Raising A Young Rancher

Raising A Young Rancher

Congrats! It’s a boy!

I will never forget the moment when I found out I was the father of a son! Hours in the delivery room followed by, congratulations, its a boy!

So much went rushing through my head. Is he healthy? Will he love me as much as I already love him? Will I make him proud? Will I be a good dad and mentor? Will I be a good provider? What will he want to be when he grows up? And the BIGGEST, where is the instruction manual to raising a son?

Throughout the years I imagined being a dad – gathering cows in the open range as we ride on horseback. Together we will perform chores around the ranch as he inquires about life and love. After a long day, we will put our boots up at the ranch while enjoying- a freshly grilled t-bone steak.

Adam and Wiley with Horse

When you climb into the saddle, be ready for the ride.

Wiley and Adam Diaz
Wiley Diaz

HOLD ON for the ride of your life!

Fatherhood is tough. Raising a boy is hard, and raising them to be what you want them to be is harder.

As dads, it’s natural to want to pass on some masculine wisdom, but often we don’t know where to start or even what to say. We all want our sons to be kind but strong. Determined and unwavering in pursuing their goals, but not pushy or bullish. Admit when he has made a mistake and be unapologetic when standing up for what is right.

This is my first time at the Fatherhood rodeo, so I thought I would pull some of life lessons from the cowboy handbook. Following my internet search “raising boys to be men” and “raising a son to be a cowboy”, I have come to learn that one of the character traits sorely lacking in our culture today is that of masculine honor. 

So, I continued my search and have concluded what I think defines “masculine honor’ – or at least what I would like for my son to have and be.


I will set my son up to succeed and even fail.

I will instill all my wisdom to help my son succeed. But I will also allow him opportunities to fail – because he will. Failure is a crucial step in the learning process.  Failure is inevitable, but I will focus his attention on what went wrong and how he can fix it. When my son fails, he will have the tools to resolve his failure and he will know how to get back in the saddle and ride on.


I will teach him manners—or even better, chivalry.

My son will grow up knowing that chivalry is not dead. Sadly, most boys today do not have to earn the affections of a young lady. Today, many young ladies make the pursuit non-existent – much to their detriment. Teach your son the value of good manners. Manners are, after all, about respect – respect for oneself and respect for others. A young man who possesses these qualities will have doors opened for him in life by the right people and woman. This I know I want for my son.


I will teach my son he doesn’t have to be ashamed of being a male.

Men need other men to confirm their masculinity. I know this sounds strange, but there’s nothing more uplifting to the male soul than having another guy validate that you have what it takes as a man. Rather than raise my son with the notion that he has to be a “mans man”, I will be sure to let him understand that to be a man means living his life according to his own healthy beliefs that encompass faith, family, and friends. We also need to break the cycle of male loneliness and teach our sons that is is healthy to have, authentic male friendships. When a man stands by his own convictions and establishes strong male relationships, he can embrace who and what he is and live his life unapologetically. 

Teach him a code of honor and how to tend the land. Show him by example and he will grow up to be a man.

~ excerpt from Your Son

These are just a few of the many life lessons that I will instill in my son. My son will grow laughing over slips in the mud, the pain of losing an animal, and feeling a sense of accomplishment after a long days work.

My son will learn to bow his head in the sun, wipe his forhead in the rain, and watch his icy breath in the early mornings atop a mountainside. He will know how to balance a checkbook, balance grain rations, and how to gather a herd. He will know all about surviving life off the land as he departs his school bus to head to the house, but not until he has glanced over the herd first.

He will live this life knowing that life on a ranch is more than a job; it’s a lifestyle, it’s a passion that flows in his blood, and most important, it’s a legacy he will carry on – which in and of itself is an honor.

Our Profits Are Measured by More Than Just Dollars

We at 10 Mile West Cattle Company enjoy living in a small agricultural community where we have access to cultural opportunities for ourselves and our future generations.  

We are blessed with being able to choose our livlihood while sharing our work experience with our children. We are committed to expanding our work ethic into our local community by showing and promoting town and school pride, while raising productive members of society.

We will support local businesses and services. We will also share our business through active participation in local business and community organizations. 

At 10 Mile West Cattle Company we are committed to creating a more sustainable food system by empowering local and small farms, practicing land conservation, and restoring the vitality of the California foodshed. Help us continue our support of our ecological community and local economy by purchasing your quality beef from 10 Mile West Cattle Company.


