At Lonely Lane Farms, we offer sustainably raised, grass-fed beef, lamb, goat, and pork. Third-generation farmers Mike and Patty Kloft run a 165-acre farm in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette River Valley and lease 300 acres of grazing lands at the historic Mount Angel Abbey. This land provides space for the farm’s animals to graze and roam freely, creating a great quality of life for the animals, a sustainable way of farming, and a high quality product for our customers. Locally owned and operated, we work with other local family farmers who have adopted the same standards of animal welfare. Humane practices, grazing and crop rotation, small-scale production, on-site processing and packing, and antibiotic- and added-hormone free animals are integral to Lonely Lane’s values. Our goal is to help build a sustainable, healthy, robust local food system that our community can be proud of.
Lonely Lane meats are hand-cut and processed at our USDA-inspected plant on our farm in Mt. Angel, Oregon. From our livestock practices through to our final products, we are proud to provide pasture-raised meats that our customers can feel good about from start to finish.
Where to Find Us
Lonely Lane meats are available through weekly local business deliveries and home deliveries in the Corvallis, Eugene, and Portland areas, and for pick-up and ad hoc sales at the Beaverton Farmers Market west of Portland. Explore our website to find out more, scroll down to meet us, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook (@LonelyLaneFarms).
The Story of Lonely Lane
Farmers don’t often just “sit down.” There’s too much to do for the animals, the crops, and the business. But Mike and Patty Kloft sat down in October 2015 and then again in 2021 to talk about their history together and the story of Lonely Lane.
How We Met
Patty: Our families, the Klofts and the Bochslers, go back to the late 1800s in Mount Angel. It’s ironic because Mike and I grew up three miles apart, but we didn’t meet until much later.
Mike: I was just starting at the farmers market and I needed some help.
Patty: Our dads ran into each other at the farm store, and my dad said, “I have four daughters, let me see if one wants to help out.” So Mike picked me up on the way to the Beaverton Farmers Market and we all caravanned up.
The History of Our Farm
Mike: Lonely Lane was started in 1939 by my grandfather, John Kloft, and my grandmother, Hattie Kloft. Our son John is named after him. We still have some of the original farm buildings. My grandparents started off with cereal grains (wheat, oats, barley) and did that for several years. They were raising some livestock for themselves like every farmer did then. And they did their own processing. So it’s full-circle for us with our own processing facility today right on the farm.
Patty: And since we first sat down in 2015, the processing facility is done! Last time, we hadn’t quite finished building out the plant. Now the ready-to-eat side is built out—with a blast chiller dedicated to ready-to-eat products like smoked sausages and charcuterie, extra packaging machines to help us, and more.
Mike: We’re really proud of all of it. It’s been a huge investment, and we’ve come a long way since the original farm. In the early 1900s, my family started with grains and then moved to dairy, and we did dairy into the 1980s. It got to the point that about seventy cows were being milked every day, but the way the dairy market was going, my family either needed to get a whole lot more cows or get out of the business. I was in my early teens, and my grandfather and father chose to get out.
The dairy sold to another dairy family. I still remember the week the herd left. Then the next week the equipment left. About a year later my family got into beef cattle, about 15 to 20 head to start.
Patty: Thank goodness. Beef cattle give us a little more time for family, and a few days away for camping.
Keeping the Farm Going
Mike: I wanted to go into agriculture since high school, but I didn’t think the family farm would pay enough. I figured I would have to get a degree and do something on the side to support the farm, so I started going to school. I went to community college for a few years, and then to Oregon State.
Patty: The running joke from Mike’s family was that if Mike accidentally took the wrong class he was going to graduate from OSU.
Mike: I never did get a degree, but at Oregon State I got to know my Cultural Implications of Agriculture instructor, and we started talking about whether my family was going to have to sell the farm. At that point we were selling our beef on the open market, taking it to a local packer, and two weeks later we’d get a check and I’d curse because we were getting docked on our beef for reasons I thought were fluff.
