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April 20, 2017

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How Buffalo Taught Me to be a Responsible Capitalist

Dan O'Brien

I belong to the Baby Boomer Generation and if you are a Millennial, Gen-X, or Gen-Z person, I owe you an apology. My cohorts and I are the ones that didn’t adequately stand up to the forces of ignorance and greed that are killing everything that is wild. But we were the first generation that understood that what humans were doing to wild things was suicidal. We are culpable for knuckling under in the face of the power behind that insanity and I’m sorry for the part I played in that tragedy.

In the spring of 1970, I was the chairman of the first Earth Day on the campus of a little Ohio college. I didn’t know what should happen on an Earth Day and neither did my committee. We planned a small parade, some speeches from supportive professors, and a debate of the pressing questions of the times: the Vietnam War, equal rights for women and minorities, and the abuses of nature by industrial agriculture. Passions ran high in the spring of 1970 and those three topics merged into an outpouring of reaction toward what became known as “the establishment.”

It seems silly now, but back then only a few people believed that DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and other agricultural chemicals were killing nature. Those of us who had been raised in the ‘50s and ‘60s on and around Ohio farmlands knew that something was wrong. The small drainage that ran through our little family farm had a funny smell and the beaches of Lake Erie sported skull and crossbones signs put up by the board of health. There were scarcely enough songbirds to support my hobby of bird watching.

I was reluctantly pushed forward by the student Earth Day committee to represent them on the debate stage. My opponent was, Colonel Fred Graff, a hometown war hero, arch conservative, regional postmaster, and chairman of the local draft board. He was a tall, imposing man, with years of experience as a public speaker. I was a clueless 22-year-old college jock whose only credential was that I liked to walk around outdoors and watch birds. I was a Middle American, middle class kid who had been raised to respect authority. I was psyched out days before the debate, and Colonel Graff crushed me. To his well- reasoned and clinical appraisal of the state of the world, I could only babble about beauty, respect for all life, and my naïve feelings about how the world should be. He dismissed me as a dreamer and, in the face of his confident, consumptive, pseudo-patriotic vision, I suffered a total breakdown of audacity.

About a hundred people turned out for that first Earth Day and, though campus anti-war demonstrations were gaining strength as President Nixon began his second year in office, few people in the crowd that day understood the far greater threats our civilization was imposing on the environment: polluted air, polluted water, loss of species diversity, human- caused climate change, and out-of-control capitalism. Still, those few innocent souls looked to me to lead them and letting them down was one of the great failures of my life.

I’ve spent the last 45 years trying to atone for my inability to articulate the gravity of our ongoing world crisis. But it was not until 20 years ago that I concluded that, though passionate words are important, they are not enough. The best way to keep things wild is do something concrete, something big, something that is equivalent to putting a hand in the face of materialistic industry and saying “No. No more. Not in my world.” Recycling pop cans or donating a few dollars to conservation groups is not enough. We need to find ways to alter humanity’s relationship to the environment, and have the courage to execute those new ideas. I’ve come to believe that each person should shoulder some of the responsibility for not only adhering to best environmental practices but for creating and executing new, practical models for protecting our world. We owe the world our physical labor and our earnest brain power.

I think we fall in love with ecosystems much the way we do with people. And we have to protect those ecosystems we love as fiercely as we protect the people we love. Not long after that first Earth Day, I fell in love with the Great Plains. It is the dominant ecosystem of the North American continent, encompassing a quarter of the land-mass and yet a fraction of the human population. It is a treeless land of grass with extreme climatic conditions—from common sub-zero winter temperatures to triple digits above zero in the summertime. It is a reservoir of species diversity, a major carbon sink, and one of the least protected landscapes in the world. For two hundred years, industrial agriculture has been destroying it by plowing up the grass for which it is famous, draining its aquifers to grow subsidized crops, and poisoning the native species. In that process, industrial agriculture has released tens of thousands of years’ worth of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere.