Shop Our Beef

As Seen in Northbay Business Magazine

As Seen in Northbay Business Magazine

Jessica Rhoton, 36-year-old woman, mother of a toddler, partner of AJD Builders, and co-founder of 10 Mile West Cattle Company, has been a horse girl since the age of 10. “I went to a summer camp in Taylorsville, Calif. I will forever be grateful for that experience,” she says with a laugh. “Dave (the owner) was a thoroughbred racehorse breeder. Part of the camp had a horse aspect to it, and I completely gravitated to it. I’ve felt connected to horses ever since.”

As a young adult, Rhoton trained horses full time in her hometown, Novato. Then, in 2015, her family experienced a devastating tragedy, and she was left feeling lost and empty. A friend invited Rhoton out to her cattle ranch, and everything changed. “The first time I ever galloped across a field on horseback, chasing after a herd of cattle was life-changing,” says Rhoton. “It was so wild and free.” She adds, the connection I felt with that horse, and the trust we had to have in each other, changed everything for me.

Adam Diaz, Robert Swift and Jessica Rhoton

From there, Rhoton attended several branding events at local cattle ranches. This is where the ranch owner gathers the cows and calves, and doctors and marks the new calves to keep track of the herd. Rhoton, without a horse to rope on, began helping by working with the ‘ground crew.’ She felt a strong sense of community at these events and appreciated the way people supported one another. It was a lot of dusty, dirty work, says Rhoton. “You don’t get paid in cash. You get paid with friendship and food and drinks at the end of the day.”

While her love of horses brought her to the cattle industry, it was the fellowship that kept her there. “I fell in love with the community and appreciated the way people supported one another without asking for anything in return,” she says. “I wanted to continue to pursue the cattle industry on a small, local level.” In 2019, Rhoton and Adam Diaz founded 10 Mile West, a grass-fed beef company.

10 Mile West Cattle Company is operated from Rhoton and Diaz’s home ranch in Oakdale, Calif. The cattle spend time between the ranch in Oakdale and the plains of Nevada, where their business partner, Robert Swift, lives. The meat is frozen and sold direct-to-consumer, and clients can choose between a half or whole steer. This is a more sustainable alternative to grocery store meat, as it cuts out the trucking and refrigeration costs of transporting the meat to grocery stores. Instead, it’s sent directly to the home, getting to the customer quicker, and in turn, keeping fresh for a longer period of time.

Rhoton wears many hats, and balancing being a mom while operating AJD Builders and 10 Mile West has its challenges. She recalls having to ‘push’ a cow back into its pen, in the middle of a work day, after it tried to escape through a gap in the fence with her young son, Wiley, on her hip. I am often asked why I’m taking on so much, she says. “The answer is always that I’m passionate about all three.” She adds, “I’ve found that with good help, there are enough hours in the day.”

As for the future, Rhoton often thinks about the next generation of cowboys and ranchers. “If Wiley, wants to cowboy one day, that would be amazing. If he doesn’t, that’s okay too,” she says. But she hopes to instill a sense of community, hard work and connection to the land in the next generation. “I believe that change starts on the local level. When you live and ‘be’ in your own surroundings, you can influence and impact how you want that to look.” She dreams of creating a camp for neglected and underprivileged youth, where they could come to the ranch and learn to care for horses and connect with nature. “It would be a healing place for kids to come and feel peace,” she says.

In the meantime, Rhoton is excited to provide grass-fed, grain-finished protein for families and be a steward of the land though regenerative pasture management. “That’s right at the same level as waking up early and seeing the sunrise from the back of a horse, and that first cold draft after a long, dusty day in the branding pen,” she says. “They’re both equally great, but providing quality protein to families at a local level, and building back ‘main street’ is the mission. The rest of it is the silver lining.”

For more information, visit 10milewest.com.

[Lead photo courtesy of 10 Mile West]

The Benefits of Grassfed and Grain Finished Beef

The Benefits of Grassfed and Grain Finished Beef

The Benefits of Grassfed and Grain Finished Beef

Jesse and Adam

Written by

In today’s health conscious times, consumers are seeking healthier protein for feeding their families. Grassfed beef has become the rage as it contains more healthy fats and can provide and is higher in antioxidants and other key nutrients that are good for overall health. At Ten Mile west Cattle Company, we grass feed and grain finish our cattle.

Northern California Cattle
Grssfed and Grain finished beef

Locally sourced from responsible farms and ranches throughout California and nevada.

Our cattle are raised in open pastures where they are free to graze. We graze them on nutritious pastures that we rotate for regenerative purposes. By frequently rotating our herds through sectioned parcels, we are allowing the pastures enough time to rest and grow before the animals come back and graze it again. This process allows the grass to remain truly healthy, avoiding the stress of overgrazing. The grass develops deep roots that allow the plant access to a wider field of nutrients, making the grass more nutritious for the cattle. This nutrition is passed onto our consumers. The deep roots also make the grass more drought resistant, allowing for healthy grazing even in times of diminished rainfall.

