Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Aug

From an Auditor’s Cubicle to Real Life Shepherd – My Primal Success Story

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Hi Mark,

Let me start with a massive “THANK YOU”.  I’m a longtime reader and fan and you have truly inspired me in multiple ways. It’s not likely I would be where I am today without your insights, advice, and expertise.

My name is Paul and I’m a 28 year old shepherd in Southern California.  Yes, you read that right – I own and farm Primal Pastures, the largest 100% pastured, grass fed/grass finished lamb farm in Southern California, about an hour away from Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego in the city of Temecula. In addition to “Primal Lamb”, we also raise pastured chicken for meat and eggs. But things have not always been this way…

I grew up in the city (Seattle, WA), about as opposite from an agricultural upbringing as possible. In college I was an All-American spear thrower and found my 22 year old body in a degenerative arthritis state with increasing pain in my knees and shoulders from heavy Olympic lifting combined with lots of beer and pasta. Ice baths and Motrin were the prescribed fix-all, but it wasn’t working and things were getting worse.

After college I went on to become an Intelligence Officer in the Marine Corps. I was trained in infantry tactics, sniper command, and some spycraft and interrogation skills. After a deployment to Southern Iraq I learned about paleo from some CrossFit buddies. I was immediately hooked on all things Primal, and my entire worldview was affected by this revelation of health, wellness, longevity, and happiness.

Paul - Marines

After having the opportunity to lead a 500-man Amphibious Tank unit, I departed the Marine Corps and dove headfirst into corporate America. I proceeded to stare at a computer screen for a few thousand hours (stand up desk of course), and three years later a CPA license popped out. What a change from the Marine Corps days, I thought to myself. Obviously I had no idea what was coming next…

My entire family’s lives were affected by Primal principles. My father-in-law Tom lost 80 pounds, and my brothers-in-law Jeff and Rob trimmed down significantly back to their days as college basketball players. We were on board and feeling great with the Primal plan, but kept struggling to find a good clean source of real, pastured, soy and GMO free chicken here in Southern California. Finally after some discussion, Rob walked into the living room beaming as he stated that 50 chicks were on order and would be delivered in less than two weeks. So in April of 2012, we received our first 50 birds and raised them the way we believed they should be: outside, on grass, with room to roam, picking and scratching for bugs and worms, and when supplemented, fed an all-organic, GMO-free, soy-free feed.


We really didn’t know what to expect demand-wise, but we were shocked when the birds completely sold out even before harvest. By the time we harvested (a skill we picked up via Youtube) and had birds ready for market, “Primal Pastures” had a waiting list of over 100 families. The company grew organically – going from 50 birds to 100, to 150, to 200 per month. People were ecstatic about the product (I remember one lady jumping up and down and dancing in excitement) and enjoyed being able to visit the farm and see things for themselves since we are within an hour of the major urban centers of LA, OC, and SD. We provided tours, spoke at local events, interacted with gyms and CrossFit boxes, and constantly posted updates, photos, and stories to our social media sites.

The farm continued to grow through 2012 and 2013, but we were all still working full-time jobs. As a CPA I was working 10 hour plus days and running the farm business on the side. I also started the MBA program at UCLA Anderson and my wife and I were blessed with our first child during this time. Tom was running a construction company, Jeff was teaching full0time, and Rob was working full-time as well. Our combined “plate” was overflowing.

The Team

Just when we thought our capacity was maxed out, we received a call from a neighboring farm. Before this phone call, we considered venturing into grassfed sheep and were trying to decide between starting with 10 or 15 head, but definitely not more than 20 head. This would be a manageable number that we could get comfortable with before expanding, we thought. However, fate had other plans and this neighboring farm had 100 head of grassfed sheep and they were leaving town the next month, needing to sell everything quickly. They loved the way that we operated and even though they had multiple higher offers for the herd they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse, and that night we became shepherds in addition to chicken farmers.

Regenerative Ag

Now things were really moving along, and right at the same time we were introduced to an excellent cattle rancher in Southern California. Previously, we hadn’t re-sold beef products because we did not feel comfortable with the quality or locality of our options for doing so (we don’t have our own cattle…yet). We have built Primal Pastures around the concept that we will provide the absolute highest quality meat products in and from Southern California. This old rancher is less than 2 hours away with 4,000 acres of free-ranging cattle that have access to 4 miles of running river and only grazed on local, seasonal, native forage. We inspected the ranch and confirmed that this was all true and the highest quality beef we had ever seen. After a taste test we decided to add grassland beef to the Primal Pastures lineup of product offerings, and it is excellent.

Grassfed beef, grassfed lamb, pastured chicken and eggs – this was becoming a real farm, not just a backyard hobby! Primal Pastures continued to grow and word of mouth spread like wildfire as people continued to demand high quality meat that they could trust. Something had to give, and Farmer Rob was heading off to PA school in a couple of weeks. The opportunity was there, I loved everything about farming, and business was growing exponentially. I was awarded the Larry Wolfen Entrepreneurial Spirit Award out of more than 100 applicants through UCLA Anderson which allowed me the financial flexibility to chase this dream. After some thought and discussion with my wife, we decided to “take the plunge” into full-time farming.

