Tweet breaks the male barriers of Colorado ranchers – and then some.
In the spring of 1954 Tweet Kimball bought Cherokee Castle in part, to fulfill her dream of starting a cattle ranch. But not just any ranch and not with just any cattle. Along the way this vibrant, energetic and independent visionary became the first rancher, male or female, to introduce the Santa Gertrudis breed into Colorado – eventually serving on the National Western Stock show board of directors, the first woman ever to do so.
She first saw the magnificent Santa Gertrudis as a teen and fell in love with them. When she bought Cherokee Castle with its 3,400 acres of breathtaking panorama, she immediately became one of the largest landowners in the county. And, initially, the subject of much scorn when local ranchers heard about her plans for importing the Santa Gertrudis, a breed accustomed to warm weather climates.
But Tweet’s intelligence and shrewd business acumen proved them wrong. She’d done her homework and knew “Santas” were a cross-breed of a Brahman Bull and an English Shorthorn cow. “I never thought of having anything else after I saw those cattle,” Tweet said. For her it was a natural choice, “I knew because of their Shorthorn blood that the Santas could take the cold,” she said. The Santas were magnificent and sturdy cattle, with the massive bulls weighing in at 3,000 pounds.
Starting with 38 cows and a single bull, a mighty herd grew based on Tweet’s revolutionary breeding philosophy which selected for gentle temperament, fertility, and plenty of bone and scale. Tweet would get to know the individual strengths and weaknesses for every member of the herd. She even named each cow and bull, often in reference to a book, play or movie she liked. Names included Anda Lucia, Daphne, Scarlett, Georgia Peach, Tallahassee, Minotaur, Rhett Butler, Churchill and Old Hickory.
Her approach was highly successful and Tweet used the show ring to promote her growing reputation for innovation. Exhibiting for the first time in the Denver Stock Show in 1966, her Santa Gertrudis won the Grand Champion Cow and Grand Champion Bull awards for several years running, with ongoing accolades accruing for decades. Tweet also won more than her share of honors. Besides being the first woman to serve on the National Western Stock board of directors, she was the founder and president of the Rocky Mountain Santa Gertrudis Association.
Cattle ranching in Colorado was changed forever by Tweet and her legacy lives on today. Cherokee Ranch’s cattle operation is smaller, but no less successful, with her beloved cherry-red Santas on display for any to see who visit here. Tweet once said, “Good cows are like building blocks of a strong house; when you put them together properly, they are the source of security and wealth.”