Are you ready for your heart to melt?
Buster is a bison bull calf who was born on our Southern Missouri ranch this summer, but soon after he was born, his twin came along. Twins are very rare in bison, and usually when a momma bison has twins, she only recognizes one of her calves as hers.
This leaves the abandoned calf on its own, unable to receive the nutrients it needs from its mother’s milk to survive.
Luckily, since Buster was born first, he was able to get some of the essential nutrients from his mother before the twin came along. This helped immensely in him surviving the first few days after Randy and Jane rescued him.
Now, Buster gets his milk from bottles, which Jane prepares and feeds to him twice a day.
Buster has a pen, built alongside the barn where he has access to sun, shade, grass and dirt. The pen is built to provide safety for him, so he doesn’t wander around the ranch in areas that could be dangerous for him (whether it be predators or wandering back to the bison herd before he’s prepared to take care of himself).
Here, Buster is lying in the grass inside his pen. The stretched out position of his neck is what happens when bison grunt. As you can tell, his fur is very soft. This beautiful cinnamon color doesn’t last too long before it turns the brownish color of adult bison.
Since Buster is the only orphan on the ranch this year, the only interaction he gets right now is with people. He loves to play and loves attention. Here he is out in the grass with Randy and Jane.
I call this a “buffalo hug”. Often times when Buster is out playing and interacting, he’ll come up really close to your legs and kind of circle around you. Even though he looks small, you do have to make sure he’s careful of your feet! Bison are born at 40-50 pounds and start growing pretty much immediately. You can easily see size difference between newborn calves and those that are just a few weeks old. Plus, their hooves are hard — so a step on the toes by this guy would definitely sting!
Apparently, he even gives “buffalo kisses”! Like I said, he’s a little ball of love.
So comfortable is Buster in the home Randy and Jane have made for him, that even when given free reign, he never wanders far. He’ll even wander up to the porch of the house (which is just across from his barn) and sit with Randy and Jane. Or, if they’re in the house, he’ll just curl up in front of the screen door.
Buster is a Bison Bull though, so quite quickly he will grow much too big and strong to play with Randy and Jane as he does now, curl up on their porch and give buffalo hugs. As a Bison Bull, he could potentially grow to be up to 2,000 lbs!
The good news is, eventually, they will be able to re-introduce Buster to his herd where he should be able to thrive and live a long, happy life with other bison.
In fact, the two Bison above are named “Scout” and “Atti” and they were each orphan calves last year who have now been re-introduced to the herd and are doing great. (Don’t fret about the shedding fur on Scout, this is actually 100% normal in all bison! Each winter, bison grow a thick coat to keep them warm in the cold winter months and in the spring and summer, they no longer need the extra fur, and they shed their coat. So, Scout is just adapting to summer!)
It’s hard not to quickly fall in love with this little guy. Of course, you always hope that all calves can always stay with their moms and never have any problems, but when one comes along that needs a little help, Randy and Jane are always glad to take it in and give it the love and care it needs!