Cowboy recalls career working at Matador Cattle Co., which was recently purchased by Rupert Murdoch

Ray Marxer’s first day as a hired hand at the Matador Cattle Co. ranch south of Dillon began with two lessons in humility.

As dawn approached, jitters struck.

“I was so nervous, I threw up,” Marxer recalled.

Next, he joined a crew wrangling horses in preparation for a cow and calf weaning operation that day. A cowboy consigned him a horse. As he was bridling the animal it collided with another horse and Marxer watched forlornly as his designated mount trotted away.

“One thing this life will do for you is humble you,” he said.

Marxer’s career at the Matador Cattle Co. began Oct. 8, 1974. He retired in 2011 as general manager of a ranch whose scale tends to elicit awe: 345,000 acres, roughly 3,000 miles of fencing, 15,000-plus animals, including cows, calves, bulls and horses.  

Today, more than 47 years after his greenhorn debut, Marxer’s description of that first day still hints at a young man’s mortification.

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Clayton Marxer drags a calf toward the branding fire in this photo taken circa 1992. Clayton, now 39, grew

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