Reclaiming ancient grasslands…
Author: Dan O’Brien
It actually sounds pretty boring. A financially strapped loner buys some buffalo for his desolate ranch in western South Dakota. Although maybe it only sounds that way because I know next to nothing about buffalo husbandry, Great Plains desolation or cattle ranching. But give author Dan O’Brien half a chance and he might just have you thinking about saving up for a bison ranch of your own. Buffalo for the Broken Heart is his thoughtful and moving story about his efforts to restore the plains to their original state – the way they were before the arrival of Europeans and their clueless cattle.
Cows – omnipresent from burger joints to steakhouses worldwide – were originally domesticated in southwest Asia and had never set hoof on North America until the Spanish brought them in the 16th century, letting them loose on the vast deserts and prairies of the continent. Consequently, cattle in the United States have never been particularly well adapted to the many harsh challenges and unique plant species in the environment. It is this unforgiving evolutionary reality that has made it hard for ranchers to succeed in the West without using artificial means such as nutritional supplements and antibiotics or without causing extensive environmental degradation.