There is no doubt Dawn Leen is living the very definition of “best life” out on her picturesque Central Texas cattle ranch, nestled between Taylor and Lexington (mailing address Thrall), less than an hour drive to the northeast of Austin. Some of the highlights include beautiful work-from-home landscapes; a slower pace but paired with plenty of satisfying hard work; the relationship rewards of a husband-business partner (Brad); a small herd of grandchildren (now totaling 7) and grown kids whose frequent visits keep life lively; and an Australian Shepard named “Doc” who is in charge of ranch security.
Dawn and her husband of 40 years, Brad, call themselves “Team Leen” and own and operate Premier Beef, a cow/calf operation founded in 1980. Here, the duo runs 200 head of registered Simmental-Angus cattle, markets grass-fed beef direct to the consumer, and sells registered commercial bulls, females, and embryos within the beef industry. Additionally, the couple spends even more time running a construction and real estate business, the Truitt Group. Brad, by his nurture and nature is a country boy and considers taking care of 200 head of cattle a “hobby”! He got hooked on this passion after raising a bottle calf when he was just six years old. On the other hand, Dawn, originally a city girl from Phoenix, worked in education for nearly a decade but has no regrets about transitioning to country living.
“Although occasionally it seems like more work to live in a small town,” explains Dawn, “we have chosen the country life and have been so happy that we did! It is a quality way of life, and our own children and grandchildren visit often! There is nothing like a newborn baby calf, or a mother nursing her young. Our love of nature is very strong and it’s free to participate in everyday!
Dawn is fit and healthy and credits her dedication to exercise as a way to manage the discomfort from a lifetime dealing with scoliosis. Dawn was a runner for 25 years, but after her knees said, “enough,” she switched over to other forms of daily exercise. “When we built our home, a home gym was a must. I use an elliptical for cardio and do weight bearing exercises for the entire body. Also, we have a pool so that in the summer I can swim laps. Because of consistent exercise for 40 years, I have no back pain and feel great,” says Dawn.
Read on to learn more about this amazing lady that is a role model for healthy living and a great example of life-work balance in the beef community.
Ranch Roles: Brad does the day-to-day care of the animals, the artificial insemination and embryo transfer, and sells cattle to breeders. I do the marketing, run our website and social media, take orders ,and provide customer service. We each put in about 15 hours a week on ranch duties, and have a hired employee who helps out.
Other Hobbies: In addition to exercising, I like to cook, garden, and spend time with my grandkids!
Interesting Beef-Industry Story: Brad and I were invited to attend a cattle sale at the Rockefeller Estate in New York. There we met David Rockefeller who sat at our table for dinner. It was interesting to see that one of the richest men in the world (at that time) was just a regular guy.
Ranch Life: I’ve learned anything can happen! Recently, a buzzard flew into our home window, and I thought it was dead. The next day Brand and I went out to see how it was doing, and we woke it up and it wandered off into the woods!
Favorite Beef Cut: Definitely, a filet. Brad grills steaks for dinner several times a week with grilled veggies on the side. That’s a favorite of mine because I don’t have to cook!
Favorite Beef Recipe: Try my easy Crockpot Barbeque recipe. Place a chuck roast in the crockpot on low with a small amount of water. Season with Lawry’s and pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours. It will pull apart after 8 hours and, if you want, you can add your favorite barbeque sauce to the shredded meat. Serve with rolls, cheese, and avocado! Great for large gatherings.
Message for Beef Team: Be consistent and eat lots of protein. Hope to be cheering for you at a race soon!