Words: Mundi Ross
Photos: Becca Simonds
I always enjoy the drive out to the farms on which we host our farm to table dinners because it gives this Oklahoma gal time to reflect on her family’s hard working days owning a dairy farm, and the long hours spent producing the best milk and cheese one could offer in the panhandle of Oklahoma. I didn’t see the value in what they did as a child, but as an adult I am inspired by their work ethic, knowing it shaped not only my Aunt and Uncle, but also their children and the generations after them.
I spent the morning with Dan Lorenz and Adrienne Larrew on a beautiful homestead that has been around since the late 1800's on which Corner Post Meats now runs its operations. They are a kind, hard-working couple eager to educate and share their passions for ranching and food, and I was just as eager to learn. I received a grand tour of the farm, learning about harvesting meat chickens, the difference between grass fed and finished, and wrapping up with the friendliest pigs that want nothing more than belly rubs. I asked them if they find it difficult letting go of their animals for slaughter. They both agree that it can be, but they also take pride in what they do and know their labor is not in vein because all the animals they care for will go to a good home--providing some of the healthiest meat available.
Tell me about your family history in regards to ranching, as this isn’t a new venture for you?
Adrienne: I grew up in Littleton but my grandparents had a place down in Southeastern Colorado and our family spent most of our vacation time on the ranch helping out. My time on the ranch was a driver in shaping who I am today: work ethics, family values and heritage. My dad was definitely looking for the ticket off the ranch, desiring to provide a better way of life for his family--which has now become the joke of the family because here we are full circle and I now own and operate a ranch. After college, I started working on dude ranches and it’s where I met Dan, and together we worked on different ranches landing ourselves in Wyoming. It was in Wyoming that I dreamed and decided that I could own and operate my own farm. So, my dad and brother are our investors and board of directors, and through good grazing practices, we can produce some great food here at Corner Post.
I want to understand what I am seeing out in your fields a bit more. Every type of animal I see has a separate pen and is grazing in various parts of your pasture. Why?
Dan: It’s a multi-species model and it all works in cooperation by how many pounds of meat we can produce and diversity in soil.
A: The animals each eat something differently, fertilize the soil, and have a different impact on the land. Putting multiple animals across the pasture will stimulate different plants and soil microbes, getting a stronger soil and plant system. We ran our horses across this spring, then the pigs, chickens, and lambs are following. It’s why you pay a premium for our meat, because they are getting the maximum nutrition out of the land.
What is the value of eating grass-fed?
A: Your omega 3 and 6 ratio is going to be in balance and our meat is enriched with vitamins E and A. Leaner meat and its fat is healthier for you because of the omega balance. Your body recognizes it as fuel.
What do you offer as far as grass-fed? And how can one purchase your meat?
A: We are direct with monthly deliveries around the community, or you can always come out to the farm to pick up. We provide grass-finished beef, lamb, pasteurized pork, chicken and eggs. We butcher our chickens on site but everything else is taken to Innovative Foods in Evans--a USDA certified facility.
What is the future for Corner Post?
D: Anytime you start a business it isn’t easy. It’s difficult balancing ideals, morals and ethics, and then trying to make money at it. We need to find more people to lease property from and we also desire to get in front of the customers more to educate. People aren’t used to paying for food, they go into a local grocer and it says grass-finished so it must be the same as what Corner Post is doing, but a dollar cheaper. We are up against the big stores, so running a profitable business can have its difficulties. I don’t think farmer’s markets are the key for us right now instead we would prefer some direct time in front of the consumer and having in-depth conversations with them. I want to be your soul meat producer and I find that farmer’s market customers are looking for the one-offs.
A: Events are fantastic. The more I can get people out to the farm to create a deeper understanding versus a label in the store, is a win-win for us. A label will not be able to create value, let alone describe how the process works. The money cycles through our community, benefiting on a local level versus national, and they get a direct benefit off the land.
Have you started working with anyone in the community as far as educational partnerships for Corner Post?
A: We moved here in January and we feel like just this month we can breath. We are starting to reach out and learn about networks to connect with in the community.
D: We need to get more people involved here at the farm because I can’t move chicken pens all day and meet with people and chat about what we do, so we are now in a place where we can consider volunteers, internships or hiring help.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out in the ranching/farming business?
D: Learn the difference between the labor of being a farmer and owning a business. They are two totally different things. I feel that what’s happened is that we are taught the labor of farming but not how to run the books. I think young folk are excited about the idea of owning a farm but the hard part is making a living out of it. That has to be a part of their reality.
A: Farmers and ranchers get along so much better with their plants or animals than the people themselves because it’s a lot easier to take care of the chickens than call up ten restaurants and get denied by five. One of the hardest parts about a local food system, is the component of sales and marketing that a lot of us would just as soon forget. You could produce the most fantastic product in the world but if no one knows about it, it doesn’t matter.
D: It’s okay to have something like this as a hobby but you should value your product. They’re some folk out there selling meat for less than what you can get at a grocery store. It’s just not possible. You have to look at farming differently--as a way to provide for your family.
A: I think it would be really cool to see a shift in consumers in which they go to the grocery store and say, “How can this be $1.99?” versus going to the farmers market and saying, “Oh my, how can this be $10.99?”. The consumer sees value in the meat at $10.99, that it’s a healthy source of fuel and all around better for them.
18065 Saddlewood Rd.
Monument, CO 80132
P: (303) 898-0642