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February 10, 2017

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Winter Grazing

It has been a full-blown winter here on the prairie. Since our first snowstorm in early December the snow has continued and the cold temperatures have remained persistent.
Winter on the ranch
The snow is starting to lose its charm and the frigid temps are starting to show in peoples' personalities. The only thing that seems unaffected is the buffalo and the wildlife.

Since November our buffalo herd has been on their winter pasture on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. They have 22,000 acres to keep them happy and satiated. We can go weeks without seeing them.  To look out the window at the snow-covered landscape it would make sense to ask, what are they eating? Even without seeing the landscape, we get this question often. 

Buffalo Winter Grazing

For thousands of years, bison roamed over America’s grasslands without our help. They tended to the prairie as if they were the gardeners of a very large lawn, mowing, pruning and fertilizing here and there, keeping the landscape balanced and healthy. 

Our philosophy and practices at Wild Idea Buffalo Company are much the same as what nature intended.  Other than a necessary boundary fence, we allow and want the buffalo to be buffalo, even in the harshest of winter months.   

Bison Winter Grazing

Buffalo are very good at foraging for food. They use their big heads, supported by the big muscles in their neck to push the snow away to get to the vegetation.  

Bison in winter

Per our certification of 100% grass-fed our animals must be on pasture eating the grasses beneath their feet. The only exception to this criterion is for severe, inclement weather, such as heavy snow packed winters or drought. 

Colton Jones

During winter months getting to the buffalo can be difficult and before we can get to them we have to see them. (Spotting 300 head of buffalo in 22,000 acres is like looking for a needle in a haystack.) If all the stars are aligned and we spot them on the bluff from the house, and if Colton is available, he will bring down a bale of hay. The hay is a mixture of grass with a little alfalfa from our pastures in a good grass (rain) year. The bale weighs about a ton (2,000 lbs.) with each buffalo needing about 25 pounds of forage a day. With 300 head of bison this is not so much to feed them, as it is to supplement them with a little snack.

This Tuesday the stars aligned and so I caught a ride with Colton in the tractor. There was fresh snow on the ground and it sparkled like diamonds in the morning light. When the buffalo could hear the tractor they started to spill down to the river bottom from the bluff and then they lined out our way as we got the bale unrolled.

Buffalo in winter

The only sound was about 100 buffalo hooves crushing through snow. 

Bison in snow

 

We watched for a bit while discussing how good they looked. The silence was soon interrupted by chewing and soft grunts, which I interpreted as “thank you”.

By the time I was heading for work in Rapid City, the buffalo had started to climb the bluff where the snow had started to melt. Tomorrows forecast predicts temperatures in the 50’s - a start at thawing the cold on the landscape and in the people.

 

 

 


Comments

Stacey

February 10, 2017

Very nice story.

Liz Aicher

February 11, 2017

Thanks for the insight! Wonderful story – wonderful pics!
Stay warm!

Sarah

February 11, 2017

Thank you for sharing this information. Yes, stay warm.

Verlene Montgoery Hawker

February 11, 2017

Thanks for the pics and info.

Ann Jarboe

February 11, 2017

Thanks for the updates in the life of your beautiful buffaloes!

Judie Maxfield

February 11, 2017

Always love your heart-warming stories about the buffalo. Such a loving story. You and your efforts for their health and ours are so very much appreciated. Buffalo are truly wonderful creatures. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures.

Bob Jacobson

February 11, 2017

Thanks for this story and wonderful photos! What magnificent, majestic and perfect stewards of the grasslands the bison are ! Looking forward to the next update. Keep up the great work !

John Gee

February 11, 2017

Excellent article. Plains are an under appreciated eco-system. Thank you for the insights.

Mike Matson

February 11, 2017

Majestic animals , thank you for the wonderful sustinence that you provide to us , both wildideabuffalo & the animals themselves !

Denis Harden

February 11, 2017

Thank you for this info. It makes purchasing your products even more worth while.

