EMILIE: Welcome to Plow and Pencil, the art of American agriculture where like Ike, we recognize that farming looks mighty easy when you’re plow is a pencil and you’re 1000 miles from the cornfield. The Plow and Pencil podcast will paint a picture of American agriculture. Today, we will tell the stories of the producers, the products, the policies, and the platforms that provide feed and fuel to our nation and our world. Join the movement of farmers, ranchers, and agriculture advocates plowing new ground and pencil us in to your weekly podcast schedule. This podcast is brought to you by HitchPin.com. The tool thousands of farmers and ranchers are using to buy, sell, hire, and work in agriculture. Hello, HitchPin community. Welcome back to Plow and Pencil the art of American agriculture. I’m your host Emilie Fink and today I am thrilled to have photographer turned cowgirl turned CEO of a direct-to-consumer beef business. Wrenn Pacheco joining me to discuss the role she and her husband Arturo are playing in agriculture. Wrenn grew up a Texan but proudly calls Kansas home now and as you’ll soon hear, Wrenn has a passion for telling the ranching story. And she’s using multiple mediums to do so. I’m so excited for her to share with you all how they are evolving their business and bringing consumers along on their journey, inviting them into their kitchen and now their family-owned storefront in beautiful Alma, Kansas. You can follow Wrenn on Instagram at Pacheco Beef. And as always be sure to visit our show notes for direct links and references and today’s episode. Welcome to Plow and Pencil Wrenn.
WRENN: Thank you. I’m excited to be here. Super excited.
EMILIE: So I like to start these podcasts with just a little bit of ag trivia. So I’m going to ask you a question. And then before we sign off, you can tell us what you think the answer is. You’re ready.
WRENN: I’m ready.
EMILIE: Okay. What is the most tender cut of beef?
WRENN: Well, I know what I think it is.
EMILIE: We’ll get there later. Wrenn, thank you so much again for joining us. I am thrilled to have you as our guest. And I’d like you to share with our listeners today just that a really 30,000-foot level. Who is Wrenn Pacheco?
WRENN: Well, first off, I’m a mother. I like to start that because that’s the biggest, most important job that we have. As parents as that. That is my biggest job is I am a mother. I am a wife. I’m a business owner. I’m a rancher. I wear lots of hats, as a lot of us do. But I think as a whole, I am someone that is very passionate about what I do as a mother, as a rancher, and as a business owner, and getting to share our story of what we’re developing and creating here in Kansas, but also being able to ship and provide beef nationwide.
EMILIE: That’s awesome. And tell us take us back a few years. So you and Arturo settled in Wabaunsee County about eight years ago. Through the evolution of your business.
WRENN: Yeah. So Arturo and I both are not native Kansans. I grew up in East Texas, Arturo grew up in New Mexico, and K-State brought us here for a Ph. D program for him to study and complete a Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition. So he is a Ruminant Nutritionist by trade. And he has all the science and he’s a very geeky, we can be very geeky on that side of it. So when he graduated, we had a little one. And at that time, I was a wedding and portrait photographer and he had built a business in the Manhattan area, and then traveled around Kansas. And so we knew we didn’t really want to leave the Flint Hills. And at the time, it was just we didn’t want to leave Manhattan’s area. And Arturo had graduated, as a new graduate he was working for a company and starting to build a clientele or customer base, kind of southwest of us a little bit, about two hours. And so he knew he didn’t want to leave here either. We didn’t want to go any further west. And so we just happen to stumble upon this place Wabaunsee County didn’t even really know what where Wabaunsee County was or what it consisted of. So we landed here eight years ago, and at that time, we were both kind of commuters even though we worked for ourselves and Arturo left his company and started his own independent nutrition consulting business. Seven years ago, so not sure really shortly after we moved here. We both lived here but worked outside of Wabaunsee County because neither one of us had clients here. So but anyway, we landed here. We started getting to know the community and started going to church in the community. We got the opportunity to lease grass here in the community. So we run double stock yearlings, here in Wabaunsee County. And so we just kind of started putting roots down. And Leo, who is now eight, so he has lived his almost entire life here in Wabaunsee County, we moved here when he was six months old. He is now in school. And when he was in kindergarten, he would come home, get off the bus, and I would get in my car to drive to Manhattan to do photoshoots. Because the light dictates when you do a photoshoot. And it was very evident to me that I was done with that I was I could not allow him. I mean, Arturo does a fine job. He’s a very hands-on dad. But it just was tearing me apart to be leaving as soon as he was getting off the bus. So we knew that I needed to make a change. And to make a change to be more present here in the county. I am not one to sit still and I am not one to work well for others. I work well with others, but not for others. I work really better for my own brands than I do other brands. So we knew that that was something that we needed to do as well. And then COVID hit; I’m telling the whole story. Do you want the whole story? Right?
