08.02.2013 - 08.02.2013
For our last full day in Texas we decided to head in to the Fort Worth Stockyards, "the history book of the livestock industry in Texas. Each chapter is represented by the original bricks and mortar, the wood corrals, the men, and the music that are all still a part of the the Stockyards today." Fort Worth Stockyards
The highlight of the day was the diurnal cattle drive featuring the Fort Worth herd of Longhorn Cattle. The Longhorns were wild cattle who roamed throughout Texas until one day someone worked out that if you herded the cattle to other states who wanted cattle for meat, you could make a lot of money. The history of Fort Worth is quite interesting and you can read more about it on the website mentioned above. The cattle drive through the Stockyards demonstrates how a herd was driven, the positions of the drovers and also gives the cattle something to do. The beasts that were driven down the streets on our visit day were all steers.
"C'mon Cattle" could be heard above the cracking of whips and the excited chatter of tourists as the herd started making their way down the street. The smallest of the herd, a calf, wore a bell around his neck so that he wouldn't become lost and it could be heard gently tolling down the street.
Whilst watching the cattle drive, Carys spied something more exciting for her and we had to distract her for a little while with a petting zoo which randomly, had a camel among the llamas, sheep and goats. The camel decided it wasn't content with eating the feed provided and tried to eat Di's hair and scarf whilst following her around! We also conducted a guided walk through the Stockyards and to picture the yards at the time of their height would have been quite a sight. Most of the holding yards have now been dismantled and the meat packing factories have been closed but a few cattle related businesses remain. One of those remaining, and big thing number 4 on our travels, is the world's first indoor rodeo arena which was built in just 88 days. Even a young Elvis Presley played at the Cowtown Coliseum. Apparently, this place is packed every Friday and Saturday night! Just next to the Coliseum is the Live Stock Exchange which has now moved into the technology age by holding live and televised stock auctions daily, beamed across the States. We were lucky enough to be let in during a live call and the Auctioneer was calling so fast you could only catch a random word here and there but the overall call sounded like he was singing. It was jig-inducing! Our guide, Patty, was born in Fort Worth and has lived her whole life in the area. You can see her to the right in the red tartan shirt and black cowboy hat.
By this stage, Carys was really itching to ride on the Stagecoach she saw earlier. She loved the ride and told us halfway through that she wanted to ride a horse by herself. On the walking tour, we had found some animal amusement rides and we made our way there after the stagecoach ride. We even tried saltwater taffy, the texture could best be described as chewy like a soft Mintie but you could get almost any flavour you could think of. We tried maple bacon flavour and toffee apple flavour which surprisingly, weren't bad!
Time for lunch and we headed to a traditional styled saloon called Booger Red's with saddle barstools, animal heads mounted on the walls and a house brewed beer called Buffalo Butt beer. Like all things in Texas, even the beer glasses are huge (the glass below is a schooner equivalent)!
We couldn't complete our 'cowboy' day without a visit to Fort Worth's only custom, handmade boot store, M.L Leddy's. Although we walked in after a long day not really intending to purchase anything, we both walked away with perfectly tailored, off the rack boots. To have a pair custom made involves plenty of decisions and measurements and a year long wait but at least you know that your boots are unique. Some of the designs were out there but there was no doubting the craftsmanship of the boots themselves. The picture below is just half of one wall, in one section of the shop!
So, that was our trip to Texas and the next day we flew out to Jacksonville, Florida!! How are you enjoying the blog so far? Leave your comments below or subscribe if you want to be alerted as soon as we post an update. Now that we are settled in our new house, there should be more posts coming regularly