The Hideout Buffalo Guest Ranch
Buffalo are majestic creatures with their larger than life presence and the thundering sound when running across open plains. It isn't a surprise that Christine and Jim Gibson became enchanted with the idea of starting a buffalo ranch in Montana when they moved here in 2002. And what better place than on a 300-acre spread in the Tobacco Valley?
Jim and Christine currently have a herd of forty-nine buffalo which they say is the ideal number for their pastures. In late spring, calves are born and Christine admits that this is when the buffalo cows can get a bit testy. Otherwise they are easy to care for and work with although as Christine says, "You can get buffalo to go anywhere they want to go." Each fall when the Gibsons do round-up, they cull out the yearlings from the previous year. These are then sent to White's Meat in Ronan for butchering.
It might be hard to imagine what it takes to raise buffalo. First off it is a long term commitment as buffalo can live for an average of twenty-five years. The Gibson's largest bull (at about 2,300 lbs) is fifteen years old so still in his prime. Although there is quite a lot of pasture for the buffalo to enjoy, Christine and Jim also have to feed. Last year this required 150 tons of hay which is no small amount. When asked about how they work with the herd, Christine reports they don't use horses or ATVs but rather walk and try to keep everyone calm. The Gibsons have a professionally designed handling system that allows them to sort and examine the buffalo once a year during round-up, with Christine and Jim doing most of the work.
Besides raising this beautiful herd, the Gibsons also opened guest rentals at their ranch this past year. The Hideout Buffalo Guest Ranch offers both a spacious guest house available for larger groups and two apartments. The spectacular location and the solitude make it an ideal get away. And of course, you would also occasionally get to see buffalo.
About the Author: Rita Collins. I am a believer in the power of community and for now I call the Tobacco Valley home. I have lived in nine states and three counties and this community here amazes me - how people reach out to neighbors and even travelers. I've never lived in a place that demonstrates people caring for each other so well. And I've never lived in a place that has such a high percentage of talented musicians and artists. I work with the the Sunburst Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit that began in Eureka twenty years ago and now serves numerous communities in western Montana. And I just started a new business, St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary. I never could have imagined life being this exciting in my sixth decade.