Nestled among the pinon, juniper and cedar tree mesas and the short grass plains of northeast New Mexico lies the Twin Creek Ranch, owned and operated by the Clavel family. Named for its location between the Carizzo and Alamocita creeks, the ranch was started in 1933 by Celestin Joseph Clavel II. Joseph, known better as “Frenchie,” immigrated to the country with his father Celestin Clavel from Busses, France in 1889. They settled in Florence, KS and farmed for several years. Frenchie left KS at an early age and was employed by the railroad working on the bridge gang and train service as it went west through NM. It was on his travels through NM that he met his future wife, Bernice Lane, who had migrated with her family to the White Oaks area from Louisiana after the Civil War. They eventually made their home in Tucumcari where Joseph (Frenchie) continued to work for the railroad.
Frenchie acquired some land in the Norton area southeast of Tucumcari in the early twenties and then through his trips from Tucumcari to Dawson on the railroad ended up acquiring a small homestead NE of Roy in the Yates area. During this time, (1923) Celestin Joseph Clavel III (Jodie) was born. In 1933, at the age of ten, Jodie was sent from Tucumcari with several car loads of heifers to go find the ranch in Harding County. Thus, Clavel Ranch in Harding County began. Frenchie died of pneumonia in 1940, so seventeen year-old Jodie, his nine year-old brother Calvin, and their mother Bernice took over the ranch.
From 1933 Clavel ranch has expanded and has always been a family operation, now in its fifth generation. The Clavels run a commercial cow-calf operation and also have a registered Hereford herd that provides bulls for their own use and also gives them a chance to sell bulls to other commercial producers. Primarily, they raise Hereford cattle but are also using a few Angus bulls on Hereford cows. They start calving in March and get about 90 percent of the calves in 45 days. Calves stay on the cow until fall and then are weaned. They utilize a variety of marketing strategies that include source and age verification, retained ownership, video auction, internet auction, auction barn, and private sales. They have a tremendous market for Hereford and black baldy heifers.
Clavel Ranch sits at 5900 feet and the country is a mix of high plains and cedar canyons. They rely on Mother Nature for grass and hope she cooperates. The country is true rangeland without access to irrigation water or crops. They have a very strict growing season that runs from the last of May until the latter part of August. They hope to grow grass in the summer so that the cattle will have something to eat in the winter. Cows are supplemented with protein in late winter when they start to calve and are expected to make a living unless the grass is covered with snow.
Clavel Ranch is watered by windmills, solar systems, and miles of pipeline. They have strived to develop good water sources for the cattle, the wildlife, and their family. They are blessed with good water and give their all to be good stewards of water resources.
Patriarch Jodie, who lost his beloved wife and partner, Patsy, three years ago, is known as a pioneer of the New Mexico Beef Council and served on its first board. He was honored by the NMBC with its Beef Backer Award for outstanding service to the industry six years ago. Son Joe Clavel served multiple terms on the New Mexico Beef Council. As hosts on the 2012 NMBC Gate-to-Plate Beef Tour, the Clavel family was honored for their longtime service and dedication.
Outside of family, Clavel Ranch has no employees. Celestin Joseph III (Jodie) is 90 and still holds his own. Son Joe, (Celestin Joseph IV) has taken the management reins of the ranch with his wife Tootie. Grandson Blair and his family live on the ranch and are there on weekends and after hours, as he is employed as Harding County extension agent. Joe’s two daughters and their families provide seasonal help during branding and weaning. Cattle work is done horseback, and little ones learn to ride and earn responsibility at a young age. Although challenging, the Clavels embrace the challenge.
They love what they do and cherish the opportunity to work side by side, and raise their children in a country setting.
Tootie Clavel’s Green Chili Stew
1 chuck roast 3-5 lbs. cut into small cubes
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1-2 cans Rotel or diced tomatoes
4-5 potatoes, cubed
1-2 cups pinto beans, I use leftover beans, rinsed
5-6 carrots sliced
2 cans green chili-hot or mild
Salt & pepper
In 2 Tbsp. canola oil, brown meat, onion, garlic, salt & pepper. When meat is browned, add 2 Tbsp. flour and stir. Add a little water to make a gravy like mix.
Add potatoes, carrots, pinto beans, carrots, tomatoes, & green chili.
Simmer over low heat for 3-4 hours, or put in crock pot over night. I sometimes add a little beef broth for extra flavor. This “stew” can be made without the carrots and tomatoes and used for burrito filling. The longer it cooks, the better.