As you might imagine, life on a beyond organic sustainable farm is incredible. I feel a patriotic sense of importance, meaning, and purpose for my work that I hadn’t experienced since service in the Marine Corps. I am excited to wake up in the morning and see what the day is going to hold. Instead of spending 13 hours per day away from my family, they can now accompany me out to the fields for daily chores or give me a hand with projects. It is certainly not easy, and my workload has increased if anything, but the satisfaction, amazement, and beauty are nearly incomprehensible. The greatest satisfaction has been developing relationships with our customers through local drop sites. We always offer product pickup on the farm in Temecula, but also provide monthly drop sites in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, North San Diego, and Downtown San Diego.

So what’s next for Primal Pastures? We want cattle of our own! We also want to add pastured turkeys and pastured ducks (meat and duck eggs) to the farm. There are incredible synergies that take place when running all of these animals together. The trick is – we don’t have grandpa’s cattle herd to fall back on. We don’t have investors with deep pockets, and cattle are expensive! We have budgeted out the cash requirements for animals, fencing, and infrastructure and $40,000 is the golden number. We hope to add cattle both for grassfed beef as well as raw grassfed dairy products like milk and cheese.

So what’s a millennial to do? You probably guessed: On August 9, 2013 we launched our Kickstarter campaign. The community has come out in full force and as of August 22 we have already raised over $26,000! We are beside ourselves with the support that we have received from the Primal community so far. Now we are asking for your help to push us the rest of the way to our goal. If you aren’t in Southern California I would encourage you to still consider supporting this project – interested farmers from across the world are watching, reading, and planning, and our success will undoubtedly inspire new pastured farms to spring up everywhere. And if the time isn’t right financially, simply sharing this project with your network will be the difference in building this farm or not. Here’s that link again:


Drawing on inspiration from guys like Mark, my goal is to start a food revolution. After learning about the horrors of CAFO production methods, I want to flip the US factory farming industry upside down and reclaim health in animal based foods. I want to change the direction of meat in America. I want Primal Pastures to be a place that you can bring your friends and your children and show them what real food farming looks like in practice. And most importantly I want to feed families with nourishing food that they can feel good about eating.

Mark, like I said, this probably would have never happened without being inspired by you, the staff, and the readers of MDA. Thank you and GROK ON!

Farmer Paul

Farmer Paul

Primal Pastures

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Chong

Help Farmer Paul Kickstart a Pastured, Beyond Organic & Sustainable Livestock Farm Before the Campaign Ends!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Hi, I live in Hawaii, but my mother grew up on a farm in Alpine, back when there were farms there. Your story is inspiring and kicked in enough for a T-shirt. Best of luck to you and your venture.

    Rachel Funk Heller wrote on August 23rd, 2013
    • Wow, thank you so much! You will love the T’s, they are amazing….

      Farmer Paul wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  2. What an interesting life you have lead.
    Your story gives me hope for the future. We need more people like you and your family. I might have to wander over to Kickstarter…
    No matter what, don’t give up. Your vision has the potential to better the world as we know it.
    Best of luck from Australia, Farmer Paul and Primal Pastures.

    Nathan P wrote on August 23rd, 2013
    • Hi Nathan, wow what a compliment. Thanks for your comment. I think there are a lot of people out there who want to do something like this but are very afraid of the unknown!

      Farmer Paul wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  3. Wow i love this story, from army, to desk, to farmer so inspiring!

    adri wrote on August 23rd, 2013
  4. Congratulations Paul! Are you open on weekends? I would like to stop by, but I am busy on week days.

    Ns wrote on August 23rd, 2013
  5. This story reminds me of that movie with Ewan McGregor. When you’ve revolutionaised farming in the US, you can have a movie made about you too! How much cooler is a farm than a zoo! I’d go to see that (sans popcorn)…. :-)

    Jane Britton wrote on August 23rd, 2013
    • Lol!!! That would be hilarious!

      Farmer Paul wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  6. you guys are all really super hot. Just saying…what a tall drink of water!

    elle wrote on August 23rd, 2013
    • Ellie, you’re too kind thank you so much!!

      Farmer Paul wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  7. bloody amazing story now all we need is for this to be duplicated all over the west and we can convince people it can be done great story cheers from auss

    pat white wrote on August 24th, 2013
    • Pat, I couldn’t agree more! Let’s get every city doing something like this.

      Farmer Paul wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  8. Wow Wow Wow! Im moving to California!

    Ian wrote on August 24th, 2013
  9. Thank you for leading the charge in change! I’m on the east coast and have friends trying to do something similar and I can attest to the incredible amount of work! Since I can’t ‘shop’ at the farm I’ll do my part with a donation to continue this campaign. As a knitter I gotta wonder, do you shear the sheep and sell the fleece? I know American sourced fleece is really hard to come by now.
    Good luck with your farm, I’ll try to visit if ever I make it out west!

