The Black Coffee Ranch & Mercantile is owned and operated by Dennis and Ruth McLean, with some of their children: Eric, Beth, Tessila, Jayden, Abigail, and Elle. 6/3 Beef is run by their eldest son, Ben; his wife, Trisha; and their children. We have fun working together as a family and enjoy each others’ company! We are located near Lavina, MT.
It started as a dream for a slower lifestyle. Dennis owned and operated a long haul trucking company based out of Oregon. It was a busy, exhausting endeavor that did not leave any time to relax and smell the roses. Driving through Montana in the 1990's, and watching the farmers go about their business in the old Montanan fashion, slow and relaxed, led Dennis to desire to move his family out to Montana. I am sure that the flooding and record breaking rain records during the 1990's in Oregon also helped the case. He started a branch of his company based in Billings, and within a couple years had moved his family of nine out to 10 acres in Huntley in 1999. Part of the house purchase deal included 2 bred Angus cows. Animals were always an on/off again thing in Huntley, and there wasn't much acreage to run many head on, particularly during the drought in the early years. 5 more children were born while living at Huntley, for a total of 12. In 2012, Dennis & Ruth made the decision to sell the Huntley house to become completely debt free. There was 2 years full of many moves from rental to rental, all while shopping for land.
While land shopping, we fell in love with Golden Valley County. In 2014, we procured a rental near Lavina that included a 5 acre home place with a 1920's barn, and 100 acres of pasture. This opened the door to buy cows, so that is what we did. We also purchased a small starter herd of Angus heifers and AI'd the heifers to an Angus bull. Dennis had been dreaming up an idea to create a true dual-purpose cow breed that had good milk, docility, and threw beefy calves. During our research to figure out what breeds to cross, we stumbled upon the Normande breed. It was a Eureka! moment, with realizing the perfect breed already existed! In 2015 we purchased our first Normande cattle. Mae is our first milk cow that is presumably a Normande/Holstein cross, and Ace was our first bull, as a fullblood Normande to get us started on our breed up program with the original Angus herd. During 2015 we were also able to purchase our own piece of land nearby.
From there, things grew organically. Our original intention was to sell purebred Normande heifers as homestead/family milk cows, trained to milk. Our mercantile started with selling our BBQ sauce, and random hand crafted items. We were buying so much honey for home consumption from our honey producer, he suggested that Ruth start selling that, as well. Which she did, successfully. It is the best tasting honey in the USA! Beef sales started in 2017. Various family members experiment with various animals, which has also expanded our inventory.
In 2021, Montana congress passed the Food Freedom Act, allowing a broader spectrum of food sales, as well as raw milk. This opened the door to expand the business, and Beth opened up the website to start selling milk utilizing the drop-point delivery business model. She also expanded the inventory to include other healthy food options from Montana producers that we are not producing ourselves.. yet.
Our goal is to have a self-sustainable farm using regenerative farming practices. In the future we would like to go fully organic and non-GMO. We want to offer YOU the healthiest options to give the nutritive building blocks for a strong, healthy family.