In addition to his full-time job as the Superintendent of the Upper Piedmont Research Station, Joe French has his own cattle farm in Reidsville. His farm goes back three generations and is still home to a log cabin built by his great-grandfather. Cutting through the woods on his property is Bold Run Creek, which boasts an historic Indian cave. When he’s not working or tending cattle, Joe likes to go canoeing on the river with his family.
Says Joe, “I grew up working cattle and found it addictive by nature.” He thought he had left farm life behind when he went off to school in pursuit of a PhD. “But I soon discovered that I’m not well suited to a laboratory setting. Working and conducting research at the Station allows me to have the best of both worlds – an outdoor lifestyle living around animals and the ability to use my expertise and skills in reproductive physiology.” At the Station, Joe’s is responsible for collecting and tracking genetic information about the cattle and collaborating with researchers to identify characteristics associated with improved performance. “We’re looking to see better reproductive outcomes, utilization of forages, and meat quality.”
At home, Joe carefully manages his Angus-based herd, using strip grazing on his hilly land, which helps protect soil and pasture quality. “Yes, I come home and do a lot of the same things I do at work. But to me, it’s a lifestyle that I love, not a job.”