Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Herefords in the Fall lead to Next Year's Tigers

I believe an introduction on here is in order! We've had some additions to the ranch lately that haven't been shared here on the blog. For those of you who follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you will have seen our pictures of the fall calves coming in. These calves aren't our usual cinnamon colored bison calves though. We have decided to enter the realm of grass fed beef with a herd of purebred Hereford cows from the Journagan Ranch.



Our recent addition consists of 38 head of Hereford cows, 31 of which were bred to calve this fall. This season they will calve out purebred Hereford calves as you have seen from our social media pictures, but next year they will be bred to our two Brahman bulls. Now someone may ask "Why take a pure bred Hereford only to breed it with a Brahman?" Well the answer lies in the genetics of these two cattle breeds as I'll elaborate.


A Hereford cow with her calf.

Hereford cattle have long been bred as an outstanding meat breed. Their lineage dates back to the 18th and 19th century. They were originally bred in Herefordshire southern England for use as a dual purpose beast of burden and superior beef animal. The breed was originally brought into the United States as long ago as 1817. Thanks to the traits selected for this breed they muscle very well for meat production and tend to be easy breeders, as well as easy calvers; on the down side though, they aren't as well adapted to heat stress being initially from England, and they also have a predisposition  to cancer eye.

Caleb feeding a Brahman bull.
         
Brahman  cattle are also a breed that was imported to the United States long ago with the first cattle being brought in in the late 1800's. The story on them gets a little more interesting though as they were a very difficult breed to import being as they are considered a sacred breed in the Hindu religion. The animals brought in actually consisted of four different breeds of Indian cattle with the vast majority of them being bulls. With these animals being bulls, most were bred to the European base meat breeds raised in the south. After five generations of breeding back though your breeding stock can be returned to a base of (31/32) pure, thereby showing the characteristics initially brought here.

The benefits of the Brahman breed are perfect for creating a solid genetic base in grass fed beef. They sweat whereas the European don't, thereby along with their pendulous skin allows them to comfortably withstand heat above 105F whereas most cattle show losses in production over 75F. Brahmans also have a low birth weight with a fast rate of gain and don't generally have issues with cancer eye.

What this leads us to is the basis of Hybrid Vigor. When one breed is bred for a certain set of traits for an extended period of time other traits often become depressed. Hybrid vigor takes two breeds with both their great traits and bad traits and combines them to create a cross that often exemplifies the best of both breeds while diminishing or completely replacing the flaws bred into either parent breed.

This is what we are achieving by breeding the Brahman bulls to our Hereford cows. We wind up with a calf that has a low birth weight but grows quickly and efficiently on grass, tolerates higher temperatures, resists parasites better and has low incidences of cancer eye. The colors created also are a plus as when these two breeds are crossed we get what is known as a "tiger stripe" as shown in the picture. With all of these traits we hope to be able to provide our customers with a superior grass fed beef product in the years to come.

Our current Tiger Stripes.





           

Thursday, September 18, 2014

4 Ways to Enjoy Fall at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch

Fall is almost upon us!  You may not notice it just yet, but leaves are beginning to turn colors and the air has a touch of chill to it. And maybe it's just me, but I think that the fall season has its own smell it brings with it too! Fall (or autumn, whichever you prefer) is my favorite time of year. Fall means sweaters and scarves and apple cider, gorgeous fall colors, pumpkins and great horseback riding weather! Fall is also the perfect time of year to come visit Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch.

Fall on the ranch
You're probably wondering just what there is to do here during this red and gold tinted season. Well, you can...

Stay in the Cabin

The cabin at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch sits on top of the highest hill on the property - and you'll really appreciate the great view you'll have of the beautiful fall colors in the Ozarks! You can sit on the porch with a cup of hot coffee (or cider - personally I would choose cider!) and admire the amazing scenery. Our cozy cabin features a fully equipped kitchen, and our guests have the option of adding a bison meat package to their stay - so if it's too cold to venture outside, stay in and cook a hearty fall meal! Bison chili, anyone?
                                                         
The cabin kitchen

Take a Hike

Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch features a beautiful hiking trail that cuts through the heart of the acreage we've dedicated to wildlife conservation. Autumn is a great time to hike since the weather is cooler. Plus, the animals on the trail tend to be a little more active! On your fall hike, you can see our hunting stands and food plots, an old homestead site, a historic cemetery, and of course, have an opportunity to see fall color at its best!


