The Winning Way
by Lorie Woodward
THE BRAHMAN JOURNAL/JUNE 1988
Even in cowboy boots it's obvious that
Charles Brown is a football coach. Maybe
the first clue is the natural athletic grace
apparent in his walk. Or perhaps, it's the
size 13 Cotton Bowl ring on his right hand.
Or just maybe, it's the way that words like
"success" and "winner" run through his
conversation like a psyched team through
a pre-game victory line.
It's equally obvious that Charles Brown believes in success and that he is a winner. "Whenever I'm interested in something, I go all out for it," Charles said. "I don't want to be at the bottom of anything. Once you've been at the top, you just develop a different feeling about being on the bottom or even in the middle."
And he knows about being on top. During his 36-year coaching career in the Texas Gulf Coast area, his teams compiled a 203-101-1 win-loss record. A prime example of his ability was his term as head coach at Booker T. Washington High School in Conroe, Texas which lasted from 1960-1966. During his reign, the Conroe teams earned two state championships, three state runner-up titles and a state semi- final berth.
Although he is still maintaining contact with the sports world as an on-campus recruiter for Texas A&M University, Charles has begun applying his success philosophy to his second love - the cattle business. He and his wife, Carolyn, a like winner in her own right, have established a purebred Gray Brahman herd along with an F-1 herd at their Benchley, Texas ranch, the Lazy B5.
In actuality, the ranch was part of the family long before the cattle. Carolyn grew up on the land where her family farmed and raised commercial cattle. After she and Charles married, they began returning to the ranch, as often as their hectic Houston teaching schedules would allow, to relax and to let their three daughters, Daphne, Pamela and Candace, enjoy the benefits of country life.
It was during this time that the first cow appeared on the ranch. Although Charles said he had always planned on having cattle, Carolyn takes credit for arranging for the first.
"It all started when we fenced in the motor home," Carolyn said, with a smile reminiscent of a homecoming queen. "I thought we needed a cow and calf in the yard to keep the grass down. I figured that we could put the calf in the freezer and keep the cow. But after the girls named them and started feeding them sugar out of a spoon, eating the calf was an im- possibility, so we ended up keeping the heifer and the cow."
Charles grinned at the recollection, but said the ranch's purebred beginnings weren't nearly so colorful. In 1981, they bought 10 Red Angus cows that were all heavy bred or had a calf at side. Additionally, they fed out some Red Angus calves on halves. But as he was establishing his herd, Charles said, he noticed that the demand for Red Angus wasn't very great but the demand for Brahman was.
He said the strong market of the early 80's caught his attention, but one look at the cattle finalized his decision. "The cattle I saw at the ranches I visited were beautiful, but it was the results the breeders were getting that really impressed me," Charles said. "I thought `if you don't have the survivability, adaptability and performance that Brahman genetics offer, what do you have?' "
Once they decided to get into Brahman, Charles and Carolyn selected two pairs and three heifers from V8 Ranch and two pair from J.D. Hudgins, Inc. These were the base of their herd. Later they increased their numbers by purchasing a small dispersal herd which included a Suva son. He is now the ranch's herd sire.
The purebred herd presented a new challenge to the Browns, although Charles also grew up with commercial cattle on his family's Montgomery, Texas farm. But, Charles said, he didn't have a major problem getting the necessary information because he wanted to learn, was willing to ask questions and listen to the answers. "Now I'll grant that I ask questions carefully. It's a practice from coaching," Charles said. "Young coaches used to come up to me and ask for things like a secret, sure-fire success formula for a state championship and that's a silly question. I made up my mind not to look like those silly young coaches in front of these experienced cattlemen, so I did some homework on my own."
This willingness to learn as much as possible makes the Browns visible at Brahman events throughout Texas. For in- stance Charles makes it a point to attend the International Brahman Show in Houston just to listen to the judge's and breeders' comments about the competing cattle and to apply this information to his herd at home. He and Carolyn also attend every seminar they can and are active in the Area II Brahman Association.