I left my Ohio home shortly after my humiliating performance in the first Earth Day debate and went to work on the Great Plains monitoring birds for South Dakota’s Department of Game Fish and Parks. When I found a little place to live on the edge of the Black Hills, I knew I had found my ecosystem. Later, I took a job reintroducing peregrine falcons to the cliffs that overlooked the Great Plains from Montana to Texas. For 10 years, I drove the length and breadth of the Great Plains and the abuses I saw were ominous: biodiverse grasslands plowed up to create monocultures, stinking, overcrowded cattle feedlots, aquifer-charging playas drained to create more subsidized monocultures, and all the native species pushed to the less fertile edges. The genius of man is astounding but, it has often been put to poor, self-destructive, and frivolous uses. The development of a computer application that locates the closest thin-crust pizza joint is a waste of the genius required to fix what is wrong.

As I drove this post-apocalyptic midsection of North America, I obsessed on what those grasslands were like before the advent of industrial agriculture—miles upon miles of open land to roam, herds of elk, antelope, and bison to the horizons, ground nesting birds erupting from every clump of grass, waterfowl by the billions careening overhead. I tried to understand how it had all fit together and I looked hard for parts of that ecosystem that could still be salvaged. You can’t think about that kind of restoration and conservation long before you come to the role that bison play in sustaining a healthy Great Plains ecosystem and it occurred to me that they might be the place to begin.

Pre-contact North America was home to at least 30 million bison. They were the dependable keystone species of the central grasslands of the continent; their grazing helped to diversify the nutrient cycling in prairie plants and enrich the soil, and their large carcasses provided sustenance for a number of species with whom they shared the Great Plains. By the late nineteenth century, unchecked capitalism had reduced bison numbers to a few million. By the early decades of the twentieth century, there were less than a

thousand—reduced to fugitives, hiding out in the most remote corners of this vast region. They were being replaced by European cattle and the vital grasslands were being plowed to support those cattle and the wars in Europe. The powers that drove this destruction were the same powers that I had failed to face down on that debate stage of that first Earth Day.

Thinking about challenging those forces sent chills down my spine but it was my only road to redemption. Twenty years ago, in an effort to recreate a healthy landscape, my wife, Jill, and I committed to converting our tiny cattle ranch to a bison ranch. We could only afford a dozen buffalo at first, but we wanted to give the native species that still lived on that little piece of land a chance to survive in a world similar to the one in which they had evolved. We always knew that our little, highly mortgaged ranch was insignificant in the scope of the Great Plains. It would take hundreds of thousands of acres to make a perceivable change in the damaged grasslands. That seemed impossible and it took a while to understand that a tool to achieve that change in trajectory was the very tool that had been so destructive.

The best and brightest brains of my generation turned toward the mindless capitalism that drove the deterioration of my chosen landscape—the advent of bigger tractors, genetically modified crops, innovations to pump water and oil faster. They figured out ways to kill the completion for designated crops, dig coal pits deeper, and accelerate life to breakneck speed. Nothing seemed as powerful as manic capitalism.

Of course self-interest drives innovation and efficiency, but did capitalism need to be manic and mindless? I began to wonder if a more sensible capitalism could replace the capitalism that most of us know. What if we included the quality of our great grandchildren’s lives in our definition of self-interest? What if we could harvest some of our bison and sell the meat to finance an expansion of bison numbers? What if we refused to encourage the conversion of grasslands to cropland by rejecting the feedlot model that craves more and more corn? If we allowed our bison to eat only the self-generating plants that they had evolved to eat, and sell the meat to capitalize the model, we would still be well within the conventional capitalist model without bringing about damaging changes to the Great Plains ecosystem.

Twenty years ago, we created Wild Idea Buffalo Company on that premise and our bison herd, with all the accompanying ecological benefits, began to expand exponentially.

