Monday, June 7, 2010

Great American Buffalo Adventure

Oh my goodness, I can't begin to tell you how much fun the troop had on our adventure! All of the girls except one were able to attend, and I had the help of 4 other troop volunteers. We drove 2.5 hours to Wessington, SD to the Christensen Buffalo Ranch.
GABA begins!
We were in the first group to go on the hayride. The hayride was in a huge hay trailer pulled by a tractor.
This way to the hayride!
Mr. Christensen drove us and acted as our tour guide. The pasture was about 5 miles from the ranch house, and very bumpy, which made for lots of giggly little girls!
Giggly Girls
When we first got to the pasture, the bison cows were near a small pond with the calves. They ran from us because they wanted to protect their calves from us. I got this great video of the herd moving away from us.
Click here to see the video clip.
Mr. Christensen would stop the tractor to show the girls plants native to the prairie. We learned about Sheep Shower--an edible purple flower,Yarrow--once used as a laxative, and Indian Potatoes--a tuber that grows on the prairie and was a staple in the Native American diet. He showed us a lot of plants and picked flowers for the girls, he even found a wild rose!
A flower for you
Mr. Christensen seemed to really enjoy teaching the girls. He stopped and let us look around for flowers while he dug up Indian Potatoes, which he then cleaned and cut up, allowing each girl and adult to taste. They really do taste like potatoes!
Indian Potatoes
My girls were very excited about finding the shed hair of the bison, who are losing their winter coats. Little tufts were stuck to plants everywhere we looked. We found different kinds of hair, the light brown seemed to be softer and finer than the black hair. I even stumbled across a large intact piece of hair.
That's a lot of hair!
After seeing the bulls, who are separate from the herd this time of year, Mr. Christensen took us to see a tee-pee ring. All that remains of the nomadic homes are rings of stones, which were used to hold the hides down. We had the girls stand on the stones to make it easier to visualize.
A teepee circle
Back on the ranch, we were treated to a wonderful early supper of bison meat sandwiches and Girl Scout Cookies! Then we were able to help make rope, the girls worked hard to turn the crank that twisted the rope.
Twisting a rope
The other end of the rope
Our last activity of the day was to make necklaces with colorful beads, and a surprise trip to see a dove's nest. My girls were wiped out, and I was very tired and just a little sunburned. The girls were given packets with a placemat telling them facts about bison, bison meat recipes, a piece of handmade rope, a tuft of bison hair and their Great American Buffalo Adventure patch. We had a fabulous time together, and I am very glad to have such a great bunch of girls and a great bunch of volunteers! I can't wait to do this again next year!