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Winter River Crossing

Dan & I returned home just before midnight this last Thursday from a Patagonia book tour in California. We were greeted with a cold, still night and a black sky filled with stars. We awoke the next morning to a snow-covered prairie, the first snowfall of the year.

This was also the day that we would move the buffalo onto the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, their winter grazing grounds consisting of 24,000 acres of grasslands. Dan & Colton had organized a plan on the when and the how we would do this. We were discussing the buffalo gathering as we gazed out the window at the new winter scenery. A small group of buffalo had started to gather on the bottom ground with more trickling in from every direction. Then, as if on cue, they lined out in a single file for the gate that would take them across the river. “Would you look at that”, Dan said. “They must know”, Jilian replied.

A new plan was quickly put into place and our crew of five bundled up and headed out the door.

We followed the single file path to the gate where the buffalo and the birds that would travel with them, waited patiently.

Dan & went through first, closing the gate behind us, so we could cross the river and call them over. Once we were in position, Jilian & Colton, along with little Lincoln, opened the gate and led them to the river.

They had made this crossing many times and ran along the river enthusiastically, looking for their favorite narrow and not to deep place to cross.

As always the group was led by an older cow and was the first to take the plunge into the icy cold water.

As they crossed they gathered again, as if waiting for all to get across safely.

The last bunch trickled across slowly, with a single older cow bringing up the rear.

Once all had crossed they took off climbing the river breaks and moved out onto their winter pasture.

It was a wonderful welcome home for all.

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27 comments

  • It is wonderful to see this and to know that our nations past is being brought back! I am looking forward to getting a healthier food product to eat and also to see hat you guys along with others are bringing this food source back to America!

    Pam Matthews
  • Beautiful photo’s and an amazing, inspirational way to live on the land. My husband and I run a sheep and cattle farm on Kangaroo Island off the south coast of Australia and it is incredible to see these pictures of what you guys are up to on the other side of the world. Your son is lucky to have such inspiring people and animals to grow and learn from. We have three young children of our own and maybe one day we will come and visit your part of the world. Keep up the good work!

    Becky Westbrook
  • Je viens de terminer le livre c’est super ce que vous faîtes ne changez rien grâce à vous j’ai appris sur ces grandes prairies et je suis bien loin du mythe qu’elle représentait pour moi, je ne les savais pas si malade mais elles revivent bravo le bison Bill parcourt il toujours la prairie ? c’était un avis et une demande d’une petite française

    hélène
  • Loved the pictures and narration! Wonderful to see unspoiled prairie. The ranch land around my small acreage was in danger of being sold off after the owner died. Thankfully, another rancher who has leased the property for more than 50 years bought it and it remains virgin ground. Yes, they run cattle but their rotational schedule keeps this land from being overgrazed. I can’t have buffalo to watch over my fence but I can’t have everything. At least I’m not going to have to look at some sub-division complete with all the “good stuff” that invariably comes with them! Keep up your wonderful work so that the many who have never seen a REAL prairie might visit you.

    Laurie Hamilton
  • It saddens me to see these magnificent pictures knowing the animals exist to be slaughtered. But, then, I am one of those who eat them and I get past that knowing that’s the way of this planet and I appreciate that their days are made happy because of the way y’all treat them.
    Keep up your excellent work and creative marketing. I certainly enjoy your product!

    Walter Heberlein
  • What a beautiful sight, Jill. Brings tears to my eyes to see such a healthy and happy herd of these regal creatures making their way to their winter grounds. Could be hundreds of years ago.

    Thanks for sharing the moments and pics of your beautiful family, Jill.

    Yes. Happy Winter! :)

    Nancy
  • Un bon hiver aux bisons et de bonnes fin d’ années à tous, amitiés de France

    LE QUELLEC SERGE
  • Jill, I never know which evokes a stronger reaction in me – your words or your photographs! Both of them are magic in the way they capture the soul of the bison and the wonder of your ranch. Hoping Bill and I can make another visit to the ranch sometime. A sense of peace and calm comes over me just looking at these pictures and bringing back memories of our days with you guys!
    Kathy

    Kathy Day
  • THAT is Awesome!! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year~

    Gina Obrien
  • The pictures are incredible and it is so interesting to see the process. The bison seem to know!

    Carol Else
  • I love these pictures. they are beautiful. I bought a package of meat from you guys it is great.

    linda moore
  • I loved the pictures of the Bison and your writing’s.

    Mary Flaherty
  • GREAT

    DICK WILBERFORCE
  • What a beautiful story! Many thanks for all you’re doing for the prairie and these remarkable creatures.

    Keith Lewis, Block Island
  • Wonderful snapshot of these wonderful beasts. Must have been a truly spiritual experience,

    D. Brockway

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