CITY SLICKERS TURN RANCHERS ;
FATHER-AND-SON TEAM TRADES SNOW FOR CATTLE

Orlando Sentinel; Orlando, Fla.; Jan 21, 2002;
Karen Johnson, Sentinel Correspondent;

Abstract:
Outdoor life. Former Cleveland resident and veterinary- school dropout Dick Lechner tends his garden last week at his 7-acre ranch near Groveland.
PHOTOS BY STEPHEN M. DOWELL/ORLANDO SENTINEL
Hands-on approach. Dick Lechner feeds cattle at his South Fork Ranch near Groveland. Lechner and his son gave some of their cattle names. Farm necessity. Just like most farmers, the Lechners have chickens roaming around their south Lake ranch.
STEPHEN M. DOWELL/ORLANDO SENTINEL

Full Text: (Copyright 2002 by The Orlando Sentinel)

It appears to be Lake County's version of Green Acres. While not exactly Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert, the father-son team of Richard and Andrew Lechner are city slickers-turned-cowpokes in their own right.

And they are doing just fine without the Cleveland city life, thank you.

Their 7-acre South Fork Ranch on County Road 33 in south Lake County is a far cry from its sprawling television namesake from that other popular series, Dallas, but for the Lechners, the little spread near the Seminole-Lake Glider Port gives them joy.

"We knew absolutely nothing about farming when we came here," said Richard Lechner of the move from Ohio. "What we did know is that we didn't want to spend time mowing on a tractor. We put the cows in and got a tax break."

The cows at South Fork all have names -- a no-no in the ranching world.

Mr. New Year is the name given to their newest addition, one of five Brangus cattle the Lechners have. Three more are due this season to Dolly, Jolly, Holly, Casey and Molly.

"We made the mistake of naming the cows. Every rancher will tell you -- once you name them you can't eat them. That's why we breed them now. They're our pets," Richard Lechner said. The babies, though, do go to market.

Richard said they chose Brangus cows because they are capable of withstanding the Florida heat while still producing a high-quality, juicy product for the marketplace.

"They are a cross between Brahma and Angus and are now America's No. 1 breed," said the elder Lechner. "Today's Brangus are the result of the efforts of cattlemen looking for beef cattle that could not only survive but thrive under stressful conditions."

Richard Lechner said the farm has given him a great deal of pleasure. When he was young, he went to Ohio State University's veterinary school.

"But I stopped going to school and never dreamed that someday I'd be raising cattle," he said.

Although the ranch is small, it has made an impact online.

"Our Web site was chosen a SuperSite by Tumpline Stackyard Internet in England," he said. "And, we were also the number one Web site in May 2001 on www.cattletoday.com. My ex-wife, Margie, was the one who designed the site."

Both are agricultural sites geared for the farmer of today. South Fork Ranch has a prominent place on both sites with information for cattle farmers.

Their own Web site, www.geocities.com/sforkranch/ has pictures of all the cows and names of their offspring. Richard Lechner said he named Mr. New Year because the bull was born that day.

Two years ago he named a bull born on Super Bowl Sunday for former Denver Broncos star quarterback John Elway.

"We wean the babies at about 3 months, and then we send them off to the market. From there they go out to the feedlots in Midwest," Richard Lechner said. "We get about $300 to $400 per baby. It just depends on what the market brings."

[Illustration]
PHOTO: Outdoor life. Former Cleveland resident and veterinary- school dropout Dick Lechner tends his garden last week at his 7-acre ranch near Groveland. PHOTOS BY STEPHEN M. DOWELL/ORLANDO SENTINEL PHOTO: Hands-on approach. Dick Lechner feeds cattle at his South Fork Ranch near Groveland. Lechner and his son gave some of their cattle names. PHOTO: Farm necessity. Just like most farmers, the Lechners have chickens roaming around their south Lake ranch. STEPHEN M. DOWELL/ORLANDO SENTINEL

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Sub Title: [FLORIDA Edition]
Start Page: 1
Personal Names: Lechner, Andrew
Lechner, Richard

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