HINTON, Okla. (KFOR) – If he didn’t have a guest touring his ranch east of Hinton, Jim Stepp might not be checking on his herd when the afternoon temperatures don’t even climb to double digits.
“They can handle this cold weather a lot better than I can,” he grimaces.
His bison kind of give him a look like, “What are you doing out here?”
This big range, and heading north for hundreds of miles, has been their home since the Ice Age.
“They were here long before you and I,” Jim agrees. “This was one of their primary grazing areas.”
As if driving around weren’t enough already, Jim and his guest walk out into the pasture through drifts that reach to our shins.
Again, his bison don’t mind.
They can dig through deep snow to get to prairie grass.
Stepp says they can eat snow if they have to, but he’s seen them break ice on his ponds to drink fresh water.
“They’ll just jump up and down to break it through,” he says.
Jim was a state park ranger in North Dakota when the idea hit that he might like to try buffalo ranching.
He had to build some stout fence and extra strong squeeze chutes but he can sure relax by the fire in winter.
“I don’t have to worry,” he states. “We put out a little hay just to help supplement the grass, just to make sure they have plenty to eat, but they’re pretty much self-sufficient.”
One close look at his pet bull Stormy’s coat will tell you that.
He bottle-raised this huge beast, which is why Stormy doesn’t mind us being this close.
Stepp laughs as he scratches Stormy’s haunch, “Don’t try this at home. This is not what you want to do with a normal buffalo.”
Built for extremes, but still not minding a scratch in just the right spot, Stormy and his brood, mommas and newborn calves were built to stand cold and heat, and everything in between.
For more information on Sandy Springs Farm go to www.sandyspringsfarms.com/.