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February 09, 2018


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A Buffalo Love Story

Story & photos by, Jill O'Brien

A few years back, when we moved our buffalo to their winter pasture on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, we left seven behind. They consisted of: a crippled-up older cow with her calf, (who had been keeping to the outskirts of the herd to stay out of harms way), a young bull (about 2½ years old) which we guessed as the cow's older offspring, three older bulls who had separated themselves from the main herd as they often do after the breeding season, and a motherless cow, which at the time seemed a bit odd.

The motherless cow had palled up with the three big bulls, and the crippled cow/calf pair stayed to themselves, with the younger bull staying within a few hundred yards of them. We monitored the cow/calf pair daily, ensuring that the mother was getting around to food and water. Toward the end of January, after a day of not seeing them, we set out in search for the trio, keeping our distance, so they would not feel pressured.

We found the pair tucked into a hillside, where water flows from a spring year round.  The younger bull was just down the hill, keeping his usual distance, but filling his required hospice duty (at least that what we like to believe).

To insure that she wouldn’t have to roam for her food, the guys put out a thousand pound, round bale of grass hay close by.  She was as comfortable as she could be in her selected finale resting spot and died within the week. Then, as if on cue, the young bull stepped in and took the now seven-month-old motherless calf into his care and lead it to the others. 

We moved the hay closer to where the others had been grazing, which was within viewing range of the house. Just before sunset, the six would often stop by the hay for a quick, easy snack.

I watched the new band of buffalo with binoculars from the window. The calf would occassionally buck and kick as he ran between the massive bison bull’s watchful eyes. The cow assisted too, nudging the calf now and then when it would lollygag behind as they moved on into the setting golden light.

The whole scene played out as if it was the buffaloes/natures plan. As a hopeless romantic and one who also believes in the amazing communication of the animal world - I believe it was.


Richard McGonagle

February 10, 2018

Don’t you just love the way nature takes care of things so perfectly?

Deren Martinez

February 10, 2018

What a great story. Thanks for sharing.

Jeannette Hall

February 10, 2018

A beautiful story, thank you for sharing with all of us.

Mae McDonald & Marv Bjorkman

February 10, 2018

Love this story Jill. We also love eating the buffalo we order from Wild Idea. We just got another order a few days ago and made buffalo chili and buffalo roast and they were both fantastic! We love everything about buffalo. We were at the Buffalo Roundup last year. They are amazing animals.


February 10, 2018

This is such a beautiful story……almost brought tears to my old eyes…..thank you so much, Jill, for sharing this. We all need to take a lesson from this about the care and concern we need to have for others.

Claude Immer

February 10, 2018

Hi Dear,I love your stories and nice photos


February 10, 2018

What a amazing situation to be able to observe played out. Empathy and compassion expressed probably with more grace than some humans. Thank you for sharing.

Laura Culley

February 10, 2018

What a wonderful story, told by one who notices/knows the intricate relationships between sentient beings some people know as “just animals.” Don’t get me started about that little phrase. I can get insanely POed at those who don’t notice/know. I wonder how they can be SO oblivious about the other beings who share this spinning rock with us and their outrageous stupidity angers me because that idea leads to the destruction of our spinning rock for money.

Linda Clark

February 10, 2018

This sounds like it could be a chapter of Peter Wohlleben’s new book, “The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief, and Compassion—Surprising Observations of a Hidden World.” (author of “The Hidden Life of Trees”). I will hear him read and discuss his findings in March in Cambridge, MA. We have lots more to learn about animals. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely storing—and for the photos that illustrate it.

Ohio Jan

February 10, 2018

Thanks for sharing your close connections with the buffalo and the prairie – I treasure your intimate relationship to such a vibrant ecosystem. Your words and those of Dan often cause an ache in my heart and a catch in my throat. Our place in the natural world is enriched by experiences like this. Although Ohio does not have the grand expanses of the prairie, we do have our moments of deep connections even in our residential garden. Looking forward to Dan’s next book! And our trip to South Dakota next summer when we hope to stop in the prairie.

Kathleen Hall

February 10, 2018

Just found about and ordered from you; cannot wait to become better acquainted through your sharing your way of life, writings, etc. Spent my childhood in rural Minnesota and treasure the memories of a lifestyle I thought was gone. So good to hear there are others like me!


February 10, 2018

Thanks Jill what a lovely story…….


February 10, 2018

I really appreciate reading your stories Jill and the photos are wonderful too..

Keith and Kay Lewis

February 10, 2018

Jill: Thank you so much for this much-needed dose of Hope in these times of global disarray.
There’s so much we can learn from Nature.

I do hope that you and your family will someday publish your essays and photos.


February 10, 2018

Love stories of nature. I love to watch bison and study them for my art work and injoyment

Bob Watland

February 10, 2018

Love your and Dans stories and photos, keep up the good work. God bless you and yours.


February 10, 2018

Thank you so much for that wonderful story.

John ingram

February 10, 2018

Thank you for sharing the circle of life.

Sybille Crane

February 10, 2018

No, you’re not a hopeless romantic, it’s familiy relationship and taking care of each other. That’s what the Bufflo Nation does.Still, it’s a wonderful and heartwarming story and I cannot thank you enough for sharing it.
I follow your blog from this side of the pond and I love your photos and stories. Wish I could feast on Buffalo meat once again… especially yours.
Best regards from Germany.

