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Keystone State offers visitors a touch of Texas



Published: Sat, September 2, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



A Baptist preacher has founded a longhorn ranchers group.

SPRING GROVE, Pa. (AP) -- Under a big black Stetson cowboy hat, watching through tiny old-fashioned sunglasses, "Pastor Bill" Mummert surveys his wandering herd of 70 Texas longhorns.

In the middle of his 50-acre ranch, a long-dead oak tree stands like a table centerpiece. A bald eagle sees everything from its perch. A horse kicks at a gate. Songbirds flit from fence post to fence post. And The Rev. Mr. Mummert, part-time rancher and full-time Baptist preacher, is a happy man.

Western icons seen in John Wayne movies and the Chisholm Trail, Texas longhorns are known for their huge horns -- one trophy set in Texas measures more than 9 feet from tip to tip -- and is the icon of the American west. Without longhorns, Mr. Mummert said, there is no cowboy. And what is more American than the dust-eating, calf-roping cowboy?

But in York County?

"God has asked me to preach here, not in Montana," Mr. Mummert said to explain why he set up a ranch in Heidelberg Township.

His church office is decked out in true Western regalia. Horns, hats and old-time frock coats. The man who has been mistaken for Charlie Daniels wears "dress" boots to preach his sermons. "Those don't have manure on them," he said. Three members of his congregation have become longhorn ranchers.

How he got there

Mr. Mummert, who looks younger than his 60 years, preached for a while in North Dakota, but opened Gettysburg Baptist Church nearly 25 years ago. Four years later in 1986, he was the founding president of the Northeast Texas Longhorn Association. It was the beginning of local longhorn herds.

History forced longhorns to become amazingly disease resistant. Imported by the Spanish 500 years ago, the cattle roamed free for most of the following years. Only the strongest and most intelligent survived. They rarely need help during calving, and the mothers are vicious protectors of their babies. And generally, they require much less care than other breeds, so Mr. Mummert and his wife of 41 years, Chris, can enjoy the rest of their century-old farm.

Longhorn colors can be range from white to black to brown to red -- and anywhere in between. Bulls can weigh a ton, females about half that. Both have horns.

Visitors often stop at the Cross M Cattle Company just north of the Codorus State Park on Locust Road to gaze at the herd, suddenly larger because of energetic calves that bounce through the grass. And that's just fine with the cowboy pastor, who proudly traces his ancestry to Cherokee and Susquehannock Indians.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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