My Christmas present arrived a few days early.
On the Saturday before Christmas a couple of trucks from South Dakota pulled into a pasture in eastern Colorado and unloaded 93 bred bison heifers (two-year old females that will deliver a calf this spring). Eight are mine.
Finally, I am starting to rebuild my small herd.
A few years back, I went in with another bison producer and leased some pasture on the Colorado Plains. We were steadily building a bison herd, and developing a small meat company. Then, along came a drought. Grass withered, and hay prices skyrocketed. We had to abandon the pasture and sell most of our animals. I moved the remnants of my herd to a friend’s ranch.
Last year he acquired a lease on 8,200 acres of prairie grasslands, and invited me and another producer to join him in a partnership to put bison on the property. We’ve been spending days upgrading fencing, and getting the property ready.
This can be harsh country. One day, while fencing, the thermometer dropped from 58° in mid-morning to 27° by early afternoon. Another day, I lost my favorite old hat to a hefty wind gust.
Even this week, when I went to check on the animals, I observed from a distance because they were grazing on a far hillside beyond a snow-drifted gully impassable with my truck. But the bison were doing just fine, thank you. Wind gusts of 40 mph that rocked my truck didn’t seem to faze the animals. They were focused on enjoying a buffet of grasses exposed by the wind.
So, I just sat in my truck and watched. It was a very Merry Christmas.