Meeting the Challenges of Management-Intensive Grazing and Direct-Marketing Meat, Part 1

| 12/15/2015 10:48:00 AM

Tags: sustainable agriculture, modern farming, local food, grassfed meat, raising livestock, sheep, cattle, John Clark Vincent, Oregon,


Daniel O'Malley stands by the stream that runs through his Sweet Home Meats operation near Sweet Home, Oregon.

When I sent an email to Sweet Home Farms owners Mike Polen and Carla Green, I was anticipating talking with a couple of sixty- and fifty-something, doctoral-level healthcare researchers who made a stunning career shift about seven years ago when they left Kaiser Permanente in Portland to buy a ranch near Sweet Home and begin a sustainable livestock operation. Instead, I heard from Mike’s son, Daniel O’Malley, who in 2013 took over Mike and Carla’s meat production business and was anxious to promote it.

Mike and Carla still run Sweet Home Farms, but they concentrate on breeding and raising Belted galloway cattle and katahdin sheep, as well as Great Pyrenees and English shepherd dogs. The labor-intensive direct-to-consumer meat production business — Sweet Home Farms Meats, LLC — moved over to Daniel. And Daniel clearly loves it.

To say Daniel has come to farming via a different route than his dad would be too much of an understatement. In fact, the route is about as far from Mike and Carla’s journey as one could get. Rather than thoroughly researching farming and ranching as an alternative career, Daniel simply needed a job. He was completing an undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Oregon and wasn’t sure what to do next. He wasn’t worried about it or anything like that… he’s pretty much a free spirited guy and doesn’t seem to be overly worried about anything really. Which I suppose can come in handy when you’re trying to get a farm started. So when he learned that Mike and Carla needed help, he saw it as an opportunity and jumped right in and spent his last summer before graduation learning to farm and ranch.

“My Dad and his wife, Carla, bought this farm in 2006,” Daniel explained. “As I was finishing school, I started coming up here and helping out, and I just really started to like it. So I finished my last term, and then we all talked about turning this into a real business. They had been doing it, but at a pretty low-volume level… it was still similar to a hobby. When I joined, we decided to really push this and went full steam ahead.”
Working on the farm was the first job Daniel had out of college, so from a professional standpoint, he’s never done anything else, which suits him fine.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!