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farm and land

THR

E E P L A I N B AY S

living the dream STORY AND PHOTOS BY SUSAN WALKER | WHEN DAVID DALE FIRST SAW THE 29.5 ACRE EQUINE FARM IN CONOWINGO,

MARYLAND IN 2005, THE GRASS WAS AT LEAST THREE FEET TALL, THERE WAS MANURE EVERYWHERE, AND THE HOUSE WAS IN ROUGH SHAPE. HE WAS HOME ON LEAVE FROM ACTIVE DUTY IN IRAQ, WHERE HE WAS A SENIOR INSTRUCTOR PILOT FLYING BLACKHAWK HELICOPTERS AS PART OF A COMBAT UNIT OF THE DELAWARE NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYED IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM III.

at several top Maryland equine farms,

Freedom. “It was very challenging, being 55 and flying over the mountains

Pat stood back, saw the farm’s potential,

FRONTLIN includesA14 acres under pasture,Ea 100’

and knew this was the place where

by 70’ ring, a 95’ by 50’ loose school,

pilots talked about the adventure, but

they belonged.

and barn.

when I looked at them, I saw their wives

Even though the farm wasn’t much

now has 13 horses on the farm, which

to look at, David says he and his wife

of Afghanistan. Some of the younger

family tradition While David loves life on the farm,

“I learned in Iraq that life is short,”

and young children waiting for them to

David says. “If you have an opportunity,

he feels just as strongly about serving

come home, and I hoped I influenced

you should grab it. This was our chance

his country. His 37 year long career

them to do their best and do it as safely

to live the dream.” And that’s exactly

in the Delaware National Guard was

as possible,” he adds.

what the Dales did with the help of Farm

inspired by his older brothers, who

Credit. David returned to duty in Iraq

were guardsmen themselves. They used

Afghanistan, David’s loan officer, Jason

and Pat started the process of getting

to take David to the airfield as a child,

Reep, reached out to him to share that

the loan that would help them purchase

where he fell in love with aviation.

rates had dropped and he could lower

But his path to military service

their new home and business. getting financing for a business, so it

G THROUG DIERIN

wasn’t a direct one. David earned a

“I didn’t have a lot of experience

S

While he was serving in

the interest rate on the Dales’ loan. “The process was extra fast and easy,” notes

L in agricultural economics, thenH A David. “And we saved $100,000 over the Odegree

sustainable tactic worked for the USDA and Southern

course of 10 years. I don’t know of any

remembers. “I drove to Farm Credit

States, but that career path didn’t

other financial institution that will bring

with a crate full of financial documents

feel quite right. He then took a job

that opportunity to you.”

and they made the process easy. We

with DuPont, working as a computer

wouldn’t have been able to purchase

specialist, in his mid-20s and joined the

achieved the rank of Command Chief

this farm and turn it into a successful

Delaware National Guard part-time. He

Warrant Officer of the Delaware Army

business without Farm Credit.”

continued to serve part-time with the

National Guard and was a senior mentor

guard for several decades, becoming a

for the corps of soldiers coming up the

senior instructor helicopter pilot.

ranks. “It was a great opportunity to

could have been overwhelming,” Pat

With a tremendous amount of hard work, Pat and David turned the farm, Three Plain Bays, into a successful

bring on the next generation and it’s something I truly miss,” he says.

operation that gives racing horses a new

up and do more,” David says. In 2002,

life. The farm buys thoroughbreds whose

he became a full-time senior instructor

racing career is over, retrains them for

pilot and was deployed to Iraq for 18

David has retired, the Dales are planning

eventing (or, in a few cases, fox hunting),

months at the age of 50, where he flew

to downsize their farm operation,

and sells them to new owners. Pat also

numerous missions and instructed

focusing on breeding and competing,

buys colts and trains them for eventing.

junior pilots. Four years later, he

so they have more time to travel and

deployed to Afghanistan in the same

relax. “We love the solitude, the animals,

role as part of Operation Enduring

and the lifestyle. We’re not done yet!” l

Pat, whose more than 30 year long career includes working as a manager 4

“After 9/11, I felt the need to step

When he retired in 2017, David had

| VOLUME 24 | ISSUE 3 | mafc.com

Now that they’re in their 60s and

Profile for MidAtlantic Farm Credit

Leader: Agriculture's Heroes  

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