Homegrown Grass-fed Beef


posted on

April 24, 2013

I grew up around real cowboys (paniola) and cattle ranching my entire life. 

   My maternal 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 Koloa Plantation. When he married, he moved to Kekaha on the west side and worked as a cowboy for Kekaha Plantation and he ran the Kekaha plantation slaughterhouse. Back then, he made ten (.10) cents an hour. To earn extra, money he would ride into the mountains to rope the wild long horned cattle and horses that went astray from the plantation.


Paniola O Kaua'i. This photo tells you so many stories of times passed.Here is a photo taken in Kekaha, Kaua'i of my Great-grandfather Antone Martin and Grand-uncle Lawrance Vidinha with a wild bull that they caught. In those days no one had trucks like we do today. They used old army Jeeps and homemade on-horse trailers.

      On the weekends he and his gang would ride into the mountains to catch and bring out wild cattle. The wild cattle that ran away from the plantation would eat the sugar cane and devastate the native Hawaiian forest. Kekaha plantation would pay $25 a head to rope ‘um and bring them out. They would ride into Papaalai, cross into Haeleele Ridge, to Puulua Reservoir, then cross Haeleele Valley, then up to Polihale Ridge, cross into Hikimoe Valley, all the way up to Ka’aweiki Ridge. “He was a really good cowboy”, my Grand-uncle Lawrence Vidinha used to tell me. He said he took him in as a son and taught him everything he knew. He said he’d call him, “Ole Man Mahtin”


Hawaiian Cowboys, 1957. My Great-Grandfather Antone Martin and his gang. My great-grandpa is second from right with the cigarette in his mouth. Counterclockwise from far left. Simeon Castillo, Eddie Kapahu, Isao "Wimpy" Nitta, Joseph Kanoa, Mervin "Buddy" Kanoa, Joseph Vidinha, Antone Martin, Charles Wallis, Ted Ellis, Antonio Wong, George Ozaki, James Gonsalves

     Great-grandpa Martin's daughter, my Grandma Helen (my mothers mother) told me Saturdays were their day for riding the young horses. She always made sure to get all her chores done on Friday after school so that she was allowed to go. She remembers fondly how they would ride up the dry rocky mountains, through the panini (cactus) and Koa trees up to Puapai. Her dad was always on the lookout for a wild horse to rope, and bring home to train. He would pay $18.00 for the horse, and begin working with it on Kekaha Beach in front of their house. In time, after working with the horse in the ocean in several feet of water, with the sand, the water and waves, the horses would get tired and allow him to ride them. When the horses were ready he would sell them for $26.00.

Men on my father’s side were made of the same kind of grit.

Jose and Emila Andrade. Jose came from the islands off of Portugual in the late 1800's.

     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 called, "Pupukuniau",

Manuel Andrade I, and son Manuel Andrade II

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." He'd look for the stumps of the Hau tree (because it's stong and light in weight) and carve into the heart of the wood to shape the stick. The stick is the skeleton to the saddle. This stick is well over 100 years old, and its been re-leathered a couple times. The last time was by my Grand-Uncle Richard Vidinha.

My father adjusting his is my Great-Grandfathers Hawaiian Saddle.

     Like his father Jose Andrade (who had come from the islands off of Portugal), he believed in the economic opportunity these new islands promised and was willing to work hard in his new island home. 

     He was also committed to ensuring his children appreciated it, and would 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.

My Great-grandparents Minnie and Manuel Andrade II

     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 to school on horseback long before the sun rose.

     Back then, 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 over 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. That resulted in generations of ranchers with a unique talent with all livestock, and a unique appreciation for the land.​


My great- grandfather 

      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 decided 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 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 a time he lived in Waialae and was the man responsible for building the Waialae House an building the fence-line that borders the state land from the Robinson land. (About 25 year after my dad rebuilt the same fence.)

     Times were hard during the Great Depression and President Roosevelt started the CCC Corps.

     Great-grandpa was selected to be in charge because being born and raised in Pupukuniau, the mountains were his natural home. The CCC was a natural relief program to provide work when there was none. Nevah had food stamps, and no one expected a free ride. He’d lead his men (all who were greatful for the work) into the forest to perform many environmental projects like planting trees to prevent erosion, eradicating invasive plants and species like cattle out of the forest reserve. On the weekends great-grandma Minnie and their children would ride up (5-6 hours one way on horseback) to meet great-grandpa and spend the weekend.

    For extra income, he would go house to house peddling, selling his fresh meat to local families around Kalaheo.

That's how met his wife. My Great-gandmother Minnie Farias Andrade. She was born in 1902 in Lahaina, Maui. They soon married, started their own family.

(My Grandma Mae and Grandpa Mac hold my aunty Pat Nalemaile)

      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 are unique unimaginable part of Hawaiian history. Back in 1793 captain, George Vancouver brought in a few head of cattle to King Kamehameha as a gift. As 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.)​​


4th, 5th and 6th generation of Kaua'i Ranchers. From left standing: Manuel H. Andrade Sr. (IV), Brian M. Andrade, Michael Andrade, and sitting my grandpa Manuel S.Andrade Jr. (III)

     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.


Modern day ranching. My dad with his cows. Konalea, Kaua'i.

     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.


Myself, my dad holding my son. My daughter on the horse and my niece Cheyenne Andrade)

     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.

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