A prairie chicken; Nathan Marker holds a baby goat

Pastures on the Hoeme ranch support some of the larger known populations and densities of the lesser prairie chicken. These birds and their more abundant cousins to the east and north, the greater prairie chickens, have the power to fascinate landowners and even casual birders. RIGHT: The diversification of the Marker family’s cattle operation by including goats has added to the ranch’s profitability. And there’s little denying that kids can be quite personable. But they fill a serious role as they mature, browsing away at buck brush, sumac and sericea lespedeza.