Sandy G

February 10, 2018

What a beautiful story. Nature is full of miracles and love. How wonderful to watch it unfold. Thank you for the reverence you show to all of nature.

James E. Swab

February 10, 2018

Jill—As always, this story, as do all your and Dan’s stories, highlights the passion and compassion the two of you have for our environment. I have a question: When a bison dies out on the range, do you leave it there to decompose, or move it or bury it or what?

Jerry & Norma Reynolds

February 10, 2018

Yes, and we believe it is too. Animals are amazing when left to their own instincts and abilities – or even if they are not. But in this case, we believe it only a part of every day life to do the amazing things they are capable of doing on their own without human intervention. Thank you, again, for a wonderful look into their – and your – amazing lives.

Patti T.

February 10, 2018

We really enjoyed the pics and narrative. We live “next door” in Wyoming and are so grateful to be able to appreciate the beauty of nature and God’s creatures – we are so happy you shared this with all of us! Please continue with more as you able! We love the quality and service your company provides – we have never been disappointed with our purchases. Also, the organic ingredients with your specialty items is a big reason why I chose you over competitors.

Patricia W

February 10, 2018

Thank you so much for sharing, that was very tender and touching.

Rock Artiste

February 10, 2018

I love watching the buffalo. There is a small herd not far from me and I drive out to watch them alot. They inspire my art. Have painted a little buffalo on a perfect rock for one – he was so cute and sold the day I took him out for show and tell :) Love your romantic story …

Patricia Samdoval

February 10, 2018

Poetry of life captured … thank you for sharing this with me…

Allan Rathje

February 10, 2018

This is a precious story. We live in Eastern Iowa very near the Mississippi. Every day eight whitetail does walk through our back yard. One has a hurt hind quarter, the other seven keep an eye her and protect her. I understand what you say.
There is HigherPower at work here.

Blake O'Quinn

February 11, 2018

yes, you are a hopeless romantic like myself and with those eyes of awareness you witnessed an act that is of their covenant. what a captivating testament to life you brought for us. thank you. just love you guys!

Kathy Antonen

February 11, 2018

My oh my: your words and photographs and those buffalo.

Jill / Wild Idea Buffalo Co.

February 11, 2018

Hi James – That’s a good question.
“When a bison dies out on the range, do you leave it there to decompose, or move it or bury it or what?”

We typically leave it where it dies and allow it to return to the earth, as well as provide food for other predators. Nothing is wasted in nature.

James E. Swab

February 11, 2018

Thank you, Jill

Gary Kaiser

February 11, 2018

Real love is all around – especially close to Valentine’s Day – you just have to look for it.

Bill Coldwell

February 12, 2018

Cool story! Nature rewards those who patiently view her beauty

Kenneth Kirk

February 13, 2018

This is the natural order of things and when we try to mess whith what nature has done for thousands of years it will get screwed up so we need to work with the natural order not against it I love this story and like to read them when you send them thanks

greg globetti

February 13, 2018

“We should not wait until a person or thing dies before showing our respect.”

Jim GIllespie

February 13, 2018

We were created for stories such as these. Much better reading than the daily news!!

Jane S.

February 13, 2018

The unbroken cycle of life/death. Rare to witness in this world today. Thanks for the story and beautiful photos!
Lisa Abram Nelson

February 13, 2018

Thank you for sharing this story. I recently read “Buffalo for the Broken Heart”. I have a special story of my own about how I came to the book. We’ve just rec’d our first shipment of Wild Idea and I made a delicious meat loaf last night.

Mark Smith

February 13, 2018

If this story does not touch you….you may not have a heart. Nature working it’s magic.

Don Meyer

February 13, 2018

What a lovely sweet story of how God works things out with all his creatures. I am having a very hard time right now, and your story really lifted my spirits. Thank you so much for sharing it. I just love you and Dan so very much. Keep on doing what you are doing, as it is very important to God’s plan in these difficult political days. May the blessings be. Love, Don


February 13, 2018

Lovely. Thank you for sharing.


February 13, 2018

Thanks. That’s the best Valentine’s present. Love to you

Norma Jean

February 13, 2018

Thankful these great creatures are still among us.


February 13, 2018

Thank you so much for sharing that. ?

Monica Van der Vieren

February 14, 2018

I’m not sure which I love more: Wild Idea’s excellentl, sustainable products, or this blog. Thank you for another wonderful article written in every day language from the heart. I hope this is as inspiring for others as it is for me.

Zee Salinas

February 15, 2018

As can only be told from the perspective of an insider! Thanks! ?

Alice Jackson

February 16, 2018

I just signed up and I am absolutely excited to get involved with your company and I will be ordering our favorite meat.


February 20, 2018

So beautiful. Thank you, Jill

David M. Zebuhr

February 22, 2018

If it weren’t for the irony that humans are the species that can intellectually and artfully (and emotionally) appreciate the bison I would say that the bison were the “better” (very subjective term) beings. Jill, Dan, et al, thanks for being among the minuscule percentage of people who see deeply. “Buffalo for the Broken Heart” is one of my all-time favorite books.

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