One of the headstones in the historic cemetery 

Go Fishing

Just because it's cooler doesn't mean the fish aren't biting – fall is a great time to sit on the dock at Elkhead Lake and cast a line! Our five acre, thirty foot deep lake is fully stocked with catfish, bass and more for your fishing pleasure. Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch is full of panoramic autumn views, and the one off the fishing dock is spectacular!

A catch from Elkhead Lake

Tour the Bison Herd

The best part of our ranch is the bison that call it home - and fall is a great time to come see them! We offer bison herd tours where you, your family or your field trip group can get up close and personal with these great American icons.  Be sure to bring a camera with you – the stunning fall colors in the background make for some nice bison photo opportunities!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Get Your Camo On! 4 Popular Types of Camouflage for the Upcoming Hunting Season

If you are familiar with hunting at all, chances are you know that hunters wear camouflage. 'Camouflage,' by definition, means 1. "the disguising of military personnel, equipment, and installations by painting or covering them to make them blend in with their surroundings" and 2. "to hide or disguise the presence of (a person, animal, or object) by means of camouflage." While the military and the hunting industry have perfected camouflage as a useful tool, the patterns known as camo have become popular fashion statements as well. You see it everywhere - on clothing, on vehicles, backpacks, OtterBoxes; you name it, it probably comes in camo. I myself am guilty of the camo craze, and I have the sweatshirt, bedspread and seat covers to prove it! So with all this camo out there, what should you be wearing for the upcoming hunting season? Here are a few of the most popular choices.

Realtree Xtra: Realtree Xtra Camo is a 3D pattern that is designed to effectivley blend into forested surroundings in fall, winter, and early spring. With 12 natural colors integrated into the pattern, the deer won't be able to see you coming! Your hunting gear will be studded with large trees, small twigs and an assortment of leaves to help you blend in.

                                                                        
Realtree Xtra Camo Photo credit: RealTree.com


Realtree Hardwoods HD: Realtree Hardwoods HD Camo is a versatile season and region camo. This pattern is designed to effectively make the visible edges of the hunter disappear into the woods. You will be outfitted with perfectly colored timber to disguise your hunting spot even in the dead of winter!

                                                                            
Realtree Hardwoods HD Camo Photo Credit: RealTree.com


Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity: Using real images from the woods, Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity is a camo with true depth to really break up (hence the name) the outline of the hunter wearing it.  This pattern features realism and contrast, and you will certainly match the woods when you wear Mossy Oak's acorns, leaves and tree limbs!

                                                                             
Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity Camo Photo Credit: MossyOak.com


Mossy Oak Bottomland: Mossy Oak Bottomland is the company's first and original camo pattern - they call it 'The Foundation of Concealment.'  This subtle pattern, still featuring the original look but with newer technology, it helps a hunter blend into darker environments. Your outfit will have some nice tones of dirt and bark added to it with this pattern!

                                                                             
Mossy Oak Bottomland Camo Photo Credit: MossyOak.com


This is a very small glimpse at all of the different camo patterns out there - you won't have any trouble finding one that suits your hunting style - or your fashion flair!  Happy hiding!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ferdinand and Eeyore: New additions to the Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch family!

Ferdinand and Eeyore are the newest additions to the Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch livestock family. They are yearling Brahman bulls and currently are weighing in at 1200 lbs. and 1150 lbs., respectively. They are going to be BIG boys! These big boys are full brothers and come to the us from the England Brahman Ranch in Mercedes, TX. (Thank goodness they are used to the hot weather because since they have arrived, we have been in a heatwave!)

Even though Ferdinand and Eeyore are full brothers, each bull has his own distinct personality. Ferdinand was named by my grandsons because one of their favorite books is Ferdinand the Bull. Ferdinand will let you stand and scratch his poll, rub his ears and wiggle the many folds of skin under his chin. He was hauled around the US going to Brahman Shows and is halter broke, so he is very tame and easy to handle. He has the 'England Brahman Bulls' brand on his right hip, and #307 on his left hip. He is so gentle, I wouldn't even hesitate letting our grandchildren pet him!

FERDINAND


Eeyore also has his own unique personality. He is much like the Winnie the Pooh character he is named after; a bit shy with long, drooping ears. When he first arrived at the ranch, he would stand away from me when I fed Ferdinand from my bucket. But, slowly, he has begun to trust me. Today, I can scratch his poll and pet him on the head. He is still a bit shy around new people, however. He is much more comfortable with only 1 person in the corral at a time. He, too, has the England brand on his right hip, with his #306 on his left hip. I think he is going to be a darker gray color than Ferdinand.  He has already become darker around his hump and neck, since he has been here.

