Da-Le Ranch is a “small family, sustainable farm, learning every day of the year” on over 22 acres of farmland. I recently caught up with Da-Le Ranch for our Hillcrest Farmers Market blog. Here is what I learned.
Dave Heafner, and Leslie Pesic, owners of Da-Le Ranch, have been around since 2003- living and farming in the foothills of Lake Elsinore. Many people at the Hillcrest Farmers Market will also recognize Ashlie, known to all as the “Farmers Daughter.”
Da-Le Ranch sells everything ranging from pork chops, sirloins, and chicken breasts to beef tongue and lamb kidneys. They also offer a wide selection of sausages, ground patties, and bacon. As well as farm fresh chicken, duck, guinea fowl, quail, turkey, goose and pheasant eggs.
They strive to bring the highest quality and ethical meats and eggs to their customers throughout 24 farmers markets in Southern California. At the Hillcrest Farmers Market, Da-Le Ranch can be found every Sunday and can take pre-orders for holidays and special occasions.
Dave shared with me that their biggest season of the year is Thanksgiving, however, Da-Le Ranch still has plenty of turkeys for Christmas and the holidays. They also have ham, and prime rib which is quickly becoming a “Christmas traditional meal” along with pork and pork roast which has become the “traditional New Year’s meal.”
For customers wanting a holiday roast, now is the time to pre-order meats to guarantee a delivery at the Hillcrest Farmers Market. The deadline to order for Christmas Eve delivery is Wednesday, December 20th and for New Year’s Eve, the deadline is Wednesday, December 27th. Da-Le Ranch encourages everyone to order early because they will sell out!
Dave states that Da-Le Ranch really took off in 2008. After years of operating a worm farm, Dave earned certificates in Master Gardening and Composting, however, their livestock business began to consume his time, as more and more people began to ask for meats and their famous tri-tip!
On their website, Da-Le Ranch writes that some of the challenges they face as a small farm raising animals humanely are “Regulatory agencies that are over-burdensome: Most government groups appear to try to figure out why we shouldn’t be in business rather than how we should. Humane treatment comes naturally to us, but we work around obstacles, jump over them, or push through.” They also add monetary constraints are a challenge- “With sufficient funding more machinery, more workers, more variety of stock would all be possible.”
Da-Le Ranch states “All animals get grass in some form. Steers are on pasture and fed supplemental hay. Lambs eat alfalfa. We have a proprietary blend of feed that pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, quail, and pheasants are fed. Lots of fruits and veggies to those that can handle it.”
As a blogger, I have always been a staunch advocate for local businesses. But I must admit, that the idea of raising an animal, only to have it slaughtered terrified me. Now that I am learning more about farmers and ranchers, I have a new found appreciation for their hard work and labor.
I’ve learned that people who love their jobs don’t mind doing hard work. And although Dave and Leslie work seven days a week, in my brief conversation with Dave, I could sense a deep sense of pride in their business.
He was quick to point out that although Da-Le Ranch is not certified as organic, they do practice clean growing methods, keeping animal health and welfare a top priority. Da-Le Ranch prides itself on ensuring its products are “Farm fresh, and free of GMO’s, soy, and steroids, and that their animals are hormone free and grass fed.”
Da-Le Ranch is also a CSA farm- meaning it offers a Community Supported Agriculture membership that helps the farm balance production throughout the year. The program, recognized by the state allows farms such as Da-Le Ranch to bundle their goods and sell on a subscription, making high-quality meats available for everyone.
As someone who started their career selling Tri-Tips and Hot Dogs in downtown Reno to pay for college- take it from me – Da-Le Ranch offers some of the best cuts of meat and farm fresh eggs I’ve had since moving to San Diego.