How We Fell into Raising Bison
My husband Drew and I own Win-Tur Bison Farm in Springdale, WA. We kind of fell into raising bison and becoming farmers.
Drew and I lived in Boulder, CO and owned a professional sewing business. After 9/11 our business really suffered due to economic down-turn, so we were forced to make some changes. We had to face the facts that we could no longer afford to live in Boulder. My mom, Georgia, was always begging us to come help her manage a 900 acre bison ranch that she and her husband owned in central WI. They raised 300-400 head of bison and really could use some help with the ranch.
In 2005, we decided to take her up on her offer and made the big move. Boy, were we in for some major changes. First, was culture shock! Moving from a small city to a tiny rural town was quite different. What?! No Starbucks? Second, was the adjustment to raising livestock, haying, running a meat business, an agritourism business and everything else that comes with farming. Third, was the WI weather! Harsh winters and hot, muggy summers, uggg. I think what was most shocking, though, was how the new lifestyle fit us like a glove.
Drew dealt primarily with the herd and pasture management as well as all aspects of haying. I helped my mom with herd management, herd health, the meat business, her leather business and the agritourism business. I also got to raise the orphan calves which I enjoyed immensely. Our new “job” was super hard work with lots of ups and downs but, super fun, too! We were growing by leaps and bounds and really turning the ranch into a successful business. Then my mom got cancer. Everything changed.
We lost Mom February 2011. My former step-father wanted to take over the ranch management and we were no longer welcome there. It was time for another life change. To make things more challenging, we now owned 9 bison. They were my former bottle babies, we could not leave them behind. Luckily, a good friend offered to keep our small herd until we could find a farm of our own.
In October of 2011 we found our “perfect” place in Springdale, WA and moved in January 2012. Priority one was building a corral and installing electric fencing for the bison. In May 2012 we had them trucked in. That was the beginning of our little 50 acre bison farm.
Our primary focus of the farm is our agritourism business. We offer tours and an opportunity for people to meet and feed the bison, with a fence in between, of course! Because we are limited by the size of our farm, we cannot expand our herd. We will always keep our core group of 9 and will sell or butcher the off-spring. Also, I have a growing online business making cat toys out of bison leather I inherited from my mom. www.theecstaticcat.com
We love our farm, the bison and are honored to carry on my mom’s legacy.