Rural Missouri - October 2012 - (Page 10)
Forrest Lucas’ investment in Missouri is all about feeding the next generation
Above: Forrest Lucas has spent 12 years improving his 16,000 acres of pasture to raise the best cattle in the nation. Below: A newborn calf struggles to take its ﬁrst steps. tive, is a model of what a cattle ranch can be when money is no object. “This is not designed to be a proﬁt center,” Forrest says while driving his ith ﬁve homes spread red pickup past acres of thick grass. across the country, “This is about research. It is designed including a mansion in to create the best cattle in the nation.” Indiana, Forrest Lucas The ranch near Cross Timbers has can spend his time just about anygrown from the original 3,400 acres where he wants. But when the head to nearly 16,000 acres, of Lucas Oil Co. wants grazing around 1,200 to relax, he heads to registered head of cattle his ranch in Missouri’s and another 800 comHickory County. Learn more about Forrest mercial cows. Throw in “The prettiest sunsets Lucas’ vision for agriculture the Lucas Oil Speedway in the world are right in the online edition at in Wheatland, known here in southwest Miswww.ruralmissouri.coop. as the “Diamond of Dirt souri,” he says. “It’s pretTracks,” and it’s clear Forrest may now ty country, and there are nice people be the largest employer in Hickory around here.” County with around 100 employees. Twelve years ago, the multi“He put Hickory County on the millionaire whose name graces the map,” says Austin Mount, execustadium where the 2012 Super Bowl tive director of the Kaysinger Basin was played, began searching the MidRegional Planning Commission. “It west for a location to build his dream would be interesting to see the full ranch. He felt land in his native Indieconomic impact he has had on the ana was overpriced. county and the region. You get so “In Indiana, everyone thinks their many people coming from out of land is going to be the next great town and spending money. That’s housing project,” he says. “So they the hardest thing, getting people into want some ridiculous price per acre.” your town. That’s already done.” He looked at ranch land in OklaAustin says people laughed when homa. He talked to realtors in Kansas. they heard of Forrest’s plans to build Then he visited one of the poorest a world-class speedway in Wheatland. counties in Missouri and fell in love No one laughs now, especially when with the landscape. he followed up with an operation that “It was pretty,” he says. “I liked ships tractor-trailer loads of ﬁrewood the community. I liked the area, the to several large cities and another school. That is what I was buying. enterprise that builds bleachers. The ranch itself, I knew it was going “You never know what Forrest is to need a lot of work. I just loved going to do next,” Austin says. “We this area, and so did my wife. So we are anticipating what may come after bought it.” this. You just don’t hear about jobs Today, Lucas Cattle Co., which is being created here because it’s so served by Southwest Electric Cooperaby Jim McCarty firstname.lastname@example.org
rural. This has been a spark of opportunity that is just going to continue.” Forrest began life in humble surroundings. His home near Columbus, Ind., had no electricity. Farming was done with horses, and cows were milked by hand. He attended a oneroom school where he learned to do math in his head, something that serves him well in the cattle business. Once his grandfather pointed to a group of Amish and explained their simple way of life. “I told him the only difference between them and us was they wore better clothes,” Forrest recalls. Before he left home at 15 — determined never again to eat beans, fried potatoes or cornbread — Forrest learned the value of hard work, honesty and thrift. He says these life lessons helped him succeed in business, ﬁrst with a trucking company and
then with his oil additive business. “It was a big help to me because I learned my work ethic,” he says of his rural upbringing. “You worked all the time, as soon as you were big enough.” Forrest showed cattle from the time he was 12. “It was all wrong,” he says of the approach to breeding cattle in order to win in the show ring. “It was all about winning the prize and not making good cattle. I told myself, if I ever get a chance to do it the right way, I would do it. The oil business has been good to me, so I ﬁgured I had a chance to fulﬁll that promise. This is what I am doing here.” Pass through Cross Timbers, and you can quickly spot land that belongs to Lucas Cattle Co. Stout fences made from pipe or six strands of tightly stretched barbed wire enclose the pastures. Magniﬁcent herds of
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