Buffalo Roam or Home – Pick One

Home On the Range*, though originally penned around 1870, is a song that still finds popularity. Why? As described by the writer Gary Giddins, it is “transforming…a nostalgic lament…an ode to pioneering, a dream of shared history, a vaguely religious affirmation of fortitude in the face of peril.” Add to that the ever-attractive notion of life in wide open spaces with views from horizon to horizon, big sky, big freedom, and a big distance to neighbors.

…..Large tracts of land are available, sometimes for sale, sometimes for lease. Broad plains offer the chance to live large, to have livestock, to turn the horses loose to run free within a vast fenced ranch. Who wouldn’t like that? I’ll tell you. The United States Department of the Interior is one of the entities charged with preserving, protecting, and reintroducing into the plains and grasslands of middle-America, the fortified herds of shaggy-mained North American Bison, the Buffalo. The other is a combined group of Native American Tribal Councils, all dedicated to the same goal, conserving the rich heritage of plants, animals, land and waterways of the nation, especially on their reservations and preserves. Both are government representatives, and both take a dim view of fences and barriers which might cut off the migratory path of the Buffalo, which once numbered in the millions, before being hunted nearly to extinction.

…..It’s easy to understand what a fence is, but what’s a ‘barrier’? It’s a mobile home, a barn, a shed, a stable, a chicken house,…your house, anything that might be perceived, though only visually, by a buffalo as a reason to stop in mid-migration. If the herd-leader stops, the whole herd stops. If the herd stops because of something you’ve put in it’s way, its not the buffalo boss’s problem – it’s yours.

…..Herd movement is monitored by people on the ground, as well as by live satellite observations. The unexpected stopping of a fast-moving mass of muscular mammals is something that gets noticed by the ‘powers’ watching. Those ‘powers’ already have a routine procedure, which involves instant implementation of what, though seldom heard, almost everybody would call discouraging words, “Tear it ALL down.”

…..Whether a primary home or an isolated get-away, to tear down what a great deal of toil and trouble just built is hard, even financially ruinous. So, before you buy or commit to a long-term lease for the building of your prairie home, make sure you understand ALL the conditions of land-use.

A favorite to some is a ‘wide-prairie’ home,

Where the deer and the antelope play,

But, if you build a home where the buffalo roam,

The government won’t let you stay.

But, if you build a home where the buffalo roam,

The government won’t let you stay.


*Wikipedia – The poem was first published in a December 1873 issue of the Smith County Pioneer under the title “My Western Home”.[2] The music was later written by Daniel E. Kelley (1845–1905). The song attained first national fame when Bing Crosby recorded it in 1933.