Grass-fed beef and healthy psyches both nurtured through Jim Hobbs
By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Visitors to Liberty Acres farm near Burtrum can first glimpse the rolling hills and green grass that provide sustenance for the Herefords that are raised there by Jim and Gloria Hobbs.
Jim Hobbs moved to Minnesota as a child with his parents and became so established that when his parents moved back to Nebraska, he stayed.
Hobbs was raised on a cattle ranch. “Watching Herefords grazing on green grass has always relaxed me,” he said.
He married Burtrum native Gloria Kapphahn, and worked for Todd County Social Services (TCSS) for 32 years, retiring in 2003. He has had a private counseling practice since 1995, which he does out of his home.
“I see about 15 individuals or couples or families each week,” said Hobbs. He does not advertise, but receives clients through word-of-mouth and insurance company referrals. He recently saw his 500th client.
While in public service at TCSS, the cases tended to be more difficult and not everyone was there by choice. Most clients come to Liberty Counseling because they want to.
“That is more fun for me and for them,” said Hobbs.
Clients come from a wide age range, and the things they are dealing with vary from poorly adjusted or misbehaving children to teenage rebellion; young people struggling to find their way in life to adults with unresolved conflicts from their youths; couples in conflict; vocational struggles and problems of old age.
“I don’t see as much serious mental illness as I do discouragement with some aspect of life that may lead to more serious problems if not addressed,” Hobbs said. “But we are seeing some very good successes, and it is fun to see progress — healing of old unresolved youth and/or relational conflicts, hope restored, encouragement renewed and a return to healthy functioning.”
The counseling service’s brochure states, “We are in service to others not because they are wounded, but because they are valuable.”
“I counsel from a Christian worldview,” said Hobbs. “Psychology is applied with an eternal perspective to help people find wisdom, suggestions for crises and courage to help themselves.”
Other rhythms of life are played out in what Hobbs calls a “glorified hobby.” Cattle are a diversion for him, although a productive one.
“I am counselor and cowboy; both are exciting,” he said. “The people we sell beef to are so grateful that we get hugs. The beef is healthy and tender and food that people can trust.”
After raising breeding bulls for a while, the Hobbses realized that they were raising them naturally, and it wasn’t hard to make the shift to organic.
They are not certified organic due to the long process and added expense, but they are “beyond organic” in what they do or avoid doing, said Hobbs.
“We do not feed grain or vaccinate. We do not use hormones or spray our acreage. We rarely use antibiotics, and then only for hoof rot,” Hobbs said. “We would rather be accountable to the people who buy from us than to an outside organization.”
The cattle are grass-fed on 11 pastures. They are bred on-site. “We are shepherds,” said Hobbs. “Part of the job is being there when the cows need help.”
One calf only wanted to nurse on one side of his mama’s udder. It took four to five days of concentrated attention such as holding the calf at the other side until it nursed, but the issue was resolved.
Twelve producing mamas are kept at the farm along with two breeding bulls. There are generally 24 to 48 other new calves, yearlings and older cows approaching processing.
Acreage is located in four different areas: the 40-acre home farm near Burtrum, 100 rented acres near Swanville, 35 acres near North Prairie and 10 borrowed acres at a neighbor’s property.
“My neighbor requested some cattle to keep the grass down, so we sent over five steers and a horse for two months,” Hobbs said.
Horses are also raised on the farm, from the Hobbs’ quarter horse “Cholla Sue.” Of the eight babies she’s produced, two fillies were sold to breeders and four other offspring are at a cattle ranch in northern Minnesota.
“Cholla Sue is a serious cutting horse,” said Hobbs. “She’s my bull-tamer.”
People drive from St. Cloud and the Twin Cities to visit the farm. The Hobbses also deliver beef wherever it’s needed. They make regular deliveries to Brainerd, and have gone to Alexandria and St. Cloud.
“We have many local customers and a steady stream of business out of Blaine because a chiropractor there promotes us,” said Hobbs.
Sales also come through the farm’s Web site. Three percent of total sales goes to the Salvation Army.
Hobbs heard in a training that the Salvation Army is where the work is done, and has seen in other places that the Salvation Army is doing a good job.
“We learned in a workshop how to blend our influence by letting the Web site have more than one purpose,” Hobbs said “and that appealed to me. This is our lifestyle, our belief — the pursuit of doing more than one good. When people buy they know that their money is contributing to the greater good.”
The Web site is a work in progress. Soon there will be videos posted of a calf’s birth and showing the interior of the cow barns.
“The cattle are part of God’s creation and they teach me all the time,” he said. “We’re just servants here.”
For more information, call Hobbs Hereford Farm at (320) 732-3325 or (320) 732-3041. Find them online at www.hobbsherefordfarm.com