The instructor asked me how we were raising our beef, if we were using hormones and antibiotics: We weren’t. We’ve always cared for our animals to the highest standards, and we use sustainable farming practices. No hormones, no antibiotics, and open environments with plenty of space to graze. My instructor said, “You’re raising grass-fed beef.”
We decided it was time to market ourselves. I was still going to Oregon State, so we started in Corvallis. I put an ad in the paper, and started selling door-to-door. We were the first meat in the food co-op in Corvallis.
Patty: First Alternative Co-op is still one of our longest-running accounts. They’ve been with us for over 20 years.
Mike: So the circle of marketing went out from Corvallis, and now we’re across the Willamette Valley from Eugene to Portland, and we even serve the Oregon Coast.
Working with Northwest Stores and Customers to Support the Local Food System
Patty: We love to work with our grocery stores and local customers. The nice thing about us being a small producer with total control over the process, is that if we’re ever out of something, the longest we’re out of it is a week. We don’t have to rely on an out-of-state supply chain.
Mike: A strong local food system is so critical. When you buy from us, you’re buying from a business that supports the local area. The stores we sell to and our customers believe this, too. It turns out—and we saw this in the pandemic—you need the local food system in order to feed people in a crisis. It may be cheaper to raise animals in the Midwest and then process them cheaply wherever, but in the end, that food system isn’t stable or healthy when a crisis hits.
Patty: And since 2015, we’ve added so many new products. We have all these great fresh cuts, and we also do delicious sausages and deli meats. We love to be able offer something that complements what a local grocery store or customer can already find—like we have great grass-fed, grass-finished Ribeyes or New Yorks, but we also have frankfurters, pastrami, roast beef—all with quality ingredients and no fillers.
Our batches are small and our quality is consistent. We’re really proud to be part of sustaining and growing the local food system.
The plant can do everything from cutting for all of our raw cuts to all of the cooking, fermenting, smoking, sausage-making of all of our ready-to-eat products. That’s been a big deal for us. It enables us to use everything from the livestock we produce. IT also lets us produce products that customers normally can’t get from locally raised livestock or locally made products.
We control or have the ability to make whatever we want, having the ability to control all the products from the grass in the field to the shelf is really unique. That helps us fill orders quickly, which our customers and clients really appreciate. Otherwise you have to have everything scheduled way out.
Being as vertically integrating as we are not only helped the farm but helped keep food on everybody’s plate. Everything in one spot allowed us to continue to give people food.
The Beaverton Farmers Market
Patty: We’re at the Beaverton Farmers Market, just west of Portland on Saturdays. Mike’s been a board member for the market for about 15 years. We love seeing our friends and customers there, and some of our customers like to order beforehand and pick up at the market.
Mike: We love the market because of community. It was developed as a community gathering point, and the decisions that are made are still based on that concept. Patty and I have the privilege of offering people the same quality of meat that we grew up on, and through the farmers market we get to see our customers enjoy it the same way we do.
We also get to know the people we sell to: The majority of our friends are customers from the farmers market. And when our son John got diagnosed with kidney disease in 2020, it was amazing to see how our friends and customers at the market rallied behind us.
Amazing Community Support
Patty: 2020 and into 2021 was hard for so many reasons. Not only did the pandemic hit, but John was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease in May 2020. We went through months of tests and eventually ended up with me donating one of my healthy kidneys to John in March 2021. I feel like I have an accidental masters degree in nephrology at this point. John’s doing great now, which is the main thing.
Mike: The transplant surgeries happened at Stanford. Our friends Jenn and Tim, who we know through the farmers market, came down with us to California to help out. And our local Mt. Angel community, our families, and our farmers market and farming communities really got us through–helping us raise money through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association for a lifetime of transplant-related costs for kids like John.
