Pecos County People A look at people and business in Pecos County

Woodward loves ranching and history

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For the last 66 years, one Bakersfield man has been ranching and taking care of various farm animals.

Ernest Woodward has two loves in his life, ranching and history.

This has come in handy with him being the President of the Pecos County Historical Commission and involved in the group for the last six years.

He was raised between Crane and McCamey and attended Imperial High School before leaving to go work.

He was a commissioned buyer for Compton Livestock in San Angelo, buying sheep on a per head commission basis.

Soon they gave him a checkbook and Buster Trotter taught him how to sort out the different quality and grade of sheep for orders.

He worked out of the 7D stock pens in Fort Stockton and they furnished him with an Oldsmobile car, because his pickup wasn’t that good.

They would ship all over the US including Hawaii and to other countries such as Mexico, India, and the Caribbean, by airplane, truck, train or ship. Shipping loads as large as 80,000 head from Australia to Mexico. 

Years later he went into business for himself with both sheep and cattle, working from two receiving pens, one in Bakersfield in Pecos County and the other in San Angelo.

At peak times in the fall, some 5,000 head of sheep per day were off loaded from trucks, sorted into four to five different categories, weighed, recounted, and loaded back onto a truck, going long distances.

That is about all they could handle after working all day and half the night. The five lead goats, goats trained to lead the other sheep off and on the trucks, and all of the crew would be give out.

Growing up as one of four brothers, Woodward remembers not having a lot of money and needing to help work to get by.

He remembers being 12-years-old and driving 5,000 sheep across the Pecos River to Pecos County.

“We we're all happy,” said Woodward.

While he didn't do much schooling, his hands on experience was the most beneficial.

“My dad is the one who really gave us the best education,” he said.

They didn't have a lot of material possessions but his dad taught them hard work and honesty, he said.

All four of the brothers now own an operate ranches of their own.

Woodward then started to run the breeding of ewes with profits and lines of credit from local banks.

He started mostly in Texas and then later branched out to Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, South Dakota, and California.

Some years he lost lots of money and had to sell much of his stock except the breeding stock.

That was the collateral reserved that kept him from going broke, to pay the bills to the banks, and other expenses.

By the 1990s, the sheep industry began to decline and declined rapidly.

By 2010 he stopped trading sheep.

“We had some land we owned, and we took the revenue from the sheep and put it back into more land, cattle and goats,” he said.

That was how Six Shooter Ranches, LLC was started.

The ranch outfit has some men who have worked on the ranch for over 35 years and some of the other hands are the second generation of their family to work there.

Six Shooter Ranches raises their own cattle, bulls, goats and horses.

Even though it has slowed down quite a bit, with six ranches in three counties owned or leased, all of them within a 200-mile radius.

Ranching has always just been a second nature to Woodward.

“I guess it's kind of like an addiction,” he said. “I really like the cattle.”

Now Woodward spends his time split with ranching and the Historical Commission.

He remembers stories told to him by family which peaked his interest in history.

He said being president has been a challenge but enjoyable.

He loves the new group of younger members who have good ideas and always follow through.

“We're very proud of them,” said Woodward.

He said one of the things they have been working on is saving older buildings and finding buyers or doing research.

“It's been very rewarding to see the achievements and ongoing projects,” said Woodward.

While retirement is not in Woodward's plans he does plan on slowing down a little bit.

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