Beef Roast

Why Grain Finish?

We start our cattle on a grassfed diet and then introduce them to a custom, all natural grain diet to get that steakhouse quality taste and a rich flavor that our customers have come to love.

Quality Meats at Great Prices

Costs are reduced and the savings is passed on to the consumer. Saturated fats are also reduced thus decreasing the risk of heart disease.

Hormone Free

Eating grass-fed meat greatly reduces the risk of food poisoning when compared to only grain-fed beef.

Is Grassfed better?

Grassfed and grass-finished beef cattle eat only forage until they reach market weight. This process can generally take three times longer to finish cattle on grass than on grain, add the cost of grass-finished beef, and the additional strain to the environment, 100% grassfed is not always the ideal 

Grass-fed beef can be difficult to produce year-round, due to changing seasons and weather conditions. 

finally, a completely plant-based diet, yields a beef that is leaner than grain-finished beef, thus resulting in a “gamey” flavor—which some cosumers are not accustomed. 

Cattle Grazing

In summary, beef is an excellent source of zinc, iron, protein, and B vitamins – it just fcooks and tastes better when it’s grain finished. 

At 10 Mile West Cattle Company we are committed to creating a more sustainable food system by empowering local and small farms, practicing land conservation, and restoring the vitality of the California foodshed.

Our experience in pasture management, producing nutritious beef while improving the environment and supporting our local economy, is the foundation we have built our catte company. Visit our SHOP and learn more about our sustainably grassfed and grain finished beef. 

Jesse and Adam

Written by

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Local meat processing: Rebuild begins

Local meat processing: Rebuild begins

Original Post |  | Apr 21, 2022

It was March 2020, the month that the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Meatpacking plants in the U.S. were forced to scale back or temporarily close as COVID-19 affected the workforce and, accordingly, meat supplies available to consumers.

In the small town of Lamoni, Iowa, along the central Iowa-Missouri state line, grocery stores were either limiting purchases or were completely sold out of beef and pork.

Two friends, Tad Whittom and Enos Swartzentruber, started talking over the need for a small meat locker to supply local, fresh products to their community. Meanwhile in nearby Leon, Iowa, Lonnie Cowden posed a question on Facebook about advice on starting a meat locker. As fate would have it, Whittom saw the post and messaged Cowden.

In his research, Cowden looked at a map of meat lockers in southern Iowa. There was a gaping hole in Decatur and Clarke counties and down into northern Missouri. The trio put their heads together and decided if there was a chance, they were going to fill that hole.

However, before crafting a design, Whittom once again turned to Facebook, this time to look for employees. In southwest Missouri, agriculture educator Austin Steele was searching for an opportunity to move closer to family. A friend shared the post, and Steele reached out to Whittom. In college, Steele worked at the Mizzou Meat Market. In high school, he worked at his school’s state inspected meat locker in Miller, Mo.

So, Steele, along with Cowden, provided the expertise from the meat processing industry, while Whittom and Swartzentruber supplied the financial backing to make a meat locker a reality.
The four men toured numerous processing facilities and pulled together the best of each to devise their own look. By June 2021, Red Barn Meat Market broke ground on land right off Interstate 35 at the Lamoni exit in southern Iowa.

Four men are bringing a new meat locker to Lamoni, Iowa, in an effort to serve the surrounding small towns with quality local pork and beef products. Co-owner Tad Whittom (third from left) is pictured here with (from left) Lonnie Cowden, Enos Swartzentruber and Austin Steele.

USDA grant funding paid for a portion of the new building project, and Whittom and Swartzentruber provided the rest. While the investment was substantial, they both support making a difference in their small town.

“We want our community members to have a place to go and purchase quality, local meat or have their own processed with us,” Whittom says.

Swartzentruber considers the local economic boost.

“For me, it is about bringing another business to our community to provide more jobs,” he says. Red Barn Meat Market will employ about 12 full-time employees.


Recognizing the need

The demise of small meat lockers across the U.S. started well before COVID-19 as the meat processing industry consolidated over the years. Then the pandemic sharpened the focus on how “just in time” the U.S. meat processing supply chain is from farm to fork.

In Minnesota, Farmers Union members had been voicing concerns about meat processing consolidation and bottlenecks for some time. When COVID hit, MFU and other stakeholders ramped up their push to the state legislature for funding to help small- to medium-sized meat processors. They also recognized the need for a workforce — specifically trained meat cutters — and worked with two community colleges on training programs.

