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Texas Longhorn Skulls Are The Real Thing
Finding gifts for farmers or ranchers is not always easy. If you've got one on your shop-ping list, how about buying a Longhorn skull?
Dickinson Cattle Co. near Calhan, Colo., is the largest Texas Longhorn ranch in the U.S. It recently began selling real Longhorn skulls from animals raised on the ranch. Each professionally polished skull is one of a kind. Many are available with a color photo of the animal when it was alive.
Also available are mounted Longhorn steer heads, hoof lamps, rugs with the head on, leather-covered couch pillows, and tail pieces mounted on a stained wood wall plaque.
"The skulls make beautiful wall mounts and are real conversation pieces," says Kirk Dickinson. "People who buy them are of-ten nostalgic about the West and have a Southwestern decor in their house. Some of the skulls are very big and have to be mounted on a big wall or they'll appear overwhelming. The horn spans range from 36 to 63 1/2 in. long. We run almost 1,000 head of Longhorns on our ranches in Colorado and Ohio, and about 50 skulls a year become available.
"We go through a 23-step process to pre-serve the skulls, making sure to eliminate any odors. It's a lot of work to clean up the skulls so we won't start on one unless it's in good shape. We made our own boiler to boil the skulls. After boiling them we spray them with a high pressure washer and apply hydrogen peroxide. A flat finish is applied to the skull and a gloss finish to the horns.
"You can buy Longhorns skulls else-where, but often they aren't authentic. For example, in some cases the horns are bolted to the skull of a different cow breed. If you see a rope wrapped around the base of the horn, you can be sure that it's not a Long-horn skull.
"The biggest skulls from bulls weigh about 30 lbs. Smaller cow skulls sell for $200 to $300 while some very old steers with massive horns sell for up to $1,200." The ranch's skull business got its start after a blizzard killed 40 percent of the Dickinson herd. Many observers thought the ranch was doomed to financial disaster. However, after the blizzard the skulls were recovered and polished. There was so much demand for the professionally polished skulls that a new business was formed. "We found that the polished Longhorn skulls were often worth more than polled generic cattle, even when they were alive. The sale of the polished skulls helped us rebuild the Longhorn herd," says Dickinson.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dickinson Cattle Co., Inc., 24001 Hwy. 94, Calhan, Colo. 80808 (ph 719 683-2655).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #4