Some people born in West Texas have a hard time leaving this lush and productive part of Texas where weather never plays a significant part in one’s decision making.
Such is the life of a permanent resident of this easy-living part of the state, Johnny Ferguson, the first of our twenty-first group of Foy Proctor Memorial Cowman’s Award of Honor recipients.
Johnny was born in Lubbock, Texas on June 28, 1961 to parents Bill and Vada Ferguson. Bill was born in Arkansas and grew up at Quitaque, Texas. Which he probably did believe the Indian name really did mean “The End of The Trail”. Today’s population after this last census might reach 400. Johnny’s mother was born in Tioga, Texas and grew up on a ranch outside of Silverton, Texas.
Johnny and family moved from Lubbock to Texarkana for a while. After Johnny graduated high school in Texarkana he went back west to Clarendon College and enrolled in some ranch management courses. While in the northern latitudes of Texas he worked for Bud Brainerd at Canadian for a while.
Life happens and then he is then lured to the thriving metropolis of Big Lake, Texas seeking the attention of a school teacher named Amy who had been introduced to him by her brother at Clarendon College. It was a good trip south.
Life continued to happen and they were married in June of 1986 and now have two twin boys, Josh and Jake.
Johnny day worked for a while on the Barnhart, Texas Murphey Estate Ranch with Tim Bennie of the Tom and Elta Murphey estate. Tim later approached Johnny about leasing part of it and 35 years later he is still working on that Irion and Reagan County ranch.
During that time period he also took on ranching the Shannon Estate ranch north of Big Lake, which he and partner John Moorhouse operate over 80,00 acres of the Shannon Estate ranch and all together look after about 155,00 acres in Crockett County.
Johnny recalls fond memories of his youth spending summers on his grand-dads ranch. He learned that it was all important to work physically hard and keep is word to others. He and his three brothers used those early lessons to pave their road of life.
Horses have always played a big part in Johnny’s appreciation for the work of ranching. He said the job just would not be as enjoyable. His grandkids claim he is “old school”, which he freely admits, but the truth also is that one of the reasons he continues ranching is because of working cattle horseback with good cowboys. He has done it that way all his life and knows no other way.
His horse, Little Bill was his favorite. What he lacked in size was made up for in his big “heart”.
Son Josh, one of their twin boys lives on the ranch, working daily alongside his dad. Jake is a man of the cloth and helps out when he can. Johnny and Amy have four grandsons, Luke is 6, Jaxon is 5, Greyson is 4, and Hartley is 4 months. His hope for these boys is that the ranching lifestyle will become a family legacy and that some of them will follow in the ranching business.
Johnny worries about drought, as we all do, but the direction our nation seems to be heading gives him as much fear as the drought.
His crystal ball tells him that there will always be cattle and cattle people, but the economics involved will deter a lot of young people from wanting to ranch. He knows of no better way of life or way to raise a family than to be on a working ranch. He is concerned that lot of traditional ways of working cattle are fading away. It is his goal to keep those old traditions alive and pass them down to his children and grandchildren.