GROUNDED BY HERITAGE
Nestled in the picturesque Porcupine Hills of southern Alberta, historic Trail’s End Ranch was the original summer range of the Ings family operation. The rolling hills, abundant springs, and sheltering poplar and willow groves, make it prime habitat for grazing cattle.
Our family’s ranching roots were put down when Fred Ings came west in 1881 to play cowboy. After starting the well-known OH Ranch near Longview, AB, Ings moved to the Nanton area in 1903, where he established the Midway Ranch and Trail’s End, both still in the family today. Fred’s wife, Edith Ings, and their two daughters, Con and Mary, continued ranching after his death in 1936. Committed to keeping the ranch intact after the devastating economic Depression, Edith ran a guest ranch at Trail’s End from the mid-30s to the mid-50’s. Many of the “dudes” were young British Commonwealth pilots who trained in southern Alberta during WWII. They spent their leave at Trail’s End, finding peace, respite, and fun. That same spirit is felt at the ranch today.
Trail’s End remained the family summer retreat and provided summer grazing while Con and Bill Loree operated the ranch from the 1940s until the early 2000s. They instilled the values of hard work, integrity, and a deep commitment to place in their children and grandchildren who now steward the family ranchlands.
Inspired by ethics
Trail’s End Beef came to be as a collaboration between the third and fourth generations in the early 2000s. After raising her children in the city, Linda Loree inherited her treasured piece of the ranch just as her daughter Rachel returned to her roots to spend the summer in the hills. Shortly after, Rachel met and married Tyler Herbert, then a working cowboy, who was raised on a mixed-farm in Saskatchewan. Ironically, at that time, Linda had been a vegetarian for 38 years and Rachel a vegetarian for 18 years; Tyler had never personally met a vegetarian. Linda had a ranch to run and Tyler and Rachel knew that they wanted to make a life together on the land.
After one year of raising conventional beef and feeling heartsick after a stressful weaning and shipping the calves to market, Linda sought a solution. Raising grassfed, grass-finished cattle and direct-marketing to customers was a natural fit with her sense of ethics and environmental consciousness. Tyler, with his practical skill set and experience in the cattle industry saw grassfed beef as the solution for starting a ranch from scratch. In 2007 he and Rachel, who was completing her MA in Ranching History, purchased their Parkland property, the home-place of the operation. On a unique piece of native prairie they rebuilt the infrastructure necessary for handling the cattle in winter and calving in spring.
As soon as the first home-raised grassfed beef was put on the table, Linda and Rachel began eating beef. The first bite was like a sacrament. There is no better feeling than nourishing our bodies and our families with food raised on the land from the animals that we love.
Sadly, Linda passed away in January, 2014. Forming Trail’s End Beef was a culmination of all of Linda’s deepest convictions: a connection to the land, a commitment to the animals, and a close relationship with family. Her legacy lives on in the land that sustains us and her magic continues to be felt in the hills.
Living in the moment
Our two young children are now the fifth generation to ranch at Trail’s End. Just as we are devoted to raising a family with a deep connection to place, we are proud that our beef is raised as naturally now as when our children’s great-great grandfather Fred Ings ran cattle on the open range in the late 1800’s. Our days are devoted to raising cattle and a young family in a sustainable way. Growing the food to feed our family, and yours, keeps our days full and makes us truly attached to the land that sustains us all.
In the first season of grass-finished beef Linda, Tyler and I marketed a total of eight head. We directed our efforts to educating people on the benefits of grassfed beef and looked to our network of friends and family to generate customers. Our cow herd has grown along with our customer-base, but even so today the demand for grassfed beef continues to exceed the supply. Conscious consumers actively seek out grassfed beef and look to Trail’s End for a consistent supply of high quality, ethically-raised beef. As we enter another season of direct-marketing grassfed cattle we want to thank each one of our customers and friends for playing an integral role in making how we ranch possible.
“Ranch work is a physical and, these days, economic strain, being “at home on the range” is a matter of vigor, self-reliance, and common sense. A person’s life is not a series of dramatic events for which he or she is applauded or exiled but a slow accumulation of days, seasons, years, fleshed out by the generational weight of one’s family and anchored by a land-bound sense of place”