Neil Frank grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis and spent the summers working on his family’s ranch in Nebraska. He and his three brothers took every opportunity to be outside working the land and tending to their herd.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering, Neil enjoyed a 35-year engineering and management career with IBM and Lenovo.
IBM brought Neil along with his wife, Cathy, and their two young children to North Carolina in the mid 1990s. Instead of living in the urban/suburban area, he and Cathy chose a country setting and bought their first track of farmland, built a house and moved away from the hustle and bustle of the fast-growing Triangle region. Early on, the farm grew row crops and tobacco until they took the tobacco buy-out option in 2004 and transitioned the farm to a beef cattle operation. Says Neil, “Raising cattle was always the dream and it’s never stopped being hugely rewarding.”
Today Neil manages 40 head of mama cows with his son, Hunter, who also lives on the farm. Together they have built a model enterprise in terms of environmental stewardship. All but 30 acres of Caywood Farm is dedicated to a permanent conversation easement and will never be developed. The Franks’ practice management intensive grazing and that, combined with an investment in annual forages and native warm season grasses, is restoring soils once depleted by tobacco and row crop production. They are also experimenting with raising cattle on pastures planted in and amongst trees (i.e., silvopasture) in a manner that protects trees and yields high quality beef.