Monday 3 September 2012

Where the Buffalo Roam

If the Essex police get tired of sightings of lions and tigers and bears, oh my, they can book a safari in  North Yorkshire  where they will see majestic herds of buffalo and deer sweeping down from the Hambleton Hills.

These magnificent specimen followed our trailer and began to run and jump just like in the Westerns.  While the water buffalo and highland cattle are disinclined to break in to a trot and demand to have the carrots brought to them, the American buffalo - Bison bison, so good they named them twice - are wild animals and always remember that they are supposed to be on a long journey. 

They've settled in well to Yorkshire; the hottest summer days are a trial to them but they are cheerful in the winter and their whole body is adapted to deal with  snow on grassland.  They appreciate some top-up hay and yummy carrots but, unlike the conventional cattle, they don't have to be brought indoors and coddled through to spring.

Up close it's easy to see why the Great Plains people deified the animals; they look at you quietly but with a wary curiosity.  There is definitely Somebody Home. The shaggy fur at the front looks soft and clean; they don't smell. The flanks are much finer skin, almost felty by the look of it - but they won't let you touch them.

This could be tricky. The whole point of them is to find a source of meat which is yummy, lean and unmodified by modern animal husbandry such as antibiotics, but after five minutes they begin seem like huge quiet spirits; things you'd rather have around than not.

The meat is wonderful my co-tasters advise. But I ended up eating venison and orange burger and iron-age pig sausage.  Those are animals which are either air-heads or are bred to be eaten.

These buffalo are spooky, as if they have raced off the cave wall and never changed in all the 20,000 years, still wondering about those annoying apes.

Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 2PD


lilith said...

We have a Bison Bison farm near us too and the meat is sold at the Farmers Market. It is tasty, but like you say, after luscious local beef I feel like I am eating something I shouldn't be, like, say, hare. It is not very fatty which to me is also a disadvantage.

JuliaM said...

"The meat is wonderful my co-tasters advise."

I can corroborate - I had buffalo fajitas in Fort Worth. Like all game, excellent and healthy. My one regret is that I wasn't there long enough to try elk or whitetail or mule deer.

Anonymous said...

There was a newspaper article in the Metro this morning...oooh, hang on a mo:

for an absolute fortune!! Thur be money in thum thur beasts. Seems a bit excessive but there we go.

Dick the Prick

JuliaM said...

Ah, but Dick, that's a whole different beast to the relatively harmless American buffalo.

And at only four years old, young Horizon (already a record-challenging 52incher!) has some growing yet to do!

Woman on a Raft said...

I was intrigued by the information that he uses the same principles as in flowers.

I've seen flower cross-breeding. It involves close contact and a feather. Not something I'd care to try with a bull the size of Horizon.

Woman on a Raft said...

JuliaM - Langthorne's has its own abattoir just up the field. This also improves the quality of the meat as the home-killed animals are not stressed by travelling any distance.

Woman on a Raft said...

Lilith - I know what you mean about hare. There's no objection in principle to eating it, it's just the way they look.

If I were very hungry I'd eat it but as with rabbit, it has to be caught fresh and field-dressed otherwise the meat will become rank very quickly indeed.

There was also a hotly-debated argument about the wisdom of eating wild hare or rabbit as some chefs claim the meat simply isn't fit for human consumption and prefer to use farmed rabbit where they know the source and the husbandry.

The one time I tried hare I might have cooked it wrong. It was most disappointing but then I'm luckily not starving in a hovel. If I were, Hoppity would be looking a good deal more delicious.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - time to don a pointy hat and wander into the corner.

2 blokes in a pub:

Bloke 1 : "yalright?"

Bloke 2 : "yalright?"

bit of time later

Bloke 1 : "what do you do?"

Bloke 2 : "caress buffalo's dicks with feathers"



Apollos said...

Thhanks for posting this