EEYORE


You might be wondering why these Brahman bulls were purchased. 


Well, it is simple. They are going to be the 'husbands' to our Hereford cows. The cross between a Brahman bull and a Hereford cow produces what is called an F-1 Tiger Stripe. These Tiger Stripes (we have 6 cows on the ranch- see pictures below) are easy 'calvers', easy keepers, and don't mind the heat. There is a good market for the Tiger Striped calves, especially the heifers.

The Tiger Striped phenotype is recessive. Therefore, the 'tiger-striped' look will not be produced from F-1 Tiger Stripes. In other words, the Tiger Striped cows you see below will NEVER produce a Tiger Striped calf. That is why we have chosen to cross the Registered Hereford cows (our choice for the cows) x Registered Brahman bull. The cow in the first picture below has the phenotype we are striving to produce in our calves from the Hereford and Brahman bull cross. 

F-1 Tiger Striped cows on the ranch, currently.





The latest pictures of Ferdinand and Eeyore enjoying their breakfast.  



I can't wait to see the first calves that these big boys produce. They will be turned out with a few open Hereford cows very soon. So, the first babies F-1 Tiger Striped babies should arrive sometime in June, 2015.  The female calves will be Golden Certified with the American Brahman Breeders Association.   I will be anxious to share pictures of these new babies when they arrive!!! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deluxe Hunting Blinds and 10 Point Bucks are ready for Deer Season

September is almost here - I’m not certain what that means to you, but here it means deer season is on the horizon. September 15th opens up Missouri Archery whitetail season which lasts till January 15th with only a 10 day break for rifle season (which runs from November 15-25). With just under a month to go until the first big deer season of the year, we have been doing everything we can to make your odds of getting big buck that much better here on our ranch! We are a fair chase hunting retreat when it comes to deer and turkey, so there are no guarantees but that’s what makes it fun!

A soybean food plot just outside one of our hunting blinds.
Here on the ranch we have planted acre after acre of soybean and clover food plots to grow our deer as big as we can and some of these guys on our trail cams are showing it! We have over 50 acres of dedicated wildlife food plots that we manage and plant to up your odds of bringing down your very own Ozarks trophy with either a bow, rifle, or crossbow. We also set out mineral blocks to guarantee that those guys are getting all that they need to grow those big ole racks you’ll be looking for on your hunt here.

We have 7 cameras out facing our mineral blocks in the food plots so that we can place you right where the big guys are at this season. No matter which stand you sit in, every one of the cameras promises the potential for an awesome harvest. Even with several deer in velvet and still growing, we are getting pictures of 8s and 10s out there. Our stand options include two deluxe hunting blinds about 10 feet in the air with sliding windows and swivel barber chairs, or one of several two seater ladder stands. Whichever you hunt out of is completely up to your preference.


One of our deluxe hunting blinds
To book a deer, turkey or even a bison hunt with us, visit our website, shoot us an email or simply give us a call at 1-417-683-6888.  We would love to hear from you- or even better, set you up with a great trophy this season!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: Portraits of the Bison

During the National Bison Association Conference earlier this summer, Caleb and I purchased a book that was written by Canada's leading bison expert, Wes Olson, called Portraits of the Bison. As the summer went on, we found ourselves frequently referring to this book, since it contained lots of pictures and information on the animals we care for on a daily basis. It's a great book for bison and nature enthusiasts alike! Check out my review below.

Portraits of the Bison: An Illustrated Guide to Bison Society, 2nd Edition
Written by Wes Olson, Photographs by Johane Janelle

This beautiful book about the North American Bison features one of the biggest bison photo collections in print. The full color photos by Johane Janelle of these amazing animals, accompanied by Wes Olson's eloquent writing style, really draw you into the world of bison societies.

Chapter 1 tells the story of the bison saga: from plentiful roaming herds to near extinction to the conservation of bison in today's world.

Chapter 2 goes into detail about safety and awareness when being around bison – whether you own a herd, or just happen to stumble upon a lone bull while hiking through Yellowstone. Olson offers sound wisdom on being aware of a bison's 'bubble,' and how to look for signs like pawing and head tossing to tell when an agitated animal might charge.

