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 who 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.
Jim was raised on a Hereford 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 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 Jim. He does not advertise, but receives clients through word-of-mouth and insurance company referrals. He recently saw his 500th client.
Jim has worked with mentally ill patients as well as doing therapy for many families where the children were at risk of out-of-home placement.
The counseling service’s brochure states, “We are in service to others not because they are wounded, but because they are valuable.”
Other rhythms of life are played out in what Jim calls a “glorified hobby.” Cattle are a diversion for him, although a productive one.
“The people we sell beef to are so grateful that we get hugs,” he said. “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.
“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,” Jim 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 Jim. “Part of the job is being there when the cows need help.”
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 acres near Burtrum, 100 rented acres near Swanville, 35 acres near North Prairie and 10 borrowed acres at a neighbor’s property.
“He requested some cattle to keep the grass down, so we sent over five steers and a horse for two months,” Jim said.
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 Jim.
Sales also come through the farm’s Web site. Three percent of the sales go to the Salvation Army.
“We learned in a workshop how to blend our influence by letting the Web site have more than one purpose,” Jim 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 cattle are part of God’s creation and they teach me all the time,” he said. “We’re just servants here.”
For more information, contact Hobbs Hereford Farm at (320) 732-3325 or (320) 732-3041. Find them online at www.hobbsherefordfarm.com.