Good morning to all. Hope your weekend was all that you wanted it to be. I totally enjoyed working away at painting. Getting things accomplished is such a great feeling! Looking forward to this week and another adventure with my Red Hat Ladies. We are going to visit Old World Wisconsin. This will be a first for many of them...and it looks like the weather will be good...I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Now, on to today's story. Not many can speak of visiting with buffalos. Especially in the Midwest.
My story starts with a visit to an Amish area called Shipshewana, Indiana. My husband and I took our two granddaughters there for a couple days to enjoy the local fun. Now, I must say that there is so much to enjoy if you just keep your eyes on the lookout and are a little adventurous.
One day, while walking through one of the local stores, we noticed a restaurant that advertised Buffalo meals. We had already eaten, but were all thirsty, so we went in to purchase a drink. While there, I noticed a sign advertising a tour to a Buffalo Ranch. Now, who would ever imagine there was even such a tour. Well, it didn't take very long for me to purchase the 4 tickets for the very next day. We were to arrive at the restaurant at 4 PM the next day to begin our adventure.
We were all excited about the prospect of seeing something so unusual. The tickets entitled us to a tour of a Buffalo Ranch, and then a Buffalo dinner back at the restaurant. Now our Granddaughters were 2 and 6 years old. We were thrilled to be able to show them something new that they could enjoy and talk about when they got home to their parents. Well, let me tell you, this was definitely something that fit that bill.
When we arrived the next day, a gentleman greeted us at the front door. We were escorted to a van and once seat belted in, off we went. He was a pleasant gentleman in his mid fifties. He drove us out to the ranch which was about 35 minutes away from the center of Shipshewana. When we arrived at the ranch, I was in awe with it's size and beauty. They had a beautiful country manor with a magnificently groomed garden. As we were instructed as to how the ride into his fields would go, the children had gravitated towards an area where they had spotted some brand new kittens. The gentleman allowed them to pet them. He informed us that they were 5 weeks old now.
He asked us to wait while he went to get the wagon. The children continued to play with the kittens, while I enjoyed the flowers. It took about 5 minutes before he arrived driving a tractor with an attached hay wagon. We climbed up this wooden step ladder onto the wagon and found a place on the bales of hay that edged the parameter. The man started up his tractor and off we went. We reached the entrance to the area where the buffalo roamed and he stopped the tractor, got off and opened the gate, got back on and pulled us through to the other side and once again got off and closed the entrance gates. Now there was this long 10 foot wide road with white wood board fencing that we traveled down. While we were riding the man gave us instructions. He told us not to put our hands outside of the truck. Do not attempt to pet the animals. He told us that he did have feed for them. They were a pellet of sorts that had been soaked in molasses. At one point we would be allowed to feed the ones that dared to approach the wagon and instructed us how to place it in the hand and place the hand just up to the slats of the wagon. We continued along the road which went about 150 ft. long. and then we made a turn and continued another 50 ft until we reached an open field where the Buffalo were roaming. I must same, they are one big animal. The closer the wagon got to them, the larger they grew. Now, the man told us that buffalo are not the most friendliest of animals...while I listened, I questioned then to myself, why were touring them?. Perhaps this wasn't such a great idea? But if it was a tour...it must be fine. We got to ask all sorts any questions that we had...like how tall they stood, how much they weighed, etc. He told us that the average female weighs about 1000 to 1200 pounds and the males weigh about 1600 to 2000 pounds each. They stand approximately 6'6" tall with a body that is 12 feet long. Their heads were enormously wide. When the wagon halted, we sat and waited. Some of the animals ignored us completely, while there were a few that approached the wagon. He then brought out the bucket of soaked pellets and put some in our hands as he then turned to demonstrate how to feed them through the slats. Now we are all following his instructions completely, except of course for the 2 year old. She wanted to pet the big furry things. I did my best to keep her contained. All went well and we were all quite pleased that we had such an amazing experience. It was finally time to leave the area and return. As the tractor pulled the wagon out of the open range and began it's journey back through the corral and out, the man was explaining to us that his buffalo were the mildest and gentlest around. Most other Buffalo ranchers had trouble with their bulls fighting and not producing offspring. As the man was telling his tale...we noticed two of the bulls starting to fight. They began butting their enormous heads back and forth into each other. He stopped the tractor and we all just stared at what was transpiring before our very own eyes. He said he had never seen this happen before. Before we knew it....the one took off with the other chasing after him. BIG PROBLEM....because they were headed down the corral right towards us. You could tell it was serious by the color change in the man's face, or perhaps I should say...colorless! He quickly started up the tractor again and proceeded to drive quickly out and over as far to the right side of the corral as possible. Now, quickly with a tractor meant maybe 3 MPH...And the buffalos were quickly gaining a lead. I was petrified thinking about 4000 pounds hitting the wagon or turning on us! I thought about the children. The adults were too scared and the children were excited. I quickly thought what if something should happen, I would throw the children down on the bottom of the wagon and lay over them, that way, should the wagon get overturned, I would land on the ground and they would land on top of me and the hay and wagon on them. Later, I discovered my husband was thinking of the same danger and had devised a plan...his was to through the kids over the fence to the other side....hmm...imagine kids on the other side of a fence with raging buffalo's. Quickly I learned that a quick thinker, my husband was not!
Well, the Buffalo raced past the wagon, one after another as we sat still, holding our breath. I was on the side of the wagon they raced past and felt their fur brush up against my back. We didn't know what would transpire next. There was another path in the corral and perhaps they would keep running and turn into that path, at least that was what we were hoping for. But no, they stopped right in front of the tractor. They began butting heads again, back and forth. Each butt brought them closer and closer to the wagon. I was sure we were doomed. We sat as still as possible....waiting...like sitting ducks...and then suddenly, the one took off and the other followed. They did turn the path and run in another direction. The man started up the tractor and as fast as that 3 MPH tractor could go...got us out of that corral.
When we stepped out of the wagon, my feet trembled as the children giggled and laughed. We watched those two bulls, the one had stopped suddenly at the troth to drink some water. The other patiently stood by watching, and then boom, the one stuck his horns into a rotting tree and pulled the tree up by its roots. If that didn't tell you how strong he was, I don't know what would.
Well, we were loaded back into the van and driven back to the restaurant for dinner. We had plenty to talk about on the way back. And there was even some justice to it all in the end. For dinner, we partook in buffalo steaks and the children had buffalo burgers. Talk about home on the range...they were on a different range later that evening! We left full with our stomachs full and full of stories to tell for years to come!