Growing up on not one, but two ranches – the Tequesquite Ranch and Bell Ranch in northeastern New Mexico – Linda Davis was never a stranger to hard work.
Davis, along with her two younger brothers, helped her father with ranch work, and she says she knew from a young age that she wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“My father, Albert Knell Mitchell, was very active in the state’s agriculture industry, so I suppose this kind of work was in my blood,” says Davis, a fourth-generation rancher whose great-grandfather established Tequesquite Ranch in the community now known as Albert in 1878. “I feel privileged to have spent most of my life working as a rancher, and I’m thankful my family plans to continue to grow the operation my late husband, Les, and I poured ourselves into.”
Building a Career as a Cattlewoman
After studying agricultural economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in the early 1950s, Davis returned home to care for her grandmother and help with her family’s ranch. She married Les Davis in 1953, and together the couple set out to run CS Ranch, a 110,000-acre cow-calf operation in Cimarron founded in 1873 by Les’ grandfather, Frank Springer.
“We were a good team,” Davis says. “Les was a brilliant businessman, so he ran the office and did the behind-the-scenes work, and because I was the one with the most ranching experience and expertise, I was usually outside working with the livestock. That’s where I wanted to be, so it really worked out well for us.”
Along with tending to the cattle, Davis helped with the ranch’s horse-breeding program, which was originally established in the 1880s. In 2007, the program earned the American Quarter Horse Association’s Legacy Award for registering American Quarter Horses for more than 50 years.
Davis also supported the diversification of CS Ranch’s hunting and outfitting program, which offers seasonal guided hunts for antelope, deer and elk.
“I was raised to believe I could do anything a man could do, and I’ve always had a good eye for horses and cattle,” says Davis, who has earned several prestigious honors for her decades of service to the cattle and beef industry. She has also been part of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, the American National CattleWomen organization and the New Mexico Beef Council. “I built my career in agriculture while also serving as an emergency medical technician and raising six children, which is something I’m especially proud of.”
Keeping It in the Family
The day-to-day management of CS Ranch is now in the hands of Davis’ children and grandchildren, all of whom were raised working together on the ranch. She says she hopes her great-grandchildren will continue the tradition – after all, there’s a family legacy to uphold and more history to be made.
“I’ve always been very active on the ranch, but after falling and breaking my arm in September of 2018, I’ve had to slow down quite a bit,” Davis says. “Thankfully, my children are all integral parts of the operation and have been happy to step in where I cannot, and I think their collective involvement speaks to the love of the land their father and I instilled in them. If all continues to go well, I can see CS Ranch going into the next century.”