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Business is booming at John and Sheila English's farm with a herd of 80 and counting

Monday, April 28, 2008

These buffalo know how to appreciate a warm summerlike day. The bison pictured here belong to English's Buffalo Farm located on U.S. 231 north of Greencastle.
John and Sheila English purchased 26 acres of land in Cloverdale in 1992, built a log home and added a pond. They fenced their property and purchased a calf for their son to raise. But, they wanted more.

"We wanted something for our future and for our retirement," said Sheila English.

They began visiting buffalo farms and found themselves hooked.

In March of 1995 they purchased three buffalo, Cherokee, Dakota and Cheyenne (6 month old heifers). They brought them home and put them in the barn.

"They were so wild we couldn't get near them. We were beginning to think we made a big mistake," said English.

In August of 1995 they added a one-year-old bull named Chester. The next year they bought five more animals. Soon they outgrew their 26 acres.

"In November 1996 we purchased 102 acres in Bainbridge. We spent the next three months fencing our front pasture and moved the animals to the new farm," reflected English.

The herd has grown from 9 buffalo in 1996 to over 80 today. In order not to inbreed all heifers born on the farm are sold and all bulls are kept for butchering.

In September 1999 the couple opened the trading post at the farm and have had visitors from all over the world.

"We meet a lot of interesting people and love to answer any questions about the farm and the buffalo," they explained.

You have about a 50/50 chance of seeing animals when you visit the farm. They have free roam of the acreage and pretty much stay together. The couple hopes to someday offer tours to visitors.

After 30 years at Allison's Transmission in Speedway, John retired at the end of 2006. Sheila takes care of the trading post. And, with the help of their son Jason and John's parents, John Sr. and Maxine English who retired and moved from their Martinsville home to help on the farm.

In the Trading Post they offer a large selection of Native American Books, Patterns, Kits, Pottery, Figurines, Greeting Cards, Mugs, Magnets, Puzzles, Jewelry, Dreamcatchers, Poster Prints, Cedar Boxes and Clocks.

The Trading Post is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 pm. and is open year-round.

Of, course they also offer a wide selection of buffalo meat including roasts, steaks, ground meat, jerky, tenderloins and sausage.

Bison is very flavorful meat with a sweeter and richer flavor than beef. It is naturally flavorful and tender and can be prepared much the same as beef.

The meat has been considered a gourmet or specialty item at local supermarkets and meat markets. Nutritionally you get more protein and nutrients with fewer calories and less fat. Bison is dense meat that tends to satisfy more while eating less.

The American buffalo, also known as the American bison, crossed a land bridge that used to connect Siberia and Alaska. This allowed the American buffalo to come all the way from Asia where it originated. When it first arrived it was a huge beast that could reach up between 2,000-5,000 pounds.

The American buffalo was a huge part of Native American life. They hunted and used every part of the animal. Once the Spanish introduced the Native Americans to horses hunting was easier.

With the arrival of white settlers came the arrival of traders and trappers. It was this new burden that dramatically decreased the number of American Buffalo.

Soon, the numbers had dwindled so much that to see an American Buffalo running wild on the prairie would only be possible in a memory.

However, today there are many people including many Native Americans who are trying to build up the numbers of American Buffalo. Yellowstone National Park has a buffalo haven that contains some of the last American Buffalo.

You don't have to travel to Wyoming to see buffalo on many days you can drive down U.S. 36 and see buffalo grazing just like in the wild.

For more information about English's buffalo farm visit them on the web at: info@englishsbuffalofarm.com

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We've seen the buffalo also at the farm. There's also some buffalo on a wildlife preserve in Lawton, OK.

-- Posted by purple_heat on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 4:16 PM

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