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Posted 9/02/14 (Tue)


I want to buy a ranch. A big ranch. You know, I was just thinking, and as I’ve told you before, Shirley doesn’t approve of my thinking; North Dakota should buy a ranch.
This all started when I was watching the news last week and saw a story about the Waggoner Ranch being put up for sale. I’m sure most ranchers have heard of the Waggoner Ranch. It is one of, if not the largest ranch, under one fence in the United States. Not that I like fencing or anything, but I figured we could hire that done.
Now, don’t dismiss this as just another Dean thing until I’ve explained it to you. For years, I have been disappointed in how our state government is handling their surplus. I mean, we have billions of dollars socked away in funds that aren’t really making any return. So, why not invest it in land? Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota are not for sale, so that kind of rules out the surrounding states. I imagine the Canadians aren’t anxious to sell out, so we have to shop around.
The Waggoner Ranch is around 550,000 acres. That is about the size of McKenzie County in North Dakota. It has around 15,000 cows. Hundreds of horses (my banker says that is a liability, not an asset). There are game farms, 1,200 producing oil wells (42 percent of the minerals go along), and thousands of acres of unexplored minerals. Most of the employees are families that have been on the ranch for generations, so I’m sure they would be happy to continue to work for us. So labor wouldn’t be a problem.
The Ranch has won the Remuda award from the Quarter Horse Association. It has always been known as one of the best sources of ranch horses in the world. Heck, we could relocate some of our state horse herd to Texas! You didn’t know we had a state horse? I think we do.
I know you are shaking your heads and figuring I’ve lost it for sure. But listen, we already have state-owned businesses. The Bank of North Dakota. The North Dakota Mill and Elevator. We should have a big ranch. Heck, we could open up an elevator and a bank in Texas on our own land! Eventually, we could take over Texas! At least the parts we like.
Now, some of you may shy away from the price a little. But let me explain. If we don’t buy this ranch, some oil sheik or land developer may. And split up one of the historic ranches of the world. Because not everyone has $725 million lying around. But we do. And inflation is rising faster than the interest we receive on our money.
So, I was just figuring this morning, it’s really not that much money. At a thousand an acre (remember we get some minerals), we’ve got $550,000,000. We get them to throw in the cow herd. I’m figuring the cows are worth around $35 million. Maybe 40. So we’re getting up there close to $600 million already without even looking!
Heck, we don’t even need to look. I have friends in Texas that can scout it out for us on their own dime! And would be happy to do it.
Let’s just offer them the 600 and see if they come back with a counter offer. We have a little time. The Legislature doesn’t meet for a few months and I’m sure they would like to have some input.
So in the meantime, I would like someone smarter than I to start a petition urging the state to buy this ranch. When the rains return to Texas, if we tire of ranching, we can resell it at a handsome profit. Or we could just buy up the land next to it as a hedge.
I just reread this and it makes sense! Man, hunting wild pigs and exotic animals on your own land! Putting your brand on your own cattle. The NDSU Bison could have a practice field closer to the title game! Hotshot drivers going from the Bakken to Houston could overnight at the ranch!
We could invite the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders over for Happy Hour! The list goes on and on!
It’s up to you! Cowboy up! Let’s do this thing!