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The herd at the ranch now numbers approximately 115 animals. The owner/operator says the animals start to breed after two years, compared to one for a cow, for example. At present the farm produces about 30 new animals per year.
The animals were gathered from several states, including Nebraska and Montana. There were estimated to be as many as 40 to 60 million bison as late as 1865 in the US west, and by about 1890 they had been wantonly slaugtered until only about 800 animals survived. As a result, inbreeding is an ever present problem. There is a separate Canadian population, which ranchers in that country would like to see slaughtered even today. At one time bison existed in every state except Hawaii. Even today there are some in Alaska, including, at one time, a strain that had a strong gene for producing white varients. Perhaps some of them are still there, perhaps they've all been shot out for rugs, stuffed heads, and other things for the moths to chew on. They were well adapted to the hard conditions on the plains, as evidenced by their numbers at one time. They eat weeds as well as grass, which means they can graze just about anywhere, and once did.
Today it is said there are about 300,000 bison in the US. A European variety suffered about the same fate at those in the US, and now number only in the hundreds. Had not a number been taken to Russia in the early 1900s to give "hunters" there something to shoot at they would probably be extinct now. During WWI German troops killed the remaining animals existing in the last remnant of the original European forest, which at the time was at the eastern edge of Poland. Probably because of land constraints now, the have never recovered much. The European variety is slightly smaller than those in the US. They are depicted in many cave drawings.
Bison is a very low cholesterol meat, much like ostrich and emu. Although early US ranchers claimed that people prefered beef to bison because of the superior taste, I'm skeptical. The following price list for meat at the Readington River Buffalo Company gives some indication of what it will cost if you develop a taste for the meat.
The fenching shown here illustrates another reality of raising and keeping bison. They are strong. Note the size of the fencing poles. They can also clear a 12 foot obstacle if they decide to. I don't think these fences are that tall, and it's quite possible that they could be climbed over - bison do that.
Notice the thing in the sky. That's a NJ black vulture.
A closer look at some of the tall fencing. This is around a feeding area.
One of the guys munching. You can be assured that a closeup shot like this takes a lot of courage. More than I have. This was taken using the zoom lens. Grazing bison.
Enough of these pesky photographers.
This is a view from the road leaving the farm. I think these are all guys. The main herd is out further, and to the right. The farm is 250 acres. Small herd.
The photographs below were taken on January 27, 2002.
Left click on the images below for larger versions.
A shot taken June 13,2002, shows one of several herds. This one has several new arrivals.
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This is a view of the farm house. It has that 1700s "just kind of happened" architecture. A guess would be that the part left of the chimney more or less in the middle of the house was added later. Houses of this vintage were sometimes expanded to accommodate local population explosions. In Maine, where everyone is more or less related to everyone else, there are often very long extensions for this purpose in older houses.
So, in no particular order:
Black coffee barbaque sauce.
Charred medallions coffee barbaque sauce.
Crockpot pot roast.
Ribs merlot barbaque sauce.
Tenderloin and portobello mushroom skewers.
Teriyaki stir fry.