Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lebanon, Virginia: David Leonard

David Leonard is statuesque man whose presence reminded me of John Wayne a little bit. Mr. Leonard has about 1500 acres that he and his son (also named David) hay and run a cow/calf operation on. It is truly beautiful pasture, and we will get to that, but first a few things about Mr. Leonard:

We met him at a diner that sits right under his business office and he told us about growing up in this area and being involved in 4-H. He is mostly involved in real estate and development, which has been good to him in Lebanon. He has had his hand in the banking business, starting First Bank & Trust, which has focuses largely on helping farmers acquire low-interest loans for practical operations. David started the bank because many farmers were borrowing money from banks which would demand repayment even if the farmer had crop failure or some other catastrophe. This bank is very farm friendly and more willing to work with farmers who take the necessary risks and may not be able to pay on time.

We drove to the rolling fields in his big red truck after breakfast to see where the cattle and the Leonards make their home. The green grass rolls on and on, the only breaks being the fences and gates Trav dutifully hopped out to open and close as we drove through. The cattle have ample grazing room and the grass looked luscious. I could just imagine the cows mooing to each other about their scrumptious repasts out there in field 38. David is proud of his property and owns more than enough for the number of cattle he runs, but it's not all about the cattle, is it?

After winding for some miles through his property we peaked at a small cabin he visits periodically with friends and family. The view was relaxing and one could imagine many a campfire being held out front as the sun dipped into the Virginia mountains.

Later we had the pleasure of meeting his son. He is wholeheartedly involved in the businesses, both agricultural and development, and shares in the operations of the company.
After lunch, at the same diner, we continued south. We were gifted with a book from Mr. Leonard about the history of cattle farming in Virginia. He in one of those men who tells you his age and you don't even register the possibility; he's much younger than he is.


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