Patty: It was amazing. And it was the strength of Lonely Lane, our employees, and our customers who made this possible. We liked telling our customers during the hardest part of the kidney disease, that the main way to support us was just to keep purchasing the meats they loved. Because thanks to our customers and the business growing, we have been able to hire an amazing crew of employees at the processing plant, have good health insurance, and keep the business running even in hard times.
Life on the Farm and Our Animals
Mike: Our main motto on the farm is to make it sustainable, keep it local, and keep it fresh and safe.
Our animals have an open environment with plenty of space to graze. We mimic the conditions they would have if they were naturally grazing, except that there’s a big loafing shed where our cows can get some protection from the weather. Our cows are spoiled, and we want them to be able to be dry. If it’s rainy or windy sometimes a cow will get a hair-brained idea, and then they all take off into the weather. The calves are funny: They especially like to go out even when it’s rainy or cold.
Patty: In fact, we have to teach our son John to do a calf dance so that he doesn’t get kicked, because they love to kick and play so much. But if John flails his arms and legs, then the calves don’t come too close.
Mike: Our pork comes mostly from Patty’s family’s farm. Joseph and Maria Bochsler, Patty’s great-great grandparents, started raising pigs in the 1890s.
The lamb comes from down in Dallas, Oregon, from Atherton Farms. They are a grass-fed, grass-finished farm. They don’t do direct sales, which is why they work with us. It’s important to them that their lamb be sold locally.
Patty: And now we have goats! We had always talked about adding something different for the farm. When we needed to clear some brush, we decided pasture-raised goats would be the way to go. They provide good humor, too.
Mike: They crawl through the fences, through the metal racks, into the bales of hay for winter.
Patty: We didn’t know that we would need to goat-proof every building! But I tell you what, they are very good at their job of brush control. Now we have a herd here at Lonely Lane and at the Abbey.
Mike: With the addition of the Abbey grazing lands, we’re able to do a lot more rotational grazing and have added to our regenerative agriculture methods since 2015.
What It Means to Be a Sustainable Farm
Mike: It’s important for us to stay true to what we market as grass-fed and sustainable: minimal off-farm input in order to keep the farm going. We don’t want to truck in huge quantities of feed or fertilizers. We grow all our own feed, and everything is non-GMO. We use very, very little fertilizer for our amount of acreage. Our loafing shed provides all the compost for the next year.
When it comes to feed, our animals are eating the entire plant. When you hear “grain-fed,” the animals are eating hard grains that are harvested off the plant. At Lonely Lane (a grass-fed farm) our cows eat what they would normally be eating on a forage-based diet (oats, alfalfa, grass hay, corn silage) in the same proportions as they would eat if they were foraging in the wild. Here, if the cows are eating oats, then they’re eating the whole four-foot-tall oat plant. Our hogs, in addition, get a grain ration for protein. The hogs tend to do much better if they get extra protein.
We’re proud to just keep getting more sustainable year-after-year. We use perennial crops; we’ve added more rotational grazing; we have the livestock on the same grounds where their feed is coming from; we put the manure from stored areas back into the fields where the over-winter feed is grown; we use native grasses to build the soil…. And we plan to keep doing more.
A Vertically Integrated Farm from Start to Finish
[Note: Lonely Lane does all its processing on-site, which is rare for a family farm.]
Mike: We never knew we were striving to be vertically integrated, but in keeping everything local, including what we feed the animals, we ended up raising all the feed on the farm. So now we don’t have to rely on all the aspects of the supply chain to make sure things are GMO-free and quality is high. We have our own livestock and work with other small farms that are raising livestock the way it’s supposed to be raised.
Then, in looking for the best quality meat packer, we ended up starting our own processing facility, because we couldn’t get the consistency and quality that we needed in order to be happy with what we had. We also wanted the ability to make a wider range of products (bacon, sausages, charcuterie, for example).
In the end, we discovered that what we wanted was a processing plant run from a producer’s perspective. So now we handle the entire process from the ground to the consumer, and we converted the old dairy buildings into processing buildings. The milking parlor is now the cutting room, for example.
