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      NATURE REPORT - King Ranch Cowboys

      It TMs the annual fall roundup on the most famous ranch in the world, and on King Ranch in deep South Texas the cowboys, or vaqueros as they are known in Spanish, start their day early. The King Ranch sprawls across 825,000 acres in southernmost Texas, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

      It will take these seasoned vaqueros several weeks on horseback to work the ranches some 60,000 head of cattle.

      Danny Rodrigurez and many of the other cowboys have grown up on the ranch, and working cattle is in their blood. My great grandfather Juvenicio Garcia was a caporal here on the Norias Division for several years, and my grandpa Nicholas Rodriguez Sr. was a vaquero here," Rodriguez said. King Ranch cowboys Marty Alegria said it's the same for his family.

      I am fourth generation on my mom TMs side and third generation on my dad TMs side," Alegria said. The cowboys work together in perfect harmony as they sort thru the herds, weaning calves and selecting cattle for breeding or those destined for market. As the lunch hour draws near, Robert Hinojosa takes a break from his duties as a vaquero and tends a mesquite fire in one of the old cowboy camp fireplaces.We have some carne guisada with some green pepper onions," Hinojosa said.

      Normally, the vaqueros would not take an extended break for lunch, but as the roundups draw to a close they will occasionally prepare an old fashioned camp meal that includes pan de campo the traditional camp bread. Being a King Ranch cowboy does have its rewards.

      I am living everybody TMs dream," Alegria said. "We are. Because, everybody once in their lifetime imagines being a cowboy, and we are living it. This is what we do every day.