On Saturday afternoon, Vol Fan and I did some exploring and we ran across the state animal of Texas - the Longhorn. Say hello to my little friend - I call him Buttercup.
These Longhorns are a part of the official state herd. Few things are as symbolic of Texas as the Longhorn with its large lean build, range of colors, and its long curved horns. The horns can reach up to 120 inches tip to tip. Vol Fan was more brave than me and went into the field with Buttercup. He said Buttercup's horns were pushing 6 feet.
The Longhorn is hardy - can eat a variety of plants that other cattle find inedible including cactus and require less water than other breeds to survive. And it was particularly suited for the harsh conditions of a cattle drive. They could travel long distances, swim wide rivers, and thrive on nearly any vegetation that was found.
[Sidebar: Our location in Abilene is near two of the three great cattle trails - The Western Trail and The Goodnight-Loving Trail. The Goodnight-Loving Trail in this area followed the Butterfield stage route. You might be familiar with Goodnight-Loving because Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving and their 3rd cattle drive are the basis for Larry McMurtry's book, Lonesome Dove.]
By the 1920s, the Longhorn had been bred with other breeds of cattle to the point that it was nearing extinction. Several Texans joined forces to save the iconic breed and gathered a small herd for the State of Texas. Thanks to the efforts of these individuals and the continuing conservation effort, the Longhorn is no longer an endangered breed.
The Longhorn continues to represent the unique and once abundant animals that made a critical contribution to the development of Texas' economy in the 19th century.