Home on the range

I’m having a very peaceful sort of day. That’s pretty weird for me. My days are usually hectic and borderline chaotic with me trying to cram in as much as humanly possible into the 7-hour window in which my children are at school. Because I’ve been such a busy bee the last few days, I’m all set for surgery in the morning and this day has ambled on by without the usual hectic pace and chaos: stripped all the beds, washed sheets & towels, packed lunches, had a nice unhurried workout,caught up with a friend at the gym, visited the girls at Beauty Envy, threw the tennis ball a few hundred times for Harry, and read the newspaper.

I rarely read the newspaper. I don’t like the way the newsprint gets all smudgy, and most of the news is either creepy or weird or depressing or all of the above. But this story caught my eye and it’s none of the above. As my good friend Amy Hoover says, “I’m quite up to date on all the current events in my own household, and that’s enough.”

There’s a small herd of bison, 11 to be exact, living in a park in north Houston. They’ve been there for 40 years, but they’re moving.

all bison photos by Mayra Beltran

That’s kinda sad. 40 years is a long time to live in one place. But it’s time for greener pastures, literally, as the seemingly unending drought in these parts has destroyed the bisons’ main food supply. The grass is dead, so the bison have been eating corn pellets and cottonseed along with hay shipped in specially from Florida. Not sure why the bison can’t eat Texas hay, as it seems to be plentiful, but the newspaper article didn’t address that point. 

I saw this load of hay on Hwy 59 the other day, coming home from Costco, and had to snap a photo of it because all I could think about was how happy some animals would be to see it coming down the road. Maybe this isn’t the right kind of hay for bison, or maybe it’s being exported to another country. Being a cityslicker, I have no idea of such things.

I like having wild animals around. Reminds me of a few years back, when my kids were toddlers. Both of them were wild banshees, but in completely different ways. Payton was willful and stubborn (remind me to tell the potty story some time). Macy wasn’t stubborn at all but man, was she ever destructive. Give that girl a marker and a blank wall and stand back.

Even though we live in the suburbs, we’ve got plenty of wildlife around us. There’s the field around the corner full of donkeys. I always enjoy seeing them out & about.

There’s the grey horse all alone in a small field I drive by on my way to the club. He used to have a couple of donkeys to hang with but they’ve been gone a long time. He’s so handsome but seems lonely. One of these days I need to pull my car over and feed him an apple.

The house next door to Payton’s hitting coach has a bunch of Shetland ponies. So tiny, so cute. 

There are deer everywhere. As I dropped Payton off for his hitting lesson today, there were 4 young deer in the yard. The smallest of them had trouble hopping the fence, and the others didn’t wait up. Nature can be cruel. 

Around the corner, this guy (or gal) was grazing in another yard. I know they’re a nuisance and eat the landscaping, but I like to see the deer doing their thing.

Back to the bison: they’re heading to Medicine Mound Ranch in Hardeman County, owned by the Summerlee Foundation, a nonprofit whose focus is on animal protection and Texas history, according to the Chronicle. They’ll have 6,400 acres to roam and graze, and hopefully the grass is nice and green up there.

But they will be missed. A man named Clifton Antoine will likely miss them most of all. He’s had the delightful job of feeding the herd every morning for the last 7 years. He’s named the 11 bison that belly up to his bar: Betsy, Wild Bill, Robert, Mabel, and Junior got their names printed in the paper. No details on why the other members of the herd weren’t mentioned. That kind of reporting bugs me, by the way. Instead of concentrating on the story, I’m wondering what the other bisons’ names are and why they weren’t mentioned.

I could  have done with a few more details. This is nice but I want more: “Betsy nudges him out of the way as he dumps feed into the trays, Antoine said. Wild Bill is rambunctious and does a lot more rolling in the dirt. It’s best to clear out when Robert, the alpha male, shakes his head up and down; other times the old bull will eat out of Antoine’s hand.”

Safe travels, y’all. Hope you like your new digs.


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