The James family, like the Salatins, has made a nice living doing things on a smaller scale. They slaughter their beef at around 950-1,150 pounds, the majority in the late fall, but also some in the spring. The beef is then frozen and sold throughout the year. Part of their marketing is done through an on-ranch store that is open one day a week. Another part is sold at a local farmers market. They also sell most of their hamburger through some high-end local restaurants who cater to tourists looking for a western experience as well as natural food groceries in and near Durango.
James Ranch beef cattle begin their lives on pastures in Utah and are then moved to the ranch to graze on cool-season grasses and clovers. The Red Angus beef cattle grow quickly on grass and are ready for market between 18 and 30 months of age.
Besides grass-finished beef, the multi-generational family operation also produces artisan cheese and pastured pork.
The Jameses advertise their meat online at www.jamesranch.net. There, customers can pre-order beef using an online order form and pick it up in Durango.
STRENGTH: Low start-up and production cost
WEAKNESS: Time spent away from the ranch at store or in market