Ann Smith

February 11, 2017

yes thank you so interesting i know that Buffallo are very resilient animals so that is good

john collier

February 11, 2017

What a way to spend the winter months of snow & Ice…Truely amazing Animals…!!!

Sybille Crane

February 11, 2017

Thank you for this beautiful “update” on how the Big Guys are doing this winter! I so enjoy your posts, sharing the greatness of nature and its wonderful creatures with us! Sending love and greetings and wishes for continued well-being to you and your family, two-legged and four-legged from Germany!

Jeannette Hall

February 11, 2017

I loved hearing about the bison in Winter and the pictures are amazing too. Thank you for sharing this, it is so nice to see where our wonderful meat is coming from.

Pascal

February 11, 2017

Wonderfull picrures.lucky you are to be in this wild nature.
Thank you to preserve this specy in her habitat.

pat

February 11, 2017

May your troubles melt as snow before the spring sun. Once again, thank you for your words and pictures.

Janis Blimling

February 11, 2017

I love the imagery you conjure: crunch and munch.

Michael

February 11, 2017

My favorite line: “For thousands of years, bison roamed over America’s grasslands without our help. They tended to the prairie as if they were the gardeners of a very large lawn, mowing, pruning and fertilizing here and there, keeping the landscape balanced and healthy.” This shows an understanding that is still somehow rare in today’s world. Thank you.

Jerry and Deanie

February 11, 2017

We love you guys! Thank you for the stories, and all your tireless efforts to bring us the best meat on the planet!

Barb in Griffin

February 11, 2017

What a lovely update. It gives me such pleasure to see the commitment you your family have toward preserving this amazing creature in the way it was naturally intended.

With gratitude and honor for all you do.

Brenda

February 11, 2017

Wow beautiful pictures. Love the story. Glad you saw them.

Willadee hitchcock

February 11, 2017

Always enjoy a window into your world. It’s like a salve to the soul. Keep up the good work. It’s so important.

Patricia shepherd

February 11, 2017

Love your product.

Chris Jorgensen

February 11, 2017

Every prior post expressed my feelings, thoughts and wishes for all of you and those magnificent buffalo.
Thanks for the memories!!

Jerome Ferenc

February 11, 2017

Hey, Thanks a lot for your report, from the Badlands! Or shood I say, The Goodlands! Oh to be a buffalo at 50 below. I’ll bet they loved the “snack”! It didn’t look like, the whole herd? Viya con Dios!

Kenneth James

February 11, 2017

Sounds wonderful and glad you are having a good winter. Your feeding technique sounds much like my friends in Southpark CO. They had grazing rights on 2000 acre unfenced subdivision. Their property 40acres was one of spots where underground water surfaced. Their horses were trained to come to call by vehicle horn or evening by grain ration year round. When visiting I was facinated to find resident pronghorns liked to play with vehicles on road. They would parallel and then dart across in front and past at vehicles 20some mph.
I enjoyed reading about your first years adventures using grasslands pastures in
“Wild Idea”. You & your Buffalo are definitely being good stewards to the public grasslands and your own.

K. Wayne Wright

February 11, 2017

I love Bison meat. But most of all I love seeing the amazing animals on their natural range! I truly wish they could be as prevalent as they once where in this country, along with Moose, elk, deer, as well as Grizzle Bear, and every other animal that once where! I am very proud of all of you for allowing these Great Beasts their Majestic Dignity and to live the way they were intended to Live! As natural as can be until they are harvested. I wish every livestock Company could follow your lead, by respecting and revering the animals they are in charge of, to be harvested with dignity!!!!!

Danny Shepherd

February 11, 2017

Looks good!

Pat O'

February 11, 2017

Love the great photos and writing. Thanks for sharing, and a huge THANK YOU for what you are doing!

