The Rancher's Daughter
Sharleen Andrade-Balmores was born and raised in Kauai where her family has been ranching for five generations. She will be selling gourmet cuts of beef from the Andrade Cattle Company under her company name The Rancher’s Daughter tomorrow at the Flavors of Kukuiula in Poipu. Here is her story, in her words.
I grew up around real cowboys and cattle ranching my entire life. My great-grandfather (of Spaniard decent) on my mother’s side was Antone Martian. He rode his horse everyday from his home in Kalaheo to work at the Koloa Plantation. When he married, he moved to Kekaha and worked as a cowboy for Kekaha Plantation. Back then, he made 10 cents an hour, and he would catch wild horses for extra money. Sometimes, he’d buy them for $18.00, train them on the beaches and through the kiawe trees of Kakaha and when the horses were ready, he would sell them for $26.00.
Men on my father’s side (of Portuguese decent) were made of the same kind of grit. Back in the days when Kokee Road (the road to Waimea Canyon) was nothing but a horse trail, my great-great-grandfather Manuel Andrade, worked for the Robinson family and lived deep in the mountains above Makaweli, which he called Pupukuniau. He was a rancher but also an expert craftsman making rawhide lasso ropes and saddles. His saddles are still famous today and known as the Andrade Stick.
From the age of 9, his son and my great-grandfather, Manuel S. Andrade, would leave their mountain home alone on horse back before the sun rose to attend school in Waimea. Later, like his father, he worked for the Robinson family training horses and roping wild cattle. When he married and started a family, he moved to Kalaheo where he started his own ranch.
His son and my grandfather, Manuel S. Andrade Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps. I remember well his stories of how he would ride alongside his father and grandfather roping wild, long horned cattle along the Na Pali Coast. Kalalau Trail, at the end of the road in Haena, is now a popular hiking trail. But back then, most of those trails came about by brave, rugged cowboys who would ride in to rope wild cattle and wild horses then lead them out one by one through the treacherous pali or cliffs.
The wild cattle and horses that lived there went astray from the Rice Ranch and were considered, too pilau, or too wild to catch. This gave them the opportunity to ride in and to collect animals to start their own ranches. They would ride into the valleys from Hanakapiai – Hanakoa and Kalalau, Rice allowing them to purchase whatever they caught.
Frequently, my great-grandmother would accompany them on the trip to Haena, and would wait with her daughters at the beach until they returned. One day at the beach, they heard on the radio about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on the neighbor island of Oahu. My great-aunt, Margaret, told me of her older sister, Beatrice, who cried all the way home because her fiancé was stationed there.
Naturally, my father Manuel H. Andrade, is that same sort of cowboy: growing up in the mountains, roping wild cattle, and training horses. He can tell you what each mountain is called, down to the ridges, valleys, and streams. I remember him often being called in to search for lost hikers and hunters because he knew the mountains so well.
I like to think of my older brother Brian Andrade as a maverick, because he plays by his own rules. He’s rugged and every bit as wild as the cattle they rope and horses they brake. The kind of man people write songs about. Like the classic song, Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys by Willie Nelson. “And them that don’t know him won’t like him, and them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him. He ain’t wrong, he’s just different but his pride won’t let him do things to make you think he’s right.”
If you know where to look, you’ll see legendary paniolos today. The kind of extraordinary men or cowboys, who are magical to watch. They ride their horses, rope, and work their cattle with effortless grace.
These days, wild cattle still live in the mountains, but on my dad’s ranch they are as tame as can be. They hear my dad’s truck and come running to greet him. I believe that raising these animals in such a way, not only produces delicious beef, but it is also the right thing to do.
I care about my family’s health and I know you do too. It’s unfortunate, but these days one should ask where their food is coming from, and what is being added to it. I’ve seen firsthand what good quality beef looks like. I am convinced that it’s a combination of what they eat, their genetics, and how well they are cared for.
My mission is to make available fresh, clean, healthy beef that comes from straight from cattlemen who really care about their animals. I know where the beef is. I just so happen to be a rancher’s daughter. I was raised on good values, to give thanks, and to respect these animals because they are our food.
For more information on where to buy beef from The Rancher’s Daughter, read the Flavors of Kukuiula.