It happened today. I quit my job in the name of freedom, simplicity and family. To do something I REALLY believe in. Not just food, but a way of life. To be fair, it actually started over a decade ago, as my family made the leap to start a working cattle ranch after living in Chicago and working in professional careers as a chemical engineer, a pilot and on the floor at the Chicago Board of Trade. We went rogue. And lots of people had lots to say about it.
When my dad, my brother and I decided to go into business together and found the ranch in Centennial Valley, it was kind of a utopia. We had always loved the West and all that came with it… my brother and I grew up fly-fishing and hunting with my dad and we regularly spent time in these parts. In 2005, we went “all in” and settled on the ranch together. My brother was coming from Colorado, trading in his pilot’s uniform to be a cowboy and run the cattle and manage the ranch. I was settling into my own rite of passage and came to build my parents the house that they would move into on the ranch, from start to finish. I’d left Chicago in 2004 and was trying to put down roots and start over. And I’d met this girl in Laramie, who was going to become my wife and the mother to our three crazy kiddos. We didn’t know that then, but it was reason enough to settle at the ranch.
And my dad? My dad was the brains behind the operation. We call him “CEO Dad” and he knows how to manage. Well, at least that’s been his experience. Two grown boys with minds of their own and a cattle herd that may or may not cooperate (to say nothing of the volatile cattle industry) was a whole new adventure. We knew nothing about ranching when we started this. People thought we were crazy! But we learned about the land, we learned about how to bring out the best of raising animals at almost 8000 feet with tough weather and a pioneering spirit. That’s a real thing. And we learned about “cocktails at sunset,” where we do our most important work meetings.
We went to a conference, basically “ranchers boot camp” where we learned from experts, broke into focus groups to hear from experienced leaders and came out of it with some revolutionary ideas. Rotational grazing, which is better for the land and the animals. Summer calving, which made the most of weather and peak grass season for the mamas. Grass fed beef for our families. No one was doing this stuff. But, for us, it just made sense. And, turned out, it made sense for other people, too! Soon we had a small, quiet community of people who wanted grass fed beef. And we were working with them to meet their demands and do this thing we believed in.
Then, life happened. My wife and I had three kids, we bought a house in Laramie that was more sustainable for our in-town jobs and we developed our careers. We were still connected to the ranch, but there was part of it that moved to the shadows as we found our way through our more complicated lives. When I looked around and realized I’d been doing insurance and investments for almost three years and “trying to make the shoe fit,” I realized there was more to life than what I was doing. I wanted more time with my kids. I wanted to connect with other people who cared about what I cared about and create a community around food and sustainability (more about that to come). I was ready to, once again, break free.
To go rogue.
So, here we are with Black Market Farms. It’s simple. It’s about family and it’s about community. And we are DOING IT. Join us! We want you to be part of our story.