By the end of the 2021 legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers approved more than $2.6 million for new and upgraded plants, two new meat processing certification programs at Central Lakes College in Staples and Ridgewater Community College in Willmar, a mobile slaughter unit for educational use, and additional state inspection staff.

CLC and Ridgewater are in the process of accepting applications for their one semester meat-cutting programs, which begin this fall. CLC has 13 students enrolled as of late March and can accept a total of 25 students. Ridgewater can enroll up to 20 students.

Both programs are designed for working students, offering courses in the evening and on weekends, with some instruction off-campus with licensed business partners. Enrollment for both is open until programs are filled. Fall classes start Aug. 22.

Dave Endicott, dean at the CLC Staples campus, acknowledges the new meat-cutting programs are fortunate to receive significant financial support.

“We’re also getting $2 million [in federal funds] for equipment and program development at Ridgewater and Central Lakes,” he says. “We’ll have state-of-the-art facilities for training our students.”

MFU continues to play a major role by providing support for the mobile meat slaughter trailer and two modular units — one to be used as a chill room and the other for cutting and wrapping — on the CLC campus.

If funding becomes available, a future third unit could be used as a “store” and train students in retail sales. Unfortunately, the trailer and units will not be on campus in time for the fall semester. Instead, students will practice meat cutting in the campus USDA-certified kitchen and at Cub Foods in Baxter and Brainerd.

“We’ve had such a great experience with partners in the ag and retail world and the support of farmers,” Endicott adds. “MFU, the [Minnesota] Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, the grocers’ union, our legislators, plus funding from the governor’s budget — it’s really been an across-the-board bipartisan effort for small and medium farmers.”

Future meat processing investments could continue, assuming lawmakers reach an agreement on funding by the end of session in May. This spring, the governor proposed $8.7 million for plant expansion, employee recruitment and training and meat inspection.

The state House proposed $5.2 million for secondary school meat processing training; grants to help start up, modernize and expand facilities; technical training programs; state meat inspection; and financial assistance for South St. Paul Hmong meat processors operating out of the once-closed St. Paul Stockyards. The state Senate proposed $1.7 million, with $1 million of that specifically for secondary school meat processing.

Stu Lourey, MFU director of government relations, acknowledges that meat processing facilities, which require lots of stainless steel, are expensive to build.

“We’re trying to rebuild a system that was disinvested, and we’ve got a long ways to go,” he says.


Offering processing and product

Iowa’s Red Barn Meat Market expects to open at the end of May for both custom processing and retail meat offerings.

Initial startup will be slow, custom-processing 18 beef and 18 pork carcasses per week. It will ramp up to its 30-30 split quickly. Cowden says interest is already high, with people already asking when they will start taking orders. “We could easily fill out the calendar year right now,” he notes.

The company will incorporate technology such as Smart Locker, currently in beta testing, to provide traceability for custom processing orders. Steele explains that the web-based booking platform performs similar to a hotel booking site, allowing customers to select a date for processing, fill out their requests via a cut sheet and even divide up the animal by multiple buyers.

Mindy WardRed Barn Meat Market

One of the attractions drawing drivers off exit 4 on Interstate 35 in southern Iowa is the state’s welcome center. Four men hope to change that as their new big Red Barn Meat Market garners attention. The meat market will provide custom processing, as well as a retail meat counter, for visitors to the small town of Lamoni.

Individuals will pay a small deposit to secure their spot. From the time the animal is dropped off, through processing, into storage and finally at pickup, the product is linked to the customer.

In the retail meat case, Red Barn will offer its own branded beef. Steele says the company will contract with a few farmers to feed out calves with a specific company-approved ration that targets the animal grading Choice Plus or above.

The ability to control quality through feed and cattle sourcing, he adds, will foster a good eating experience for customers. The company also will have a website where customers can order and ship items directly to their homes.


National investment

During the past several months, USDA has announced a number of programs to help expand and upgrade meat processing facilities. USDA Rural Development is making $150 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding available through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program to fund startup and expansion activities in the meat and poultry processing sector.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will provide another $40 million through existing workforce development programs to provide a pipeline of trained workers to meet the demand for both processors and increased independent processing capacity. And the Agricultural Marketing Service will provide $25 million to offer technical assistance to grant applicants and others seeking resources related to meat and poultry processing.

In March, USDA announced extending the deadline to May 11 to apply for MPPEP funding. The agency encourages applications for meat processor startups and expansions that benefit smaller or new farms, tribes and tribal producers, and underserved communities.

