(originally posted August 19, 2016)
Joseph Larson worked with us, for us and was loved as family for many years before meeting his Sweetheart and moving to New Mexico. Last Year Joe left us. As much as we strive to understand and honor the ‘Circle of Life’, our hearts were heavy with the news. Now, on August 27, Joe’s Birthday, his family and friends are bringing him home to rest and fly free on the land he so loved and that so loved him back! The following is a story that Joe wrote about his experience with a Buffalo caught in the ice. It is a treasure and so is Joe.
CAUGHT IN THE ICE (by Joseph Larson)
It started out a beautiful February morning. I had a gentleman and 3 of his friends coming up to do a Sacred Harvest.
Everything went great with the harvest as it always does and after we were all back at the ranch house and everyone had left I went to my house for a morning cup of coffee. I sat there contemplating how well things were going. I was amazed at how well I have become connected to this large family of animals and how they have accepted me into their family as one of them.
As I always do after a harvest, I loaded up a bale of hay to go feed the herd and sit and spend some time with them. As I drove to the pasture they were in, I saw Junior our largest bull. Third, his son and another bull which is also a son of Junior but a year younger, standing by the gate waiting for me. I at first thought that they had been waiting for me to bring the food and spend time in the middle of the herd but when I got to the gate I saw that a cow buffalo had fallen through the ice on a pond inside the gate.
I had never been in a situation like this before and had no idea how to get her out or was quite sure how the other Buffalo bulls would react to me trying to get her out. They all protect each other from any danger they sense. They all know that whatever I do is good for them so I was pretty sure I would be O.K. But with animals that can be over 2000 # it is better to be safe than sorry. As I got on the ice with the cow I could see that she had broken through the ice on one edge and had been trying to get out by going forward instead of backing up. I walked up right in front of her and told her that I was there to save her and meant no harm. She looked at me and I could feel that she knew that all would be O.K. now. I had a rope on the back of the truck and I put it around her horns in the hopes of by turning her head she might be able to turn around and walk out. I kept talking to her and letting her know that I was there to help. After trying to turn her both directions it became apparent that it wouldn’t work, she was too far in!
I knew that she was too far in and I couldn’t pull her out by her neck without harming her… I told her that I would be back and asked the bulls to stay with her and comfort her until I returned.
I went back to the shop and gathered an Axe, a pick, shovel and a large spud bar and a tow rope. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I knew I was going to save her.
I went back to them and the bulls were still there as they weren’t going to leave one of their family in danger. I still had the rope around her horns and started to break the ice away from her side so she had a big enough hole to turn around in but all she wanted to do was go forward. At that point I decided that if that is what she wanted I would help her out that way. I had been wondering how I would ever get that rope off of her when she got out so I took it off. As I started breaking ice that was close to 1 foot thick on the side of her and then in front of her I kept talking to her to keep her calm. I could feel how she was feeling being in that situation. Trapped, but help was there.
As I kept breaking ice she was moving forward and finally she could get her knees on the ice but not out. Finally I had broken out enough that she was able to get both front legs out and then her back legs also. She was Free!
As she stood there still on the ice she turned and looked at me and I am sure she smiled and said Thank You.
She walked up to the 3 bulls that had stayed there and waited for her and they slowly started to walk up to join the rest of the herd. She was wet and looked tired but was still in good shape. I followed behind them and rolled out the hay for the herd and sat on the back of the truck and drank that cup of coffee and said some prayers of thanks that I was able to be there to save one of my family.
It is so fitting that the name of this ranch is HAPPY HEART RANCH because there sure were a lot of them here that day. That is just one of many exciting days I have on this great place on our Mother Earth that I have been put in charge of taking care of.
— MAN WHO CARES FOR THE LAND