Scott Balin’s grandfather was among the earliest settlers of Oregon’s Klamath Basin, located in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Ranchers and farmers first arrived in the area about 1873, drawn by the promise of a mild climate and abundant grazing lands. Both factors make Klamath County a hospitable place for agriculture and livestock production.
It turns out that Scott’s grandfather had good instincts. He operated a thriving ranch in Klamath County and passed the operation on to Scott’s father, Hal. Though he worked full-time as an airline pilot, Hal continued to operate the ranch with the help of a few hired hands. When he retired from flying after 35 years, he joined up with his son Scott to run Balin Ranches full-time.
Today, Scott and his wife live on the 2,100-acre home ranch about 11 miles from Klamath Falls. A second 800-acre leased property is located in nearby Langell. Their work is assisted by seven employees and a herd of well-trained horses.
Balin Ranches’ cattle herd is English breeds, mostly influenced by Hereford and Angus genetics, and raised entirely on Certified Organic pasture. The ranches encompass 3,000 acres in two separate parcels, and also produce organic potatoes and organic hay.
The Balins’ application for organic certification in 2004 went smoothly, in part because the land has been in the Balin family for three generations. It also helped that Hal was a stickler for record-keeping and had meticulously documented all land improvements and processes dating back to the 1970s. Balin Ranches met the rigorous requirements of USDA-certifier Oregon Tilth Certified Organic in 2004 and began supplying organic grass-fed beef to Panorama Meats shortly thereafter.
When winter snows cover the ranch’s high-altitude pastures, its organic hay harvest provides a healthy food source for the cattle, while enabling the Balins to avoid any introduction of outside contaminants. The Balins are also particular about breeding and genetics, so they raise all of their own cattle in a “closed herd,” meaning that no cattle are purchased from outside sources. This practice prevents the introduction of infectious disease and helps maintain the highest quality standard.
Thanks to Balin Ranches’ relationship with Panorama Meats, some very superb beef ends up in the meat cases of Whole Foods Market stores in Portland and Seattle.