Painted by Russell, The Cowboy Artist
The Saint Paul Globe., -LOC
St Paul Minnesota March 20, 1898
THE NOVEL EREEBING PLAN OF A WESTERNER
It Is Bringing Him a Fortune After a Few Years’, Experimenting
Difficulties He Has Encountered How the Unruly Bison Are Taught to Be Docile by Means of a Unique Kicking and Butting Preventer
Correspondence The St. Paul Globe. COCHRANE. Wis., March 19.—It will be a surprise to most people to know that the lordly buffalo that once roamed the Western plains in countless numbers have come down in these days to the level of ordinary cattle, to be bred on a farm. About six years ago I started a buffalo farm at this place and have succeeded in making a complete success of the venture. The stock of the farm first consisted of three young bison, a bull and two cows. This stock has increased and multiplied, until today I have a herd of twenty-five full-blooded bison and about eighteen bulls and heifers, which have been produced by crossing the buffalo with domestic animals.
The crossing has been particularly successful, as the half-bred animals, besides possessing the size, strength and endurance of the buffalo, are as docile as the ordinary animals of the farm. Their fur is particularly fine, they mature earlier than domestic cattle, their flesh is wholesome and tender, and they can stand considerably more exposure in the winter than do the domestic cattle.
Calf Every Other Year.
My experiments have shown that as a rule the buffalo cow raises a calf every other year. The births usually take place between the months of February and July. We allow the calf to run with the mother for three or four months. Then the little animal is weaned. This is done for two reasons. Firstly, we find that we can better domesticate the calves when they are separated from their mothers, and, secondly, when deprived of the presence of the calf the mother will sooner present the owners of the stock farm with another one.
The difficulties of buffalo farming are not so great as would be expected by those who have not experimented. According to the popular idea the buffalo farmer would have frequent fierce encounters with the wild stock that he is trying to raise. There is no such trouble. We turn the herd out to pasture with merely barb wire fence to keep them from straying. We have yet to find that they make any effort to escape. The only thing to guard against in building the fence is to make it just high enough to prevent the animals from jumping over. This is one of the things that we have to teach the calves at an early age. Taken in hand young and properly trained they become as tame as the domestic animal. Up to the age of two years the calves are inclined to be frisky and have to be taught that any attempt to jump over or break down fences will meet with prompt punishment. They very soon learn that lesson, and once having learned it they give us no trouble, provided the fence is properly constructed.
An interesting addition to the outfit to the buffalo farm is the buffalo wagon, which will be seen in the accompanying illustration. Occasionally there is born on the farm a buffalo that develops into a most unruly rebel. Any attempt to hitch such an animal to a wagon results in one of two things, either the buffalo runs away with the wagon and never stops running until the whole outfit is demolished and possibly he himself maimed or killed, or else he lets out with his rear hoofs and tries to kick the wagon to pieces. In either event the valuable stock of the farm is sure to suffer. The buffalo wagon is the remedy for this, and it never fails to work like a charm when the unruly animal is taken in hand early enough in his turbulent career. It is made with a hollow central section large enough for the buffalo to stand up in and move with ease. In front of him, where his horns will strike if he attempts any butting tricks, is a heavily braced wooden partition, while behind him, where his heels would strike, in case he attempted to get square with a supposed enemy in his rear, there is a similarly fortified section of woodwork.
Wants to Butt Things.
He is securely hitched to this appliance, which is made to move on wheels, and it is then driven around the farm. The first impulse of the buffalo, as he feels himself dragged along against his will by a force that he cannot resist, is to lower his horns and let drive with blind rage at the woodwork in front of him. After he has tried this experiment for half an hour or so and finds that he has made no impression on the enemy, while his own horns have been pretty nearly demolished in the attack, he reasons with himself, after the buffalo manner, that at last he has met more than his match, and decides to adopt different methods of attack. Then his hoofs come into action. It is not a very easy thing for him to use these latter means of offense, as the merciless wagon is driven around and round the farm, and he has little chance of using his hoofs except for the natural process of trotting. When he does get a chance he lets them fly at the fortified woodwork behind him, and hurts himself so badly that he doesn’t try it again until the pain has worn away. If he has still some fight left in him by that time he returns to the attack and keeps it up until worn out. It is seldom that we find it necessary to put an unruly buffalo through more than a week of this kind of training. Their memory is short and they have to be thoroughly disciplined at the start, but once they have thoroughly acquired the knowledge that unruliness meets with its own punishment, they become docile and we never afterwards have trouble with them. At the present rate of increase we believe that our buffalo farm will yield a fortune in a very few ‘years’ time.
