TJ Haynie is in charge of The Haynie Cattle Ranch, one of the first cattle ranches established in the U.S. Territory of Texas in the 1800s, part of Steven F. Austin’s “Old 300″ group. Being a cowboy is in his blood, as he’s spent the majority of his life riding horses and roping cattle.
What does a regular day looks like for you as cattle rancher?
TJ Haynie: It depends on what time of year it is. [In the fall], I have a bunch of young cattle turned out. I give them a series of four shots to maintain their health, I de-worm them, and give them some form of identification like a u-tag.
When there’s a sick calf, I take him out of the heard and give him an antibiotic, and then I mark the date on his hoof with a cattle marker, so I’m able to check on him later. While I’m riding, I look for previously marked cattle as well. And during the fall, I’m selling calves, which are born in the spring, and they take advantage of the good grasses in the spring and summer. By fall, they’re fat and ready to sell.
Your family are descendants of “the old 300″ – the first settlers of Texas. Did you always want to be a cowboy?
Haynie: Ranching has been in my family for seven generations and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to. When I was a kid, my dad would let my sister, Leeann, and me out of school in the spring for three weeks or so, so we could work on calves–give them shots and stuff like that.
I understand that you’re a rodeo cowboy as well. How did you get your start with that?
Haynie: I’ve been doing that since I was a kid, too. I got to see Ty Murray and he was my hero, and I wanted to ride buffalo, horses and bulls just like him. After begging my dad to let me ride a calf, he gave in. Probably the biggest mistake my dad ever made (laughs).
What do you like most about your profession?
Haynie: What I like the most is that I don’t have a boss. I enjoy making my own hours, and I do my duty. It’s my job to keep these cattle alive.
What’s it like working with your father, Tom?
Haynie: We work together every day–whether we’re gathering a small set of cattle or selling calves. He and I are pretty tight and I couldn’t ask for a better man to be my father. I always say John Wayne was just an actor; he played the part [of a cowboy], but my dad is the real deal.
What is your number one priority on the job?
Haynie: Staying healthy. I don’t want to get hurt. In the fall, you don’t want to take off running since the grounds are dry. There are holes, too, where if your horse steps in one of them, you’ll flip over. I also want to make sure the cattle stay safe and healthy too.
What was it like working with Richard Hammond? Do you have any favorite moments from filming?
Haynie: He was such a down to earth, nice guy, and has a big heart. If he came to your house for dinner, you wouldn’t think he was any different than anybody else around you know.
On our last day of shooting, we were riding along, talking about the horse he was on and about its origins. And you know, I’m pretty attached to these horses since I work with them so much, and this moment brought out a little emotion in me. And since it was his last day, I said, “Let’s go give it hell,” so we ran those wild horses. And you couldn’t ask for more effort–Richard can do whatever he wants to do, physically and mentally. He’s very talented.