For The Madera Tribune
The Madera County Cattlemen’s Association (MCCA) has chosen the honorees for its annual Cattleman of the Year and Cowboy of the Year awards.
Cattleman of the Year is Brad Ruble, and Cowboy of the Year award is Florindo Alarcon. Nominated and elected by past honorees, the Cattleman of the Year award recognizes an individual that has contributed and been influential in the cattle industry in Madera County.
The recipients will be honored at the MCCA’s Fall Dinner Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Coarsegold Community Center on State Route 41 in Coarsegold.
Ruble was born in 1956 in Exeter and lived in Woodlake until the age of 8, when his family decided to move to Madera.
He grew up hunting and fishing with his father and brothers, and always loved the outdoors. His first introduction to horses was an after-school job working for Ron Reno, taking care of his horses. Brad attended Madera High School where he and his brothers were on the swim team with their father, Art Ruble, as the swim coach but unlike his brothers he didn’t enjoy swimming. After school every day Brad would swim miles in the pool at swim practice and then walk or ride his bike to Ron’s. His mother, Billie Ruble, said, “Since Brad was a boy he always said he was going to be a cowboy.”
Brad saved all of his money and at around 14 years old he bought six green-broke horses. His mother said, “It’s a wonder Brad didn’t kill himself on those crazy horses, but you know what, that kid loved it!”
Brad’s cattle days began when he was 16, working for Pogie Muller, a Madera High School teacher, at his ranch in Raymond. Muller liked Brad’s work ethic, knew that he was trustworthy and hired him. He worked on the ranch with Sam Fancher and Steve Franco, and learned a lot about cattle from them. Brad looked up to Sam and still considers him one of the best cowboys of all time.
Brad attended Merced College and received his Horse Farrier Certification. During that time he worked for Bud Muller and worked cattle with Pete, Ernie and Ed Harlow, who became like family to him.
After college he began working for the Yosemite National Park Service as a packer and farrier in the summers, grafting trees and vines in the winters and working cattle in between.
He began a family, moved to Coarsegold and started raising some of his own cattle. You could always find him with a little girl, or two, or three, or even four on his heels, horseback or in the feed truck.
He would load up his girls and go ride horses with Coleman Alberta who taught Brad a lot about being a horseman.
Brad eventually left the Park Service and began to further pursue his dream of having his own ranch while taking care of cattle on different ranches.
Brad moved back to Raymond, an area he loved, and in 1995 married his partner, love and right-hand, Carol Ruble.
His family, or “crew” as he calls them, grew with the marriage, adding a son and daughter, and soon to follow, a baby boy. Not only did the Ruble “crew” grow but so did the ranch.
Brad and Carol, known by most as Babe, began the ranch that they have today.
Even in rough years for the cattle business, Brad says “That’s okay. It’s what I enjoy doing with my family and my family loves it too.”
Brandings aren’t just working calves; they are family gatherings. With six children, some of whom are married and have children of their own, Brad has raised quite a “crew” on the ranch and is rarely seen without one of them by his side. Brad loves ranching, which is what he always wanted to do.
Even through all these busy times he has always found time to go help other ranchers and cowboys.
Brad is a man that started out with nothing but a little boy’s dream of being a cowboy to a man that has a cattle ranch and built a legacy for his family. The true American Dream.
Florindo Alarcon was born and reared in Puerto Ibanez in the Aysen province of the Patagonia region of Chile. The community was very rural with the majority of the inhabitants making their living in raising livestock.
Florindo’s family was no different; his father was a livestock broker in this area of Chile and his grandparents owned a ranch and raised livestock.
Florindo worked both in Chile and Argentina on various ranches before coming to California in 1995.
He came to California to work for J.M. “Mitch” Lasgoity through a recommendation of a family friend in Chile who was working as a consultant for the Western Range Association. Upon arrival in California, Florindo worked with the sheep, but then shortly began to work in the Lasgoitys’ cattle operation. Having been raised working with sheep, cattle and horses, Florindo quickly learned the requirements of a cowboy working in the cattle operation of the Lasgoity family. Soon after this transition, Florindo became the foreman of their cattle operation due to his ability and initiative, a position which he holds to this time.
As with most ranches, the work is varied and Florindo performs all the activities on the ranch including supervising the other cowboys.
Depending upon the time of the year, he is branding calves, receiving and weighing incoming stockers, roping and doctoring calves in the fields, training horses, gathering and shipping yearlings. In addition to the livestock work, Florindo has installed water systems of windmills and springs, re-built and converted six sets of corrals from lumber to pipe, and built and maintained many miles of fence.
When asked what part of the cattle foreman job he likes the best, Florindo replied, “All of it!”
Some of Florindo’s fondest memories as a cattle foreman include renewing all of the six windmills of the Chase Ranch to function and pump water again under the tutelage of his boss, Mitch Lasgoity, and walking steers down Road 415 to the Raymond corrals.
Florindo has a daughter who is an Agriculture Engineer residing Punta Arenas, Chile and a son who is studying to be a Mechanical Engineer in Valparaiso, Chile. Florindo would like to thank the Madera Cattleman’s Association for the honor of being named Cowboy of the Year 2016.
The event is open to the public and any persons interested in attending the event can contact Michele Lasgoity at 217-2985.
The Madera County Cattlemen’s Association is a local organization working to encourage support and understanding of the California cattle industry. MCCA sponsors numerous youth programs and awards with the local fairs in Madera County. Together with the Madera County Cattlewomen, MCCA also provides scholarships to youth interested in pursuing an agriculture-related field in college.