Minnesota Bison Association
Helping Members Successfully Raise and Promote Bison

June 2019: Curt and Diana Radcliff

Storm Lake, Iowa

Curt and Diana Radcliff

radcliffIt was April 13, my birthday, in Sleepy Eye Minnesota at the Minnesota Bison Association education conference and I was off to make a call to my parents. As I walked out the door, my wife Diana, said they called my name as the “winner” of the drawing! She was thinking “sweet,” then was told I get to write an article for the MBA newsletter about our operation.

The next day is when we started talking about it. We were discussing how we enjoyed the speakers, how it was way over our heads but did take away some things. I thought about how keynote speaker Gabe Brown talked about getting us out of our comfort zones. Thinking about it that way I decided, what the heck, I believe I could come up with something, considering we didn’t own animals!

Bison has actually been on my heart and in my head for years. I was traveling west on I-90 heading into the Columbia Gorge. I don’t know the mile marker but could take you to the exact place when I heard an almost audible, “bison”. I couldn’t figure it out because there weren’t any animals around. I hadn’t even seen any bison while traveling but couldn’t get them out of my thoughts.
It was a few years after, moving to Iowa I met Diana, my awesome wife. We were so different yet so much alike we knew it was meant to be. During our courtship, as with many couples, we shared our dreams with each other. When I told her about my passion of bison, ideas of and future plans involving bison, she didn’t chuckle or laugh it off as I expected. Instead she asked questions about them and told me of her few experiences with them.

We were soon married and the bison conversations continued and became more frequent. We both talked with people about bison and would hear where some were and we’d travel to look at them. Pretty soon we had people coming to us with their bison stories or information. I think we were both kinda considered the, ”bison people” by those around us.

We finally started to think about it enough that I thought we needed to join an organization. If nothing else to learn and hopefully meet some people we could talk to with questions. I considered the Missouri Bison Association but the Minnesota Buffalo Association is where we chose and are glad we did.
We had fun looking over the web page seeing what was offered and happening. Diana had a good friend who had moved to Minneapolis recently and was talking to him and catching up etc. She told him about joining the MBA and possibly going to the conference in Albany that November. He passed on to her how he had been at a work conference in Sleepy Eye and met someone that owned bison, Craig Fischer.

Coincidence maybe but I believe things are meant to be and this felt meant to be to us. We decided to go to the upcoming 2018 Legends of Fall Auction and Sale Conference. Before the conference we got to thinking about the possibility of buying animals and paying someone to keep them on their land. I had read about absentee owner programs while a member of the National Bison Association years ago. Due to the fact that we aren’t in the position to buy/rent land or move to a place to find land this could be a good option for us to get started.

The Legends of the Fall and Education Conference this spring were great! We met and talked with Craig and Elizabeth Fischer, Ken and Lynnae Hess and many others. They are fun and full of information. Craig described it best as everything was coming at us like a fire hose but to just try to get a few things to take back with us. The dinners and socializing are great! We have talked with people from Canada, Washington and of course all over Minnesota. It is comfortable and so much information! People are willing to talk with us, tell us bits of advice all the while not making us feel out of place.

Jumping ahead now, we hadn’t been able to find anyone in our area that does the absentee owner program. I did find a person, Ken MacRitchie, in Michigan at the New Beginnings Ranch & Buffalo Co. He has done this for years with numerous people helping get them started. We felt this could be a good opportunity for us to get started with animals without having land. With Diana agreeing, we decided to pursue this and on May 6th we purchased our first bison with the goal of 3 more by the end of summer.

 

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