Chapter 3 discusses the seasonal structure of bison herds and provides the reader with a glimpse of what it's like to be a bison in the spring when bison cows abandon their yearlings to attend to new calves, or during the summer, when breeding season can draw hundreds of bison together.

Chapter 4 features photos and drawings of male and female bison at different stages in their lives so that the reader can learn to identify the age and gender of bison at a glance.

Bison lovers and naturalists of all kinds are sure to enjoy this informative book! It is written in such a way that people who may not be very familiar with bison can understand the material, through drawings, diagrams, descriptive language, and of course, plenty of photographs, while still being entertaining and enjoyable for the more seasoned bison folks out there.

The part of the book that engaged me the most were the drawings by Wes Olson. The details of them, along with the descriptive captions and diagrams indicating each part of the animal, were fascinating to someone who can't draw! Wes has a way of bringing the animals on the pages to life with each stroke of the pen.

Being fairly new to the bison industry, I found Portraits of the Bison to be a wealth of information, especially when it came to telling the gender of our summer calf crop. The book taught me to look for a smooth underbelly on heifer calves, and to look closely for little round buttons that indicate a calf is a bull. With the drawings from the book as a guide, I'm now fairly confident in my observation skills!

 Portraits of the Bison can be purchased through the National Bison Association for $39.95.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3 Reasons you should be eating Responsibly Ranch Raised Bison Meat

If you read our blog, you know that we raise bison here at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch.  You probably also know that we are affiliated with the National Bison Association (NBA), that we sell bison meat products at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks in Springfield, MO and that we offer tours, cabin rentals and hunting opportunities all at our Southern Missouri bison ranch.  But what you may be wondering is: why eat bison?  Allow me to shed some light on the subject:

Bison tastes good.

Really, really, good.  Before coming to work at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch, I had little to no experience with eating bison meat. In fact, I just assumed it was an elitist Montana tourist food. But then I ate some. And I haven't eaten beef since.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Welcome to the Market: Selling Bison Meat at Farmers Market of the Ozarks

Caleb and I have always loved farmers markets. We love to shop local, and to meet like minded farmer folk - plus we always end up finding some really cool vegetable, tasty baked good or awesome smelling homemade soap. So when it came time to start selling bison meat from our ranch at Farmers Market of the Ozarks in Springfield, Missouri, we were SUPER excited. We would finally get to see what it was like to be on the other side of the vendor booth...

Jane and Caleb ready to sell some bison meat!



Monday, June 16, 2014

Bison Ranch Life: Eating Local Foods

Local food is a blessing to have and here on the ranch we have it in abundance - but I'm not just talking about the several hundred bison that roam our hills, woods and pastures. Local food cuts down the miles your food travels, increases your awareness of the local climate, flora and fauna and can help you to stick to a healthier diet. Which really isn't a challenge to stick to when you can put on a meal of Catfish Parmesan with asparagus and morels as a side dish. Or perhaps you're more of a red meat lover and want to go with a deer roast served with young potatoes, onions, and carrots. Perhaps for breakfast you're a steak and eggs kind of person; well Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch has that to. Personally I love to cook and these are the sort of meals I make with the food from the ranch and with the fully equipped kitchen at the guest cabin you too can make these meals (in the right season of course). Join us at our cabin and see all that we have to offer in whatever season you chose to join us. Here I'll just give you a brief overview of the local foods we have when you come to stay with us (just to get your appetite going).

The Pond:

Catfish from Elkhead Lake right here on the ranch.
Our pond, which to me seems more like a small lake, runs just over 30 feet deep and covers 10 acres. The waters are teeming with 17-19 inch catfish (at the current time), some really nice sized bass, and of course plenty of bluegill. If the amazing fishing that the pond offered wasn't enough the pond sits on top of the ranch and has in my opinion the second best view of the sunset and sunrise (the best being the guest cabin's front porch). On three sides the pond is bordered by bison pastures so at the moment when I go fishing I can look over from the dock and see our newborn bison calves playing around with their mothers on the other side of their fence.