EMILIE: I do.
WRENN: Okay. And then COVID hit and Arturo and I had already kind of started talking about this direct-to-consumer business, is that something that we could do is that something we could manage him having this Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition, and me having a passion and education in ag communications degree on telling a story and sharing the story. And how important that is, is that something that we can meld together and make a business. And then so that was kind of like 2019 and then rolled into 2020. And we all know what happened in 2020. And we knew that this could be something that we could do. And, and the push the real big push of consumers wanting to know more where their product, where all food comes from, because of that scare of not very much product on the shelves. And we knew that we could fill that void, we could help fill that void. We can’t feed the world by any means. And so I think it’s a very big community of all of us that are doing direct to consumer, that we all work together to provide a quality product.
Anyway. So 2020, we started talking about it. And we launched in March of 2021 Pacheco Beef. And so we just had things fall into place for us, we knew that we did not have space here on our property in, like McFarland area. So we’re about nine miles from Alma, we knew we didn’t have a place here that we could ship be from. We had friends that have a building in Alma, on the main drag that had a storefront built-in. Retail was never in my plan. And God said that that was different. No, it’s going to be in your plan. It’s going to work and it’s going to be the best thing. And so we have the shop, we have a retail space. And we launched in 2021 Pacheco Beef. And yeah, so that I don’t know if I hit all that. But we’ve been in business for a year now. And honestly, that storefront that is in that building that we are leasing is the has what kept our business alive over the last year. Because of regulations, we were only able to ship into the state of Kansas, in 2021. And so we can only ship to our neighbors. And so we did not do much shipping, we actually had more people come through our storefront to buy our beef. And so that’s been huge.
EMILIE: So when we initially launched the Plow and Pencil podcast, well take a step back, when we started thinking about launching a podcast, our main motivation was to be able to tell agriculture stories. And, you know, our theme Plow and Pencils stems from President Eisenhower’s quote of you know, farming looks mighty easy when you’re playing with a pencil and you’re 1000 miles from a cornfield and bringing consumers to the cornfield, or in this case, into your storefront and talking about your family’s involvement in the growth of your business and the growth of your product. I mean, it doesn’t happen overnight. And I think we have that idea in 2020. And it’s 2021 until you can actually open and ask because it takes a long time right to be able to have a product that’s ready for the consumer. So for our consumers who are listening to this podcast talk us through like to so what that time that cycle is from beginning to ready to be on a consumers plate.
WRENN: Well not to try to get in the weeds because you can get into the weeds very easily on this topic, because it does take time. So you have we have a handful of our own mama cows. So we have cows that are going to have baby calves. And those baby calves will grow and develop and then we will wean them, we are actually getting ready to wean our calves this week, we’ll wean them, so we’ll take them away from their mamas. And then we will put them out we’ll turn them out to grass, we will we’re going to consider them yearlings. They’re not quite yearlings, they’re not quite a year old, and they’re not really quite heavy enough to be a yearling. But we’re going to send them to grass this summer. And then they will stay on that grass, they will continue to grow, they’ll develop, they’ll just get big, like big teenagers, basically. And then we will bring them back home. And so those calves were born in September, and I’m just giving you our operation. Now every operation is different. This is just how we are doing it. Those calves are born in September. And so they’ll come back home when they’re about a year old. And then we will start them and depending on where they what they weigh a lot of factors of weight and age and how they look and how big they are, will depend on when we start them on a starter ration. So Arturo is the scientist he is the professional on that side of it.
EMILIE: It’s nice to babe one of those in house, isn’t it?
WRENN: Yeah, it is. And that’s what makes it work. I talk really I share that we are we’re maximizing OUR our passions and our strengths. Because he has the Ph.D., the science all that on his side. And he has a passion for finishing cattle and seeing those cattle grow and creating a product that he can actually cook. And I have a passion for telling this side of it because it is so confusing. People don’t understand it, it’s hard for me to grasp sometimes about, okay, we have this calf in September, and when is it actually going to get to my freezers to be able to provide for my customers, because there are so many working pieces of it. And we so bottom line, we get a calf, we start them about 175 days before they ever get to our freezer so that and they’re about a year old when we start that so they’re about 18 months before they go to harvest. So we are planning 18 months out ahead at this moment, those calves that are born in September when they will get to our freezer. So yes, we started talking about this in 2019, we started trying to put things in place, we do have to source some of our calves from friends because we can’t our herd is not big enough to pull from and keep it consistent all year round. So we started in 2019. We started we put cattle on feed in end of June of 2020. And then we had our first harvest date in March of 2021. So three years of planning and thinking and talking and dreaming about what this is going to be. And last year we harvested, you know 12 calves 13 calves for our particular beef shot. This year, we’re growing by a little bit, and each year we’re trying to gauge like, where’s our customer race gonna be? Are we gonna run out of ribeyes? Are we going to be you know, are we going to be able to move all of the ground beef? So there are so many pieces and factors of us planning. It’s not a no I think I want to start a business, boom, and we’ll start it tomorrow kind of business. So lots to think about.
