Mike Capron


Fifty years ago I was working on a ranch that was 100 Thousand acres.  Never felt lonely or bored.  A man from town showed up and was asking directions to the neighbor’s which was about 30 miles away. We talked a short spell and he was most impressed on how far you could see. We talked of the ranch and it’s size and the cattle regarding how much acreage it took per cow and how much time it took to gather them.   After a good visit, he asked me if I knew what my most valuable commodity was.   I thought for a moment of several things, and while I was thinking he was getting back in his car. Before he started his car with his head hanging out the window, ………and me looking bewildered, he said …….SPACE.            

Since that time, I have appreciated my space more clearly. It is a commodity that is diminishing. I have been chasing more space my whole life. While I was in the service, they told me that I would love the ocean………well I was disappointed you could only see 14 miles before the world curved and you were looking past the horizon.   We could see mountains 100 miles away at Salt Flat, Texas . I have always appreciated the big outfits.  I like hitting a trot and going all day in the same pasture.  Freedom at its finest…….!!   I find it hard to believe that the Comanche could leave their home hunting grounds in Oklahoma and travel all the way through Texas to Mexico.  The Comanche learned how to cover lots of miles looking for buffalo, horses, and trespassers.  Space was always their ally.   

Thirty some years ago I had the opportunity to be a partner on a ranch lease for 150,000 acres @ .35 cents an acre. The lease was cheap, of course the understanding of what you were getting for what we had to pay wasn’t considered very seriously, it just sounded cheap. That much space was too good.  We were sure it was a golden opportunity to ranch more country than we had ever dreamed possible.  We made it for five years and learned a lot. But the beauty of the Space was the greatest joy of all…………….

It was for sale, but we got comfortable with the fact that it wasn’t a very attractive piece of ranch property.  Lots of acres but not many mineral assets, little game possibilities for very little  financial return, and other real-estate values weren’t developed at the time.  The ranch was priced cheap compared to other more beautiful west Texas ranches, $29 an acre. Nobody was interested at the time. But after 5 years things were changing, slowly but surely. We were not paying attention. Don’t go to sleep on opportunities of change.  Nobody had come to look at the ranch for reason to purchase.   We were getting snug with our ranching investment, learning how to operate with ranch expenses, and enjoying the life style.    When an enterprising fast moving lover of space showed up, drove around the ranch for one day, and told me he was going to buy the ranch.  I told him I don’t blame you, I would if I could, but I couldn’t afford it, I don’t have that much money and I don’t know how to make that much.   He left and went to the owner and told him he would buy his ranch at the $29 an acre price, but he wanted to break it down into 7 year payments of $50,000 each year and a balloon payment of the balance.  That equated to a 7 year lease cheaper than what I was paying and then he owned the ranch and had the possibility of chopping it up into smaller parcels and reselling into smaller ranches for sale.   This he did and ended up reselling the whole ranch for huge profits. Not sure of all the final sales, but one of the sales several years later was 38,000 acres, of the original acreage for $250 an acre. Go figure that……..!!!!!!!!     Space is paying off now.  I could have done the same thing, as our annual lease was more than his yearly payments for 7 years, but no not me, I was too busy punching cows to pay attention to the possibility of selling space.   The man who ultimately purchased all the 150,000 acres plus several times more than that of neighboring ranches, opened a Space Station and is planning on taking people into space for money. Space is getting to be a big deal ……..!!!!!!!!!

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