Bea Godbee

February 11, 2017

I love reading all this history and are so very happy that you are raising all these buffalo. I can hardly wait to have some meat and cook it! What a delight!! Thank heavens we are able to see this real American animal roam again! Thanks so much for all you do.

Darcy Eatherly

February 11, 2017

Wonderful story. Thank you again for all you do so that so many of us can enjoy the fruits of your hard work. I love reading your stories about the buffalo.

Allan Rathje

February 11, 2017

I am retired now, but I had a stock cow herd in eastern Iowa and remember getting up on cold winter days and taking round bales out to feed them. The animals really appreciate the extra treat and then turn around and go back out in the corn stocks. The pictures really make those bison steaks taste oh so good. We have to admit Mother Nature does a pretty awesome.

Regina Carver

February 11, 2017

Beautiful. Loved your presentation. Thank you!

Lois Boatright

February 12, 2017

Thank you for sharing.

Marta Holmes

February 12, 2017

Thank you for continuing to educate us about these majestic creatures. They don’t need us as much as we need them. I am wondering if you all are as concerned about the Yellowstone herd and POSSIBLE Brucellosis as the cattle ranchers are. I realize this is a emotional topic and you may not want to comment. I understand.

Reggie Patrick

February 12, 2017

Do you sell buffalo or do you know where I could purchase a pair? I want to personally help perserve the heritage. Thank you and may God continue to bless you and yours.

Anthony Bell

February 12, 2017

Great pictures!!

Lee Myers

February 12, 2017

Thank you for succumbing to a morning ride before “work.” Nicely done.

all business

February 12, 2017

For your stewardship, gentle activism, awareness creating, poetry and visiual artistry. Thank you.

Anne Albers

February 12, 2017

Love to see and hear how winter is going with the bison. I’m on the “East River” side and enjoying temps in the 40’s today…not much snow left!
Take care…spring is on the way!

Joan Bauer

February 13, 2017

thanks so much for this wonderful account of life – for you and he buffalo – in Winter on the Prairie

John

February 13, 2017

that is nice you take the time to get the hay to them, they do look good

Lis Fleming

February 13, 2017

Great. Love it.Love these iconic animals. Question: What can we do to get the Yellowstone Bison onto the tribal land that has been set aside for 300 of them (as a quarantine)? I read in the “Sacramento Bee” that these animals were slated for slaughter by the hundreds (on the pretext of disease control). Whom would we contact to counter this awful plan? Has anything changed? Thanks.

Janet Bonet

February 14, 2017

I so enjoy these essays and photos. BTW. The Buffalo River has been absolutely wonderful. I swear I can taste the Prairie when I eat it. The most flavorful and tender liver I have ever had. Bless the beasts and the men who care for them.

Roxanne Fox

February 14, 2017

Winter seems to be Nature’s reset button! It seems like everything starts over again from being cold shocked. Thank you for this glimpse into the wintery months for the buffalo. They are amazing earth keepers.

Gerald Hill

February 15, 2017

I prefer pork ribs over beef ribs. But I was wondering how buffalo ribs are. Do you ever Bar-B-Q a slab of buffalo ribs and are they better than pork ribs or similar to beef ribs. I’ve heard that buffalo meat is better than beef. Is that true. I wish I could find a place to buy some to try out. I live by Cassville, Mo. 65625. Enjoyed the story and pictures. Thanks. Gerald Hill

Kyle Landscaping

February 15, 2017

When I was 13 or 14 I was privileged enough to help a man that owned the Buffalo Inn near Woolrich (Famed clothing line), Pa. He had 40 buffalo that he raised then had butchered & served at his restaurant. It was really a treat to work there I realized as I grew older. Majestic animals. <3

Karen Mains

February 15, 2017

There is nothing more magnificent than a herd or a single Buffalo. I have collected white Buffalo paintings, statues, and also the great brown Buffalo. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photo’s.