EMILIE: Yeah, absolutely. And talk to us a little bit about as a consumer and someone wanting to purchase from the Pacheco Beef. What are some of the options that they have as consumers?
WRENN: So for in our specific business, I offer shipping and now we’re nationwide shipping because we Yeah, we’re able we’ve gotten locker dates or harvest dates at facilities that are federally inspected so we can actually ship our beef now across state lines. So I ship, you can walk into my storefront, or I can deliver it if you’re in the Manhattan/Wamego area. And with those three pieces we sell by the cut so you can buy a ribeye and 10 pounds of ground beef or a roast and ground beef cube steak, all the normal cuts that you see and plus some fun ones because I do have like the tri-tips cut things that you don’t normally see here in our grocery stores in the Kansas area, Midwest area. I do try to do some different types of cuts that are all over the place and try to offer a variety and we also do sell has like the shares have halves and quarters. However, we do that once a year, and ours are already sold out for this year. So those are some options of how we offer it. Because I want to provide the best qualities or the best quality beef and the best customer service. And so I know and it’s just me that’s running this business, my mom helps me my storefront, but it’s just me, I do everything from inventory, to put it on the website, to being at the storefront, to packing the boxes to actually getting into UPS. And so I wanted to keep it manageable. I don’t want to say small, but as manageable as possible for me to do that.
EMILIE: So for our listeners who are in the beef business, or any protein, or just food business, in general, which could cover a lot of different areas write about direct to consumer marketing, and some of the things that you have tried or really are looking forward to trying and how you share your message and why then that translates into the value that you can ask for for your product.
Okay, so I feel very strongly that our consumers want to hear our story. They want to talk to us, they want to connect with us that they don’t want to judge, judge us, or they don’t want, they want to ask questions because they’re curious, I really feel like that they want to know what our cattle are fed and where they are. And because they don’t, they don’t know, the everyday consumer may not. And I hate to use the word consumer because I’m a consumer too. But my everyday customer may live in Kansas City or somewhere that they don’t get to sit on a horse and see the beautiful Flint Hills pasture and the cattle grazing every day like I do. So our office views look a lot different. So, but what they do see maybe coming from Food Inc, which is a really old documentary that has really painted our agriculture industry in a really bad light, or what they do see maybe something from Google, or from YouTube or somewhere, that is misinformation. And so I think those that want to know, they want to ask those questions. And when they walk into my shop, they get to talk to me. I mean, they get my face, they get to ask me that question directly, and I get to answer it. If they’re on, like social, if I’m shipping their beef, they still can send me an email. And I’m the one who answers that email. And so I think that brings that level up just a little bit different from the grocery store. However, I feel very strongly that there’s a consumer whom the grocery store fits best for them. The busy mom, the one that has maybe a little tighter budget, I still want to talk to them, because I still want them to know that that product they’re getting in the grocery store is safe and nutritious and good for their family too. There’s really, there are differences. Yes,, our beef does taste different. But it’s that’s a there’s a different process for ribeye for that, versus the beef in the grocery store. But it’s safe just to say just as nutritious, that’s the same. So I have a real strong like, passion for that too. Like yes, come by the for me. Come talk to me if you want that story. But if you can’t make it to my shop, but you’re in the grocery store and you see some beautiful steaks, by all means, buy those steaks because they came from a rancher that is a family-owned business just like my business too. So anyway, I feel there are two pieces to it. But I feel like our product is different because you do get to talk to me because it is I know exactly where our calves came come from either our operation or our neighbors that we neighbor with. I know where I buy those calves from I know they’re how they’re handled. Arturo is actually their nutritionist so I know how they’re fed. Then they come to me and we start them on our starter feeding them every day, making sure to weigh things he’s very meticulous when it comes to the way he creates his rations. Doing that extra work to create that X that product to create the product that we put on. I feel that’s how we are able to maybe charge a little bit more or elevate our price just to tick. Because we have that story we are telling that story. We’re taking a little bit of an extra risk by retaining ownership of these calves and thin finishing them out and seeing and then opening up a storefront and marketing and putting our name on that beef. As far as marketing pieces, social media is huge. Being able to connect with that consumer through the little phone that I carry with me every single day, and sharing and talking and getting on Instagram, showing my face, showing Artouro’s face, showing my boys like being them being a big piece of our operation. I think that is a big piece of it too. And then I use email marketing. And I really feel very strongly about email marketing. I think that that is a way I can control the people that I have like I control that list. It’s my list people join it because they want to be there want to see want to read and want to know what we’ve got going on, in so. So those two pieces or three pieces, I guess, social media email marketing, and then just being available in my store right now we are blessed enough to have a storefront. And that piece of it is again, something I never imagined I would be doing. But that piece is what has kept us alive this last year. And so we won’t go away. I have big plans for it actually to grow. And I am blessed that I have a mom that lives right here in town that can step in and open the shop for me she’s opening it for me this morning because we’ll be breeding heifers this afternoon or this later after finish this. So I can kind of have both worlds I can be at my shop. My mom can be at my shop or I can be home and helping Arturo as well.
