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Size of Southfork

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Herofan, Nov 20, 2019.

  1. Herofan

    Herofan Soap Chat Member

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    I’m sure this has been covered before, but how many acres was Southfork? I’m watching an episode from the final season, and Bobby told Christopher that there were times when it took a week or two just to move the cows from one pasture to another. That seems mighty large to me.
     
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  2. Snarky's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

    Snarky's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come Soap Chat Oracle

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    I think they said 100,000 acres.
     
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  3. Mistletoe Stevens

    Mistletoe Stevens 'The Lovely Michelle'

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    Those episodes in the final season during cattle drives added a nostalgic touch to the series. By this time the Southfork property was so large it extended into California. :p Anyone familiar with the California landscape could tell it wasn't Texas.
     
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  4. Snarky's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

    Snarky's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come Soap Chat Oracle

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    Yes, they had to tilt the camera down during the off-season when they were shooting on California ranches in order to obscure the mountainous horizon when east Texas has nothing like that. But they didn't always manage to hide it.
     
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  5. markymark

    markymark Soap Chat Active Member

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    Yes Lucy says that to Casey Denault. From the fake patio
     
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  6. Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper

    Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    If Lucy is correct, and she would know, then most of it would be sage brush not suitable for grazing.

    If you'd like to know how much they used for the working ranch, I can get you a pretty close estimate.

    We hear about section 40 quite a bit. So we know that is a section by itself and we have seen that it is used for pasture. During the episodes where Carter Mckay starts a range war, it is implied that there is at least another section used for pasture. If the house was originally settled on it's own section, then there would be three sections altogether that are used for actual grazing of cattle.

    For our friends outside of the U.S., a section of land is one square mile (1.6 kilometers). So three sections of land would be three square miles or 4.8 square kilometers.

    Is this interesting to you? Then read on:

    Ray said that before they tried a Milo Hybrid, they could graze two and a half cows per acre. So how many head could they run?

    Lets say that the house, pool, and yard take up 6 acres. And the Barns and paddocks take up another 40.

    And let's say the bunk house and yard take up another 5 acres. And Ray's house is on the "back 40".

    And we lose 20 acres due to access roads, wind mills, and the like.

    That leaves us with 1849 acres available for grazing.

    At 2.5 cows per acre, they could run 4,622 head of cattle.

    Now, let's say that in 2019, the average price of a beef cow is $2800. That means the herd is worth $ 12 million.

    Add to that stud fees (I mean stud fees for the bulls, not Bobby Ewing) and you have a profitable ranch.


    I hope you all enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed typing it. You might say I have spent some time around Texas ranches.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2019
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  7. Snarky's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

    Snarky's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come Soap Chat Oracle

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    I didn't know that!!
     
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  8. Bill Dilks

    Bill Dilks Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Yeah..as we talked about in the LOCATIONS thread, ranch filming later in the series took place at JMJ Ranch in Thousand Oaks CA.

    I'm wondering where the cattle drives were filmed. There are cattle drive ranches in CA...maybe one was used in season 14 for the filming of the "week-long" cattle drive. I don't think JMJ was used...to many rolling hills with all open space.

    (I really dislike the page going down in the middle of creating/posting a reply. grrrrr)
     
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  9. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I did enjoy reading that! Thank you.

    It sounds like you've enjoyed spending all that time around Texas ranches.

    What do they mean by "the back 40" and why isn't that 40 acres added to the number of acres lost? I get the idea that it probably means Ray's house is on the 40 acres already counted - the 40 acres with the "barns and paddocks." Is that right?

    Is the area with sage brush potentially suitable for grazing if it had some work done to it?
     
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  10. Bill Dilks

    Bill Dilks Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Missed you bud. Welcome back!

    Good questions. I remember Jock giving Ray a prime section early on near the Garnett McGee fiasco.

    A section is 1 square mile, and comprises 640 acres.

    At the fictional 100,000 acres, S/F would be (100,000 / 640) 156.25 sections.

    In miles it's 12.5 miles square (12.5 miles each of 4 sides). 12.5 x 12.5 = 156.25.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
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  11. Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper

    Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Bill speaks for all of us, my friend!

    Well, now you've done it! You gave me an excuse to come out with more Texas history.

    Back when Texas was homesteaded, the government gave farmers and ranchers a quarter section if they were willing to cultivate the land for five years. As @Bill Dilks points out, a section is 640 acres. So a quarter section is 160 acres.

    Once the five years was up, and the rancher obtained the deed to the land, he was able to immediately subdivide his 160 acre quarter section into 40 acre plots. He did this so he could sell off or deed off some of the land, as Jock did for Ray.

    The reason we call it the "back 40" is that back in those days, most farmers or ranchers couldn't farm more than 40 acres at a time, so they would start out with one 40 acre plot, then after a few years they would rotate into the next 40 acre plot. Doing this, it could take decades to get around to the last 40 acre plot. This often ignored plot was called the "back 40".

    It would be tradition for a rancher to hand this back 40 to his children. So it was especially meaningful that Jock gave this to Ray, not knowing yet that Ray was his son.

    High level technical reason for that, Kenny. I did the math wrong. :)
     
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  12. Bill Dilks

    Bill Dilks Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Good stuff about the back 40. That's great info.

    Not to argue, just want to find out where I'm missing something. According to TRIANGLE, Jock gave Ray "a whole section of prime Southfork land at the northern end." That would be 640 acres of Ray's land, not a 40 acre plot. So I don't understand how the 40-acre reference relates to Ray.

    S/F was 156 sections, with each section comprising 640 acres. Section 40 would be a 640 acre section of land holding the famous "largest pool of oil" in the state.