The Wildlife:

Everywhere you look there seems to be something, I am constantly spooking up quail, rabbits, and squirrels, being stared at by gorgeous deer, or simply being put in awe at the numerous flocks of turkey I see on a daily basis. These are some of the more common game animals that I see on the ranch but it not uncommon to also find many species of ducks and geese, and even this morning I found a nice sized snapping turtle in the creek. Now folks, I know you may have read that and thought "eww who wants to eat snapping turtle," but trust me, don’t knock it till you try it, those armored tanks can make an amazing meal. While not quite your red-blooded kind of wild life the ranch also sits on some amazing morel ground that is ripe for the picking in the spring and could easily be found on a hike through the forested hillsides and bottoms.

Chickens:

The Chicken Coop
One of the hens with a new baby chick!
We currently have 11 laying hens here, I say currently not because we are going to expand our flock but because one hen just hatched 5 little chicks to add to the flock. We don’t have a rooster because contrary to popular belief they do not crow only first thing in the morning but instead all day and I even once had one that loved crowing right at 1 am every morning.

The fertilized eggs she hatched, if you were wondering, came from Klaires’ parents flock - she went broody and I swapped the eggs out. Our hens are definitely not battery hens, I can promise that, they have a very spacious hen house built by a small local company in Seymour, Missouri and a fenced in yard that is around 250 feet long and about 75 feet wide, as you can see above. These are about as close as you can get to free range chickens without them having to get out of the way of the tractor. We get several eggs a day, more so then we can seem to eat, but they are an amazing variety with white, brown and green eggs. For those curious we have primarily Rhode Island reds, Americana’s, and Barred Rocks.

The Garden:

This year I have started a rather large garden here at the ranch, probably too large for my first year, but it stretches 175 foot long and 25 foot wide. We are growing radishes, onions, carrots, beets, tomatoes, Australian squash, zucchini, several types of peppers, green beans, shell beans, potatoes and I am trying wheat. All of our plants in the garden are heirloom varieties, and I try to grow them as naturally as I can which means a lot of manual weed pulling, hand picking pest insects, mulching, and companion planting. Next to the garden we also grow three beds of sweet corn.

The Bison:

Well last but not least, and the very reason I am here, BISON. Our primary goal here is to raise the highest possible quality of bison. The herd fluctuates, especially right now with calves being born, but our numbers run about 300 head of yearling calves, around 20 cows and so long as no one jumps a fence, 5 bulls. To ensure that we do what's best for the bison, the land, and in the end, your health, we follow a set of grazing principles known as Management Intensive Grazing. I'll do another blog article soon on exactly what that entails, what it means to us, and ultimately the health of the land and the quality of our meat. The short and sweet of it right now is that this allows us to keep our bison happy and on green grass for as much of the year as the grass stays green while building the quality of our soil. And when your bison are happy, you get an amazing result... some of the best meat in the world–available online and on select days at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks in Springfield, MO!  


Honestly sitting here typing all of this is making me rather hungry, and I’m really looking forward to my dinner of a Bison burger on homemade sourdough buns with pan fried zucchini and young onions. Come join us and see where your food does or can come from. Remember folks, eat local when you can but above all eat responsibly and healthily.




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bison Ranch Life: Welding

I figured taking a Construction Tech class and then a more specific welding class in college would become a valuable asset, and boy was I right! I'm fairly close to just calling myself a welder now instead of a ranch manager.

We have had several projects that have needed welded on the ranch and by my estimations I've welded at least 200' of weld beads, and that's a conservative estimation. I really enjoy it though, its nice to sit out, lay out or in some cases hang out there (more on that in a minute) and just be alone with your thoughts while focusing on creating and improving things we use on a regular basis. Here are some of the things that I have been welding on as of late:

Feed Bin:


Our big feed bin was moved to a more permanent location on a concrete slab which made it have less clearance since before there had been a trench under it we were able to drove though. So I welded on some I beams below the two legs to raise it up allowing us to still be able to drive under it. I wasn't certain I would ever be finished with this project! It holds 96 feet of solid weld beads in it alone. But boy does it look good.

Cat Walks:


Working on the Corral System
The corral we have set up here at the ranch is based on a lot of Temple Grandins design principles and therefore has catwalks all around it. But there were a few spots they weren't built in yet so I got to build some catwalks to go around some of the perimeter of the set up. This allows us to have solid sides yet still work the live stock in as stress free a manner as possible. I also put in an overhead catwalk to connect over the load out chute (I'm pretty proud of that one). Along with the catwalk I also welded on some corner braces and a few cross braces over the alley way which was interesting to reach and is what I meant by hanging out there since often times to reach it I just monkeyed out over the edge of the corral to weld them on.