Though Wild Idea Buffalo Company is still struggling to be profitable, it is helping the Great Plains to heal faster by encouraging other like-minded producers to expand the range of modern bison. In the bargain, we are supplying one of the planet’s healthiest red meats to people interested in eating unadulterated food. Now we support the raising of thousands of free-roaming grassfed bison in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Our once-little idea now allows bison producers to stop their dependence on industrial agriculture and helps stem the tide of converting healthy, species rich, and carbon absorbent grasslands into monocultures that impoverish the soil. It is a business model that is applicable to other ecosystems around the world. I only wish Colonel Graff was still alive to see it.

 


Comments

Alex Pociask

April 22, 2017

Very thoughtful, Dan! Congratulations on your successful enterprise!! Alex

Bob Lowrey

April 22, 2017

I eat the meat you raise on your ranch. I have read your books. This story further enlightened me to what is in your heart. What is in your heart is more powerful then the corporate greed that can run roughshod over our world. Congratulations to you for listening and following your heart!

Todd Neel

April 22, 2017

Nice essay, Dan. My men’s group is reading your “Wild Ideas” book. Happy Earth Day! Keep up the good fight!

jeff d

April 22, 2017

I liked your article on our country’s midsection’s landscape from what it was to what it is. The end problem is there are too many humans on this earth and the resources of this country will be depleted as in the 3rd world countries where all the immigrants are pouring in from. I grew up in MN, moved to Las Vegas for awhile, and in the decade or so that I lived there, there were massive changes to the landscape. With 6000 humans a month moving there, that landscape changed forever. So now living back in MN, I see the brown haze that encircles the metropolitan area so much so like every other big city. I read once, if we as humans, were to stop the machine, it would (the damage) continue for another 500 years. Yes, the ice shelf will disappear, the oceans will rise, coastal cities will be inundated with flooding, the oceans themselves will become diluted from the ice melt and the storms will become ever more destructive. Thanks for listening.

Shannon Reeves

April 22, 2017

Bless you for having and living a committed vision of what it takes to work with nature for the benefit of the planet, the environment, the animals and those of us lucky enough to be blessed by your bison products. I am a proud boomer and after 34 years as a vegetarian/vegan animal activist against factory farming, I am especially appreciative I can sustain and improve my family’s health in all good consciousness knowing that every step along your path is best for the land, the animals and Mother Earth. I hope and pray you will be very profitable soon as more people hear and appreciate your stellar efforts. There are lots of us who feel this way and our numbers are growing! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Pablo E Arguello

April 22, 2017

What a spectacular piece of writing. It was from the heart and I felt it. I have shared his philosophy of finding the medium between capitalism and being responsible for all living things while doing so. Please keep up your amazing work. Your company is a model of how we should look to be in the future and present. Thank you for sharing such an amazing story with us. It is beyond inspirational to me.

JoAnne Fernandez

April 22, 2017

We absolutely love the idea behind Wild Idea and the quality of your products—they are a few dollars more, but so worth it! We won’t buy bison anywhere else (we live in Maryland) and we have switched over about 90% of our red meat meals to your bison. Healthier, sustainable, Earth-friendly, and delicious! We are spreading the word. Keep up the great work!

pat

April 22, 2017

You, Dan, have spent the last 45 years trying to atone for your inability to articulate the gravity of our ongoing world crisis. Now, you have atoned and your voice is loud and clear. Thank you, once again,

Pat

Ellen

April 22, 2017

Wonderful article! Thank you for caring and working so hard to heal a vital portion of our world.

Jane Baile

April 22, 2017

I do hope that the pleasure of reading again in this shorter form your dream, your endeavor, your belief , your hope, will be followed by the pleasure of meeting you when I come with my group of retired French people in June. Votre projet est passionnant.

Noel Smyth

April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day Dan! Thank you for what you are doing. We buy your product because of your mission to restore the plains. Oh and it happens to be the highest quality meat we can get. We have learned to eat less red meat and pretty much only from you. Thanks and keep up the great work!

john Ziskowski

April 22, 2017

I sometimes wonder about the driving force behind the extermination of buffalo on the Plains. Native Americans out West depended on these animals, and, their culture would die with these animals. So, here was a convenient effective way to eliminate those annoying people who pitched their tepees on Our Land.