Patty: When we opened the processing plant it was stressful. It was the first business Mike and I had started from scratch.
Mike: But now we don’t have the stress of worrying if we’re going to get a product back that’s cut right and that we’re happy with. Not to mention the health and sanitary standards we maintain.
Some people don’t put much thought into that, but those are things that make me feel safe. The best question that’s been posed to me at the market is, “Would you eat your products?” It’s a great question. And the answer is, “Yes.” We absolutely do. In fact, because of our high standards, other farms now come to us to co-pack meat for them, which means we cut and pack their meat for them under their labels.
Patty: Over the years my role has grown. Now I run half the farm and all of the processing plant. I manage all of our inventory and scheduling and HR. We are proud to offer competitive benefits packages and health and dental to our staff, because we know the importance of it. We have a great crew of people from the local area that work well together and with us. They kept the farm and plant going and stepped up when we needed them when John had his kidney issues.
Mike: Six years ago Patty helped in the packaging room, and now she manages the entire processing facility. I joke with our employees when they have a question that I also need to ask Patty–she runs the entire thing from sales, to processing logistics, to financials. I’m proud of that, because it’s still rare in farming and meat processing to have a woman in charge.
Allergen-Friendly and Special-Diet Friendly Local Meats
Mike: Patty and I like to joke that I lost the genetic lottery in terms of food sensitivities. I am allergic to gluten and dairy, and have an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts, so we’ve always made our products without those. Then as we were sharing our experience with our allergy issues, customers started sharing their experiences. So we make sure our products are free of the “Big 8” allergens. (The “Big 8” are: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat.)
Patty: Beyond the “Big 8,” we found there are a lot of people with allergies to capsicums and alliums, so we make some recipes without those, as well (the processing plant isn’t totally free of them, though).
Mike: We like to experiment with new allergy- and special-diet friendly recipes. One of our friends had heart issues and so we made a low-salt bacon for them. Our customers were asking for sugar free bacon, so now we do a pineapple-juice sweetened bacon and a completely sugar-free bacon. We love to respond to what our customers tell us. So now we have turned into a farm that is making allergy-friendly processed products that people haven’t been able to find from local, high-quality producers.
Mt. Angel, Oregon, and the Mount Angel Abbey
Mike: Joseph and Maria Bochsler, Pattys great-great grandparents decided to come to Mount Angel because of the Abbey. [Note: The Mount Angel Abbey was created in 1882 as a Benedictine daughter abbey of the Engelberg Abbey in Switzerland. Large numbers of Bavarians were moving to the area, and Mount Angel has maintained its Bavarian feel.] The Klofts had come to the U.S. from Germany, and somebody from the monastery wrote to them and told them that Mount Angel looked like Germany, so they should come up.
Patty: The Mount Angel Abbey is still here, and we deliver meat to them about once a week. We take our son John up and he gets a cookie from the pastry area. We’ve done hamburger patties for their welcome barbecue, and we made a special sausage for their Bach festival. Mount Angel also has a Benedictine convent, and the sisters sell coffee cakes at Oktoberfest. We sell our meat to the sisters, as well.
Mike: The exciting new thing since 2015 is that we started leasing the grazing pastures at the Abbey. It gives us space and a lot more ground to graze.
Patty: There’s 300 acres of pasture, as well as livestock buildings. We also love that the lease gives us a great working relationship with our neighbors, since the Abbey lands border our farm. It’s been a really nice partnership. They’re excited because there were cattle and livestock at the Abbey from when it was founded until the 1970s—and now the cattle are back again. We also brought up goats and we’ll have pigs at the Abbey, also.
Mike: Working with the Abbey means we can raise more livestock and move animals between Lonely Lane and the Abbey, which allows us to do a lot of rotational grazing, so that we just keep improving our regenerative agriculture practices.
