The Story of Tumbleweed
As told by Bear Davidson
In early 80s the Longhorn industry was hurting. Cattle prices were way down for the simple reason of supply and demand. There were too many sales, too many cattle being sold at public auction, and no new buyers. It was stagnant to say the least. During times like this many people panic and try to hold their cash for fear of continued falling but that's that best time to reinvest. "Stocks are down? Buy! Stocks are up? Sell!". Funny part was I learned this two times in my life, at the cattle auctions and in colleges from a text book I paid $120 for and sold back for $8.
In 1983 my father and his business partner, EJ Williams, bought the last remaning King Ranch herd and the last remaining Wright Material cattle. Wright cattle were one of the Seven Original Families of the Longhorns. They paid $402 per pair and all were 3 in 1 packages. They bought 100 pairs.
As luck would have it the cattle business picked up. They sold the calves that were at side a year later for what they paid for the pairs and they kept breeding them back. When it was all said and done years later they sold the whole herd. All but one calf.
In 1984 a little bull calf was born. Thirty years later, when asking my father, you can see it in his eyes as he goes back to that day. "That calf just had that kind eye. He'd leave the herd and come to you. He wanted to be with people." That calf turned out to be Tumbleweed. Tumbleweed was broke in a way many people hadn't seen at that time. He was a steer of many disciplines. While people were taking their top dollar horses to Cutting events, my father had Tumbleweed cutting horses themselves in an exhibition event. It was flip flopped. Tumbleweed would work the English discipline's jumper course in a ring, he would hook up and pull a wagon, he'd drop down to his knees for an easier time climbing in the saddle. He was part of our family and part of our livelihood. At the time Polaroid cameras big. With four panels, a good location, a $5 picture, and a hustling little boy, money was there to be made. In fact, my father was the first person to take a riding steer into the Stockyards of Fort Worth, TX. It caused such a commotion that the city kicked him out. Their reasoning was he didn't have a permit. At that time there was no permit required! But shorty after they passed a law requiring one. Now you see riding steers all over that part of town.
My father sold Tumbleweed in June 1995 in Fort Worth, TX at one of Eddie Wood's sales. Tumbleweed was broke to ride with a custom bit my father designed. At the time steers and bulls were ridden with rings in their nose. A negative article was written before the auction on how the author had never seen a steer broke to ride with a bit. That man was in the audience and my father was sure to point out in his very soft voice (if you know my dad you know I'm being sarcastic) that he should come down and see how this steer has no ring. Tumbleweed sold for $10,000 to Jim Shoulders, 5 time World Champion All-Around Cowboy in 1949, 1956, 1957, 1958, & 1959 and Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer, who owned a ranch in Oklahoma . Jim passed away in 2007. Tumbleweed lived to be 26 years old, dying in 2010.