Laurence Aumeunier

April 22, 2017

Un grand salut d’admiration et d’amitié pour Dan 0’Brien, et je souhaite que vous soyez un model suivi en France aussi.

Merci pour votre action et pour vos livres.

Chuck Beatty

April 22, 2017

Wonderful essay, Dan. Earth Day has special meaning this year as the administration continues to put profit ahead of environmental protection.

Your beach in Lake Erie is still in trouble. Pesticides are not the problem these days, but rather phosphorous that runs into the lake from both family farms and large CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). The phosphorous causes toxic algae blooms in the summer that make the water unsafe for drinking, swimming and fishing. We’ve had a lot of rain this spring and 2017 looks like it’s building up to be a banner year for toxic algae.

I’m doing what I can to raise awareness here in Ohio, but our state and federal government is reluctant to do what is needed. With the EPA in the hands of industry, most of our local water quality monitoring programs are in danger of going away for lack of funding.

These are bleak times, but it’s good to know that there are people like you out there doing what they can to save their small part of the world. Thank you.

Ardath Albizo

April 22, 2017

Dan,
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. As a probable contemporary of yours, I too was far more concerned with the rights of blacks and women, the Vietnam conflict and the acceptability of recreational marijuana. Perhaps it’s time to forgive yourself. You were young, and your “failure” at that debate has been the force which pushed you to create Wild Idea Buffalo Co. For that enterprise I am truly grateful: thank you so very much for making fantastic meats available. What would we customers do without you?!

John

April 22, 2017

The cruelest mission ever undertaken by any people, was the idea to put a bounty on our buffalo. Kill the food source and you defeat the
Indian . I am so ashamed of my people for inflicting such pain on both man and beast .

Reverend Thomas Carr

April 22, 2017

Beautiful! Thank you – and thank you for your continuing work.

Penny Gray

April 22, 2017

Even if Colonel Graff was still alive, he probably wouldn’t see the importance of what you’ve achieved. I despair at the fate of our planet if we can’t reconnect kids to nature and get them back outside. If nobody cares about these last great spaces and the wildlife and ecologies they support, all of it will vanish and ultimately, so will we.

Keith

April 22, 2017

Aloha Dan,

I’d say you just won that debate after all. As a fellow lake Erie transplant to elsewhere, similar in age, interests, prior vocation, a love for all wildlife including buffalo, and at least some shared beliefs: Just plain thanks! Cheers and aloha!

Claudia

April 22, 2017

Dan,

I cannot thank you enough for your passionate vision and fearless defense of the Great Plains Eco system. Using bison as a vehicle to heal both the planet, our native species and the human soul is brilliant, inspired, and pragmatic.
About two years ago, I bought some northwest TX acreage that had been a wheat farm. Working with TX Parks and Wildlife, I had it replanted in native grasses and forbs and am now joyfully watching this piece of the rolling plains slowly heal itself. Time will return this parcel back to a thriving ecosystem and I can’t wait to see it!
It is an honor to support the bison ranches of Wild Idea Buffalo. Keep up the good work and keep making a difference to change our world!

Cheves Leland

April 22, 2017

Thank you for what you’ve done and what you’re doing. Wild Idea Buffalo shows how one person can make a difference. Your determination, patience and constancy are changing lots of lives and helping the Earth. Bravo. Thank you.

