Home to the XIT Ranch

A ranch about 20 miles from Channing, Texas, is where I grew up. Channing is the epitome of the small cowboy town. It is home of the original XIT Ranch headquarters. XIT stands for “10 in Texas” as the ranch covered more than 10 counties in its heyday. My dad was one of the original XIT and Matador ranch cowboys.

As a kid I loved hearing dad and his old cowboy buddies swap stories, including the summer my father was a 14 year old working on the ranch. They put him on one of the cow camps with an older cowboy to learn the ropes. As cowboys will tend to do, they started trading things. Dad would want to make a trade, his bit for the older cowboys spurs. The older cowboy would say ok but “I’ve got to have a little cash to boot.” Dad said that by the end of summer they each had all their original stuff back and the older cowboy had enough of dad’s money to buy a new pair of boots.

Dad always turned his boots upside down every morning and shook them before putting them on “just in case” some crawled into them during the night—a holdover from his days as a young cowboy following the herd. When he died, there was still a picture on his living room wall of the Matador chuck wagon pulled by mules.

Channing was the location for the annual Matador Reunion, two days of roping, riding and dancing. It’s where I learned to do the “Texas Swing.” Growing up on a ranch in the Texas Panhandle was the best upbringing a kid could have had. It taught you hard work, principles and to never leave a gate open!

Tracy Shinogle can be reached at [email protected].