I get to see a lot and do a lot that I'm thinking I wouldn't have if I would've trashed the classified ad that one our family friends circled and left on our doorstep for me about five years ago. This has been a wild ride and I continue to learn so much here about all types of agriculture.
But a couple weeks ago, I had a new experience thanks to this career choice -- and no, it wasn't pulling an illegal U-ie in the middle of a country road intersection just as a county sheriff was cresting the hill right next to me (not that I would do that, or then laugh about the irony the entire time he was following me and praying I wouldn't get pulled over for drunk driving.) (Not that I have been pulled over for drunk driving... well, truth be told, I have, but I wasn't drinking, just laughing and seat dancing...my parents drive past while I was sitting on the side of the road talking to the cop....they honked and waved...) I digress...
Anywhoo, so I got to visit a buffalo farm!
I was pretty stoked because A.) the only buffalo I had ever seen was on a vacation car trip out west and B.) it certainly seemed to be a rarity in Indiana. I mean, these are buffalo for cryin' out loud!
But, as I talked with Rich Vaughan about his herd of buffalo (or bison) he made a great point when I asked how the buffalo had to adapt to living in Indiana's four seasons, after all, I had only seen them out west where I assumed it was dry all the time, I guess.
"Whitney," he said, "what's on the state seal?"
God bless him for not making me feel like a moron (that tends to happen with some people! I always get nervous when people start asking ME questions in an interview -- that's not how my job works... I ask the questions around here!)
That's right, our state seal has a buffalo right in the middle of it! Duh! And I call myself a Hoosier! (although, in looking for the pic of the state seal, I found a homeschooling Web site that said Indiana residents can be referred to as Hoosiers or Indianans -- is that true?! Indianans? That just sounds silly... not like Hoosiers! or Boilermakers!! Whoot whoot for Purdue!!)
Whitney, get back on track...
Where was I...?
So I go visit with Rich at Vaughan Buffalo Farm and have a great time chatting with him and he showed me the mounts he has made of the bulls' heads. (Bison bulls are only used a few years until they are switched out to prevent inbreeding -- made sense to me!) The bulls are done as shoulder mounts and are HUGE! And very cool! They stick out from the wall like four feet!
Mental note: when building/buying next house, make sure it has room to hang a bison bull mount just for the coolness of it... very a la Dances With Wolves...
But when it was time to go get a picture of Rich with the herd, I was caught a bit off guard. On the phone beforehand, Rich said getting a pic would be no biggie. We'd just sprinkle some hay by the fence and they'd come over and stand in the background. Wallah!
When we went out to do just that, we found the herd was on the other side of the pond and pasture -- like five acres away. Now, you must know I was prepared to walk through mud or bison turds, I had packed my muck boots. (but not my roller states! ha ha, I've had that stupid song in my head ever since this interview!)
But I was NOT okay to walk that far with nothing between me and a few thousand pounds of buffalo! If it were cattle, I'da been fine with that, but these gals were huge and had horns and the bull was in the pasture with them.
I must had had a look written on my face that said, "Holy buffalo, Batman, I am NOT going in there!" Rich offered to drive us out to the herd in his Jeep and I jumped at that opportunity. He took the doors and windows off to make taking photos easier
Getting to the herd was a bit like rock-crawling if any of you have ever done it. There had been big rains and the pasture around the pond was washed out into ruts. It was fun.
But once we got to the herd, they were all about checking us out.
Like curious kids they were...
Time to get a picture of Rich and the herd...
He gets out of the Jeep and I start to follow...
In that second, the nice guy that I had been chatting all morning with snapped into his protective father mode...
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he said with his hand out in that "stop, in the name of all things holy" fashion. I didn't question him. I got my legs back in that Jeep purty darn fast!
So he got out, and I shot the buffalo and Rich (with the camera, not a gun) from the Jeep.
And it worked out beautifully.
Turns out, bison are kinda like other animals (go figure) and they like to roll around in the dust. Rich said it is their own way of keeping the flies off of them.
I don't care why they did it, it sure was fun to watch ...(and nearly feel the Earth move under them!)
Then I got on my truck and drove back to the office.
No buffalo or agriculture reporters were harmed in the writing of this article... luckily! :)
Until the next adventure....