Daystar Farms is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017. In November 1992, the Dean family purchased 310 acres of land in Morriston, Florida, just 12 miles west of Ocala. The idea of a Dean family cattle ranch was birthed much earlier. Brothers Ed and Jon Dean remembered fondly of those days when they were young traveling with their mother and father to visit their Kentucky kinfolk near Harrisburg, Kentucky. Jon and Ed’s dad, Horace, had two cousins, C.D. and Herbert Ransdell, who had adjoining farms that they, as brothers, operated as one dairy operation. Ed and Jon always thought it would be great if someday they too could own a farm together. Ed’s sons, Tim and Mike Dean, were also enthusiastic about the idea.
In the early 90’s, a search was on for some land the family could afford. One day, Jon Dean called his brother, Ed, and said, “I found a parcel of land on County Road 464B in Marion County. I think it has some real potential.” Jon said. One rainy afternoon in the fall of 1992, Jon and Ed rode with Glenn Miller, the realtor, out to view the property.
There it was, 310 acres of land which had little to no improvements, except a pole barn which was leaning to one side, broken down fences, one well and no dwellings. One hundred forty acres of the farm had been planted in pines two years earlier. The rain began to lightly fall as Glenn Miller drove Ed and Jon up the two-track lane onto the middle of the farm. The farm had some nice rolling features to it, but you could hardly see very far due to the heavy growth of trees which forested most of the property.
Ed remembers sitting that day in Glenn Miller’s Jeep Wagoneer on a hill in the midst of the heavily forested part of the farm overlooking a small lake on the property. As the windshield wipers continued their rhythmic beat, Ed said to Jon, “Well, this is a larger piece of land than what we had planned, but it has a lot of potential.” Both Jon and Ed had saved some money for a down payment which would limit the total purchase price they could afford based upon a conventional mortgage financing. Jon and Ed decided to make an offer on the property and Glenn Miller said he would get back with them. Surprisingly, the owner of the property accepted the offer. The owner had inherited the land and wanted nothing more to do with the property.
Like pioneers of old, the Dean family now had property which would take a tremendous amount of work in order to create a cattle operation. The Dean family are Christians and decided to name the farm, Daystar Farms, based upon the scripture contained in 2 Peter 1:19 (KJV) which says, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts …” Daystar Farms is a registered Angus cattle operation, but it is also a ministry of the Dean family.
“Our Breeding program is one of the best”
An Eventful Saturday
Following the closing on the property, on a cool Saturday fall morning, Jon and his wife, Sue, along with Ed and his two sons, Tim and Mike, decided to look over the property to see what they had purchased. Due to the heavy forested growth on the property, they had not been able to explore what they had purchased. That Saturday morning was memorable because it was an exciting new day of opportunity as the group proceeded on foot in the west 100 acres. As the fivesome strolled through the woods northward, looking for the property boundary, Mike Dean decided to pick up a stick to use as a walking stick. He went over to a large pine tree and bent over to pick up the perfect walking stick when he suddenly came face to face with a six-foot rattlesnake curled up next to the pine tree. The snake was motionless with the rays of sunlight falling on the big rattler on that very cool Saturday morning.
When Mike realized that it was a huge rattlesnake, he started dancing backwards hollering as he leapt higher and higher in the air. The snake remained unperturbed with all of the commotion. After discussing the situation, the fivesome decided that maybe exploring the new land on foot would be left to another day!
Since that cool November day in 1992, there has been a tremendous amount of work by the Dean family to improve the land. One of the key decisions the family made was to build their homes on the property and to invite Neal Durbin and his family to join them as ranch manager. A home was also built on the farm for Neal and his family. Neal continues to be the farm manager to this day.
The Angus Choice
As work on the improvements began in earnest, the Dean family thoroughly researched all the different purebred breeds of cattle. Several visits to other purebred operations were undertaken. After much prayer and consideration, the Dean family decided that registered, purebred Black Angus cattle would be their choice.
The person who was most instrumental in helping the Deans get established in the Angus purebred business was Mr. Leroy Baldwin of Baldwin Angus Ranch in Ocala, Florida. Leroy Baldwin had been in the purebred Angus business since 1942 and had been the President of Florida Angus Association and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. Leroy knew more about Angus cattle than anybody.
It was fortunate for the Deans that Leroy Baldwin took them under his wing and provided a foundation herd of three-in-ones, together with an outstanding Angus bull who was the son of Emoulus Pride 135, the Golden Certified Meat Sire. Leroy Baldwin admired Emulous Pride and often said, “The 135th was the best Angus bull to ever be tested for his offspring’s carcass quality and marbling.” The Dean boys spent many a Saturday afternoon at the Baldwin Angus Ranch talking with Leroy about Angus cows and enjoying Sharon Baldwin’s deliciously prepared lunches featuring, of course, wonderfully cooked Angus beef.
To this date, the Baldwin family and the Dean family remain good friends. Leroy Baldwin has gone on to be with The Lord, but his legacy remains as one of the finest Angus breeders in America. As a matter of fact, Leroy Baldwin was instrumental in getting Ed Dean elected as President of the Florida Angus Association. Later, Ed reciprocated the favor by helping Leroy Baldwin get elected as President of the American Angus Association.
The Daystar Farms Legacy
Twenty-five years later, the Purebred Angus breeding commitment and values adopted from Leroy Baldwin are still governing the operation of Daystar Farms. There have been four generations of Deans who have lived on Daystar Farms. Jon and Sue Dean built their house first. Ed and Sarah Dean also built their house on the farm, as did Tim and Mike Dean. Tim Dean and his wife, Karin, are raising three children on the farm, T.J., David and Rachel. Mike Dean and his wife, Kristin, are also raising three children on the farm, Jackson, Eric and Kendall.
Ed and Sarah have two children from a first marriage, Shawn and Trevor, who, along with their children, love to visit the farm often. Shawn and her husband, Terry, have three daughters, Rachel, who has two children, Brayden and Caleb, Katarina, who has a son, Aven, and Morgan.
Son, Trevor, has a daughter, MacKenzie. Trevor works on the farm every day with his father in land improvement. All the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren either have great memories or are gaining great memories of being on the farm. From raising steers and showing them in the Southeastern Youth Fair, doing farm chores, helping with the cattle, to enjoying time with family, all the young family members are an important part of Daystar Farms. Leroy Baldwin often said, “We aren’t just raising blue ribbon cattle, we’re raisin’ blue ribbon youngins!” At Daystar Farms, we couldn’t agree more.
Lily Dean, mother of Ed and Jon Dean, lived on the farm as well in a house built for her by the Dean family. Lily Dean passed away in 2000, but her legacy lives on. Sue Dean’s parents, Bill and Mary Ann Rummel, now live in Lily Dean’s house, affectionally referred to as the “Lily Pad.”
Lily Dean and her husband, Horace, were both deaf. Lily loved the farm and encouraged her sons and grandsons to develop it to its fullest potential. Even though she could not hear, Lily Dean would often ask her sons and grandchildren, “Can you hear the wind blowing through the pine trees. I see the trees swaying back and forth in the wind, and I remember as a little girl how sweet the sound was of the wind in the pines.” “Yes, Grandma Dean, we can hear the wind and you too can now hear the wind in the trees.”