A White Bison Calf Brings Many to Small Goshen Farm

Jul 24, 2012

Millions of bison used to roam parts of the U.S. more than two centuries ago. Once close to extinction, the commercial meat market has brought back the bison to farms in many states including Connecticut. In Goshen, a five-week old calf is getting a lot of attention since the day he was born. WNPRs Lucy Nalpathanchil has the story

Most people know what a bison looks like.  They're brown and big. A bull can be a couple thousand pounds with menacing horns and a very thick, impressive beard. But in mid- June, a bull calf was born on Peter Fay's Goshen farm that didn't look like the rest.

This little guy was white. 

"I was surprised. But I knew the significance of him in the Native American culture so it was pretty exciting to see him." 

A white bison isn't just very rare. Fay says to Native Americans, it's sacred.  

"It's basically their god. It's a great symbol. The Buffalo woman came into their camps and showed them how to do things. And she turned into a white calf when she left so to them, it's like the second coming of Christ. So it makes it very exciting."

Since the calf's arrival, Fay has been busy fielding media calls and getting the farm ready for more than one thousand visitors, many of them tribal members who are traveling to Connecticut from as far as South Dakota for the calf's naming ceremony.

The ceremony will take place before Fay gets results from a DNA test to determine whether the bison's bloodlines have been mixed with cattle  But Fay is pretty sure he's 100 percent bison. And special.

"He doesn't know what he is so he'll just grow up as a regular bison."

After the weekend, this white calf will have an official name and confidence that he'll get to live out his days on Fay's Goshen farm.

For WNPR, I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil