We love our home state and try to celebrate its history and our heritage in as many ways as possible at the farm. The addition of a bison herd was one of these ways. These magnificent creatures represent the bison that were a natural part of the state’s fauna centuries ago. The first bison arrived at Orr farm in March 2007: two cows, two calves, and two bulls. Since that time, the herd has grown and we’ve learned a lot about being caretakers of these hulking yet skittish beasts!
Bison are commonly referred to as buffalo. They ranged freely throughout West Virginia before the last were killed off around 1825. Besides their purpose as a source of food for settlers, the presence of these animals created a unique byproduct: By trampling thick underbrush and dense forest cover, the bison created travel routes for settlers. Known as “buffalo roads,” some of these pathways gave way to official turnpikes and other high-traffic roads throughout the state.*
Our bison add a lot of character to the farm. Whether visitors are picking berries, enjoying a Bluegrass Weekend, or roaming the market, they’re sure to notice our big, burly residents. Some prefer to take a peek from afar, while others want to get as close as possible—which isn’t very close, mind you. Bison are notoriously shy, and they can be aggressive. So while we want our visitors to enjoy the herd, we do ask that you keep a safe distance. In addition to being fun to look at, the bison at the farm serve a practical purpose, one we take seriously and go about with care and humanity. The bison provide us with meat, which is processed locally and returned to the farm to be sold in the market in the form of sticks, jerky, steaks, bologna, sausage, hot dogs, and burger.
Having a healthy bison herd as part of our farm means a lot to us. We hope our visitors appreciate the West Virginia heritage they represent and enjoy the foods they provide. So now you know more about our herd and their place in West Virginia history. Next time you’re at the farm, or if it’s your first time, make sure to take a gander at our furry friends behind the fence!
*Info summarized from alleghenymountainradio.org