EMILIE: All family integration into your business.
WRENN: Yes, it is truly a family thing.
EMILIE: I have to ask you as a fellow recovering photographer; talk about the power of pictures in business. And for anyone listening who’s in marketing. I mean, we talked about this a lot at HitchPin. I mean, pictures are powerful. And a good picture and a quality picture, there is a direct correlation that we see on the speed of which the listing sells when there’s a picture behind it. So talk to us a little bit about why that’s so important. And maybe if you can share a couple of quick tips with someone who may be all they have is their iPhone, and that’s okay. Right? They’re amazing.
WRENN: Um, right. They work. Right and right, is a little bit about that. Yeah, okay, so I, as a recovering photographer, or I still hate to sell to myself as a retired photographer, because but because I still shoot, I shoot all my own products. I do all my own stuff. But I do believe like power, there’s so much power in a good photo because, and there’s so much power in a bad photo too if that makes any sense. As someone that’s telling your story, even if you don’t have a product to sell direct, but you’re telling your story on social media, having a beautiful photo of cows grazing on grass, or that or your kids helping you or however you’re telling your story. So important to have that beautiful photo. And I think that it is so important that we share the beauty that we see every day. And so taking that beautiful photo and sharing it is super important. Now, I also feel like that when it’s superduper, muddy and cattle are standing in knee-deep mud, and we can’t help it because it’s rained 10 inches, or it’s rained three inches, and we got a really heavy snow. Like those are photos that, yes, they’re important to tell that story. But maybe we don’t share it as much, maybe we don’t take that photo, maybe we take it in a different light. And light being a literal sense. Maybe we don’t take it on a gloomy day, because it looks even worse. On a gloomy day, we take it on a beautiful, sunny day when things are starting to dry out. So I think being able to take a good photo is important. And then being able to analyze what good photo you share or what type of photos you share. Something as I’ve watched people share their stories, something that I have noticed is people put like a pulling a calf. It’s not the prettiest subject and it’s, but it’s important, we have to do it. I mean, we have to save the cow and the calf, we have to help and assist. And so instead of showing a gruesome photo of what pulling a calf could be, we show the end product of a healthy calf that has just been born. So thinking about that but still telling that story as the rancher we had to step in and we had to help us ever, you know, give birth and you know, and because of our assistance and because of what we had to do, we have this beautiful healthy calf now. And so just thinking through that a little bit differently. Yes, you can still still still share the gruesome piece of it. But with a nice photo, if that makes sense. And then as far as tips go light is huge. Light is so important. If you have beautiful like sunrise and sunset, which sunrise most of us are out doing our jobs are at sunrise. That light is the best light to shoot and to showcase what you have. And then the sunset of course the golden hour and all of that at that beautiful light too. But most often, hopefully, you’re done by that time of day, but sometimes you’re not. And so I think really paying attention to your light really paying attention to what the surroundings of your photo, what is in the frame, what are you showing in that frame, I think is very important. Our place is not the cleanest place, unfortunately, we inherited a bunch of stuff, we live in a 100-year-old farmhouse. And so we probably have some 100-year-old stuff laying out there. So I try really hard to, you know, and we’re working to clean it up. But like, I try really hard to how I frame the photo is I don’t want to hide it. But at the same time, I don’t want to draw attention to junk, if that helps. So I think being able to watch what you’ve gotten your frame and paste into your life are the two tips that I would use for most.
EMILIE: So I mentioned earlier in the introduction that you’ve used multiple mediums to tell a branching story, including an author, a Hilton book, and I’d love for you to talk us through obviously, the various ways that you and Arturo have let people in to your lives and given them a glimpse of what it’s like to be a rancher and paint that picture.