The Daily Chieftain – LOC
Vinita Indian Territory Oklahoma Oct 31 1898
BUFFALO HERDS IN OLD DAYS.
There Is a Great Difference Between Seeing 10,000 Animals and One Lone Bull.
Gazing on the scraggy remnants of buffalo in an inclosure at Glen island, a Colorado tourist In the east said: “They are buffaloes, I don’t dispute that, but they are not the kind that used to make the west look like a moving sea. I reckon you have read a great deal about extinct buffalo. Ten years ago I heard that the last buffalo had been killed the last one in captivity. But the buffalo, like the Indian, dies hard. And I read about the last Indian long before I began shedding my hair.
“There is a herd of buffalo in Colorado that has been knocking about for 30 years at least, and a man in that state who has made the buffalo a life study tells me he knows of two herds. In 1865 there was a big herd in the country known as Middle Park. As the country was settled by whites the buffalo fell back. Hunters followed that herd to Big river, but in the winter of 1875 the weather was so severe that the hunters gave up the chase. That was the great snow winter in Colorado. The snow was so deep that buffalo couldn’t get around. That’s an actual fact. But it never gets too deep for Indians. That winter a band of Indians went after the buffalo and killed more than could be brought away. Next spring a lot of whites went out and got the tallow from the dead buffaloes and made money out of it.
“The white hunters brought back the news that the Indians had killed every buffalo in the herd. But that was like other buffalo stories. A few weeks later a herd was found on the headwaters of Troublesome river. It was part of the herd which was snow bound. White hunters killed some of this herd and brought the meat to market and got into trouble for it, because there is a law against killing buffalo in Colorado. This law operates against a white man, but an Indian can hunt and kill anything he likes and the law never touches him.
“The last man I saw who had seen buffalo in Colorado told me that he had counted ten buffaloes up on the North Park slope. That was four years ago. Think of it! He had seen buffalo, because he had counted’em. Ten of ’em! I wonder what he would ‘a’ thought if he had seen 10,000 in a herd. And I can remember the time when it took 10,000 to make a herd. But never again will any man see such a herd. “When buffalo herds get scattered they don’t even multiply.” N. Y. Sun.
Harrisburg Telegraph Pennsylvania December 15, 1898
THE PASSING OF THE BIG BUFFALOES
A Woman Started the Now Famous Goodnight Herd
It took just thirteen years to wipe out almost entirely that most magnificent characteristic of all American beast, the bison. From 1868 to 1881 over 31,000,000 buffaloes were wantonly and wickedly slaughtered on the great plains of the West. Thousands upon thousands of the great brown, shaggy beast were shot down, their tongues taken from them and their carcasses left to rot or to fat prairie wolves. Others were later slaughtered and their hides alone. Every year meat and enough to feed the poor of the world was left to rot or dry up in the sun. With the extinction of the buffalo began the decline of the American Indian.
When Texas was the wildest spot almost in North America, a young man went there from Illinois with his wife, relates the Dallas News. He began to raise cattle when the buffalo still grazed before his door. In those days the vast plains of the Panhandle of Texas overflowed with buffalo. As he stood at his door he could see herds passing to the west or east. So great was their number that it often took the grazing herds several days to pass by. Now the only buffaloes in Texas are on the ranch of this man, whose name is Charles Goodnight.
Soon the buffalo began to grow scarcer and scarcer, and there was assurance that they would become extinct. Those who had wantonly destroyed them began to be alarmed. But it was too late. The last of the great herds had been chased over the edge of the precipice beyond which was extinction.
