Buffalo who have escaped in the next county have been all over the news this week. A family that farms has been raising them for meat and a herd broke the fence. The school bus was driving their route and happened to come upon a herd of buffalo and alerted everyone. The farm is now catching all the buffalo and putting them back in their fence. In their case the buffalo are for meat. Buffalo are leaner than beef and therefore a little more healthy.
Growing up we had a buffalo, this was over 30 years ago, but also on a farm. We really had a whole menagerie with deer, a cow, a crow, a goat, and basically whatever showed up or my father thought might be a good idea. My father had tried a beefalo burger and decided it would be a good idea to go with a friend to get two buffalo. They came back with a male and a female and we kept the female. The male went to our friends by the campground, where it lived for many years and was joined by the female years later. Ours, that we named Buffy, became a family pet…. a huge family pet in a pen, but a unique pet.
We had animals that we didn’t even bother naming and animals that we were closer with and Buffy was one that we were closer with. I really just remember one great escape for Buffy. The deer on the other hand escaped a few times! Buffy’s escape resulted from an owl that was trying to steal chickens. The owl would come down and steal the chickens and then fly off with them. Of course we didn’t know it was an owl that was the thief, so my brother put the chickens inside the top of a silo that was part of the animals fenced in area. The owl folded up it’s wings and went down into the silo to steal the chickens but then couldn’t fly back out. It was making so much noise that the buffalo was frightened and ran directly through the fence.
Luckily our buffalo was easy to coax back into the fence once it was calm again. Over the years we did have escapes of other animals that were harder to coax back. There was a white fallow deer that escaped that was never captured and lived in the woods by Oakwood for years after she ran away. One escape involved a deer that stood up with at least 4 men on it’s back.
Our first deer was a buck we named Bambi (we were not very original). He was super friendly, but could be dangerous when he had antlers thinking he would play games of butting you in the head with his antlers…. like deer play in the woods. My mom tells about looking out the window one morning and seeing a deer when they realized it was Bambi. At that point, my dad ran out and jumped in a jeep to chase it. They went back and forth through the field, he thought he could tire it out! Finally he got back by the fences we kept the deer in and my dad jumped out to grab it and pull it in the pen. Bambi who had a full rack of antlers proceeded to pin my dad to the propane tank between his antlers. Somehow the story always stops there, but I know the deer did end up back in the fence – I’m just not sure how it got from my dad stuck between it’s antlers to the propane tank into the fence nearby. One of the days I’m going to have to find out the rest of that story.
Recently I noticed that a woman was caught petting a buffalo at Yellowstone National Park. I found this interesting because growing up our family had a pet buffalo. My brother and I had named her Buffy and she shared a pen with our deer, goats and other animals. Friends and family would come over and take pictures, but it wasn’t unusual for us to go in the pen to pet and feed her. Thinking back, I want to guess that we got her when I was in my early to mid teens. I have a picture of my mother in the pen feeding the chickens right in front of Buffy, but none of us petting her.
She was a huge animal and the one time she escaped from the pen, it took several men to get her back in. She had been scared through the fence by an owl that had tried to go into our chicken coop (an old converted corn cob silo). The owl had folded it’s wings to fit down through the hole at the top and then couldn’t fly back out. As the owl fought to try to get out, it’s flapping scared the buffalo and it went straight through the fence. – Really meaning the fence was just there as a suggestion that Buffy normally followed.
My parents found nothing unusual about sending my brother or I into the pen to get eggs and feed the animals and we would stop and pet whatever we felt like along the way. To be honest my brother’s horse was probably meaner. Personally I was scared the most of geese. Geese still scare me, and their bite really hurts. Geese will chase you down and attack….
Now having three boys and not living on a farm 100% of the time, I can’t picture telling my boys to go into a pen with a buffalo – even if I thought (or knew) it was tame. We don’t even have a dog of our own. That is through my husband’s choice, not mine – but still the boys all have not been near animals bigger than a chinchilla for any length of time.
