Hempstead Business Highlight: Meet Old 300 Ranch

On a serene stretch of land away from the bustle of big-city life sits Old 300 Ranch, a mom-and-pop business that offers up a true taste of Texas. Launched in 2015 by Liz and Joey Kilmon, the Hempstead business specializes in local sausage with flavors and seasonings to suit virtually every palate. And it started as a way to stay busy.

The husband-wife duo moved to Hempstead from Katy, on the hunt for a bit more elbow room. And with grocery stores few and far between — and a desire to cook more at home — they found a calling in the kitchen.

“We started really just doing preserves and eggs — simple things while we got our country feet wet,” Liz said with a laugh, explaining they later expanded into custom sausage blends. “We had some trial runs with friends out here at the ranch, and we decided to take a crack at this.”

And with that first crack, it seems, they hit it outta the park.

Today, the Kilmons’ kitchen experiments are a full-fledged business that operates with help from a commercial kitchen they lease out of Cypress. The three-person team carries out most of the processing in Cypress, while the smoking takes place on the ranch. Meanwhile, large freezers make it possible for people to pick up their orders at the gate or (only during cooler months) to get them shipped.

The business was something of a learning process, Liz said — especially when it came to online orders. All in all, though, it’s been fun.

“We both grew up in the kitchen, so really it was just marrying our styles together and coming up with things that worked,” she said of getting things off the ground with her husband.

A few solid flavor combinations, such as the Jalapeño Manchego sausage, are popular among repeat customers, while one product in particular is only for a certain clientele. Old 300 Ranch sells a Valhalla Death Sausage that’s great for those who like a whole lot of heat or take part in food challenges, but it would be too much for your average joe.

“It’s a signature item for the chili-head community,” Liz said, noting people post frequently about it on social media. “It’s arguably the hottest sausage in the world.”

The Kilmons have found their stride with their sausages, jerky and seasonal treats, and have found a true home in Hempstead, too.

The business’ name is a nod to the town’s history, with Old 300 referring to the original 300 settlers who got land grants in Texas. The deed the Kilmons received noted it was an original tract once belonging to Jared Ellison Groce — one of those original 300.

“He had thousands of acres, but our land really did once belong to one of the original settlers in Texas,” she said, adding that she and neighbors have found old lead bullets, cannonballs and other remnants of Hempstead’s past.

Of course, historical ties aren’t the only benefit.

Liz said she enjoys being part of a smaller community where people know one another and can work together. They frequently give to local FFA fundraisers, are part of the Rotary club and support local as much as they can.

“As much as you think you can do on your own, it’s tenfold with other people,” she said. “We like the community and love the charm and the country. We’d love to see some balanced growth in Hempstead.”

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