The USDA also announced in March the launch of the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program to provide technical assistance to meat and poultry grant applicants and grant-funded projects. Processors and applicants involved with the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant program and MPPEP can access this technical assistance.

USDA also is now accepting applications for $23.6 million in competitive grant funding available through the MPIRG program. Grants can be used to build new or modernize existing processing facilities; update equipment and technology; improve food safety; and for workforce recruitment, training and retention.

For more information on USDA programs, visit usda.gov/meat.

To learn more about the community college programs in Minnesota, visit Central Lakes College and Ridgewater Meat Cutting and Butcher.

In Memory of A Genuine Cowboy

In Memory of A Genuine Cowboy

Honoring Donald D. Reece (Lebanon)

Donald Dean Reece, son of Harold and Neoma Ruth Gregg Reece, was born January 31, 1951, in Santa Barbara, California. He departed this life Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Mercy Hospital, in Springfield, Missouri, at the age of seventy-one years.

Donald was a loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, and a caring friend. We celebrate his life and know that his family will hold tight to all the special memories he shared with them during his lifetime.

Raised in California and a graduate of Santa Ynez High School, Donald lived a fulfilling life that spanned from working for the forest service, enlisting and serving in the military, and retiring as a Ranch Cowboy. 

Upon graduating from high school, Donald began working for the forest service until entering the military. He served his country faithfully in the United States Air Force for several years. He returned to the forest service for a time before becoming a Ranch Cowboy for Rancho San Fernando Rey for almost ten years. He worked in construction for a while but his passion to ranch returned and he worked for over twenty-six years at Triangle G Ranch. 

Anyone who knew Donald knows that his favorite place was in the saddle and his favorite people were family. In his spare time he enjoyed gardening, fishing, and roping. He never met a stranger, and he had a life lesson for anyone who wanted to listen. A proud Veteran, he centered his life around his family and especially enjoyed his grandchildren and great-grandchild. 

A Cowboy’s Prayer

Lord, I reckon I am not much just by myself, I fail to do a lot of things I ought to do. But Lord, when trails are steep and passes high, help me ride it straight the whole way through. And when in the falling dusk I get that final call, I do not care how many flowers they send. Above all else, the happiest trail would be for you to say to me, “let’s ride, my friend”.

As Seen in Northbay Business Magazine

Check Out This California Cowgirl

Proudly Woman Owned

Meet Jessica Jean – a renaissance kind of gal! A jack of all trades. A diamond in the rough. Frankly there are not enough words to describe this fantastic lady. To be honest, she would more than likely refuse to categorize herself should you ever have the pleasure of asking.

Jessica is a worldy woman who has acquired a weath of knowedge through life’s lessons. A true cowgirl, when life deals her a blow, she pulls up her boostraps and rides off into the sunset and challenges of a new day. 

Challenge of Motherhood and Entrepreneurship

While some women may be distracted by the demands of being a mom to an infact, motherhood has only elevated Jesse’s drive. Her son is the force that motivates Jesse to carve out a legacy for his future and the futures of generations to follow.

Already a partner at AJD Builders of Santa Rosa, CA, and co-founder of 10 Mile West Cattle Company Jesse has high aspirations and dreams for expanding operations. She and her co-founding partner, Adam Diaz, are hoping to set up a 501(c)(3) working ranch for inner city youth to work and develop skills in agriculture and farming. Thir ultimate dream is to one day build out a resort and retreat for guests from all over the Unites States to experience life on a ranch, followed by a best in class dinner and relaxing massage.

Not Your Average Cowgirl

Jesse’s aspirations do not seem too far fetched for this can-do cowgirl. Jesse will suggest that her lack of a college degree might one day  limit her ability to develop the kind of business accumen to pull off such an ambitious portfolio.  However, the moment her son waltzes into the room – her face immediately transforms into a fierce and focussed momma that is not about to be stopped.

The underlying competitor that lies within Jesse from her roping days is very much alive inside Jesse as she matter of fact shares her deep seeded traditional family values and the importance of creating a work and living environment that reinforces them.

Healthy and Holistic Living

“I wish to restore the vitality of small towns, large families, and booming main streets. If I am able to create a healthy and sustainable world while offering quality products and services made here in the USA, then my goals have been achieved”.

Jesse favorite part of the day is wrapping up a busy day with a homecooked meal, made with ingredients from the farm. She loves discovering new recipes and sharing her passion for wholesome food.

Visit 10 Mile West website, be sure to bookmark the page, and bear witness as this Cattle company evolves into a sustainable mecca that promotes good health, well being, a sense of purpose, and top tier quality beef procurred from humanely treated bovines.