Minnesota Bison Association
Helping Members Successfully Raise and Promote Bison

March 2020: Highview Bison

Reedsburg, WisconsinBison

Charles, Alex, and Celia Gall

highland-1It’s hard to believe I have been involved in bison since 1971. Dad and mom started with a heard of five animals (one bull, four young cows) from the National Bison Range in Montana. We topped out at about 200 head in the mid-to-late 90’s. We got a one-page letter from the National Bison Range on what to haul bison in. Example: NO OPEN TOP RACKS, no canvas didn’t qualify, how tall fences had to be, just the basics. Seventeen years later, I went to my first conference the American Bison Association (ABA) held in Adair, Oklahoma, built our first corral, and bought a Pearson Tub & Chute system. Dr. Ken was the feature speaker. We got 10 new bison bulls from National Bison Ranch that fall. We kept the best six for breeding bulls. When these bulls got about ten years old, they fought so hard that breeding slowed down because they didn’t have time for that—they were always fighting.

We learned the hard way about parasites: Bison die, cattle just do poorly. One of the original cows got butchered because she wants to stand on the wrong side of the fence. The other four died of parasites over the years.

Jud sold me my first late born bison bull calf at the Wisconsin show and sale. We had him for many years until one day when I had to dive under the pickup to get away. We butchered him just days later. I learned a good lesson: A valuable animal doesn’t do you any good if you are dead. Once they cross that line, they have to be gone!

Last year, I butchered my oldest cow, which was estimated to be over 30 years old. I owned her 17 years. She always had a bull calf and missed calving only three times.

I had a hereafter experience from the late David Geis. He wrapped and addressed a book with a note he signed. Dorothy found it eight years later and sent it. The title The Time of the Buffalo by Tom McHugh. I have found this book to be the most complete book on buffalo from the Bering Strait Land Bridge to the 1970s. The book started out as a research study he undertook for a doctor at the University of Wisconsin. I recommend it—good reading and very informational. We are just so lucky that the great pioneers decided to save these animals.

highland-2Another great story comes from my grandmother born before 1890. They used to bring a frozen bison carcass in on the train in the winter with the hide still on. They always laid it by the front window for display and left it for two or three days to thaw out enough to get the hide off. Her dad bought a roast and they had it for Sunday dinner. When we butchered our first bison bull, she said the roast tasted just as good as she remembered it.

My mother was a very good cook. She knew how to cook a nice roast from an older breeding bison bull, make it taste wonderful and just fall apart. Her favorite knife was an electric knife so she could cut across grain without meat shredding.

Three years ago, Tim and Cyndi Thering got their first bison from me. When I got them unloaded, Tim’s mother, LaVerne, was not happy about Tim and Cyndi’s purchase. She said I’m not happy about Tim getting these, but my good friend Harold Gall (my dad) has had them for year so they must be OK. She was in her 90’s still living at home with them. She has since passed away.

I’m so lucky to have Alex and Celia help me as much as they can on the farm.

Alex purchased a drone. He loves to take pictures with it. Bison are more tolerant around it. Beef cows run to the woods for cover while some bison cows just watch it fly around. Alex is very respectful of the animal’s behavior when flying it. Celia amazes me with having such a good eye for picking out quality bison (and I thought she wasn’t even paying attention.)

Thank you to all my good friends in the industry. It’s always a pleasure to meet the newcomers as well as visiting with old friends.

Later,
Charles, Alex, and Celia Gall
Highview Bison

 

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