Stephen was raised in northwest Arkansas in retail business while I was raised around my grandparent's cattle operation in Mississippi. As a child I would ride around the pastures naming cattle in the back of the feed truck. Stephen and I met in Clark, Colorado, on a guest ranch as wranglers during college. A year later we married and started on our own dream of having a ranch.
I completed my degree in Outdoor Leadership Ministry and not too long after we made our way to Fort Worth, Texas, for Stephen to attend TCU's Ranch Management Program. We worked at Christ's Haven for Children and developed Haven's Horses Therapeutic Riding program for children with disabilities, foster children of Christ's Haven, and able body riders. All the while, Stephen managed the ranch program at Christ's Haven.
Stephen began Zanzibar Cattle Co. in 2008 to fill the need for replacement cattle. In 2013 we bought our ranch and moved out soon after.
Our grass-fed cattle business began in 2015 at the gas station in the small town near our Texas ranch. One afternoon, Stephen was approached by an older gentleman asking for a little help hauling his calves to the sale barn. Stephen agreed and followed the gentleman to his ranch.
When they arrived, Stephen discovered that the calves had been only on grass pastures that had never been fertilized or treated with pesticides. We had always wanted a grass-fed steer ourselves, so Stephen decided on the spot to buy several of the calves.
We were both familiar with the health benefits of grass-fed beef over cattle raised on grain, and we looked forward to our own foray into this side of the industry. Little did we know at the time that I would be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease five months later, requiring me to eliminate beef, grains, dairy and more from my diet.
Ten months after purchasing the calves, one was ready for harvest. Now, as a rancher’s wife, eating beef is a requirement, autoimmune disease or not. Thankfully, I found that I was able to enjoy our beef – a contrast to the grain-fed beef I had been eating before.
We were so proud of our beef that we created a business to sell it. Its tenderness and natural flavor were better than anything we had ever had, and it required little or no seasoning to taste incredible.
As a family, we enjoy many avenues of ranching together. We are thankful we can share some of it with you!
- Kristin Kirkland