Lessons from bison: reconnecting with the Earth
|Ken and Kathy Lindner feel a special connection with the bison they raise. Photo by Jordan Clary|
|Buffalo were once native to this area and are well adapted to the cold winters. Photos submitted|
|This bison, named Margaret, adopted a calf that she is raising with her own calf.|
Feb. 2, 2013 — It could be something as small as a tomato plant on a balcony or raising chickens in the back yard, but Kathy and Ken Lindner of Lindner Bison, believe knowing where our food comes from, how it was raised or grown and how it was harvested is one of the most significant actions we can take toward a healthier, more holistic lifestyle.
Kathy said inching back into this process of redefining what we’re about and our core values teaches us to live more harmoniously with the earth and her yield.
“We become really a part of that, part of the cycle,” she said.
The Lindners have traveled a long road to their bison ranch in Lassen County.
Kathy’s book (co-written with Ken Lindner), “Standing Into the Storm,” tells the tale of that journey. She said she wrote the book during the 800-mile road trip between Lassen County and Southern California she and Ken made regularly for years. ‘Standing Into the Storm’ is available at Margie’s Book Nook, and Kathy will be doing a book signing from 1-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9.
With the buffalo as their teachers, the Lindners have come to learn many lessons such as sustainable agriculture and how to harvest an animal humanely.
The Lindners believe we are at an exciting time in our evolution. People have become cut off from the process of how food comes to us, but now people are beginning to understand the value of healthy, locally produced food.
“In the city, milk comes from a carton. Meat is on a plastic tray,” said Ken. “There’s no animal connected to that. It’s just a piece of meat, so most people who are in the big cities are completely disconnected from the cycle and have no understanding of it at all and that’s why things tend to be like a commodity because they’re just a thing.”
The Lindners feel the distinction between what is a commodity and what isn’t to be an important one.
Commodity has to do with high volume. Cattle are sold to a USDA-approved distributor. Then they are driven away to be slaughtered. The meat is cut and processed and wrapped into plastic packages, which we find on grocery store aisles.
The Lindners feel this process keeps us disconnected from the natural cycle of things and is not only unhealthy for consumers but also inhumane to the animals. A number of researchers have studied the effects of modern-day processing methods on animals.
Kathy said, “We haven’t just come up with these ideas. There have been a lot of people we’ve been blessed to have in our lives who have really helped us define who we are, why we do what we do the way that we do it.
We’ve learned a lot in the past 16 years selling at the farmers markets. Unwittingly, we found ourselves in the middle of this food movement and the values and questions our customers came to us with aligned with our own core values. It’s been quite a ballet to incorporate it all.”
The movement to consume locally raised food has grown so much a new word has been added to the dictionary. ‘Locavores’ are people who are committed to eating only food grown within a certain radius of their homes. Locavores want to know where their food comes from and who are the local farmers. They believe in eating whole, non-processed foods, organic vegetables and meat raised on a species-appropriate diet.
Ken said, regarding meat, having the right diet was more important than organics.
“With plants, that’s probably true but with meat animals, it’s not. The most important thing with ruminants is that they are all 100 percent grass fed because you can feed them the best organic grain in the world and it will still make them sick because they are not designed to digest that."
“Standing Into the Storm,” by Kathy Lindner with Ken Linder, is a testament to perseverance and never losing faith. Through obstacles that would have had many of us giving up, the Lindners followed a dream, and that dream included bison.
Although bison were nearly extinct at end of the 19th century, they are no longer an endangered species. In North America, their growth rate is estimated to be between 20 to 25 percent annually. Much of this is due to private herds such as the Lindner’s.
Kathy and Ken Lindner will be at Margie’s Book Nook from 1-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9 where they will answer questions and sign copies of their book.
For more information, call Margie’s at 257-2392.
Some people might wonder how someone could eat an animal they love. But the Lindners might ask, how can someone eat an animal they know nothing about?
Ken said, “The thing that underlies all this is we love these animals, and we respect these animals. And we know that the meat that’s provided is the best on the planet. It’s a gift, as Kathy likes to say. It’s not a commodity. It’s not something you can pick up at any Ralphs in the state, so we want to make sure that the people who are using it appreciate what they’re getting.”
After several years of commuting, last November the Lindners finally moved onto their ranch to become fulltime Lassen County residents.
It’s been a labor of love, but labor just the same.
“We have a lot of work to do on this place,” said Ken. “We have to cross fence it all so we can really get the rotational grazing working the way it’s supposed to be.”
Rotational grazing is a method of rotating livestock to different parts of the pasture in a regular sequence. This allows pasture plants to recover and grow after grazing.
“We want to bring other species on here,” Ken continued. “The only reason we’ve been able to do this long-distance ranching all these years is that we’ve had very, very self-sufficient animals bison. If you just leave them alone and make sure they have food and something to drink, they can take care of business. There’s no problem. But now we’re talking about turkeys or chickens or pigs and all of those take much more care because they’re not wild. They’re more dependent. We’re putting up a lot of fences so we have all of these pastures subdivided. Then we have the planning. We want to make this place as productive as possible.”
One thing is certain, as the Lindners continue to develop their ranch, they’ll do so in a holistic way, taking into account the welfare of the animals and the needs of potential customers for healthy meat from animals that have been fed a healthy diet.
Kathy said, “We all feed on the life energy of other things whether it’s a plant or an animal, but when you’re dealing with an animal it’s different. What I’m really talking about is even our bodies will go to feed the earth, so it’s all part of the grand plan, the natural cycle.”
To learn more about the Lindners and Lindner Bison, visit their website at lindnerbison.com.
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