Two Dog

April 23, 2017

Dan, you need not apologize to anyone or any generation. We do what we can with what we know. I too was active during the first Earth Day in 1970 and carry the curse and the blessing of the Boomer title. I was a beginning 5th grade teacher. I took my 35 students and we spent the day circling the campus and collected 47 black plastic bags full of trash. We realized how much was being wasted and began a food collection that became compost for a new garden. We raised chickens and shared fresh eggs. We challenged packaging, sugar/salt contents and nutrition in school lunches. The students wrote letters, made posters and created and presented a play. I can only hope it changed a few lives and spread environmental concern. But it wasn’t enough, I could have done more.
The prairie calls to so many of us, after going to college in Nebraska I can make sense of the feelings that arise when standing on a grassy hill and glazing over acres of open land. There, off in the distance where the land meets the sky roam dozens of magnificent animals, dark brown with red, woolly little ones running circles as their mamas feed. Thats what you have given all of us who read your stories, eat the meat you raise and want to stand next to you with the sun overhead and count those dark spots on the horizon. No, never apologize – right is right and will endure. It is not us two legged ones that will live on, we may fail but the earth will outlast us all.

Pat O'

April 23, 2017

Beautifully said, Dan. For all that you and Jill have done, and continue to do THANK YOU! Through your actions, you are educating, promoting healthier living, and helping to heal the planet. You point the way to the right path that we need to follow. I don’t think there is any more valuable contribution than that.

Charlie Frenette

April 23, 2017

As a person who straddles the capitalism/preservation chasm, I found your essay heartfelt, provocative and instructive. Clearly our 6 billion and growing world-wide population— by definition creates long term challenges to the eco-system that has been managed on a short term orientation to support our growing population and desired standard of living.

Your note describes how a single person (who along with family support) can translate their sensibilities and passion into entrepreneurial action that has purpose and makes a difference. I am struck at how you beliefs were not trapped in a stereotypical embodiment. Rather, you chose to live a life style and to demonstrate through deeds—not just words— that uses entrepreneurship and capitalist principles in a sustainable manner. It is moving.

I too am a loyal purchaser of your products because of their quality and perceived healthfulness. I now have another reason… support an interesting experiment that seeks to teach and demonstrate a different and better way. Well done and thanks for taking the time to articulate your views. More important thanks for what you do.

Cheers

Charlie

Patrick Pringle

April 23, 2017

Dan,
A friend posted your article. Enjoyed the read and enthusiastically commend you for your ongoing efforts and for speaking out. Don’t be too hard on yourself for not changing the world since 1970. I was co-coordinator of our first Earth-Day activities up at Univ. of Akron (big Ohio school) in 1970. We did some recycling and picketed at an industry that was spewing pollution into a nearby stream. Even then it didn’t seem like much, but it was a start. The next year I had an Earth walk to organize money for Nader’s public interest group he was starting in Ohio—statewide we made enough to at least get it launched. I think for me the important thing was that it was a personal epiphany in terms of my professional goals. I ended up working at Ohio EPA and then geology jobs here and there including USGS and WA Geologic Survey, mostly investigating the evidence for past volcanic eruptions, landslides, and earthquakes. And I think the most rewarding part has been teaching full-time in a community college for the past 12 years here in WA State. It’s been a chance to talk about the environment with new generations. We have lots of challenges ahead on so many levels, some of the most important are local!

michael

April 23, 2017

Dan,
You have nothing to “atone” for. If we all could do as much as you have to save our planet, it would be in much better condition.
I am so grateful for your efforts, including your wonderful writing, and that I was so fortunate to discover you. You will always have my total support.

bob jackson

April 23, 2017

Dan, “Defeats” can either “kill” us or it can cause us to reach deeper into our souls for the strength for conviction, determination … and thus the power to not only overcome, but to go on to even greater “victories” in life. But sometimes the infrastructure of the system we are a part of is actually “too much”. It is too entrenched for an individual to overcome. Thus “we” the “greater we” of the Big Lebowski have to have understanding for those who can not escape the fate of that over dominating institution you talk of in the ‘60’.
It can be so demoralizing for those that become part of an “institution” …. those entering in ….have such emotional ties of mission of common goals as stated of that institution … to then be so shattered when, over time, they find out that institution, the beliefs they have committed to, twists life completely around.
Such is an institution like the National Park Service. In my 30 years in Yellowstone I saw just about all my fellow rangers retire either as bitter or apathetic. Some very good people, those with deep environment conviction, slowly over the years were defeated …or should I say, “lost their way”. Yes, as time went on after retirement the memories, the “glory days” had to come front center for most of them. It had to … other wise how does that person justify a life now about over.

