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September 24, 2023: Hail to the Buffaloes

My High School Fight Song

Hail to the Buffaloes, Cheer them along their way, Onward to Victory, May we win our game today. We’ll give a cheer for the Buffaloes, Long my they reign supreme, Shout til the echoes ring, For the Glory of our team. Rah! Rah! Rah!

Sing-along with the GCHS Band

Today is sunny but cold so we layer up to go on a buffalo jeep safari.

Custer State Park is the 2nd largest state park in the country.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), established during the depression, was instrumental in improving access to the park. It has been hauled as one of the best programs ever decided by our government. The workers were provided room and board and were paid $30 a month but were required to send $25 home. Everyone was in need.

There is a barbed wire fence around the entire park. One can walk anywhere but beware of the buffalo.

The buffalo herd in Custer State Park is a closed herd of 1,300-1,500 head. Closed means that no other buffalo are introduced here. There are nine family groups which can be discerned by the shape of their horns.

Buffalo eat 50 lbs of grass per day and drink 30-40 gallons of water. In 2017 there was a forest fire. This has created more grassland so they might increase the herd size as it can now support more buffalo.

A female buffalo will stay with the herd forever. A male will get kicked out in four years when he is mature enough to breed. If not, he will try to breed with his female relatives.

These bulls will form a bachelor herd for four years and then walk off and live a solitary life and only come out to breed. If his tail goes up, he is looking for a cow and will walk by her side once she has been located.

When the cow is ready to give birth, she will go far from the herd so that predators will not come to the herd.
The baby buffalo are called cinnamons because of their color. Not too many are seen this time of year.
They are considered adults at the age of 2 years. During the winter they are fed hay harvested from within the park. They don’t supplement the diet from outside the park.

The Indians used every part of the buffalo. Here is a great website that talks about the use of each part of the buffalo. Indians use of the buffalo

Pronghorn antelope are also found in the park. They are not related to any other animal. They are the fastest land animal in North America. Pronghorns are graceful runners. In the summer their 4″ hair follicles stand up to provide air conditioning.

Movies that were filmed in this area are The Last Hunt, A Man Called Horse, and How the West Was Won. National Geographic has full access to the park and the Grasslands are part of their opening credits.

French Creek runs through the park. Gold was discovered on that creek in Custer, SD. Custer grossly exaggerated how much gold he found. Actually, it totaled the end of his pinkie.

Harney Peak, the highest peak in southwest South Dakota has been renamed Black Elk Peak after the Lakota holy man.

We took the Needles Highway. This is the cathedral. It was first considered for the carving of the Presidents heads, but it was too thin and not sturdy enough.
I had to buy some jeans for the hayride. I am posing by manmade Sylvan Lake.
We are members of the watermelon gang. Yee Haw!
We took a hayride en route to our chuckwagon meal. The wagon was actually named for Charles (Chuck) Goodnight.

By the 1870’s dozens of cattle drives were moving millions of cattle from Texas to markets in the midwest. As a result, there was a shortage of cowboys and there was tremendous competition in recruiting good cowboys. To gain the recruiting advantage, Goodnight decided to improve on the quality of meals served along the trail.

Colonel Charles Goodnight purchased a sturdy war-surplus munitions wagon strong enough to make the journey of more than a thousand miles along difficult trails under all kinds of weather.

Goodnight outfitted the wagon with a kitchen on the back of the military wagon and, with the help of his cook, developed an efficient layout that was soon adopted by all trail drivers across the west and named the chuckwagon after founder Chuck Goodnight.

We sang lots of fireside songs. My favorite was Home on the Range, the state song of Kansas.
A real feast at the chuck wagon. I got booed for asking for a veggie burger.
These signs used to dot the Kansas highways, but I don’t see them anymore. This sign is erected at the place of fatal accident. Sure makes you think, doesn’t it???

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