Hello friends! We’re winding down another work week, and to cap off all the chores and cooking and cleaning and gardening and errands and bee stings and intense office hours (not for me obviously) and general toil, how about a quick Friday Five?
It occurs to me that not all of you have visited the actual dirt-and-hooves Lazy W, so you don’t know all of our animals personally. Well, in the coming weeks I’m gonna try to fix that. They are each so lovable and interesting, and we have learned so much just by living with and caring for them.
One of the most unusual creatures here is a young male bison. His name is Chunk-Hi, and he pretty much has us wrapped around his little hooves. Here are five things you might not know about bison, as taught to us by Chunk.
And yes, for the record, we usually call him a buffalo. It might not be scientifically correct, but we don’t get too worked up over that. We have more important things to fret over, like the cost of sugar for the welfare bees.
#1. They start off as calves looking completely different! They are born with a gentle little hump, but still their body shape is much closer to a traditional cow compared to how they look as adults. And bison calves are a golden, caramelish, yummy bronze color, not dark and nearly black like they are later in life (thought that color scheme is also striking). I’ve always understood this coloring would help the babies stay concealed from predators in the golden prairie grasses that grow in this part of the country, their native land. Seems legit. Calves are woolly, curly, and 100% precious. Those eyes! They stay like this for several months, about as long as they nurse their mamas. In Chunk-hi’s case, it was about as long as we bottle fed him.
#2. Buffs (see? I call them whatever I want) are skittish. Despite their enormous size and mass, despite how dangerous they can be, these animals have extremely fragile sensibilities. You can hurt their feelings by looking at them the wrong way, and especially young buffs will jump and bolt at a sudden noise. Our Chunk-hi has stiffened his nerves over time, but still it is not unusual to see him running for his life, high speed away from Mama Goose, who is basically a mean and bitter old woman. You can tell a buff is upset by watching his body langiuage. For example, and I do not know if this is true for regular cows, a tail raised stright up in the air is bad. Real bad. I call it the exclamation point tail, and it means he is on high alert, and you should be too. Just give him a cookie and stand your ground. Do not run. Walk slowly away, sideways if possible, without giving the appearance of retreat. Which brings me to my next point of bison trivia…
#3. They love cookies. I mean, LOVE them. We have an inside track to rejected Nabisco product, so every few months the farm is restocked with about a million packages of Oreos, Triscuits, graham crackers, you name it. Once upon a time I would eat a lot of that myself, but you know… Running. So now they all belong to our animals. Chunk’s favorite is probably Chips Ahoy, and I don’t blame him. Even slightly out-dated, those things are good. I’d pay big bucks to see him use his hooves to dunk a sleeve of cookies into a big bowl of milk. Visitors to the farm are usually game for feeding him sweet, crunchy treats, and they always get slobbered (bison are profuse slobberers) and sometimes gently bit.
#4. Bison also love to be loved. Like any creature, they need loads of affection and attention, and they also thrive on good philosophical conversation. Chunk loves to have his fuzzy, oblong ears stroked and scratched. He loves to have his eyes cupped and play gone-gone peekaboo. And he loves to press his massive forehead against the wire fencing so you can scratch him riiiiiight there, thank-you-very much. It helps that a bison will eat a big meal then go sit in a sandy wallow to digest it and perhaps chew some cud, because this is prime time to chill with him and just talk things over. Get it all out, you know? Catch up with each other. He is not in a hurry during cud time, and he appreciates you not being in a hurry, either. Sometimes he even lets you paint his horns fun colors.
#5. American Buffalo are shed machines. Each winter they grow these thick, truly impressive, impenetrable manes and full body coats of water-resistant, woolly fur. It keeps them warm and indifferent to the ice storms and heavy rains. Chunk actually seems to enjoy snow. When he was a baby he would run and flip around in it just like a kid. But when the days warm up, of course, this incredible heavy garment is a problem. So starting in the springtime he begins to let loose the fluff and we find great big heaps of it all over the farm. He rubs against trees, fences, and horses, much to their chagrin. He lets me scrape him with a plastic garden rake. And it hangs in tightly woven, continuous sheets off of his barrel belly. Native American legends tell us that if a bison “gifts” you his fur, in other words, if he releases it to your hands easily when you have not sought after it, then he is lending you his magic. And buffalo magic is very special. I’ll write more about that another time.
So there you have it! Five things you might not have known about bison-buffs. Do you know any fun trivia you’d like to share? Do you have any questions we can try to answer? Have you been to the W and taken photos with Chunk? If so I would be SO HAPPY if you posted those to this blog’s Facebook page. How fun. We love collecting happy memories.
Thanks for joining me today! I wish you a beautiful, restful weekend filled with exactly what you need.
Tune in next week for Marathon Monday stuff, an Alfredo recipe, a chicken photo shoot, and more.
“You can lead a buffalo anywhere he wants to go.”
~old adage we try to never forget