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The Merrell Family Branding

I’m pretty sure if the “Free Non Agriculture Community” ever came to a Merrell Branding, we would have no confusion left about the importance of Agriculture, misconceptions about carbon emission, animal welfare, or whatever issue those not involved seem to have with the rest of us. In fact, If we were to send Warren Lee Merrell and his family to Washington, I’m fairly sure we wouldn’t have to worry about any of that non sense anymore.

It has become Crystal Clear throughout this springs works, what I have known all along is absolutely true. Yes, owning cattle is about making a living, yes it is a business, however I can’t think of one single line of work that is so driven by love of the land, love of the cattle but most importantly love of family. “I want them to know they can work together” said Warren Lee Merrell. I don’t think I have ever seen, a family of this size, their spouses and children come together and get this job done so well. When I asked Granddaughter EJ, “ how does he get y’all all to come home. EJ replied he calls and says we are working cattle and hangs up the phone. They all show up, and have been for a while.

Warren Lee leaves no stone unturned, he makes sure everyone has a job to do the entire time, no matter how big or small the job or the person, everyone has their own particular job. Even down to 9 year old “ Super P.” (Preston). Warren Lee Cemented a post in the ground, so “Super P” can get a wrap and hold a back leg. Ryder, Maria and Warren Lee’s other Grandson was oiling brands with a bucket and paint brush. Something Warren Lee says, is just kind of for the little fellas.

Everyone according to Warren Lee has a nick name, even me, I’m Nicky. Clay Merrell is “Clay Boy” or “Lupe Lopez” I like Clay he reminds me of Warren Lee a lot. Brandi, Clay’s Wife is Brandi Ann, although her middle name is not Ann. Brandi Ann is Clay’s number one assistant, and is part of the glue that holds it all together. Clay depends on her like Warren Lee depends on “MO MO” or Maria.

EJ, Warren Lee and Maria’s feisty little Granddaughter, who is “in a family way.” Is EJ. EJ should consider nursing school she runs a tight ship with a syringe gun.

“Baby Jake,” Warren Lee’s and Maria’s Grandson, who is about to marry “Baby Jayne.” Warren Wayne, the eldest and his family could not be with us this time I look forward to when he is there. He was missed by all.

I did notice when Warren Lee needs something he called on two people, Maria aka “Mo Mo,” or “Baby Jake.” P-Jay or “Fuzz,” and “ Clay Boy” he leaves them to sort of run the whole branding thing. However from time to time, he’d issue a small warning or instruction. At 75 years old his watchful eye never missed a thing. By the way I think someone forgot to tell Warren Lee he is 75 years old, he pushes every one of those calves up the alley in full baseball catchers gear. Yes he can still take a swift kick to the shin….or other places with the best of them. I saw it happen!

He pushed a rather large 600 pound or better calf up that alley, one was already in the calf cradle, you would of thought that 600 pound calf would have politely waited it’s turn. The calf had other ideas and went right over the top of “Clay Boy” who tried to wrestle it to the ground, but was out matched by 500 pounds or more. No one was hurt, and we all got a good chuckle when it was over! Did I tell y’all my friends are Cowboys and they are tuff?

The Merrell family is one of the oldest families in the area, Warren Lee told me a few stories about his Grand Dad Warren Wade, the baby of nine kids, he was born on the Merrell home place at Grey Mule. His Great Grand Dad settled the home place over 120 years ago and fought in the civil war. Warren Wade passed a few sayings down, he never said a woman was pregnant, he always said, “In the family way.” A cow never had a calf, “she found a calf.” Warren Lee says the same things. I like that about him.

I know this took an enormous amount of planning on the part of Warren Lee, when I can’t find Woodrow, he’s usually over at Warren Lee’s barn, they talk to some guy named “ Evan” over there a lot. Anyway I’ve been hearing about all of the planning Warren Lee has been doing for days, and I suppose “ Evan.” Has as well.

Woodrow has talked about the Merrell cattle work for quite some time. Finally getting to witness the way they all carry out their specific roles, is really something to see. I think Warren Lee shows exceptional leadership, it is no small endeavor to hold a family of this size together and to complete a task in somewhat harmony, LOL.

There is no doubt in my mind it all works as well as it does, because of the time and attention to detail Warren Lee and Maria put into to it all before hand. I have to hand it to them, they are a shining example of how to hold these agriculture families together. As I watched them I couldn’t help but be grateful that Woodrow spends a lot of time around Warren Lee, he is a good man.

Woodrow, has always told me what is important to Warren Lee, his Legacy and Life’s work is centered on one day leaving a family that can work together. I think his kids realize this and it is important to them as well.

When we moved here, I was very guarded, I still am, however, somehow the Merrelll family found Woodrow and I….You can forget being guarded around this bunch they are going to love each other and love you as well.

This was a true honor to write, as I’ve admired the Merrell family for quite some time. My only regret is one simple newspaper article will never do it justice.

If you in are in the area stop by the grocery store some early morning, go back to the meat counter and visit with Warren Lee Merrell, I guarantee you never forget that conversation. Woodrow always teases me everyone gets their weather off an app or the news, but Nikolyn gets hers at Venture foods from Albert the manager. He’s never wrong!

Love Always

Nikolyn






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