Charlie Thieriot of Llano Seco | Sustainable Sources
How did you get started in farming? I’ve been around farming my whole life. My mother’s family were cattlemen in Argentina for 3 generations and the Rancho Llano Seco grant has been in my father’s family for 6 generations. I didn’t get directly involved in farming until a few years after college. First with walnuts, then pigs, beans and grains.
What core passions drive you to do this work? I love food and the outdoors. Responsible farming seems like the best way to be part of good food made from environmentally sustainable practices.
As a farmer, what do you think butchers need to know about your perspective and experience in the meat industry? Butchers are the key to success for small farms trying to raise and market animals that are handled with a focus on humane husbandry, environmentally sustainable practices and delicious meat versus yield, yield, yield. Small farms have a hard time getting a premium price for secondary cuts. The whole pig is raised in a premium way but the home cook needs help with certain cuts. Butchers and chefs can buy whole animals, take the secondary cuts and make beautifully prepared foods to help that whole local food chain capture the margins that they deserve. Butchers and chefs are the great champions of small scale local farming. We are a community who is constantly outspent by large food companies who put their money towards marketing, processing and payroll in order to avoid expense of keeping the pigs stress free.
How do you personally keep yourself focused and moving forward when you face challenges in your business? I spend time with my family. I hunt and fish with my friends. I surf and ride horses. I meditate and do yoga. I feel responsibility to my ancestors and extended family and the land.
What creative solutions have you come up with over the years, to run a profitable, high quality business that you are most proud of? We refurbished a group of 100 year old barns and retrofitted them with modern amenities for the pigs. They are a great example of our ability to unearth that which the “old timers” had figured and marry that with what subsequent generations
What is your take on work-life balance as a farmer? (what rituals and practices do you maintain to stay sane? I feel lucky in the sense that at this point I only spend a portion of my week focused on raising the pigs. I am now in a position where in order for us to be vertically integrated I need to focus on post production, marketing and administration as well. This naturally gives the mind a good variety of problems to tackle. Bottom line though is that family comes first. To be there for my family I need to take good care of myself.
What exciting projects do you have in the works for 2019?
We are very excited about the line of retail sausages we will be launching over the next year.