Outgoing and ambitious are two words that describe Helen Palmer of Palmer’s Double Box Ranch and Beefmasters. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting Milton and Helen Palmer then you have had the opportunity to meet two of the best agricultural producers and conservationists around. Milton and Helen have been married for thirty-one years and live on their property that is part of the original family ranch dating back to 1847 in a community outside of Pleasanton, Texas. You can say that their ranch is a part of the family because the Palmers stay very active with their two grandchildren and protecting the family’s land.
The couple is seen out and about tending to their 450 acres that is home to wildlife, Beefmaster cattle and a highly productive vegetable garden. Milton began his career as a peanut farmer and soon diversified, the couple began growing produce including organic to sell at a farmer’s market. The team works together to grow everything from asparagus to turnips and almonds to watermelons. It is truly a labor of love, as they both enjoy caring for their ranch and managing the land. They make a great team in managing all aspects of the ranch, but when it comes to the expenses and cattle records Helen is in charge.
However, this ranch would not be where it is today without Helen and Milton’s first love; cattle, specifically Beefmaster cattle. The cattle are also a first love of their grandchildren. The Palmers own approximately 100 Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU) registered Beefmaster females. Their cow-calf operation is grazed on a rotational system to keep the grass from being overgrazed. To assist in the rotational grazing, cross fences have been built with the assistance of the Natural Resource Conversation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP) program. The Palmers are active producers in their local NRCS programs and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) where they focus on conserving their land’s natural resources.
The Palmers have also implemented practices that help produce efficient cattle. Every three months bulls are placed with the heifers and cows and the females are bred at about three years of age. In order to keep accurate records Helen has implemented a tagging system that identifies the sire of each calf by the color of its ear tag. This has allowed for more efficient cattle identification and improved cattle records.
Milton and Helen work hard and thank God for their health that enables them to live the life they love. Helen was raised in Hobson, Texas and learned her work ethic and survival skills from her parents who raised dryland cotton, corn and cattle. Helen learned to be a farm hand and when times got difficult the family survived off catfish, dove and jackrabbits. Part of her work ethic has been applied to reducing fertilizer use on the ranch.
The Palmer’s nephew informed the team that in his college courses the professors are teaching that the constant use of fertilizer would someday leach into our underground water supply, as well as ruin our soil. This information prompted Helen and Milton to stop fertilizing their coastal fields and to implement disking the fields every other year instead. Helen spent many days hand grubbing the mesquite trees in order to eliminate them and clear the fields for a hay field. Now the hay field is disked every year and their Beefmaster cattle are turned out on it every fall season. They have had tremendous results from this practice.
Helen realizes that the land and the animals belong to God and we are to be good stewards of the land, wildlife and all living creatures. The couple believes in conservation and preserving the land for future generations, for the well-being of their Beefmaster cattle and especially for the future of their grandchildren.
With true work ethic and implementing these practices on their ranch and Beefmaster operation Helen Palmer was recognized as the 2013 Atascosa County Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation Homemaker of the Year, which notably could not have been possible without her teammate and husband. This couple makes a great team and represents what cattle producers are first and foremost; stewards on the land and conservationists of natural resources. We as Beefmaster breeders raise cattle and grass, let’s take care of the soil, the grass, the air and the water on our land in order to improve the future of the cattle industry.