    Tyna wrote on August 24th, 2013
  10. I have friends in Temecula Valley I’ll be sending your way. It’s great to see agriculture done right in an area that lost much of that heritage to concrete and steel.

    Don't exit at Winchester wrote on August 24th, 2013
  11. Dorpers are what we have on our farm in South Africa too! Just itching to get back there once our stint in London is over at the end of the year!! Then it’s full steam ahead for us too in raising “proper” food! I’m biding time on my blog at the moment until we can bring Africa into the primal era as well!! Best of luck, you’ll do “baaaaa-riliantly”! 😉

    Jax Labyrinth wrote on August 24th, 2013
    • Jax, You’re funny!

      jamesdavid wrote on August 25th, 2013
  12. I am so excited!! I am in Corona and had no idea about your farm!!!!!

    Kristie wrote on August 24th, 2013
  13. Hey folks! I was really inspired by this story and the kickstarter video. I live in neighboring Arizona and we travel to SoCal all the time. We will definitely stop in and buy some of what you’re selling when we come on through.

    I also love that you connected this new venture to a sense of “patriotism”. I really think we are all going to need to reconnect with our local communities and food sources.

    You guys are an inspiration. Good luck with the next step.

    Lance wrote on August 24th, 2013
  14. What a great story! I shared on facebook. :) I’d pledge but I live on the other side of the world. :)

    Helen wrote on August 25th, 2013
  15. Hallelujah! I live about 30 minutes north of Temecula and have had the most frustrating time researching local pastured meat in the IE! When I get back from my vacation, I am totally driving down there.

    Nikki wrote on August 25th, 2013
  16. This is great!! I live in LA now and would love to make a trip out there to check out the farm and buy from you guys! :)

    Tina wrote on August 25th, 2013
  17. Live in NJ, just backed on Kickstarter! Best of of luck to Primal Pastures!!!

    Dave B. wrote on August 26th, 2013
  18. A little non-conventional advice for you. This kickstarter campaign is great and all, but financial sustainability is important as well as agricultural sustainability. It may take longer to get there, but I strongly advise not growing faster than your business itself actually provides. You may see bigger and better things by rapid expansion but if you over-expand too quickly you run the risk of serious cash flow problems when the income has a fluctuation. My advice is to expand only when the on-going business provides the money.

    Joshua wrote on August 26th, 2013
  19. I have been on the fence for years and am finally making my way out of the corporate world! It’s been a hard decision to let it all go and jump out in blind faith but I’m doing it! I am currently studying Holistic Health Practice and have pledged to your campaign a few weeks ago; looking forward to the farm tour! I have also been spreading the word via my facebook timeline and my facebook managed page….I know there are tons of Californians looking for you and I pray that more are inspired to follow in your footsteps. I recently relocated back to SoCal from Seattle (Ecommerce world) and am looking to do some internship work eventually and perhaps some volunteer hours – feel free to private message me if this is something you all are considering or doing! Best of luck to all of you guys and your families and I KNOW you will be a great success and meet the campaign goal with NO problem!!

    Mia wrote on August 26th, 2013
  20. What do a dozen eggs from your farm cost?

    dudu wrote on August 26th, 2013
  21. Wow! I never leave comments on blogs, this is the first time! This story has inspired me and I have to commend you on your efforts. Turning a interest into a business is a fantastic opportunity to persue what you believe in and you are so lucky that has come your way.
    I am fortunate enough to live in Ireland where we take grass fed produce for granted, we even have restaurants charging more for ‘corn fed’ beef as people see it as something different….can you believe it!?

    I’ll be over in California in October and will try and work in a visit to your farm. I would be interested to see the set up and the people behind the venture.

    Keep up the good work.


    Gav Clarke wrote on August 26th, 2013
  22. I live on the other side of the country from you, but I still sent something your way. We need to support our small farmers as much as possible. There are 2 farms in our area I buy from, one sells free range chicken, beef, turkeys and pork (they also have rabbit on occasion); the other beef, pork and lamb. They both sell eggs. Another, who has a produce market also has started selling free range chicken, but one person can only do so much!

    Good luck to you!


    LynnA wrote on August 27th, 2013
  23. Thank you for this story! So inspiring!! I have goosebumps from reading it!

    Jess wrote on August 27th, 2013
  24. How did you make that massive jump, where did you learn about rearing lifestock?

    Wannabe Farmer Kate wrote on August 28th, 2013
  25. I can’t thank you enough for this post! It is EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. Your story is truly so inspiring, thank you.

    Jessica wrote on August 28th, 2013
  26. Wow, what a great story, and an awesome operation you have going! Wish I lived near you, you guys are cute;)

    Tanya wrote on March 5th, 2014

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