It’s always a sad day at Red Canyon Ranch when we lose an old, old friend. Our 26 year-old bison cow, Lange, died. Her best friend, Clover, and her daughter, Susie Q, did not leave her side through the entire quiet natural death. The mourning ritual for bison is fascinating and heartbreaking. The entire herd gathered around her and took turns licking her body. The herd did not leave her for ten hours, then finally they slowly moved away.
Other bison ranch’s slaughter older cows when they no long calve. We do not. Older animals play a vital role in the psychological health of the herd, and they pass on their knowledge to the younger animals in some amazing ways. We’ve watched old cows lead sick young animals to the medicinal plants that will ease their pain. Really. Perhaps more importantly, older animals pass on bison culture, in much the same way the humans and elephants do, by teaching.
Lange was a special and gentle old soul. We will miss her very much.
Mike and Kathy