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BTB 50: A One-man Show

BTB travelled to Coleman Falls, Virginia, east of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, to chat with Mr. Donny Reaves and learn more about his logging business, and why he operates all three of his tree-length machines himself.
Donny Reaves

The logging legend himself, Mr. Donny Reaves. Don’t be fooled by Donny’s wild white curly hair or worn wear; he makes a very good living with his one-man show.

Meet Donny Reaves

If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting Donny Reaves, you surely won’t forget him. His eccentric personality, original sayings and kind heart is contagious to everyone around him. Don’t be fooled by Donny’s wild white curly hair or worn wear; he makes a very good living with his one-man show.

A Family Tradition

“My Momma comes from Montana and my Daddy came down here from Glady’s, Virginia. They met in Washington DC after World War Two,” tells Donny. “When they met, my Daddy was a manager of a hot shop.” His father’s career as a restaurant manager didn’t last long. “When my oldest sister was born, I remember my Daddy telling me this story a million times. Some hot shots of a company came into the hot shop. The waitresses had set the fork, knife, and spoon on the wrong side of the plate, and the customer had a fit. My Daddy had to go down there and take care of it. He came back and told my Momma, “I’m going to find me a place so damn far back in the mountains won’t nobody never get behind me.” They left for the mountains soon after.

 

Loader cab with a decal saying, "3 Generations of Loggers, Edwin & Lorraine, Donny, Roy"

3 Generations of Loggers, Edwin & Lorraine, Donny, Roy

 

Donny’s mother Loraine, more commonly known as Granny, is 96-years-old. She lives in a quiet area on the top of a mountain with beautiful scenic views. “My Momma raised four of us. She’s worked hard her whole life,” proclaims Donny. Granny still drives to the market and to church each week. She has help stay with her during the day and Donny stays with her every night. The love between Donny and his mother is genuine. “My Daddy passed of Alzheimer’s and at the end he asked me to take care of her. You’ll never convince me no different. I assured him I would.” And he has ever since.

 

I WOULDN’T TAKE A MILLION DOLLARS PER SQUARE INCH.
IT’S NOT FOR SALE.

– Donny Reaves, sole owner and operator of Donald E. Reaves LLC.

 

 

Landscape of Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains

Beautiful Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. Donny has approximately 2,500 acres [1 000 hectares] of forested land surrounding the family homes in the Virginia mountains.

Logging Family Land

Donny has approximately 2,500 acres [1 000 hectares] of forested land surrounding the family homes in the Virginia mountains. Donny’s father Edwin bought the land back in 1948 with $5,000 down and it took him ten years to pay it off. Edwin left valuable timber for Donny and he is doing the same for his own son Roy. In turn, Roy plans to one day pass the land along to his two-year-old son, Ridge Timber Dean. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of beautiful timber was left for me. My Daddy was smart and he liked to watch it grow,” Donny explains.

That was, and still is the family tradition. “What makes my Dad happy makes me happy, and having land rolling back makes my Dad mighty happy,” Roy affirms. “When it’s all said and done, I hope it’s just as much turn of volume. That would be a good thing.”

 

Donny owns and operates Donald E. Reaves LLC and is the only company employee, running all his equipment himself.

His one-man show

Donny is the sole owner of Donald E. Reaves LLC and co-owns Reaves Timber of Virginia Inc. with his son Roy. Roy cuts for private landowners and Donny select harvests the family land by himself, producing one load per day. He has no employees to pay and minimal equipment payments. Donny generally harvests over 200 loads per year, earning anywhere from $80 to $100 per ton for hardwood logs.

At 64 years of age, he has no plans on stopping any time soon. He fells with a Tigercat LS855D feller director-equipped shovel logger, hops out, jumps in his 620E skidder, and drags to his 250D loader. Then he hops in his truck and delivers the wood to the mill himself.

 

Donny Reaves' Tigercat loader

Donny owns and operates Donald E. Reaves LLC and is the only company employee, running all his equipment himself.

 

MY DAD IS VERY PARTICULAR IN HOW HE WANTS HIS LAND CUT…
AND ONLY HE CAN DO IT,

– Roy Reaves, co-owner of Reaves Timber of Virginia Inc.

 

Dealer Relationship

His equipment is purchased from Virginia Tigercat dealer, Forest Pro Inc., with locations in Scottsville, Ashland and Keysville. Donny speaks very highly of the service he receives from Forest Pro commenting, “Uncle Binky’s sure not going to leave you astray.” Forest Pro owner, Binky Tapscott has known Donny for over twenty years and they have a great relationship.

 

L-R: Tigercat product support, Aaron Piper; Tigercat dealer Forest Pro owner, Binky Tapscott; co-owner of Reaves Timber of Virginia Inc., Roy Reaves; co-owner of Reaves Timber of Virginia Inc. and owner of Donald E. Reaves LLC, Donny Reaves.

L-R: Tigercat product support, Aaron Piper; Tigercat dealer Forest Pro owner, Binky Tapscott; co-owner of Reaves Timber of Virginia Inc., Roy Reaves; co-owner of Reaves Timber of Virginia Inc. and owner of Donald E. Reaves LLC, Donny Reaves.

Unusual Logging Operations

There is concern in the community for Donny as he is up in the mountains logging by himself. However, Donny and his family are not worried about it. “Twenty years ago, I probably would’ve done something stupid but today I try to be as careful as I can,” claims Donny.

“If you work by yourself there’s less chance of getting hurt,” explains Roy. “You know what’s running, what ain’t running, and you know exactly what’s around you. You’re not rushing or feeling the pressure. That is when accidents happen.”

Donny adds, “The only bad part is if something does happen, I’m alone. I always tend to believe you’re going to die when your time comes. If something does happen, that means I died loving what I was doing.”

 

The Reaves family on their front lawn.

Four generations (L-R): Donny (Curly), Loraine (Granny), Roy (Fidgety), two-year-old Ridge Timber Dean, and the beagle hounds Uncle Jake and Cousin Pooter.

 

Safety aside, the truth was revealed as to why Donny does everything on his own. “My Dad is very particular in how he wants his land cut,” Roy admits. “He wants things done in a particular way and only he can do it and it works. My Daddy took care of this place.” The love amongst the Reaves family is undeniable. Not only is it refreshing to see the land being respected and appreciated, it is also great to see individuals planning for the next generation. No doubt, the Reaves look after their land and their own. Donny is very proud of his work and loves to share it on Facebook. Although he likes to challenge his readers with some interesting verbage, he has a large following and is very well respected in the logging community across the United States.

 

Photographs of equipment in Donnys office.

True to Donny’s fun-loving personality, he names his pieces of equipment. Floppy and Monkey are two of his log trucks. Other equipment names include Big Boy, Big Job and Ole Root Snatcher.