Bernadette’s Take #48

Watch the tail of the bison!

Armin Mueller, Bentley, Alberta

ArminMueller9 - CopyThis is Armin and his wife Rita who are constantly watching their back because the bison are not to be trifled with! (All photos Armin Mueller)

I tell you as a writer: Don’t read books. It can be dangerous.

(Well, okay, read my books “Oh, wie schön ist Kanada!” or “The Zurich Conspiracy”. But at your own risk. I will send you a waiver.)

As a boy, Armin read books like “Winnetou” by Karl May and Cooper`s “Lederstrumpf (The Leatherstocking Tales). That`s how this lad from Hochdorf (Swiss canton Lucerne) developed a passion for the bison.

Thirty odd years later, he owns about 2000 of them! I mean, bison, not books.

Can you imagine?! These legendary animals roam 2000 acres on Armin’s land in Bentley, Alberta.

ArminMueller10 - CopyWow! The bison have already come closer – I love bison but this is a bit too close for comfort…

Armin knows everything about the bison. There were about 60 millions of them in North America 500 years ago. Then the white settlers came, they imported the cattle sickness and hunted the bison almost to distinction.

“In 1884, there were 500 to a thousand bison left”, Armin says. “It was just a mass genocide of the bison. It was one way of the government to control the Indians.”

The First Nations people used everything from the bison: The hide for the tepee, the content of the gall bladder for painting, sinews for the bows and some bones for arrows.
Armin uses the bison, too. He sells their meat in Canada and overseas.

Armin cannot stress enough how good their meat is: “High protein, low fat, low cholesterol, very tender meat. There isn’t even a close competition.”
The bison, Armin says, is the greenest animal because it converts grass into protein. (The dairy cow converts it into milk.)

ArminMueller7 - CopyHelp! Save me from the bison! Please! The calf wants to charge me!

Armin was a dairy farmer first. He had emigrated to Canada in 1975 as a 20-year-old and bought his own farm four years later. He married his Swiss wife Rita and they had three kids. They had a successful business.

And then lightning struck.
Not exactly lightning. But the midlife crisis. Yes, Armin admits to this.
He sold his dairy farm and converted to bison. “They are my passion”, Armin says.

Let’s face the truth: These bison are eventually slaughtered.
In a slaughter house that is run by three Swiss immigrants: Armin Mueller, Ivo Schmucki and Werner Siegrist.
It is a Swiss Conspiracy.

Buffalo (46) - CopyPooooh! That was close! I had to put some distance between me and these huge animals.

Let’s make an

Urgent Phone Call (UPC) to Armin Mueller in Bentley!

Armin, do you raise happy bison?

Sure. They can roam my pastures and eat grass. Then they get grain in the finishing feeding station for the last 100 days before they are slaughtered.

Have you ever had a pet bison?

Yes, actually two. They were called Bonnie and Clyde. They were nice but a nuisance, too.

Why?

Once they get up to 1500 to 1800 pounds … A bull can get up to 2500 pounds. I think it is not such a good idea.

What happened to them?

One broke a leg and we had to put it down. The other one got slaughtered. That is life.

slide-sunset - Copy

Can bison be dangerous?

Yes, they can. You really should not come between a cow and a calf. The cows are very protective of their calves.
And a mature bull gives you warnings. When his tail is half up, he is nervous and sees you as an intruder. Then you better get out of there. When the tail is straight up, he is charging. Then it is too late to flee. You cannot outrun a bison.

Wow, that’s scary!

The bison is the fastest land mammal in North America. I once chased a bison with my pickup truck because he had jumped a fence. I clocked him at 50 km/h. Bison can run up to 55 km/hour!

Were you ever injured by a bison?

We had a few close calls. I always watch my back when I’m in the field.

Who buys your bison meat?

We sell our meat internationally. About 50 per cent of our production is sold in Canada, 20 per cent is sold in the United States, 30 per cent in Europe, mainly in Switzerland.

slide-meat

Do the Swiss love bison meat?

Oh yes. The Swiss really got the taste for bison. They appreciate the health aspect of the animal and they have the money to pay for something different.
The four most valuable cuts go to Switzerland: tenderloin, strip loin, rib eye and sirloin. The Swiss supermarket chain Coop carries our products exclusively.

Do you eat anything else than bison?

I would say, 80 per cent of my meat is bison. I never cared for pork anyhow.

Not even for bacon?

We make bison bacon as well.

elk - CopyArmin raises elk for meat, too.

You are in the Wildrose Yodel Club. Can you yodel?

Not really. I just look good!

Have a look at Armin’s website:
www.rangelandbison.ca

And the website of their processing plant:
www.cpmeats.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s