chevy-loving New Jersey transplant certainly gets things done in a New-York-minute, but with a grace only found in Southern hospitality. We get right down to business. Schepisi grills up a CAB ribeye – “what else?” – joking with the other chefs while I snap pictures. The entire kitchen is in hysterics in a matter of minutes.

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Guzman and Schepisi exchange laughs in between poses.

With a charge that rivals the Energizer Bunny, her passion for cooking is contagious. “My staff thinks I’m a nut job,” she laughs. “I have a thing in my kitchen. I make my chefs sing: Happy food produces great, happy plates that we send out to happy customers.”

Schepisi and friends from West Texas Chefs Table.

Schepisi with fellow chefs and friends Christopher Kizer (left) and Jeremy Shook (right). All three chefs are part of The West Texas Chefs Table, a group dedicated to growing Amarillo’s local restaurant scene and providing scholarships to young, aspiring chefs.

Maybe it’s Schepisi’s sixth sense for food that makes this tactic work. Even affirmed well-done steak lovers flip to the rare side when they try her favorite dish, a CAB ribeye. You will always find her kitchen stocked with a CAB steak, along with her other five essentials: Chicken broth, sriracha, soy sauce, butter and eggs.

Her oxygen is knowing customers enjoy the food. “There’s nothing better than going into your kitchen, getting slammed with over 300 dinners, feeling out of control and then getting through it without one thing coming back but compliments,” Schepisi says. “It’s like winning the biggest sporting event. That’s my rush. I love it.”

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Schepisi is all smiles when she serves up a rare steak. Be warned – she is known to charge extra for well-done requests!

A successful chef requires ambition and insanity, she maintains. And people need to pay their dues to get to where they are in the restaurant business. But her lessons on tenacity extend well beyond the culinary profession. By the end of the interview, I feel empowered to conquer the world. Well, maybe just my next writing assignment.

“I’m proud I had the strength, love and courage to become who I am today,” she reflects. “I’m proud that I haven’t given up and that my dreams are still big no matter how crazy people think I am. I’ll be even prouder when I accomplish my goals. I’m stoked. I’m ready for it.”

We’re part of it now, ready for it, too.

May your goals be as big as your smile,

Diane

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