antibiotic and the residues to exit the animal’s system
before it is harvested.” Remember all those soft drinks
that started labeling their products as “caffeine-free” when
they had never had caffeine to begin with?
Although the calves at Solid Ground Farms are “allnatural,
grass-fed, grain finished, and do not use steroids,
synthetic steroids, or antibiotics," Kirk said, “a person
would have to eat 3,000,000 hamburgers made with beef
from implanted cattle to get as much estrogen as the
average adult woman produces every day. It would take
50,000 hamburgers a day to get the amount of estrogen
the average male produces every day.” But here was the
real kicker: “Two slices of store bought bread has about
45,000 nanograms of estrogen. A serving of implanted
beef has only 2.”
In 2017, Solid Ground Farms expanded its stock with
the addition of eleven Wagyu cattle. “They are hard to
find in the United States, and the people who have them
usually don’t want to sell,” said Kirk. Known for their
marbling and tenderness, the high-grade beef is extremely
desirable. “Waygu just means Japanese cow,” said Kirk.
“There are a lot of myths about the way Waygu are raised
in Japan. One is that they are massaged and given beer,”
he laughed. “They are extremely docile, but they aren’t
much to look at.” He smiled. “They’re slow growing, and
their rudiment takes longer to develop. They’re almost two
years old before you can start giving them feed.”
The USDA has eight quality grades for beef. We’re
most familiar with the top 3: U.S. Prime (highest), U.S.
Choice, and U.S. Select. “Waygu beef starts off at a higher
quality than Prime, so it has its own classification that
goes from A1 (highest) to A5. High-grade Wagyu beef
can cost up to $200 per
pound,” said Kirk. “It’s so
tender, you can cut a fillet
with a fork.” Last year, all
Wagyu beef Kirk made
available for purchase
quickly sold. (Waygu beef
is sold to individuals for
Of course, no ranch
would be complete without
its cattle dogs. Max, an
Australian Shepherd, and
Loki, the Blue Heeler,
are an invaluable part
of the operation. “They
help separate out bulls
and move cattle from
field to field,” said Kirk.
MayMay, also bred to work
cattle, just had a litter of
beautiful full-blooded puppies in March, hopefully the first
of many for Lisa’s new venture she’s named Solid Ground
Of all the many things about raising livestock that
have changed over the years, hard work is not one of them.
Cattle still have to be fed, dewormed, and vaccinated
twice. And Kirk does it all, including the AI procedures.
After his muddy boots are taken off and outside work has
ended, EPDs still have to be posted and followed closely,
CME prices observed. All for one day out of the year. A day
he has to determine two years in advance.
Although Kirk hasn’t made the ten-mile ride to town
by horseback lately, I wouldn’t put it past him. Moving
cows and checking on fence lines is still best done on
horseback, he insists. “I even got Lisa to compete a little
bit when we first got married,” he said.
Lisa brought me a photograph. “This was my first
competition. I actually got second place, and Kirk got
third. Just before the photographer took the picture, Kirk
switched the trophies.” Kirk shrugged and smiled.
Every day, children are encouraged to follow their
dreams and pursue their heartfelt passions. It’s a
well-meant message but often contributes to cycles of
disappointment and disillusionment when things don’t go
as planned. And things won’t go as planned. If the focus is
on finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, we miss
the miracle of the rainbow right over our heads. Instead of
turning inward when plans changed, Kirk looked up and
saw the rainbow. He gave his best regardless of whether he
was training a horse or counseling inmates. Just like his
father. And in my book, that’s what I call a real cowboy.
56 TOOMBS COUNTY MAGAZINE