A lot of farmers these days have realized that what they are doing interacts well with the general public. The famous origins of Knott’s Berry Farm on the West Coast comes to mind as well as numerous orchards across the nation which have taken the model of “pick your own” (PYO) to heart and thereby saved themselves a great deal on labor costs.
It is not that easy to do on a cattle farm. The PYO theory is simply not applicable unless, of course, you get rid of the idea of steers completely and just go with bulls. At that point you are talking about having some friends in the business like the International Bull Riders association (IBR), the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys of America (PRCA). Since its inception in 2001, the IBR has sanctioned hundreds of events and each year pays over $100,000 in prize money and awards. The J Bar W Ranch of Union Bridge, MD, is also a member of American Bucking Bull Inc., or ABBI.
Just in case you have been thinking the business of bull riding is endemic only to the old west, you should realize the northeast is alive with exceptionally vigorous bull riders and it is the IBR’s goal to provide generous prize money, impartial judging and outstanding livestock.
J Bar W Ranch, owned and run by John Williams, his son Sonny, and daughter Lisa, is dedicated to the raising of bulls for the purpose of rodeo. To that end they have at this time well over 500 head.
If it seems like a lot of bulls it is necessary to remember a bull is not ready to be seriously tried for bucking until it is mature.
According to John, “Some places will try out their younger bulls to test them as bucking stock. We tried to use some of the younger bulls to see if they had any real bucking in them but we were put off by the possibility of injuries to them…You might just as well wait a bit more and let them fully mature.”
Even then Williams says, “A bull doesn’t just come out of the chutes with awesome talent. They need to learn the business of bucking just like any other animal needs to learn what it is supposed to do. I remember one bull that we had that just didn’t seem to like bucking at all…after several trips out of the chutes and putting some riders on the ground, he started to get the idea and really took a shine to it. Now he is one of our really good bucking bulls…that’s what makes a really good bucking bull; they are the ones that like their work and change things up a little each time.”
The Williams family have instituted a highly-respected pen of professional bucking bulls which have received honors amongst the top bucking bull breeders nationwide. They are credited for creating their very own born on the ranch and raised herd sires. With a new generation of bucking genetics hitting the ground each year this gives J Bar W the opportunity to engage in all of the relatively newer aspects of bucking bull financial possibilities: offering partial ownership of outstanding bucking bulls; three in one packages; bred heifers and the prospects which are the 4 -7-year-old bucking bulls; and semen for sale.
There are also a number of their own homebred bulls which are leased out to other bull contractors across the nation. It is harder to spot the Williams’s bred bulls this way because the bulls must bear the brand of the lessee when they go out to the rodeos. If you see a bull with a number of brands in a rodeo he may not have been sold, just visiting for a while.
J Bar W Ranch is proud to have received recognition nationwide for producing and hosting their highly competitive pro-bull riding events. In addition, the J Bar W has been credited for the professionalism displayed at their Battle of the Beast, PBR and ABBI events. Summer events are held the first and third Saturday night from June through the final summer event on the first Saturday in September.
There are not only bull ridings but also an entire barrel racing program with competitors from several states riding the patterns for the prizes.
The whole concept of rodeo is based on the very realistic idea that this is not just a glory thing. It is for very real monies paid out to the winners. When you are talking about entering into a sport which can drastically impinge on or even end your life, fancy belt buckles are nice but money is where the talking gets tangible.
There is one part of the Saturday night events where the whole rodeo slows down for a special break and that is Mutton Busting. Mutton Busting is where little cowboys and cowgirls get to try their luck against a sheep. No ropes, no halters, no bells clanging under the bellies of the beasts — just hands full of wool and clinging to stay on. Contestants must weigh below 50 pounds and must be at least four years old. Each Mutton Buster must hang on to the wool of their sheep and ride for six seconds to qualify. Each qualified rider is given a score, with the highest score winning the event. The Champion Mutton Buster receives $25 and points toward a year-end high point Championship Belt Buckle.