When Mrs. Goodnight realized the inevitable wiping out of the buffalo she urged her husband to endeavor to preserve them. He set aside at her request 600 acres from his great ranch of 60,000 acres for buffalo park. In a letter telling of his start as a buffalo raiser, Mr. Goodnight said:
“In the spring of 1879- to be exact, May 15th- at my wife’s request, started out to look for some young buffalo. At last I found a few younger ones in Palo Duro canyon, and ‘roped’ them from horseback. The month following W.W. Dyer, my wife’s brother, caught two young females. From this start we have now a herd of forty-five purebred buffaloes. In 1884 I began to cross them with Polled Angus and Galloway cattle, and have a herd of sixty of these cross-breeds. This year we have been fortunate in getting fifteen buffalo calves.
“The buffalo breeds slowly in captivity. It seems incomprehensible that they should have grown into such an enormous herds as there were when I came to this country, and which, in fact, covered all the western plains.”
E.J, Davidson, of this city, has recently returned from a trip to Texas, at which time he visited the Goodnight ranch and photographed the buffalo there. Speaking of his trip, Mr. Davidson said:
“The mangy, faded, ragged buffalo one sees in the zoos or circus and those running in comparative wilderness on the prairie are two entirely different animals. The wild buffalo is a dark, glossy brown, and his whiskers and leggins are coal black. The cabs are cream-colored, with the tips of the nose and ears and the hoof a glistening black. They are beautiful little creatures and as frisky and playful as a lot of farm calves. The dime novel to the contrary, the buffalo does not bellow. When he is alarmed or angry he makes a queer rumbling sound in his throat, not much louder than the bleat of a goat. The buffaloes are very swift runners, and when they get started at a headlong pace nothing can stop them. In the summer they graze and take care of themselves on the three square miles that comprise their park. In the winter they are fed with what ranchmen call ‘roughness,’ that is, course fodder, cornstalks and hay.
“The Goodnight ranch is a vast place, in all 60,000 acres. On the place is the railroad station and express and post office, as well as a church and school house. There is no town, as Mr. Goodnight would not be troubled with it. Goodnight, as the station is called, is thrity-eight miles east of Amarillo, on the Panhandle branch of the Santa Fe Railroad. The church and school house are the special care of Mrs. Goodnight. She was the first white woman to brave the dangers from the Indians and take up her abode in that part of the southwest. Her interest in her buffalo herd is unflagging, and, if the race of the typical American beast survives, it will be mainly owing to her efforts.”
The Wichita Daily Eagle – LOC
Dec 18, 1898
MILKED A BUFFALO
One of J.R. Mead’s Experiences on the Prairie
Lacteal Fluid Not Bad
Story of a Wounded Buffalo That Wanted Vengeance.
“When the subject of buffalo comes up among the old-time hunters of “Wichita the word buffalo is seldom mentioned. If the chase is in pursuit of buffalo, it is pursuit of bulls and cows, by which appellations the buffalo were known, the absence of any domestic breed at the time precluding what would now appear a likely confusion.
One day, when the prairies knew not the barbwire fence or the bottom lands the touch of a plow, somewhere between the Saline river and the Solomon river, James R. Mead of this city came out of the brush at the crest of a small eminence near a water-course. Down to the water-course itself there was a gentle descent. The morning was one of those Kansas kind, still seen, where a thin, sparkling fog fills the air, not wet enough for a mist, not obstructive to the sight or blinding as to details in the landscape, but moist enough —- to affect ammunition. Down this gentle slope Mr. Mead saw six cows and a bull. The buffalo were grazing and were unaware of the presence of a hunter.
Mr. Mead, who had then been long in the business, successively dropped the cows. He was not after the bull, didn’t want him and would have been pleased had he gone away. But his majesty did not motion to depart, and Mr. Mead had his doubts about scaring him off, so he resolved to finish him also. So leveled his weapon and fired. The bull went down in a heap as the cows had done before him and with no other thought than that all beasts were dead. Mr. Mead went up to the group of fallen animals. It was his custom, when there was question of a bull’s being dead, to stand on the horns of the slain buffalo and sever the jugular vein. He turned his attention to the bull. When he got around in front of his animal, there was a look in the bull’s eye which indicated anything but all-submissive death. Promptly sheathing his knife, Mr. Mead picked up his rifle and went around in front again. The buffalo seeing him was on his feet in an instant and coming like an infant cyclone for him, eyes glaring with animal hate. Mr. Mead took careful aim and pulled the trigger.
