THE ANDRADE FAMILY
Sharleen Andrade Balmores is the chief operating officer of Rancher's Daughter's Reserve Beef, and is "The Rancher's Daughter". Her family has been ranching on Kaua'i since the late 1800s and has ranched on the island for 5 generations and counting. Today, with the help of her family and Dad particularly, she specializes in promoting, raising, identifying, and "Reserving" the best cattle and beef on the island. She brings generations of experience and expertise to the sustainable ranching industry that the company thrives in on Kaua'i. Her PRIME 100% Grass-fed, Dry-Aged gourmet beef is second to none and only available at "Rancher's Daughter's Reserve." Here is her story, in her words:
I grew up around cowboys and cattle ranching my entire life.
My great-grandfather (of Spanish descent) on mother's side was Antone Martin. He rode his horse every day 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 and ran the Kekaha plantation slaughterhouse. Back then, he made 10 cents an hour, and for the extra money he would ride up into the mountains to catch wild horses. He would pay $18.00 to the owner of whom they'd run away, and begin working with them on the beaches and in the ocean in several feet of water. In time, with the sand, the water and waves, the horses would get tired and allow him to ride them. He'd continue the training by riding, the once wild horses through the Kiawe trees and sandy beaches of Kekaha. When the horses were ready he would sell them for $26.00.
Men on my father’s side (of Portuguese descent) were made of the same kind of grit. Back in the days when Kokee Road (the road to Waimea Canyon) was simply a horse trail, my grandfather's grandfather, Manuel Andrade I, worked for the Robinson family and lived deep in the mountains above Makaweli, which he would call, "Pupukuniau." He spoke fluent Hawaiian, Portuguese, and English. He was a rancher, but also an expert leatherman and craftsman. He would spend his downtime making rawhide lasso ropes, carving furniture, and making saddles. His saddles are still famous today, with a patented design known as the "Andrade Stick." Like his father (who had come from the islands off of Portugal), he believed in the economic opportunity these new islands promised and were willing to work hard in his new country. He was also committed to ensuring his children appreciated it, and work as hard as he did to sustain not only the land but all the living things that gave them life. As soon as he saw you had some muscle, it was time to do your part and get to work.
His son, Manuel S. Andrade II, my great-grandfather, was born and raised deep in those mountains on the westside Kaua'i. From 9 years old his mother would see her little boy off on horseback long before the sun rose. Long ago education was a privilege of the rich, they valued those opportunities and took advantage of them. Young Manuel would leave his mountain home for a six-hour journey by himself to attend school in Waimea. When school got dismissed he would mount his horse, head Mauka (toward the mountain) for another six-hour journey home. As a young child, it was also obvious to him that when you cared for animals' needs they will take care of yours and when you cared for the land, the land will care for you. The resulted in generations of ranchers with a unique talent with all livestock, and a unique appreciation for the land.
When my great grandfather was a young man, homestead lands became available Kalaheo. In early generations, those lands were dedicated to growing crops such as pineapple and sugar cane. One could attempt to "claim" the land by “working it” to pay it off. My great grandfather believed in the value of land so he moved his family there, and began to work the land to secure it for his family. He gave it a chance to grow pineapple, but it didn’t work out. While he was able to grow pineapple, he did not see eye to eye with one of the plantation supervisors so they would not buy his crops that year. While all the pineapples were wasted, he made the decision he was not going to l grow anymore, he would raise cattle on the land instead. He started his own cattle company and opened our family's slaughterhouse in Kalaheo to process those animals.
Instead of working for the Robinson family, however, my great grandfather worked for the recently created and admitted territory state of Hawaii. For extra income, he would go out peddling meat around Kalaheo. That's how my great grandfather met his wife. They soon married, started their own family. His son, my grandfather, Manuel S. Andrade III, 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 that lived in valleys along 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 into rope wild cattle and wild horses that lived deep in those valleys then lead them out one by one through the treacherous trails along the steep pali or cliffs.
The wild cattle that lived there went astray from the Rice Ranch and were considered, too pilau or too wild to catch. This allowed them to ride in and to collect animals to start their ranches. They would ride into the valleys from Hanakapiai – Hanakoa, and Kalalau, Rice allowing them to purchase whatever they caught, thus building our family's ranches and ultimately our legacy.
(Wild cattle and Horses is a unique unimaginable part of Hawaiian history. Back in 1793 captain, George Vancouver shipped in a few heads of cattle to King Kamehameha as a
gift. After the first herd of cattle had not survived, the captain sent another herd. Then he advised the King to set forth a Kapu or a restriction to leave the animals to roam and multiply. Multiply they did and made a major impact on Hawaii's economy and ecosystem. The cattle flourished in Hawaii's tropical climate and became a huge problem. The wild cattle roamed at will destroying native crops
and was a dangerous nuisance attaching, hurting, and sometimes killing humans. Finally, when the Kapu was lifted and in its wake spawned a rich tradition of Paniolo. Hawaiian cowboy culture that still exists today.)
Frequently, my great-grandmother would accompany them on the trip to Haena and would wait with her daughters at the beaches visiting their Haena friends until they returned. One day at the beach, they heard on the radio about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Oahu. My grand–aunt, Margaret, told me of her older sister, Beatrice, who cried all the way home because her fiance was stationed there at the time, and there was no way to know whether he was alive.
Naturally, my father Manuel H. Andrade IIII is that same sort of cowboy: growing up in the mountains, roping wild cattle, training horses, and Rodeo; he was successful competing and winning numerous All-Around Cowboy Championships for roping and bronc riding. 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. Like his grandfather, he worked for the State of Hawaii as a forest ranger. Then, for many
years he was the head of the Game Wardens, all while maintaining his passion for being a cowboy, running the slaughterhouse, and distributing beef to many local markets; So that he could not only continue to raise cattle and ranch the land but also supply both his family and community with quality and sustainable beef. It was never seen as a profit-making "business,” in what has become the ordinary meaning of that word. Instead, it was done to serve and provide for his community in a sustainable manner, and in addition to that, he is also an amazing dad to me and my brothers, and any other children who wanted to learn.
Now, five generations later, we are working tirelessly keeping up this family tradition for the benefit of not only our family but the Kaua'i community who has relied on it for generations. I believe what our ancestors left us is a gift not only to our family but to the Kaua'i community generally. These values have been imparted in us and we are looking to further these goals. It's been said, "To whom much is given much is expected." My family has had the benefit of our inheritance, and we strongly believe that that benefit comes along with the responsibility to be curators of this privilege for those who succeed us. We not only want to continue our legacy, but we also wish to pay homage to those who came before us, and hold in trust that which we have been given for future generations of Kaua'i people.
We are the heirs of those pioneers and are now the caretakers of the culture they created, and resources they strived to develop for the benefit of the entire community. We have the responsibility of preserving the traditions of small island life: Ranching, Making animals ready for meat production and serving our community. This is not only something we feel obligated to pursue as our legacy, but it also continues to be our pleasure to be a part of making Kaua’i a better place to live, with more sustainable local industries.
'Olelo Mai Na Kupuna - Traditions of our ancestors.