McDermot, Nebraska, is a pleasant, scenic western cattle town situated in the Pawnee River valley—just the place for people seeking refuge from their hectic city lives. It is also just the place for those who have made their homes on this haunting prairie since the late nineteenth century. Ideal for both, McDermot means everything to those native inhabitants and something very different to those who are looking for a new life.
As the native residents wrestle with the arrival of outsiders, a local journalist uncovers a medical scandal epitomizing the problems facing the divided community. After the death of two men, it falls to the ancient but powerful district attorney to mediate a resolution between the clashing interests of the new and the old West. And the Thurston family, descended from the town’s first citizen, sets out in its own way to fight the forces threatening to destroy it. This is the story of new and old interests colliding, of small western plains towns confronting the forces of “progress.”
Wild Idea Buffalo Company is excited to announce Dan O'Brien's new book, Wild Idea, Buffalo & Family in a Difficult Land. Dan's new book is currently available and each copy is signed by the author himself.
Wild Idea is a book about how good food choices can influence federal policies and the integrity of our food system, and about the dignity and strength of a legendary American animal. It is also a book about people: the daughter coming to womanhood in a hard landscape, the friend and ranch hand who suffers great tragedy, the venture capitalist who sees hope and opportunity in a struggling buffalo business, and the husband and wife behind the ranch who struggle daily, wondering if what they are doing will ever be enough to make a difference. At its center, Wild Idea is about a family and the people and animals that surround them - all trying to build a healthy life in a big, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous land.
For twenty years Dan O’Brien struggled to make ends meet on his cattle ranch in South Dakota. But when a neighbor invited him to lend a hand at the annual buffalo roundup, O’Brien was inspired to convert his own ranch, the Broken Heart, to buffalo. Starting with thirteen calves, “short-necked, golden balls of wool,” O’Brien embarks on a personal journey that returns buffalo to his land for the first time in more than a century and a half.
Buffalo for the Broken Heart is at once a tender account of the buffaloes’ first seasons on the ranch and an engaging lesson in wildlife ecology. Whether he’s describing the grazing pattern of the buffalo, the thrill of watching a falcon home in on its prey, or the comical spectacle of a buffalo bull wallowing in the mud, O’Brien combines a novelist’s eye for detail with a naturalist’s understanding to create an enriching, entertaining narrative.
One subzero morning, as Dan O’Brien approaches his fiftieth year, the autumnal equinox of his life, he takes stock. Feeling a waning sense of purpose, he decides to devote himself entirely, for the first time in his life, to his greatest loves—falconry, his bird dogs, and the prairie he calls home.
That summer he obtains a remarkable falcon chick who immediately distinguishes herself by her ferocity. He names the bird Harley and trains her in the ways of falconry. Harley’s powers of flight are awe-inspiring, her hunting success astounding, and like a lover, she captivates him. O’Brien hunts with her obsessively, reveling in her prowess and beauty. What he learns from her and from what happens one wind-driven day lead him to see fully things he had only just begun to glimpse.