It has been said it was a misty morning the cap had been dampened and the gun did not go off. Mr. Mead dropped the gun, turned and ran for his life with the bull in full on close pursuit. Mr. Mead had on moccasins and he never ran before or since as he did that morning. He came to a slight obstruction, a dead cow, and jumped it and ran on a few feet. Glancing back over his shoulder he saw that the bull coming to the cow had stopped. The bull watched Mead and Mead watched the bull, and then Mead made a circuitous sneak for his gun. By much diplomacy, he secured it, affixed a new cap and his majesty of the prairies fell for the last time.
( too hard to read)
Logansport Reporter, Indiana, Jan. 14 1898
ON A BISON RANCH
Attempts at Cross-Breeding Between Domestic Cattle and Buffalo
Cattle dealers throughout the country, especially owners of the great cattle ranges in the west and southwest, are greatly interested in a widely circulated report that certain western breeders have made a success of experimental cross-breeding of the American bison with domestic cattle.
It is claimed that they crossed breed combines the docility of the domestic animal with the endurance and the large size of the bison, and that the half-breeds grow to maturity in last time than domestic cattle. The flesh, also, is said to be very palatable, and the fur, while retaining all the good qualities of that of the bison, is much softer and finer.
One of the alleged successful experiments is located on a cattle farm a few miles south of Durrant Wis., where, it is said, three bison captured a few years ago have, by cross-breeding, increased to a herd of 43 animals; and the owners of the herd believe that an extension of their method of cross-breeding will bring them a fortune in the near future.
The statement, however, has not been received with much favor by cattle dealers, who are aware of the ill success of several similar experiments during recent years.
Some years ago, when the fact was suddenly realized that the bison was in imminent danger of extinction, the federal government took steps to avoid that calamity by the formation of buffalo farms, where, by careful breeding, at least specimens of the disposed monarch of the prairie could be preserved. Several private individuals also established buffalo farms for the same purpose. One of the most successful of these was that of the late Austin Corbin, the banker and railroad magnate. His herd originally consisted of 17 buffaloes, but now it comprises nearly 100 head of pure-bred bison, and it is said to be the largest single herd of these animals in the country.
Mr. Austin Corbin, son of their original owner of the herd, when asked for his opinion as to the probability of successful cross-breeding of the buffalo with the domestic cattle, said: “it may be possible, but guided by a knowledge of experiments in that direction made by my father. I would require very strong proof of the fact before believing that it has been, or can be done with success. At the suggestion of the Duke of Marlborough, my father, several years ago, imported a herd of Polled-Angus cattle, some 30 in number, from Scotland, for the purpose of cross-breeding with the bison on our cattle farm at Newport, N.H. The conditions were most favorable, as the bison were thoroughly acclimated and had largely increased in numbers, but the attempt at cross-breeding was almost a total failure. The result was so unsatisfactory that the experiment was abandoned, and we returned to the raising of the bison, deer and unadulterated. The only successful attempts at cross-breeding that I have heard of was that of “Buffalo” Jones, owner of an extensive cattle range in New Mexico. When he was here, some five years ago, Jones claimed that his experiment had been a success: but when I saw him last, six months ago. I judged from his unwillingness to discuss the cross-breeding of bison that his experiment had not continued to be successful. What makes me most doubtful that it would pay Breeders to go into cross-breeding of bison with domestic cattle on an extensive scale is the fact that, while the half- breeds would bring little more than ordinary cattle, the raising of pure-bred bison would pay handsomely. There is no trouble in getting $1000 for first class buffalo cow and prices range all the way from that figure down to $500. It seems to me that it would pay these Wisconsin breeders to raise the simon-pure article of American bison, rather than the half-breed buffalo.”
Mr. Corbin explained his recent action, in demanding the return of the 25 bison loan by him to the park commissioners, by stating that the animals are in a bad condition, owing to bad water, and the fact that they had not sufficient grazing ground. The section set apart for them contained 70 acres, but only 20 acres are available for grazing. The commissioners refused to increase the area, and therefore Mr. Corbin wanted his buffalo back on his own place, where he could take proper care of them.