They were … and still are very good people. And I can forgive them all, whomever they are, for falling into the trap they didn’t have the opportunity to change or get out of. Some of us were “lucky”. The stars aligned. That is all. We could fight the abuses, We could win govt. battles (or should I say win against the politics of govt.) where the likes of Dick Cheney pulled out all his dirty tricks to protect his exploitive and corrupt outfitter buddies. Yes I can win a 2 year nationally media followed “case”. I can stay in my favorite part of park doing the same job I always did. No whistle blower winner gets to do that. They all are transferred out. not me.
But what is “victory”? He hurt a lot of my peers in Yellowstone when he lost. Those were peers I spent decades around. Some I personally fished, hiked, patrolled lots of miles on a horse. But in the end they were forced to stand for the “govt.” or face the career consequences. When Cheney blamed them for my I categorize as a “right for good” win he forced GS grade loss, transfers to other agencies, early retirement …you name it. Cheney is a very poor loser.

Yes, I helped change some culture, some rights for free speech in govt. language … as rights now spelled out to every govt. employee in their hiring packets. State laws were expanded regarding salt baiting of big game, the grizzlies were given a few more years relief in endangered Species protection, but I feel for my peers, my associates, my friends who could not escape the effects of govt. abuse … of their very core of a person. I don’t know the answer. I was “lucky”.

For the likes of Colonel Graff and Cheney … may they rest in peace. For those not “lucky”, my peers with no way out, they, I need to tell them, as Private Ryan asked in Saving Private Ryan “Yes, you are a good man”. For the peers you felt you let down on that first Earth Day I am sure they, even then, knew there stood a “very good man”. And after this, all the years of conviction driving one forward, the decades that help define environmental good … that is the icing on the cake. A tip of the shot glass to you over the shoulder, my man.

Kathy Day

April 23, 2017

Dan,
Once again, you have hit the nail on the head. You may have stumbled in your 20’s to find the right words, but you certainly have no trouble finding them now. Godspeed, friend. Best to Jill and the family, from Bill & Kathy in the north Georgia mountains.
Kathy

Russell Brooks

April 23, 2017

Really awesome blog, thank you! Keep spreading the word, keep up the good work!

Dr JE Bateau_nowak

April 23, 2017

Like most indigenous people, I will take time to think & reflect upon the words that you have written. We generally do not just speak (or write) without doing so. But I will tell you that you did not fail when you spoke before the other students in front of this Colonel Graff. It took much courage to do this. You spoke about Mother Earth, and the way of the world. He spoke about the way of the white man, what he knows about how to destroy Mother Earth. Your defense of the land did not come with big fancy words. It came from your heart. No man can speak up better for her than that. No white man who is already intent on the destruction of the ecology will listen to these words. Witness what is going on with the pipline so close to where you are living. They do not hear the pleas of the people who’s water supply they will ruin, who’s holy grace sites they will disgrace. They only hear the sounds of the coins in their pockets, and see the zeros adding up in those bank books they carry around with them. But when there is no place left to go, nothing else left to buy, who will they listen to then? Who will they turn to for advice, then all of the indigenous people are wiped from this planet, & all of the buffalo are finally gone? To whom will they turn to then, except other white men who still have heart, and are not afraid to say so?

Lan

April 24, 2017

Spectacular writing Dan!! We can all be grateful for the commitment you have made to raise Buffalo in the grasslands and offer the meat. Ke

Lia

April 24, 2017

Wonderful blogpost. Thank you for sharing your journey in trying to make a difference! From a younger lover-of-the-earth, I thank you for your continued contribution.

