"Oh give me a home . . ."

FTLComm - Weekes - Sunday, August 18, 2002

To cold, to hot, to dry to wet no problem. While cattle ranchers are up against the wall this year those who have bison herds are learning the benefits of raising animals meant to live here. Bad weather of any kind is tough but with these durable animals the ability to cope is part of their nature and its is a good nature.

Raising bison has a become extremely widespread across the prairie provinces and with it a demand for bison meat which seems to proceed exponentially with availability. The low fat high protein meat of this animal is perfect for the needs of most people and more and more people are realising the benefit of reducing fat intake.

This herd is located two and half miles East of Weekes and like so many other bison herds are able to deal with the wide changes in climate and pasture growing conditions. We normally see these animals from a distance but Saturday afternoon and got of the car and walked over to have a word or two with these guys and discovered they smelled just like cattle although just a little more reserved.

They tolerated my presence but were not interested in my constant prattle. I realised afterward that they may not handle human talk all that well. One of the other impressions I had was to discover that these animals are much smaller in real life than they appear at a distance.

There are two distinct versions of bison in Canada. These are the prairie version, the open plains type of buffalo. The Woodland bison found in Wood buffalo National park in Northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories are substantially larger but also very small in number. Pity we are not seeing their variety raised as domestic animals like the plains type.

Mrs. Anderson who has a good sized herd just East of Tisdale told me the other day that a herd gets used to people and their herd will actually walk over to you when you go out in the field. She said that in general they are no more difficult to handle than cattle. The one exception I can see is that they all come equipped with very sharp horns.