Michael Lohrengel

February 15, 2017

THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHTS I HAVE EVER SEEN – I HAVE BEEN CLOSE TO THOSE MAJESTIC BEASTS ONCE OR TWICE AND THEY ARE ONE OF GOD’S GREATEST CREATIONS – THE NATIVE AMERICANS HAD A GREAT RESPECT AND REVERENCE FOR THESE CREATURES AND NEVER KILLED MORE THAN THEY NEEDED NOR DID THEY WASTE ANYTHING THAT THE ANIMAL PROVIDED – AND THEN CAME THE STUPID, MORONIC, IDIOTIC WHITE MAN WHO THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT SPORT TO NEARLY PUT INTO EXTINCTION THESE BEAUTIFUL CREATURES – BUT NOW THROUGH HAD WORK AND DEDICATION BY INDIVIDUALS SUCH AS ARE FEATURED IN THIS STORY THE WHITE MAN HAS FINALLY FIGURED OUT THAT ELIMINATING TOTALLY ONE OF THE MOST MAGNIFICENT ANIMALS ON EARTH IS A TRAVISTY AND A CRIME AGAINST GOD HIMSELF – THANK YOU GENTLEMEN FOR ALL OF THE WORK AND EFFORT YOU PUT FORTH TO GIVE THESE ANIMALS A SHOWING OF CARE AND CONCERN FOR THEIR WELL BEING – GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU WHO DO THIS -STAY HEALTHY AND SAFE AND WARM AND KEEP UP YOUR FANTASTIC WORK

MARVIN BRESHEARS

February 19, 2017

BEEN THERE LOVE YOUR ESSAYS

Steven G. Reynolds

February 20, 2017

My friend and I have traveled South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska extensively, and whereas I’m always excited to see buffalo somewhere on the range without a fence in sight—I’m saddened when more often I don’t see even one. Throughout the grasslands Angus cattle rule the landscape mile after mile, up hill and down. “Where or where are the buffalo?” I’m thinking. Those animals in corrals or on the outside of towns as tourist attractions, I sympathize with, what a life for a grazing animal. . . in contrast, up in Theodore National Park, North Unit, I saw a magnificent buffalo walking alone through waving prairie grass up to its knees, a wildly gorgeous animal in its natural environment! I hope to one day visit your place, if possible. Thank you for all you do to promote these animals.

Siggy Palmer

February 20, 2017

Beautifully written, as always. Your love of the animals, the inter-connectedness of life, the necessity of freedom and wildness in the whole process of what you do and how you do it, is always and forever an inspiration to me. Every time I enjoy some Wild Idea Buffalo, I feel like I am honoring the sacrifice of one of your majestic animals, ingesting the fresh air, walking the clean rugged hills. Please consider indulging those of us who love your writing with another book to bring us home to your prairies and your herd.

Sue Olson

March 03, 2017

What a joy to get to see and watch them. I never get tired of watching the herd at Custer State Park. Isn’t this an awesome state!

Ann

March 05, 2017

Thanks for sharing how you take care of these beautiful animals. Love the fact you give them help when they need it. Planning a trip to South Dakota so my great granddaughter and see the Buffalo in person.

Sue

March 11, 2017

Great food Bison, my meat of choice. Grassfed and finished like they should be. Visited the 777 ranch. Feeds my health and soul.

Bob Hoggatt

March 12, 2017

Great story and pics. I have a question about the hides from harvest. I am looking for hides to make brain tanned robes. Got my area set up and tipi smoke house ready. Just need reasonable priced hides.

Mary Ann

March 12, 2017

Thanks for posting this wonderful story and photos. Could you tell us about the health of the prairie? Are there healthy prairie dog communities and how do they add to the health of the prairie?

Virginia

March 13, 2017

Grateful for the information. Great knowing more about the buffalo and their habits. Beautiful pictures of the herd. Gentle giants in the wild.

Alan Geoffrin

March 15, 2017

Just one more thing that makes Buffalo Gap such a special place.

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