Our County’s CattleWoman of the Year

Meet behind-the-scenes star of our CattleWomen's Association, Charlotte Cabral.

Despite our proximity to urban areas, San Benito county has a thriving CattleWomen’s Association. Whether they are hosting a Pedro Party or History Night at the 19th Hole, there’s an important person behind the scenes communicating (by email these days) and rounding up those that appreciate the cattle business. That’s Charlotte Cabral, CattleWomen’s secretary and this year’s San Benito CattleWoman of the Year.
Charlotte Cabral went to Jefferson Elementary School down is the southern end of the county and then graduated from San Benito High School. She was involved in 4H and horseback riding growing up. Today, she is an accountant for Tiffany Motors. Her family has been in San Benito County for four generations. Like many children raised on area ranches, she feels those early lessons are a large part of her personality and her success.
BenitoLink wanted to learn a little more about Charlotte and her agricultural background. Since Charlotte is new to BenitoLink, we showed her how to post an article. We got to learn more about Charlotte and Charlotte learned a few ins and outs about how to share on BenitoLink.

What is it like for you to be a Cattlewoman of the Year?
I feel greatly rewarded for all the work I have done throughout the years of service. It is such an honor. It brought back memories of when my mom received this wonderful award. My mom was one of the founders of our County’s Cattlewomen.

As CattleWoman of the Year, what kind of responsibilities will you have?
I do not feel my responsibilities have changed as I have continued to chair the same committees and I am still the secretary.
I attended the State Cattlewomens’ Convention in November 2012. I got so many well wishes and congratulation cards. I think this position could be used more to communicate with community about the ranching industry.

What kinds of jobs did you have as a kid and what did they teach you?
Growing up on a horse breeding ranch/hay ranch and working side by side with my dad and brother I feel it taught me a lot.
I was responsible for helping with moving sprinkler pipe and hauling hay. Driving tractor and operating farm equipment at an early age of 9 taught me to be a responsible driver. I remember my dad telling the story about when he was laid up with a bad case of the flu, he put me on the harrow bed and I was able to get the hay out of the field and stacked in the hay barn by myself. I had other jobs like cleaning box stalls and other ranch chores. I was lucky to be able to ride award-winning horses. I feel all these responsibilities gave me great work ethics.

What memories do you have that may be unlike what most kids today experience growing up?
Oh man, I had so many great experiences growing up on a ranch. I got to work around awesome animals.
I had to walk to and from school a mile every day where I attended a one-room school house at Jefferson Elementary. In high school, we boarded the bus at 6:30 a.m. and got home at 5:30 p.m. (My mom drove this bus for 25 years). We had to make sure our homework was complete by the time we got home as we had chores to do. Milking the cow was added to my chores after my brother left for the navy.
Oh – we got to tube down the San Benito County river all summer as it was always running. My dad dammed up the river for irrigation and was deep enough to swim the horses in there.
We lived off the land. I could go on forever, I just miss being there. My mom told me when I was getting ready to graduate high school that I had to go to town and get a real job.
The General Manager at that time for the Quien Sabe Ranch called the high school and said they were looking for someone that might be interested as a bookkeeper in their feedlot office and my Bookkeeping teacher told them he had the perfect student for them as I was a country girl and is straight A student. (This is where I met my late husband Mark Cabral).

What concerns do you have about the county in relation to ranching and the cattle business?
Even though I am not in the ranching business I still have a passion for this industry because of my upbringing.. My concerns are that there are so many rules and regulations
now that the cattle ranches have to go by. When we have our meetings I hear from our cattlewomen that are still in the business. They have concerns about all the government regulations that they have to conform to i.e.: protecting their stock from predators, water quality issues with runoff, and the Foothills Legacy.

What aspects of ranching do you hope will continue on for decades to come?
The traditional brandings, those mornings getting up early and riding to the neighbors’ to gather cattle. And Roping, roping is an art that I hope we do not lose.

What is it about this county that makes you want to stay? I love the mountain ranges, people and the climate. I wish we could get back to the good ole days where everyone knew one another and life was much simpler.

Note: Just for the record, according to Charlotte, the proper way to write the association’s name is San Benito CattleWomen’s Association, with a capital W . If you’d like to learn more or find out about upcoming events, you can contact her by email:
CHARLOTTE CABRAL @831-637-8925

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Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.