WRENN: Okay, yeah. So I’m going to step back just a tick because I haven’t shared much about it. So between Arturo and I, we have three businesses that we run together. He has his Pacheco Cattle Services, I have Pacheco Cattle, our particular beef, and then together we do Pacheco Cattle Company, and Pacheco Cattle Company is our ranching side of the business is the art piece of our businesses. It is the piece that allowed us to run the double-stack yearlings. So when we first got our grass that we leased here, Wabaunsee County, again, we are not native Kansan. So we are multigenerational cattlemen/ cow women come in and but we are first generation ranchers in Kansas. So we had when we got here we had, we were grad students, so we had nothing won’t be your first original arrived in Kansas. But when we got to move to Wabaunsee County, we had the start of, of his business, my photography business, we did not have that ranch piece, because we didn’t have ground to go home to. And you got to have ground, you got to have grass, do any of this. And so we got the opportunity to lease a big, pretty big chunk of grass, and we filled it with yearlings. And when I say yearlings, for those that are not in our industry, we took about a 650-pound calf May 1, and they graze on this grass that we live in. It’s some of the richest nutrient-dense grass here in Kansas in the Flint Hills of Kansas. And it grows and is the richest between May 1 and August 1. So we take that 650-ish-pound calf May 1, and we care for them from May 1 to August 1, and they gain about 200 pounds. So they leave us at about 800 to 1000 pounds. And so we are we’re allowing, and I’m getting to your question, I just need to tell some backstory here. We start we graze those calves and those calves are customer-owned. And so they won’t go into Pacheco Beef. They go from our grass into a commercial feed yard and then go from there. Go to the grocery store shelves that started six years ago, and we got the opportunity this will be our sixth year Wabaunsee, we got the opportunity to lease that grass. We both grew up on cow-calf operations. That’s what we knew. But we knew that we always wanted to ranch and we wanted to do it together. got the opportunity to run grass, but we had to run yearlings on there was no other that the landowner did not want any other type class of cattle. So we jumped off and we did some yearlings and we got some great customers and we feel that grass every year with the same customer. When we got that I started seeing this need of telling the story because I didn’t really to be honest, I didn’t know really what a yearling was until we started doing it. Because I grew up in East Texas. We didn’t run yearlings in East Texas. We had mama cows and those calves went on and I just didn’t know that piece of the industry. So I wanted to tell what we were doing. And I thought it was very cool that we did it together. And that we had two little boys at home. And we got done and we were parents. And so I started this I started Cooking With the Cowboy, which was our first social media account. And that was on Instagram and started a food blog to go along with it. Because not only is Arturo a Ph.D., nutritionist, and a cowboy, he’s also a very, very good cook. And so I know, I knew that I wanted to tell our story. But I wanted to communicate and connect with food versus anything else. And so I started sharing what we were doing checking cattle, and our ranching business, but also how we use that product, how we cook every day, in our small farmhouse kitchen. And so started bringing people in via Instagram, sharing every night, what we were cooking that night, is how we were cooking it. And then creating recipes, because Arturo creates his own recipes, sharing those recipes. And then my photography skills came in because I photograph all of the food that we cook that we share on our blog. And then I got an idea to write a children’s book. So, my children, as I said in the very beginning, I’m your mom first. And they’re the greatest blessing. And they are the reason I may cry about this. They’re the reason that we’re doing all of this. Arturo and I both grew up on smaller, this gets me every time, smaller operations, where there wasn’t a place for us to go home to. So there was never talk of, well, you’ll come home and take this, this over or whatever there was never talked about that. So that’s how we ended up in Kansas. No-fault of our parents, no fault of my dad. I mean, he’s built what he has and his mom has built but she has that there, that that just wasn’t in our plan. So we are building something that we hope that our boys will want to take over. So if they don’t, then we’ll just sell it all and we’ll move to Colorado and do a lot of fly fishing. I don’t know we’ll do something else. But we, this children’s book was an idea that I had heard on a podcast of a sheep farmer who had written a children’s book and I thought, well, I can do this. That sounds cool. And so one morning I was sitting sipping coffee in my blue chair that I drink coffee in every morning, and I just started writing it. And it just started flowing. I put it in the notes on my phone. And I sat on it for about a year because I am dyslexic. So a lot of my dyslexia, I struggle with writing, I struggle with spelling, I struggle with reading, I also struggle with self-confidence with that dyslexia, because I just struggle with all those things. And so I thought, well, this is not going to be good enough. Time had gone by I shared it with Arturo, I shared it with my mom, my two biggest cheerleaders. They said you’ve got to publish this Wrenn, you’ve got to put it out there. It’s great. And so I hired an illustrator. And it was published in December 2020. So the book is very simple. I give big props to my illustrator because she’s made the words come alive. But basically, it’s in Leo, which is our oldest. His words, talking about what we do. I’m here in the Flint Hills caring for cattle in the summer, making sure that they’re healthy and not sick. And then when we feed cattle every day in the winter, because we have a handful of cattle always standing around when we feed cows in the winter. And then coming in to have some spaghetti and meatballs and just really tying in that we are ranchers, but we’re parents just like everybody else in the world, no matter what our office view looks like. At the end of the day, we come home, we do dinner and we do baths, we do bedtime. We have the hard conversations about school and spelling test and all those things that every mom and dad do, no matter where you are.
