Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Buffalo....or is it Bison?

Our trip home through Spearfish Canyon was a bit of a disappointment.  Apparently the hard freeze that accompanied the snow a couple of weeks ago killed some of the leaves before they had a chance to fall or change colors.  So…..we saw a lot of gray, withered leaves, a few yellow ones and hardly any red or orange. 

We did have a very good reuben sandwich at Lewie’s in Lead, and then made our way home to pick up three very excited dogs.  

On Friday, Custer State Park held its annual Buffalo Roundup.  We have been a couple of times in the past, and opted not to get up at 4 a.m. to be on hand when the herd was driven into the corrals.  Instead, with friends Rick and Linda, we drove over in the afternoon to watch Park personnel and volunteers “work” some of the buffalo.

The CSP bison herd numbers some 1300 adults and several hundred calves born in the spring.  Because the park can only support a limited number of animals, each year excess stock are sold.  The sale is held in November each year, and includes older animals past breeding age, as well as younger animals that are not needed.  We were told that most go to private herds.

The viewing stands and catwalks above the working pens made it easy to see all phases of the operation.  The animals that had been collected were mostly cows and calves, with a few bulls mixed in.  The calves that were old enough to be weaned were separated from their mothers, vaccinated, branded, ear-tagged and either returned to the herd or marked to be sold.

The cows were all pregnancy-tested to determine which ones should be kept and which sold.  They were very glad to be released from that squeeze chute!

On Saturday we drove over to the arts and crafts fair that takes place every year during the Roundup.  There were plenty of opportunities to buy all sorts of lovely things, and we were glad we didn't have room to buy all that we admired.  

Among the pieces that were auctioned off during the fair were the bison statues that artists decorate each year.  Here are a few of them that we saw displayed in Custer prior to the auction.

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