I clearly don’t understand someone approaching and petting a wild animal in a national park, but then again thinking back I’m unclear on why it was considered safe for my brother and I to do half the things we did as kids. My mother pointed out that the time that was really something was when my dad and two other guys tried to put Buffy in a trailer to move her.
When my dad bought Buffy, he went with a friend who bought her brother also. Her brother was living a few miles away near a fairgrounds. After I left for college my dad decided it was time for Buffy to mate, so he and friends loaded her up and took her over to be with the other Buffalo….
As I’ve said before, I’m still amazed we survived childhood…
Growing up we had a lot of strange animals (no snakes actually, though we found quite a few)…. My dad would hear about something and run and get some animals. During grade school dad heard about a person with a collection of animals and decided he wanted one. We all loaded up and ran in to get what we could AND came home with a deer…. Pictured to the left is Bambi. He was friendly and as long as he didn’t have antlers on, we could interact inside the fence.
My dad would try all sorts of things though. At one point we had a crow that my dad found that would ride around on Bambi’s antler’s. It had an injured wing, so the crow was perfectly content to ride around. After a while my dad got more deer and we had a whole menagerie.
These were Fallow Deer, indigenous to Germany, and I’d swear my dad’s goal was to use them as lures to get deer to come closer while deer hunting. We would have the local game warden visit each year to make sure ours in captivity were legal and not white tail (local deer). Deer can jump amazingly high, so my father had high fences for them made out of old grain bins. The only escape I remember took 6 men to get the deer back in the pen, and I remember the deer standing with all 6 on it’s back.
While picking up Bambi we also got to see an old monkey named SOB (mean! and abused) and some honey bears. I wanted them SO bad at the time. My father tried later to trade for the honey bears but couldn’t make a deal. I remember the visit by the guy with the bears (they are little bears), and the bears got loose in his truck and locked him out while he was dropping off deer at the time.
SOB ended up taken from his owner and became a test subject for the University of Illinois. Even with all the odd animals we had and the quirky behavior my dad would never have abused an animal. Even a dog we had (Peanut, and yes the matching dog was Butter) that bit my dad while he was trying to help with an infected ear, ended up going to a family with no kids. The dog really had been ‘provoked’, so it wasn’t the dogs fault – and my dad knew it!
Later my dad and a friend tried Beefalo and decided it was GOOD! So they ran out and got two buffalo. We got the girl who my brother and I named Buffy. She was added to the herd at our house. Pictured below is my mother with the buffalo feeding chickens from the look of it.
It’s funny, at the time, although we all had a healthy respect for the animals and knew what each could do and when… we were in and out of the cages to feed them all the time. I’m sure I didn’t think twice about standing there to take this picture and I’m sure my mother fed the chickens, gathered eggs, and fed buffy and the deer like this a million times.
Buffy escaped once in my memory. An owl got into the chicken coop and couldn’t get out. As it flapped trying to get out through the top whole (an old grain bin top that had been cut off) – Buffy got scared and exited through the fence. I’m sure that was a site for all the cars coming up the road. Note: My parents do live on a dead end road and knew everyone around, but still a buffalo in the road on your way home ha
s to be a surprise.
Now as my dad’s memory goes, talking about animals is a way to connect. Seeing deer, a snake, or the fact that my son decided to make a pet out of a frog he found at their house is a great talking point with my dad. These deer were in my parents field! I do wish I had a way to show my dad pictures, I’m thinking I should move them onto my iPad to show him an image that he can see better – maybe put together a slide show of the things that he would find interested. Konnor’s new frog, Konnor’s toad, the deer by the house, even his dogs (did I mention we had 32 dogs at one time growing up!)
We did have a few other unusual animals for short stints, but they always moved on quickly. Everything from a ferret that tried to use a litter box in the kitchen to a a swimming pool filled with fish. My father ended up with a pond filled with catfish that were trained to come to the sound of his footsteps so that he could feed them dog food!