EMILIE: It’s awesome. I mean, it’s so important for us to find common ground in agriculture with our customers. And I think that’s maybe the most powerful thing I hope people understand is that we are all sharing this planet. We are stewarding it in a very different way through our livelihood and through our family traditions, right. I mean, whether it’s on the same ground that your family farmed for generations, or if it’s the things you’ve learned from previous generations, you know, my family farms in Pennsylvania and now I call Kansas home and there are so many things that I have brought with me to our operation here that, hopefully, our boys here too. And, you know, it’s so important for us to then connect with, with our customers and consumers and talk about where we are the same.
WRENN: Yeah. And I agree. And I think, like we have, I feel that our customers feel that we are not family operations like that we are, you know that this product is just the factory farm, you know, that we’re just people working. But I, as we all know, like that’s not the truth like we are. We are people working, that we are families working to provide that product to where families that are, that work extremely hard to be to provide a safe and quality product. And I don’t care what segment of the agriculture industry are in every family farm ranch works so hard to feed this world.
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EMILIE: You know, I’m gonna go a little step up in elevation, which I don’t normally do, I keep usually kind of descending on these podcast episodes. But I want to go to the macro level of kind of the concerns that I think consumers everywhere have right now about food availability and food prices. I think now perhaps maybe more than in any recent history, certainly probably in my lifetime, I hear people really concerned about when they go to the grocery store, are they going to have the products that they’re looking for, and they’re looking for other outlets. 2020 certainly taught us that first. And I am I have to say it’s been trying to step up for that too, when we have the ability for producers to or to market their product direct to consumers through our history and platform. Very similar to what it is that you all are doing. And yet here we are now in 2022 different set of circumstances, perhaps even scarier right now. And so talk us through a little bit for perhaps the producers that are listening today. What about that direct-to-consumer piece that has been the hardest for you, to work through and to really get set up and going.
WRENN: Well, the expense. I mean, it’s not cheap, because not only it’s yes, it’s planning, like we talked about earlier that you were eight, I’m looking at 18 months out of calves hitting the ground of when they’re going to be my razor. But it’s also the expense of freezer space and the expense of liners and boxes and all of those things. It’s a startup business. And Arturo and I are very blessed in that we’ve had other startup businesses that are helping fund this startup business. But it’s still like it we as our and he and I had this conversation this morning like we’ve stuck our neck out there. We are trying something new, that is taking money away from our potential or retirement. I mean, our savings. I mean, we are investing in ourselves are investing in this business. So I think the biggest challenge is the capital the money that it takes to start a direct-to-consumer business. It sounds very easy. Sounds very old, just chips and beef, but it’s not that easy. I also think that the regulations like the state and federal regulations, that was something that was a big hurdle for us, because when we went to put cattle on feed, I thought I had some spots at a federally inspected locker that was somewhat local. And they had to bump us because they had more of their returning customers that wanted those spots. And that was a new customer. So I got bumped already. I count on feet. So I was like well, wait, you can’t just I mean, I could have I guess we could have just scratched it and moved on. But I was kind of well we’re going to start this let’s do it. And so we went to a state-inspected locker. That was great. But that really closed my market because I can only sell within Kansas I can only ship within Kansas so I think that has been a big hurdle is getting those dates for federally inspected lockers in agriculture, if you have anything that you have harvested yourselves or taken to your local locker, you know, those dates are still really tight. And that has not really changed much since the height of COVID. And so working with those, those getting to those federally inspected lockers has been a challenge for us. And then just the balance of okay, I’ve got this much beef, I want to be continually in stock a revise, but then I have 700 pounds of ground that comes with it. How do I move that ground beef? How do I talk to that those that want to just buy my ground beef? So really that marketing factor of those things? And am I doing it right? That’s my biggest question that always ends. Am I doing this right? Like, is this really the right thing. So I think the challenges are just the capital of getting it started. And then the expense of the freezer space, the shipping, the liners, and the dry ice to get it shipped. And it’s not, it’s not just throwing some stuff in a box and sending it off. In my business, my business I am customer service, and customer satisfaction and the appeal of when they get their box is very important to me. So because I have an elevated product, I want it to be an elevated experience when you get that box.