Patty: If you’re ever up at the Abbey, you can see our animals when you’re walking on the public paths. Just remember to stay on the paths because our livestock guard dogs do a great job protecting their animals. It’s also fun to stop at the Benedictine Brewery if you go for a walk. Mike and I like to go in for a cider, and John likes the root beer. We hear they have great beer, but since Mike’s allergic to gluten, we stick with cider and root beer.
Mount Angel Oktoberfest and the Fiftieth Anniversary Sausage
Mike: Oktoberfest in Mount Angel is a really big deal. It started over 50 years ago as a harvest festival, but before that it was a flax festival.
Patty: For the fiftieth anniversary, Lonely Lane was asked to make a special sausage based off what is commonly referred to as “the Schmidt recipe.” Luke and Francie Schmidt were two brothers who did meats in Mount Angel, and they had their own sausage recipe. The local priest refers to their recipe as the holy grail. Everyone thinks they have it, but no one does, although the Schmidt family today has the closest version.
The fiftieth anniversary sausage was based on the original Schmidt recipe. Mike had special access to the Schmidt family’s current recipe. (Mike’s a descendent of the Schmidt line, and Mike’s family has their own recipe descended from the original.)
Mike: The Schmidts wanted the sausage recipe to stay proprietary, and part of the reason that we were asked to make the sausage for Oktoberfest was because they trusted us with the recipe. It was very cool to see the two recipes (the Schmidt recipe and our family’s recipe) next to each other.
Lonely Lane Into the Future
Mike: We plan to build a house. We were planning that back in 2015 and we still are. There’s always something to be built on the farm, but time gets away from you. We’re also always looking at ways to continue to improve the welfare of our animals and our ability to graze sustainably.
Patty: From where the grass-fed meat business started 20 years ago to now, with everything we’ve done, we’ve been able to turn the farm into a viable family business where we can make a living, have health insurance, and take care of John. We want this business to be something he can take over.
Mike: We’re excited about the fact that we offer deli meats and charcuterie now, and we’re continuing to grow our offerings and look forward to adding more specialized products including fermented products. The fermentation really develops the flavor. A lot of our recipes for fermented products come from Europe: red wine lamb salami, beef pepperon, cotto salami, landjaeger…. We just keep learning.
Patty: Farming is never done. There’s always work. We always tell people, “Don’t go into farming unless you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, because it’s grueling.” But we love what we do, and we want our land to be farmed well. We don’t want this land to go to someone who would truck in fertilizers and treat the animals poorly. It’s our legacy to our community and our son.
Bonus: Meet the Farm Dogs
Mike: We have two farm dogs at Lonely Lane, and other livestock guard dogs at the Abbey. On the farm we have Rita, our German Shepherd, and Benne, our Anatolian.
Patty: We got Rita around 2012. We came back from Las Vegas on a rare vacation—the first one Mike and I took together actually—and someone contacted us that they had a German Shepard puppy. Our other dog Mara, at the time, needed a friend and was getting older. Mara had stopped barking when our other dog Xena died. On a farm, barking is important. When the new puppy came home with us, the bag from the Margaritaville Cafe in Las Vegas was still on the counter from the trip. So we named her Rita and with the two we had Mara & Rita.
Mike: Mara died in July 2017. She was completely deaf and really slowing down, but she still loved to walk out to the fields with us until the end.
Patty: We got Benne in 2020. She was our pandemic baby. She’s an Anatolian Shepherd. We got her three days before the state shut down, and she was my sanity-keeper. Soon after we got Benne, we found out about John’s kidney issues. Benee and John became really close. The Anatolian breed is known for being good with children. Benne’s also really bonded with our cows. When they were calving this spring, Benne was out in the pasture day and night.
Mike: It’s been fun to see her come into her own. We thought she was the ‘anti-Anatolian’ at first, because she didn’t do anything that a livestock guardian was supposed to do. She thought she was a house dog.
Patty: She still tries to sneak in sometimes and sleep where she did as a puppy on our stair landing but she doesn’t fit anymore.