By GLYNIS VALENTI
Times Leader Staff Writer
BARNESVILLE-The saying goes, "things are always bigger in Texas," but "things" have also grown at the local Texas Longhorn ranch, Dickinson Cattle Company, Inc. They opened an expanded Head to Tail Texas Longhorn Store in August with more food products and gift items.
Darol Dickinson, company spokesperson, says the new building adds nearly 1,500 square feet of floor space and can comfortably accommodate tour bus visitors. The space is better able to showcase standard store items like frozen beef, horns, hides and polished skulls, and the company has added a new line of horn jewelry designed by one of Darol's sons, Joel. The one-of-a-kind earrings, bracelets and pendants have been popular sellers not only through the store and online, but at craft and western shows throughout the United States.
The gifts, from toys to clothing items to walking canes, are unique and many are produced on or connected to the ranch.
"We're an out-sourcer," says Dickinson. "We make products here in Belmont County and sell them to people all over the world."
He believes in keeping the money local and in utilizing as much of the cattle as possible, decreasing the waste. Longhorn skulls are cleaned, processed and polished on the ranch, selling about 200 a year. Hides and rugs in the store are also from ranch cattle, and one recently was sold to a client in Brazil. A new line of Texas Longhorn horn-handle collector knives is produced by world champion Ron Watt.
For hearty winter stews and chili, Dickinson's recently introduced new, fully-cooked, canned, diced meat products in beef, turkey and pork. All of the meat is raised and processed in Ohio. The beef, of course, is Dickinson's own. It's grass-fed, free range, without hormones, steroids or antibiotics and packed without MSG, artificial flavorings, colorings or preservatives except for the minimum pinch of salt allowed by the USDA. An analysis done by USDA labs found that the canned beef contains 1.45 grams of omega-3 per three ounces, more than most types of salmon.
"I think it's patriotic to grow your own food," Dickinson adds. "You go to the grocery store and produce is from South America and Mexico. You can plant tomatoes in pots and bring them indoors for the winter. More and more farmland is being developed, which means less food will be available. I really encourage people to plant fruit trees or some vegetables in the back yard."
An innovative feature at the store is a viewing area with 20 videos available on a variety of ranch and food subjects. Many questions about the cattle, benefits of grass-fed beef and ranch tours can be answered by these specially selected and produced films
Dickinson says family members built the new store for the most part, but he hired local contractors for specific projects like the flooring and electric. A group of missionaries visiting from Africa also volunteered to help with the project. The building features a custom door commissioned from a New Mexico artist before the Dickinson family moved to Ohio.
The store is currently open on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment during the week. Dickinson Cattle Company is located at 35000 Muskrat Rd. off of State Route 800 north of Barnesville. For more information call (740) 758-5050.
Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.