EMILIE: You didn’t even mention the cost of inputs, right? Changing my trading going up, up, up, up, up. And yeah, a lot of us use a lot of diesel and diesel at these outrageous costs right now. And that factors into the cost of the end product, no matter where you’re getting it from. You know, I think maybe naively but one argument for being able to do this direct to the consumer, is you have a little bit more control of your pricing, right? And the thing that I love about what HitchPin does for the farmer for the rancher is, rather than being this century-old industry of being price takers, you get to be price setters, and you get to really look at okay, here, here’s how my input costs have changed. I can then pivot my prices that I’m charging. And because of all the incredible work that you’re putting into it, you have customers who not only are willing to pay that but appreciate the value that they are getting for that product.
WRENN: Yeah, yeah, I agree. And I think like those input costs, I’m they are going up, but like we got our corn bill. And it’s, you know, it’s not pretty, it’s not pretty but and I think that that is another piece of like, being able to keep me connected with our customers like, I can talk to them about that. Like I can directly create a real and that’s coming like I’ve got some, some social in my head, everything lives up here of what I want to communicate, like, yes, my price is going to go up. But this is not because I’m trying to make more money, I’m just trying to continue living and providing you or my customer with a quality product. And to do that our input costs are going up. So, therefore, our product has to go up. So I think that is another piece of that direct to consumer and building that customer base and be in being able to just openly talk to your customers of this is what’s going on. This is what we’re doing. This is why it’s going up versus those that that may go to the grocery store and buy and see that price increase and everything I saw something on Facebook about chicken being ridiculously expensive. I don’t eat a lot of chicken. And that is not because I don’t like it. Well, I don’t really like it, but I just had a lot of chicken and I prefer beef or pork over it over chicken anyway. So I don’t um, I think that you know, I saw that this really expensive chicken well, who does the customer start blaming? You know, like, well, there’s no communication thereof why that chicken is so much more expensive. So I think that builds up customer trust to me being able to say, hey, our corn prices have gone up and this is what’s going up and it’s costing us more money to produce this product. So we, unfortunately, have to raise our prices a little bit. So and that trust of them believing me that this is what’s happening.
EMILIE: Another happy tale from HitchPin sales. This one is from Austin in Kansas. We have utilized multiple platforms over the years to sell our livestock from off the farm to online and our experience using HitchPin ranks at the top, it was simple, secure, and our listing sold within 24 hours, the biggest benefit to us is accessing new customers, both locally and across the country. And by using HitchPin, we know we’ll get paid.
EMILIE: Wrenn, you said it earlier and it’s so true. You wear so many hats. So many. The one when I hear someone say Wrenn Pacheco, the one that I think, aside from being an incredible mother and wife, I think so much of the work you have done to be an advocate for agriculture and to be willing to have the hard conversations and the easier conversations, the fun conversations and the ones that are like, Oh, well, that just kind of deflate for you. You know, and I but it’s so important. And I think for anyone who’s listening as part of agriculture, I hope they hear why it’s so important to tell the story of there’s room for everyone at the table. Right? No matter what segment of the industry you’re a part of, is what makes the wheel keep spinning. And so what advice would you give to someone who maybe is like, always thought to themselves, yeah, I need to do a better job telling my story, or being more active in, you know, fill in the blank organization, what advice do you have to them to get started to be an ag advocate?
WRENN: That’s a great question. So I think just do it. I mean, as Nike says, Just do it. No, but Comparison is the thief of joy. So if you start comparing the way that XYZ is telling their story, or that the neighbor’s telling her story, put your blinders on and just tell your story. Because XYZ consumer or customer may not connect well with XYZ. So they may just walk off and not listen to them. They may not connect with your neighbor, but they may connect with you. Because you may have something I’m dyslexic, that’s piece of my story. And I share a little bit about that. They may connect with you because you are you know, whatever it is like you may love sourdough, start talking about sourdough, and then moving on into agriculture. You love may love beer, I mean, start talking about handcrafted beer, and then move it into agriculture. That to me is we have to connect on a level that is not ag first, and then share X story. And because yes, our consumers and consumers want to know what we do here on our farms and ranches. But they also we can get so in the weeds of all the details and all the things that we do that I think sometimes we get away from that we are parents first we are food lovers. First we are those things too. So don’t compare to what other people are doing. Put on your blinders, do share your story, and share what you are passionate about outside of agriculture first, and then share your ag story. That’s my advice.
EMILIE: There are so many things. But can you tell me one thing that you wish everyone knew about agriculture and specifically the segment of the industry that your family is a part of?