"I found out early, if you want to know, you've got to go," Charles said. This philosophy is also a result of coaching and participating in the innumerable clinics sponsored by the Texas High School Coaching Association, the life-time member said.
Carolyn laughed and chided, "Charles wanted to know so much that we spent our family vacations at coaching clinics." Charles replied, "It's true, I attend everything I possibly can because I want to learn as much as possible. And sometimes it's real nice to be able to tell somebody something instead of asking a question every time you open your mouth." Another benefit of attending professional meetings is that a discussion of people's practices can lead to new ideas because of this, the professional contacts are in- valuable, he said.
"Maybe the biggest advantage of participation, whether it's in the Texas coaches or the local Brahman association, is the people," Charles said. "People are the name of the game in everything. If you're not people oriented you may be able to get to the top quickly by pulling strings but you'll have trouble staying there. People either get you there or they bring you down. "' Keeping people in mind, especially the commercial producer is one of the strong points of the Brown's program. The Browns are concentrating on producing the large framed, productive cattle that provide growth, fertility and hardiness that the commercial producer demands. They also emphasize longevity and disposition. "As far as I'm concerned disposition is a number 1 priority," Charles said. "If I had the best cow in the world and I couldn't put my hands on her she'd be gone.
"I don't have a horse and the only reason I have a dog is to wake me up if somebody comes prowling around when I'm sleeping with the doors open. If you handle Brahman and Brahman cross cattle correctly you don't have problems."
In addition to considering disposition, the Browns are acutely aware of keeping performance records. Charles believes the time will come when the market will demand performance information. To expediate the record keeping tasks, the Browns rely on a personal computer. Using a herd health program and a management program, Charles said, within one hour he could compile all the health records, nutrition information, pedigree and performance data on every individual in his herd; thus, giving a potential buyer a complete, compact background kit on each animal.
"People have to remember that you have to put in a little extra to succeed," he said. "You've got to sell whatever you're doing because nothing that God made is so superior that you can sit back and expect it to sell itself. "We can't just say our cattle are better, we've got to test and prove it. We've got to make it visible not just verbal. We've got to have a product that meets demands."
Proper feeding is one way the Browns ensure their cattle meet the demands of the environment. Currently, they are using a rotational grazing system to efficiently utilize both native grasses and improved pasture. In addition, they are working to establish a clover program to enhance the nitrogen of the blackland where they ranch. Although all the calves are creep fed, the mature cattle are maintained with forage, fertilized cane, rye and coastal hay, salt and minerals and a small amount of cubes. Because forage is the base of the nutrition program, the Browns have tried some new approaches. For instance, they have established coastal in the blackland where it's not normally grown. Additionally, they have been renovating their pastures by plowing criss-cross to break up the hard land to increase forage production and absorption of fertilizer and water. . It's this sort of thoughtfulness and planning that characterizes the Browns' long range program goals. Eventually they plan to develop a develop a herd of 30 top-notch, good- blooded cows that can work in A.I, and embryo programs. "This elite group will be the type of cows where you can run a small number and still generate income, " he said.
In addition, they are working toward an F-1 program using Brahman cows and Hereford and Angus bulls as well as Red Angus cows with Brahman bulls. And although improvements are planned, the Lazy BS F-1 program has already begun enjoying success. In 1987, the ranch claimed reserve champion pen honors at the Area II F-1 Sale. Looking toward the future of the breed and their program, Charles is characteristically optimistic. While things are at low ebb, Charles said he could accept mediocrity, but he's preparing his cattle to reap greater benefits when the time is right.
"To put my optimism in context, I started coaching football in the 50's when , we had separate fields and had to hustle for revenue. "Then I coached through the integration years and people penalized me for being a winner. If I'd lost I'd have been a `good ol' boy' but I would've also been a loser which I'm not. And I came through it okay. "After those things how can marketing cattle be a bad experience. I believe now I can enjoy winning and being prosperous without a penalty. Why in the world would I be pessimistic? "'You know, right now the only things I can't manage are plagues and droughts, but with enough work I figure, with the grace of God, I can whip anything else.
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