My father has always been a water resource creator," says Len Cox, a New Mexico rancher who sent in the winning profit tip in the first annual Drovers' Profit Tip Contest. "He has put together a system so that a cow doesn't have to walk more than a mile for water in any one area on the place."

That's a big accomplishment on the Montosa Ranch located west of Magdalena, N.M., were Mr. Cox helps his father and brother manage the family's 600-head cow-calf operation.

"Out here, providing water for large animals is very critical. We don't have springs or live water, so we have always been trying to open up areas of the ranch, and increase forage utilization by providing water to areas that have no dirt tanks or very little rain to fill them up," says Mr. Cox. "Although the original idea wasn't necessarily ours, we were brain storming around the kitchen table and decided to take a big tractor tire, lay it on its side, cut the top out and fill the bottom of it with cement to make a drinking tub."
Large storage tanks built at higher elevations gravity-feed water to the rubber water tanks through various pipelines.

"We've been plumbers and storage tank builders forever, and these rubber drinking tanks really save money compared to a cement or steel drinking tub," says Mr. Cox. "Living in an isolated environment has taught us to do things ourselves because it costs a lot of money to hire a professional to travel over a hundred miles to the ranch."

Being self-sufficient comes natural to Mr. Cox who earned a degree in economics from the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque by working his way through school as a handyman. After college, he knew the ranch could not support three families full-time, so he chose to work with construction companies estimating project costs and selling construction material. Mr. Cox currently lives in Rio Rancho, N.M., with his wife Paula.

"I never had so much respect for where I came from until I left it. I feel privileged to be able to go back and forth and experience both worlds," says Mr. Cox.

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