WRENN: I think; I want to believe that most people know this but I sometimes wonder; that as farmers and ranchers we are working hard every single day to provide a safe and wholesome product for our customers. We are not only working hard, but we are also relying on very detailed research. There are some really smart people that help our industry grow. And that as farmers or ranchers, we that produce beef, specifically farmers and ranchers that produce beef. We are looking at ways to decrease our emissions. We’re looking at ways that we can be more environmentally sound. We’re looking at ways that we can be more efficient with the cattle that we have to produce more beef to feed this world. So I want a wish. I hope that one day we can erase that stereotype of the Farmer Joe with his or the dumb cowboy because we’re not, nobody’s a dumb cowboy around here. We are very smart. And I say we not just our termini all our fellow Cal cattlemen are very smart, very educated, very hard working people that are feeding this world. So that’s what I hope that people will know that take that stereotype away and know that we are really using science and technology to feed this world.
EMILIE: I’m going to get to our trivia question. I want to go back to a little bit where we started and I want you to tell me, I asked you, you know who is Wrenn? Who would your boys say you are?
WRENN: Well, I would hope that they would say that I am a hard worker that I have so hard, and that I love them hard. I think that when they come home and Leo actually came home yesterday, and he had a substitute his teacher at his school, and he asked to substitute, do you know Pacheco beef? And so and she said, Yes, I do. I love their beef. She said that he said, That’s my mom’s business. And so knowing that he knows that I’m working, we’re building this. And he’s proud to share Pacheco beef. That’s, I guess, pretty cool. And my little one, he’s five in, he’ll be in kindergarten next year. And he, he always says, my mom’s beef shop, and Welcome to my mom’s beef shop. So, he spends more time in the beef shop, and my oldest does, because he’s taught he’s in preschool right now. So, I hope that they will see and appreciate or respect the work that not not just me. I mean, our it’s a team effort around here. We work really hard and really well together most days. You know, you always still have those fights, when you work cattle, there’s always distress. But over the years, we’ve gotten very good about being able to step in and help each other when they need it. So I hope that I pray that my boys will always respect they may not want to come home to what we have, and that’s fine. But my goal is to teach them respect of this industry. And the people that are there are working in this industry, not only their mom and dad, but they’re also other farmers and ranchers to
EMILIE: Well, I respect everything that you are doing as a business owner and as a mother, and as someone who so eloquently represents our industry. And it’s just been a pleasure to know you over the years and an honor to have you join me today to talk through such an important part of what agriculture and our story right and so thank you, thank you so much.
WRENN: Thank you. Thank you. I was honored to be asked to be here for sure.
EMILIE: Okay. So the most tender kind of beef is maybe a question that your customers asked you, right? I want the best. What is it?
WRENN: I think it’s a tenderloin, I guess. So to be honest, I was never really a fillet girl. I always was I loved a ribeye. We never for our personal freezer, we always had T-bones cut and we never really had the fillet cut, which I know you can cut the fillet off the T-bone. I know that. But I never actually had the actual fillet. Well, I’ve been cutting filets for my beef shop and I’ve been stealing them from my beef shop because I am a fillet girl now because they are so tasty.
EMILIE: Yes, so delicious. And I am right there with you. I’m always kind of a ribeye girl. But you know, sometimes the portion size of a rib is humongous. Finish the whole thing. So with like the ribeye cap, because that was delicious. And it’s got to be the top five tender, it’s so good. But that the filet is certainly there’s no question why it is so popular on menus at restaurants everywhere and great for customers and consumers to hear that you can have it at home as well. ]
WRENN: Thank you, Emilie. I have a question for you. As a mom of three little boys, three rowdy boys, looks like fun boys. Um, what is your most used beef cut at home like in your everyday cooking? What do you use? What do you call most?
EMILIE: Ground beef. Yeah. It’s so versatile. My, boys are big, big fans of tacos and enchiladas and spaghetti and lasagna and you can incorporate it into so many different dishes that are super kid-friendly, but I have to give them credit, they are they’re starting to expand a little bit and they’ll try some steak but hands down we go through a lot of ground beef.
WRENN: Yeah. As do we. We may do like we’ve started doing little Flatirons for the boys like we sell Flatirons at our shop. So we’ll do like a ribeye or a filet and a strip and then give them a flatiron, sorry boys. The good stuff. I’ll eat it but they’ll eat a flatiron over a fillet.
EMILIE: Yeah. I love when you can get your hamburger you know pre-pattied as well and that is so great especially as we’re coming into grilling season summertime now to be able to have those make it so you know time is everything when you’re a mom that makes us more efficient of a process at nighttime is where I’m at.
WRENN: Yes too cool.
EMILIE: I will be one of those customers of the extra ground beef that you have at your store. Thank you again so much for joining me today. And again. be sure to follow Pacheco Beef on Instagram and I continue to reach out to Wrenn, I know you have questions. She’s just someone wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off of and always so willing to lend an ear. So thank you again and we’ll look forward to seeing your business continue to flourish.