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Entry from August 09, 2013
“A few oil wells make ranching a fine business”

"A few oil wells make ranching a fine business” is a Texas saying that has been said to date to the 1950s, when oil was discovered on many Texas ranches. “The farmers and ranchers who owned the land made fortunes in royalties, and they began to whisper among themselves that an oil well or two made ranching a fine business” was cited in print in a 1990 book about Texas. “There’s an old 1950s Texas saying that goes something like this: ‘A few oil wells makes ranching a fine business’” was cited in print in May 2013.

It’s not known exactly when the saying originated.


Google Books
Sigrid and the Sergeant
By Robert Henry Buckner
New York, NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts
1957
Pg. 100:
“Oh,” he shrugged, “we’ve got a few oil wells on the ranch. Not many, just fifty or so, to keep things going between cattle roundups.”

Google Books
Texas:
A Photographic Journey

By Bill Harris
New York, NY: Crescent Books
1990
Pg. 27:
The farmers and ranchers who owned the land made fortunes in royalties, and they began to whisper among themselves that an oil well or two made ranching a fine business.

Google Books
Lone Star:
A History of Texas and the Texans

By T.R. Fehrenbach
Boulder, CO: Da Capo Press
2000
Pg. ?:
As the Texas saying went, a few oil wells made ranching a fine business.

Google Books
Cronies:
Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate

By Robert Bryce
New York, NY: PublicAffairs
2004
Pg. 39:
“A few oil wells makes ranching a fine business,” was one the Texas sayings that became commonplace during the boom years.

Investment U
Cline Shale: The Newest, Hottest Shale Oil Play
by David Fessler, Energy and Infrastructure Strategist, The Oxford Club
Wednesday, May 15, 2013: Issue #2034
There’s an old 1950s Texas saying that goes something like this: “A few oil wells makes ranching a fine business.” But after the initial boom that ended in the 1970s, Texas oil seemed like it was heading in the direction of “all hat and no cattle.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Friday, August 09, 2013 • Permalink