Miscellaneous:


Something always breaks that needs re-welded such as the bale fork and the quicktach bucket arm rests on the tractor. Some things need re-adjusted such as moving where the doors in the corral attach or welding on injection holders to our table out at the corral. Hmm now that I look at this a lot of the welding I have done has been out there on that corral. It is one really nice corral though and it gets better every chance we get to work on it, even though it is already one of the best working chutes I have ever seen. I also welded up our sign out front to be quite a bit sturdier. So now when you drive down county road 557 near Bruner, Missouri, you can't miss us!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

National Bison Association Summer Conference and Ranch Tour 2014

The National Bison Association is known for promoting and preserving the American Bison and serving as a resource for bison producers and enthusiasts.  Up until this week, that was pretty much all I knew about the NBA. Then the long awaited conference ranch tour rolled around – hosted by none other than Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch. Since Caleb and I came on board in February of this year, just about everything we’ve worked on and projects that have been completed has been in preparation for this conference tour. 

By about 10am on Wednesday June 4th (the day of the tour and the start of the conference), everything was in place. Fencerows were weed-eated, barns, porches and corrals were painted, bison were front and center, tables and chairs were set up, portapotties were installed and bison burgers and hot dogs were on the grill. We were set. 


Bison Shaped Burger Patties on the grill for lunch at the ranch.

The whole Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch crew was sporting matching polos with our logo, and man, we looked sharp. All we lacked now were the buses full of NBA members. They showed up right when expected, and that was when my real lesson on the NBA began.  


The lunch buffet line went off without a hitch thanks to our catering partners at Club 60!
Loading the busses for the ranch tour.


Randy talking about our corral system during the ranch tour.
People involved in the bison industry are fantastic. I love these people. They are friendly, knowledgeable and curious and have the most giving spirits of any folks I’ve ever seen. Caleb and I moved through the crowd of 200 plus, greeting, visiting and passing out business cards, and people talked to us like we were old friends. Being the ranch managers was something akin to being a celebrity – everyone wanted to compliment us on the ranch and the stock and the amount of work that had been put into the event. 

Lunch was fantastic – and of course featured bison meat – and the tour went off without a hitch. It was a long day, but I was sad to see everyone go.  After cleaning up, the question was “what the heck do we do now?”

The next day, Thursday, June 5th, was a day of conferencing at the Chateau on the Lake in Branson.  It was pretty fancy – all the NBA members had breakfast together and there was a waiter standing by just to pour orange juice!  


One of the panels during the conference.
Then the presentations began. First was a panel on farm-direct marketing with some of the association members. Next we all had a break to visit the vendors that carried awesome homemade products like bison jewelry, home d├ęcor, and socks made from bison hair. Then there was a presentation by Dr. Joseph Craine discussing how the changing climate will affect bison. 

Lunch was the next item on the agenda – bison short ribs donated by the president of the NBA. I don’t like short ribs. But these short ribs…they were magical. I’ve never had anything so good. The short ribs were rivaled only by the pecan pie the Chateau served for dessert. 

The next presentation was made by Wes Olson, one of the premier bison experts in North America. He tackled the question of whether Plains Bison and Woods Bison are subspecies or ecotypes. His well laid out research findings said that Woods and Plains are indeed, subspecies. I found this particular presentation very interesting, since we have both Plains and Woods Cross at on our ranch. 

The final class of the day was presented by Amy and Michael Billings of The Buffalo Lodge in Kingsville, MO. Their talk was of special interest for Caleb and I, because they were recounting their adventures in agritourism, something that we are starting to vamp up at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch. 


A painting in the conference room at Chateau on the Lake.

As the day wore on, it became apparent that several of the people Caleb and I had spoken with the previous day at the tour were big names in the bison industry – and we hadn’t had a clue. And that is something that makes these people near and dear to my heart – they are humble. We’re all connected by a pretty fantastic animal, and nobody plays the winning or losing game in this business. It’s all about support, sharing resources, and making friends. That is how we preserve the American Bison, and make memorable, lasting connections. I was moved to tears when a sweet lady named Marilyn, an association member and a vendor, found out that I was getting married in July and proceeded to give me a set of bison themed ornaments for my first Christmas tree as a gift. They are currently hanging in my kitchen until the holidays roll around, and I think of Marilyn every time I see them. A painting in the conference room at Chateau on the Lake.


