Beef in Their Blood

Published on Mar 24, 2020

Poke Shane Watkins’ finger with a pin, and most likely au juice will pour out.

For three generations, he, his father, and his grandfather and grandmothers’ families, have raised cattle in the rolling hills and pastures of the Lompoc Valley, north of Los Angeles. For nearly five of those years, they’ve brought their meats to the Pasadena Farmers Market at Victory Park on Saturday mornings.

The family owns several ranges in the Ojai Valley area along with a partnership with a ranch in Utah.

As Shane explained, “We take the cattle from there during the winter months, and they can breed here, away from the snow, and the harsh weather.”

Their Utah “satellite ranch” holds approximately a thousand head of cattle that Watkins sources from currently.

With that arrangement, says Shane, the ranch is able to provide a more unique experience than other ranches in terms of providing “pasture to plate” meats.

“There’s nobody else that does what we do, he said. I shouldn’t say there’s nobody else, but I would say there’s maybe one other person in California that does it. Nobody else has their own cutting facilities that do what we do.

As Shane notes, the ranch does everything except slaughter the meat, since they don’t have facilities for that part of the process, but he explained, “I’m going to not call myself a meat cutter because I’m not very good at it, but I’m great at raising animals. My dad and grandfather are professional butchers. They worked in the butcher industry for years and years and years.”

Watkins Ranch arrives every Saturday morning in Pasadena with a truck full of fresh frozen meats.

“It’s all cut fresh the week that it’s going to the market, and we bring in an assortment of different cuts,” said Shane. With the company’s wares arranged in a horseshoe shape, customers can leisurely choose their cuts of meat from the various displays.

Pasadena is also a unique market, Shane explained, in that the customers are generally from 30 to 50, and more into steaks and quicker cooking meats, as opposed to the roasts of an older generation. But Shane admits to having brought vegetarians and even vegans back into the fold.

“Our carne asada is really good,” he said. “We just have such a great product and it’s so clean and healthy and tasty. I don’t really have a favorite. We eat a lot of ground beef at our house, and maybe every once in a while we’ll eat a ribeye. We just kind of do our whole thing and just make it happen.”

Shane also emphasized that the benefit of growing your own product is that “You get a healthy, real product. So the people that are afraid of eating beef or, haven’t been meat eaters in awhile, they should come to Watkins and try us.”

As another area of convenience, they also accept pre-orders.

The Pasadena Farmers’ Market at Victory Park is open Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Come through the new monitored entrance at the northwest corner of the parking lot, look for the new signs. The market is located in the 2900 block of North Sierra Madre Boulevard.

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