Most area ranchers are known for raising and selling cattle. However, a feature story in the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday, Aug. 8, entitled “Grass-fed lamb isn’t just for Easter dinner” by Addie Broyles, concentrated on a familiar family in this community.
“Loncito Cartwright knows every rut, mesquite tree and hilltop lookout on his family’s sprawling ranch near Dinero, between Corpus Christi and San Antonio,” the story began.
“Cartwright is a sixth-generation Texan too humble to say exactly how much land, but it was enough for his father and great-uncle to raise cattle and it’s more than enough land for his current project: raising grass-fed lamb, 90 percent of which he sells three hours away to eager customers and restaurants in Austin.”
Broyles said, “Cartwright is one of a growing number of ranchers who raise grass-fed animals, allowing them to graze their entire lives instead of bulking them up on grain or corn in the months before slaughter.”
Recently, “Cartwright drove out to a pasture to check on a few hundred sheep that were munching on emerald green alfalfa and rye in the steady coastal breeze from the Gulf of Mexico 60 miles away,” the writer added.
The 48-year-old Cartwright was quoted as saying: “Now, I’m not a tree-hugger; I’m an old redneck, But a while back, my daughter said, ‘Daddy, if you didn’t do what you do, I might be a vegan.’ I told her, ‘Heck, if I didn’t do what I do, I’d probably be a vegan, too.’”
Cartwright became consumed with making grass-fed lamb into a successful business just like his dad did with cattle, the article noted. Now he has about 600 sheep on about 200 acres of the property. Every two weeks, he transports about 60 animals to Fredericksburg for processing, and then heads to Austin, where he sells 90 percent of his meat. Now Loncito’s Lamb is on the menu at a dozen or so restaurants in Central Texas.
Cartwright cited two reasons he has a growing business: “We have good water, and I’ve got my dad. Every day, he wants me to succeed.”
His father, Lon Cartwright, 86, still is referred to as the boss, according to the story, but Loncito Cartwright watches after him, the property and a few full-time workers who assist with the land and animals.
Lon Cartwright, who was in the cattle business for nearly 70 years, still teases his son occasionally about raising lamb instead of beef, but when it’s time to pull mutton steaks off the grill at a Sunday afternoon barbecue, they both praise the tender, flavorful meat.
“Five years ago, I would have said agriculture is my passion,” Loncito said in the article. “Food is my passion now.”