Fourth Generation Family Angus Ranch History At Pioneer Bluff’s Prairie Talk

Ranching is romantic life from afar in colorful glamorous cattle pasture photo scenes and carefully choreographed edited movies and documentaries.

Profitably producing cattle in reality is hard work, whatever the weather hot, dry, cold blizzard, variables in between.

There’s always work to do on a Flint Hills cattle operation. Ice must be chopped on freezing days to provide water for the Angus at the Hinkson Ranch near Cottonwood Falls.

It’s a tough business never for the weak hearted. Sadly longtime history reveals not many families continue in the ranching industry beyond a generation or two, at best.

“Today’s farms and ranches are fewer and bigger with family ownership in a sharp decline,” according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

History of one Flint Hills ranch that has withstood time, survived and thrived through generations is to be told.

“While family ranches are a rarity, the Hinkson Ranch story will be shared in a Prairie Talk program,” announced Lynn Smith.

“Everybody is welcome to hear the ranch family presentation Saturday afternoon, Dec. 15, 3 o’clock, at Pioneer Bluffs,” invited Smith.

All of the family gets involved when moving cattle in the Flint Hills at the Hinkson Ranch.

It will be in the restored barn at the national registered historic ranch north of Matfield Green in Chase County. Smith is executive director of the nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve the ranching heritage of the Flint Hills.

“Hinkson Ranch is a family-run, fourth generation operation originating in the late 1800s with my granddad,” said Frank Hinkson II.

“In our operation, everybody works,” he said. “The owner, herd manager, secretary, groundskeeper, bookkeeper, and calf tagger all have Hinkson as a last name.”

Many changes have occurred in the cattle business since Hinkson’s dad let him select his first five registered Angus calves.

“I was just 11-years-old,” he fondly remembered. “We have been around long enough to see Angus cattle too small, too big, and now we think just right.”

Recognizing many industry technology advancements through the decades, Hinkson said, “We have seen fads come and go.

“There’ve been good years and bad years,” he recognized. “We’ve made some great decisions and of course some mistakes.

“One thing that has remained constant is our philosophy towards Angus cattle,” Hinkson declared. “Our objective is to produce predictable, problem-free cattle that excel in any and all environments.”

The cattle industry is their family business. “We don’t raise Angus as a weekend hobby or as a tax write off,” Hinkson emphasized. “Angus cattle are our livelihood. Producing a quality product is not an option, it is a must.”

The Hinkson Ranch traces to beginnings in Nebraska through Texas and New Mexico. Then Frank and Marilyn Hinkson settled on Sharps Creek south of Cottonwood Falls.

With 400 registered Angus cows, Hinkson Ranch has hosted an annual bull sale since 1998, selling 90-100 bulls each year.

The Hinkson Ranch of Cottonwood Falls hosts an annual Angus bull sale.

“We currently have 225 spring calving cows and have developed a fall calving herd through embryo transfer,” Hinkson said.

After a teaching and coaching stint at Lansing, Hinkson’s son Trey has moved back to the ranch.

“Trey and his wife Becky are partners in the Angus operation,” Frank Hinkson appreciated. “We are looking forward to them carrying on the name of Hinkson Angus Ranch.”

Four hundred registered Angus cows at the Hinkson Ranch produce seed stock demanded by cow-calf producers throughout the Midwest.

Details about the free ranching heritage presentation are available by contacting Smith at 620-753-3484, or email lynn@pioneerbluffs.org.

Additional information about Pioneer Bluffs on the Flint Hills national scenic byway K-177, south of Cottonwood Falls, is at www.pioneerbluffs.org.