    Still, even if that 40 acre section allocated for Ray was not used, that's still one helluva lot of cattle. As Jock said, "They don't pay as well as oil, but, well, I don't know. It just feels good, Ellie."
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
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  13. Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper

    Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Bill, you never have to worry about starting an argument with me. I really enjoy it when another member points out something I missed.

    In this case, I thought I remembered Ray telling Donna that she could never be happy living in the little house he built by himself on the back 40.

    So. . . Either they were using that just as an expression, or I am remembering the scene wrong.

    Either way, @Bill Dilks is correct. If Jock gave Ray "A whole section of prime Southfork land at the northern end" then that would be 640 acres.

    Even more impressive. Especially since Jock didn't know Ray was his son.
     
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  14. Walking in a Winter Guzzlerland

    Walking in a Winter Guzzlerland Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I think that would just be a expression... and right in line with Ray's pattern of thinking he doesn't measure up to Donna - minimizing what he is and has in order to conclude he's not worthy of her.
     
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  15. Bill Dilks

    Bill Dilks Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I'll be keeping an eye out now, for sure!

    Trying to find the back 40 reference. Here's as close as I could find about Ray telling Donna that "it won't work" from:

    https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=dallas&episode=s03e18

    ***

    Don't you see how wrong that is? For both of us. You'd be miserable trying to lead my kind of life.
    And I could never do what Luanne does. Hang around the fringes trying to be useful.
    Being a Mr. Donna Culver. We'd be divorced inside of a year, I can see it.

    Who was it that helped you see that? J.R. Ewing, maybe? I saw him talking to you.

    He has nothing to do with this.

    Well what did he say?

    Nothing I didn't already know. You'd never be happy settling for me, Donna.

    Oh, Ray, that's not true...

    ***

    If the line were anywhere, I would think it would be between JENNA'S RETURN (s03e18) when Donna and Ray have dinner with Dave and Luanne, and when she sees Ray at the S/F party in END OF THE ROAD (2) (s04e12).

    Googled the show for 'back 40'....
    Just found a 'back 40' reference in: Dallas s04e23 Episode Script - Ewing-Gate
    Another reference in: Dallas (2012) s03e02 Episode Script - Trust Me
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
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  16. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Thank you! I appreciate that. :)

    I find that kind of stuff very interesting. Thanks for the great explanation!

    Aha! I thought that the numbers didn't add up. The only way I could make them add up was to include Ray's 40 acres in the 40 acres allocated to barns and paddocks.

    What about the land filled with sage brush? Is that land ever potentially suitable for grazing? If so, what type of work would need to be done to it, is it expensive, and what is that work called?

    It's amazing how much of the ranch - regarding total acreage is unused!

    It seems to me that they put a lot of thought into creating the back story, because that amount of money you calculated - 12 million dollars - sounds very reasonable. And still, even though that's a good amount of money, when you think about the value of 100,000 acres of land, ranching has to be one of the lowest investment to return businesses that exist in The USA. I applaud the men and women who do it because even though the ratio of return on the massive value of that much land is relatively low, it's vital work and it puts food on our tables.
     
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  17. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Thanks Bill! Missed you too. It's nice to be back!
     
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  18. Bill Dilks

    Bill Dilks Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I figure they have a lot of ground for grazing. If they use 3 sections, taking a week to move the herd to another 3 sections implies to me a lot of grazing land. 4600 head of cattle is a bunch, for sure.

    I don't know how much ground is covered per day during a cattle drive. OK...just looked this up. I read 15 miles per day max to maintain cattles' weight. So I'd assume they really weren't in a hurry...maybe covering a mile or two per day, since the ranch is 12.5 miles square and likely has an irregular shape.

    And as for the show, there is of course license to allow for inaccuracies. We know the producers etc were not Texans.

    Question LKP? Say the 4600 head grazes 3 sections at a time. Do you know how long a herd like this could feed before having to be moved to another 3 sections for feeding?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
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  19. Bill Dilks

    Bill Dilks Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I read this and Miss Ellie's line came to mind: "Does everything have to be used? Can't some things just be?"
     
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  20. Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper

    Lastkidpicked to be Santa's Helper Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for finding those quotes, Bill. We can always count on you to drill deeper to find who said what and when. (Hmmm... that would be a good thread title.).
    Here is how I have done it in the past.

    Let's say you are running cows on one section and will rotate into another. You will prepare the next section this way:

    When you are cleaning out pens and stables, you take a manure spreader and apply that to the receiving section.

    upload_2019-11-25_10-3-13.jpeg

    You will wait for a couple of rains to leech out the salts from the manure. Then you will use a seed drill to interseed into the existing grasses.

    upload_2019-11-25_10-5-17.jpeg

    We allow a few weeks for the seed to establish, and then we will rotate the cattle into the new section.
    [​IMG]

    Notice the dog at the bottom of the pic. (Not my dog or cattle, just a cool pic)

    This is why my buddies continue to adopt herding dogs. And yes, they really are a big help.

    There is some land that will always be fallow because there's not enough water to make it into pasture. Usually this is land on a slope, where rains run off instead of soaking in. Sagebrush can survive this because they have a taproot that goes way down to find moisture.
    [​IMG]

    And we can use fallow land to take the pressure off pastures. During the hot part of the summer, if we want to keep the pastures from being over grazed, we can put the cattle in the sagebrush land and supplement with hay. The easiest way is with a Dew EZ. (Say it out load, it's a clever name for the company).
    upload_2019-11-25_11-55-53.jpeg


    We literally roll out a carpet of hay for the cattle. It's pretty cool.

    I'm sure everybody does it their own way, but we used to graze them from March to May, move them to the fallow fields and supplement hay, then return them from September through December.

    I hope this is helpful, and I will say again that I have as much fun typing this as you do reading it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2019
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