At dinner that evening (bison top sirloin!), Wes Olson invited us to sit with him and his wife (an outstanding bison photographer) along with some Canadian folks, and a couple from Missouri as well. We all shared stories and swapped bison observations and when Wes found out about Caleb and I’s upcoming wedding, he proposed a very nice toast. When it was time to leave, everyone promised to keep in touch, and several invitations for Caleb and I to come visit and stay with our new friends were extended.

All said and done, it was a pretty great event, and I’m rather sad that it’s over. But it’s nice to know that so many wonderful people are backing what we do here at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch – and I can’t wait for the next NBA Conference to roll around!




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meet Caleb and Klaire, our new Ranch Managers

Howdy folks!

Caleb and Klaire here - your new Ranch Managers at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch. We are very excited to make our home where the buffalo roam, and we are even more excited to share it with you! You will hear a lot about the ranch and the bison in the weeks ahead - but first, a bit about us:

Caleb



I had always known that my career would involve agriculture in some way, but I can honestly say that I didn’t see "Bison Ranch Manager" as a viable option. But here I am now, and I can promise that I am here to stay for quite some time. This is a dream career for me. Whether that be managing the grazing patterns of our bison to optimizing the growth from the pastures or even just welding up gates for the chicken yard, it seems that everything I have learned and developed a passion for has led me here to give this place my all. 

In my spare time I enjoy blacksmithing, leather craft, carpentry, gardening and cooking.

Klaire

Well folks, my name is Klaire with a K. I grew up hearing cowboy stories from my father and have long aspired to have a ranching career - I just never expected it to involve bison! My roles at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch include publicizing and promoting the ranch by way of blogging, writing and networking, working on the ranch's upcoming business selling bison meat at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks, assisting Caleb with ranch duties like fencing, welding, daily feeding chores, record keeping, etc, and keeping a neat and tidy ranch house.



Some of my interests include creative writing and poetry, horses, cooking, yoga and reading. I have had some of my writing published in newspapers and magazines around the country, and I have traveled from as far south as Livingston, Texas and as far north as Broadus, Montana to train horses. I am also a CHA Certified Riding Instructor. I have spent much of my life on the back of my horse, and so far it's my favorite place to be! I love to take road trips, and I'm fond of learning hands on skills that I think all women should know – like welding, chopping wood and hunting.
Caleb and I met our first year at college.  We both discovered that we had a common passion for all things outdoors and a sustainable lifestyle and well, here we are!  We will be getting married this summer and couldn't be happier.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Ranch Managers at Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch

Randy and Jane are excited to announce new additions to the ranch family: Caleb and Klaire!

Caleb and Klaire are currently students at College of the Ozarks and will be moving to the ranch full time starting this summer to serve as the new ranch managers of Miller Bison at Elkhead Ranch.



Caleb and Klaire have been working hard on the ranch, beginning to learn the ropes of a working bison ranch and preparing the ranch for an influx of visitors when we host a ranch tour during the National Bison Association's annual summer conference this June.

As they get settled into their new home, Caleb and Klaire will be bringing several new changes to the ranch later this summer, including opening up the ranch for tours and making our bison meat available at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks in Springfield.

Stay tuned for more updates on the exciting things we have going on at the ranch. This summer is going to be a busy one for us all. We are so excited to share and introduce our ranch operation to more people.

In the coming days, you will begin seeing blog posts from Caleb and Klaire, as well as posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Help us welcome them to the ranch family. We're excited about all the new places we will go with them as part of our team!

Welcome, Caleb and Klaire!


Monday, February 10, 2014

National Bison Association Winter Conference in Review!

The National Bison Conference is held yearly in Denver, CO in conjunction with the Western Stock Show.  This year was our 11th year in a row attending the conference. With 400 in attendance, this seemed to be the largest participation of bison enthusiasts. We filled the classrooms during the day and the banquet hall for social/dinner in the evening.

"Producers and marketers at our annual conference {last week} celebrated that, as more consumers discover the great taste and nutritional attributes of bison meat, our business is experiencing unprecedented strength and stability," said National Bison Association (NBA) Executive Director Dave Carter as the conference came to a close. Therefore, many of the events focused on information to build bison herds to meet this growing demand.  For example, there was a mentoring session that paired new/potential producers, with experienced ranchers. Also at the conference, members were encouraged to adopt FFA or 4-H chapters in their area through the Student Group Membership program. The NBA provides ample resources to support such an endeavor for our future bison ranchers.

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