Eirik Heikes

April 24, 2017

I really appreciate this, Dan. So much of your storytelling has a parallel in my life; from my entomology and ecology awareness at Montana State to my volunteer work here in Rapid City.

I love what you are saying and also what you are doing.

Thank you.

Karen Oetken

April 25, 2017

Under the new administration​, and the desire to gut programs such as the EPA, you just might get another chance to redo your 1970 save the Earth speech.

Karen A Filter

April 25, 2017

Hi Dan! Karen (Hirsimaki) Filter here. This writing is so fulfilling and inspirational! The world is a better place with folks like you; who can put feelings into words so well. Your thinking is sensitive and thorough and that’s causing your life to be remarkable, educational and meaningful…..for all the rest of us! Thank you!
I agree with every word you ever say, but my life hasn’t gone the way of my thinking in totality! I am working, still, to satisfactorily express myself in art; on canvas, in clay, wood, and ink…as I said….you inspire me.

Carolyn Desmond

April 27, 2017

Dan O’Brien, I graduated from my Southwest Missouri Ozarks high school in 1970. I was a Wichita, Kansas transplant and resided in the “Hills” from age 7 to age 18. In essence, the ethereal beauty of Nature rescued me from the din of proverbial chaos within the four walls of the shack where my 6 siblings and I were razed. In 1986, my husband, our son, and, I relocated from Ohio to Kansas, around Wichita. For over 30 years, we’ve lived very near the Flint Hills and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, where a growing herd of bison has been positioned since 2009. What a joy and wonder it is to sidestep the Turnpike and gain a panoramic view of the Prairie! What Europeans did to the First People and their primary food source, the Buffalo, will forever remain inexcusable. Altruism is not a philosophical state of being of which should only exist in terms of dealing with humans. When I was a farm kid in Missouri, students could take courses in Animal Husbandry. A “crop” should always be tended with love and care if one hopes to harvest a healthful Bounty. Personally, I believe in a Creator of all things Great and Small. It has been shown, scientifically, over many millennia, Man’s brain has increased in size. I find that Truism very confusing in the fact that the more advanced in “Mind” Man has become, the rate of destruction has increased, exponentially, as well. Greed, Power, and Lust are negative virtues of which Man will, sadly, never evolve away from,
en masse. That has been the Curse, the Bane, of Friends of the Earth, Wind, and Sky for centuries, whether one is aligned with a Spiritual Deity beyond this World, or not. To me, the generalized health of our World, is not going to be solved by a Political Machine. Concerned Americans, irrespective of being an Elephant or a Donkey, are going to have to get down to the brass tacks of the conundrum we’ve got ourselves into as a Nation, an integral part of a World Society. We must rip off the false masks of supposed “Caring”, and replace the Old with the New; Reality, as it lives and breathes, before it no longer can. I am an advocate of all things Wild and Free, plus, I believe in humane treatment of all domesticated animals, whether pets or the ones raised for human consumption. Our Country needs to quit spraying toxins on our food crops. Aside from the negative impact it’s having on us, it is killing off bees. Unless we want to be reduced to subsisting on wheat, rice, and corn, we need to remember that bees accomplish more than making honey. They allow for the bulk of bright colored fruits and vegetables on our Harvest Table. Even alfalfa has to be pollinated; parts of which are consumed by Man and cattle. I digress. Thanks again, for your heartfelt essay, Dan. I agree with you, this Nation and World cannot afford to wait any longer for the Establishment to make the “wise” move toward resolving the in our face threats to Flora and fauna in this Great Land. We, each, must endeavor to do our part in terms of Conservation.
Carolyn S. Desmond

Ken Winter

May 23, 2017

Dan, excellent account of your journey through life.Wish we could clone you.Your love of the land and nature are heartfelt and deeply shared with me. The tv show , Expeditions With Patrick McMillan on PBS about Wild Idea Ranch was very informative and inspirational.We have a Conservation Easement on our farm in NC, trying to do our small part for nature. We absolutely love all of your bison products. Happy Trails and may all your days have sunshine.

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