The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

April 7, 2014

E. Iowa couple happy with decision to raise bison


Buffalo meat and other by-products, such as hides, skull mounts, buffalo bones and jewelry made of buffalo bone are sold in their store and at local farmers markets.

"Everything is marketable on the bison," said Lyndall, who has had Native Americans visit the farm to buy products and even use the bison in religious ceremonies.

"That was what kept them alive all those years. They ate the meat, used the hides for clothing or tents. Their bones were used for tools and sewing needles," said Lyndall about the importance of buffalo to Native American tribes. "There are groups that come out here from South Dakota or throughout Iowa. In past years I've had some health problems, and a medicine man made me a natural medicine rattle out of a turtle shell that had herbs in it."

Two bison on the farm, Thunder and Lightning, were bottle fed from birth and enjoy being petted. Visitors can hand feed them bread and the Winters have even used one in a parade. The rest are completely wild and very rarely handled. According to Lyndall, that is one major reason that the couple will never go back to raising cattle.

"They're hardy and they take care of themselves," said Lyndall. The cows — the term for a female bison — birth their calves without any human intervention and they even thrived during the relentlessly cold temperatures this past winter.

"They had better weight gains this winter, our bred cows look better. They love the cold weather. The calves are out running around and kicking up their heels."

"My gosh they did so wonderful!" said Nancy, who said she doesn't need to wake up every two hours to check on the bison, like she did when they were raising cattle. "Say their water freezes; they'll eat the snow and lick on the ice. What's neat is when you have a big snow and they're out there. They can be completely covered and all you see is their eyes."

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