Saturday, May 17, 2008

Buffalo Burgers!

I'd love to claim that I cooked buffalo burgers, or even that I at least took a photo of them. Sadly, neither is true.

In excess of a decade ago, we took the kids to Cheyenne, and, while there, visited the Terry Bison Ranch, watched some rodeo, ate some bison (or buffalo), and then came back for more. Bison is similar to beef, but much less fatty, and very tender when cooked right. And man can these people cook it right! The place is intriguing (at least to me) because Teddy Roosevelt was there once while president, and once after he was finished. This is the ranch that virtually single handedly saved the western Bison from extinction. (Sadly, the Eastern Bison, which was larger, has been extinct since 1910, when the last specimens were killed in Kentucky. The last herd was killed in Pittsburgh a few years before that). A few wonderful facts about Bison:

They eat 1/3 less than cattle, despite the fact that they are larger.

They only need to drink once every 3 days.

The giant mound of fur on their heads is called a cape, and they can flip it forward so it acts as a snowplow in deep snow.They are very fast, in spite of their great bulk, and quite foul tempered.

Buffalo have no natural predators, and are disease free. That means that buffalo meat is automatically organic, since they graze only!

When they were put on the endangered list, 100 years ago, there were perhaps 200 to 300 buffalo left in the west. Now there are around 70,000, including these 1 to 2 week old babies. A female buffalo, if she senses danger, can stop in mid-labor and wait for up to a week to deliver with no harm to the calf.Their breeding bull is named Tinkerbell (I find this hilarious) because he was an orphan, and used to hop up and down excitedly when his food was being brought to him. The older a buffalo, the more worn down his horns, because they've used them.

The Terry Bison Ranch has always occupied a bit under 50,000 acres south of Cheyenne, into northern Colorado. For a time it was owned by Gov. F. E. Warren, and was so vast that it ran from Cheyenne 50 miles east, west and south. Nevermind dwarfing Rhode Island, it was comparable in size to all of Connecticut, for pity's sake! That's a lot of ground!

Should you ever be in Eastern Colorado or Wyoming, it's well worth the visit.

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