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Pasture Heavy Use Area Protection Project

Heavy Use Area Blog

What is a Heavy Use Area? Well let me share; it is the area that gets walked on, driven on, played on the most in the pasture by animals, humans, trucks, and tractors.  Our heavy use area is not only qualifies as all of the above,  but; it is an area where rain collects during any heavy down pours,  during the freezing/thawing time of year which creates big issues because it gets really mushy in that space.

So how do you fix that? Let me share how we did it, some things we are learning to help you in the event you too, need to make some changes or adjustments to your heavy use area.

There were going to be multiple blogs to this topic since we have multiple stages of development. But we actually finished it while in the process of writing this so you will get the whole picture.

One stage is to divert as much rain water as possible and that update will come in the future.   The phase we are working on has to deal with making the ground stronger.  We are doing a 2400 square foot area, well, maybe a bit more.  It is about 32’x85’.   After scraping out all the loose soil, weeds, grass and whatever else might have been down there,  we laid out and staked in place an 8oz Geo Textile that we picked up from CMA Supply or currently known as Carter Waters.  They are located in Fort Wayne. I have to laugh, even though it is 8oz fabric,  I thought it would be really heavy since it is a roll 15 feet by 300 feet.  Yes, it sounds huge!  However, it fit nicely on [...]

Fun Fixing Case 480C Steering!

You may wonder, what does this info have to do with raising Bison?   Well, we have fence and we need to mow around the fence line.  What if you lose steering while you are mowing?  What if you hear fluid gurgling in the steering shaft?  What if there is fluid coming up the steering shaft and out from under the steering wheel.  Below we share what to do if your CASE 480 C has any of these problems. Talking with the parts guy at RPM machinery in Fort Wayne he says there is a seal kit we need to put in the bottom of the shaft.  They tend to go bad and leak their way up the steering shaft.   Sounds like that is happening to us.  Have a photo here.


There is power steering fluid running down the steering shaft and you can see it has dripped on the floor pan.

Purchased the seal kit last week from RPM Machinery and had my mechanic start working to do the repair.  I will share briefly how it gets done, however; you can always check with the guys at RPM, they are great help.

Getting started, remove the steering wheel by removing the center nut and using a puller to remove the wheel.  You may damage the plastic like we did, but there is metal underneath.  Next remove the outer shaft, and knowing that the seal leaked, you will end up with some nasty power steering oil all over the floor and possibly yourself.  There are 2 snap rings that need removed and we removed the lower pin.  There are 2 pins, and again, we punched out the lower pin and off comes the steering shaft.  That leaves the [...]

By |October 2nd, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Bringing Bees and Butterflies Back to Eel River Bison Ranch

In the spring of 2016 we took on the project of bringing bees and butterflies back to the ranch in the area around the pond. That area continued to get steeper and steeper making it more dangerous to mow. With some help we got the idea to naturalize it with wildflower. Naturalizing with wildflower would make the steep bank easier to mow (because we wouldn’t need to mow), attract pollinators (bees and butterflies) and serve as a nice backdrop for the outdoor weddings here in the spring and fall. We started late in 2016 to clear out the grass, crabgrass and any weeds around the pond. In order to establish the wildflower the area needed to be down to bare soil. We scraped and raked and finally got the seed, but it was too late in the year and the ground was too warm to plant. So the pond sat all year with dirty, nasty soil and weeds all summer season.In fall we went in again with round up to kill off the vegetation and rake out all the dead vegetation to plant the wildflower seeds. 

The fall of 2016, we planted blackeyed Susan, common milkweed, purple praire clover, Canadian milvetch, partridge pea, swamp milkweed, bergamont, purple coneflower, yellow coneflower and a variety of cornflower. Shortly after planting the rains came, and it poured! the pond flooded and we thought well,  there goes all the seed, gone!  We would have to Start over in the spring of 2017.

When the spring of 2017 came, we noticed a lot of growth, which did not appear to be just crabgrass and weeds.  There was actually some wildflowers growing! Success! IT looked great, especially for thinking we lost [...]

By |August 10th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Whitko High School Reunions

Whitko High School Reunions

Thank you Whitko High School Class of 2007 for having your 10 year reunion at the Eel River Bison Ranch.  We want to say thank you to all the other class reunions we have had in most recent years here at the Ranch.  Whitko Class of 1986 and Whitko Class of 1976.   We really enjoy meeting all of you and having a great place here in South Whitley that is convenient for all of you to get together and see friends from years past.  Being a little selfish, having your reunions here is a great way for us to meet more of you who are from the community or perhaps are still here in South Whitley.  Being that I, Eric, graduated from South Bend John Adams class of 1984 and my wife Tonya Graduated from Fort Wayne,  Wayne High School in 1986 we now call South Whitley HOME.  We love it here and our kids live in Whitley County.  We are thankful they stayed close.  We look forward to seeing all of you again in increments of five years.  LOL! 

By |July 29th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

To Mow or Not to Mow

The spring of 2017 led us to plant new pasture on the NW side of the property; approximately 19 acres in all. We finalized seeding and thanks to a nice damp spring the grass grew! We are very thankful for the abundant growth, but the weeds made their appearance this summer. In an effort to keep the pasture looking good and allow the bison to graze the new grass we took to mowing early June. We still had plenty of cool rainy days ahead so we were not too worried about the grass getting heat burnt and dying by July or August when it normally stops raining for several weeks straight. Today, July 16, we took a look at the forecast and it showed rain later today and possibly some rain on and off during the week. We figured, great, a little rain, cool temps and it won’t shock the new grass once we mowed the weeds. So we took off to mow down the weed growth. Set the height on the mower deck at about 8 inches so as not to disrupt the new pasture grass. After a couple hours the pasture is looking great! Now we see the forecast changed to high of 86 today  and no rain when it was supposed to be 78 with possible rain. Oh well, it’s mowed. Now we hope for the best and the new grass survives.

By |July 16th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

New Photo Page

We have been asked quite often for photos of the events that are held at the ranch and our Bison. Well…we have a photo page up now and will keep updating the pictures as events happen! Visit the page to see what talented folks have done with the event center and how the Bison are growing.

By |September 27th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments|

Rustic Weddings are In!

Congratulations to Anna and Eli! This wonderful couple celebrated their wedding at Eel River Bison Ranch and Event Center on October 11th. An amazing transformation happened with the event center and we would like to share with you the magical atmosphere achieved in the event center. Imagine the possibilities for not only a reception, but a slew of other events that you can hold in this great setting. Events such as Christmas parties, family reunions, birthday parties, graduation parties, retirement celebrations and so much more! Contact us on our “contact us” page to schedule a time to tour the event center and imagine the possibilities for your special event.

By |October 27th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments|

Shaping Up!

The inside of the event center is really taking shape! Table linens have arrived so we just had to set up. Take a look at the transformation. Imagine the possibilities for a great event held at Eel River! We can’t wait to see how each venue is enhanced by the rustic beauty of the event center.

By |September 12th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments|

New Connections for Eel River

Labor Day weekend brought about great learning and new connections for Eel River! Eric and I attended

the Michigan Bison Bash in Levering, Michigan at New Beginnings Ranch. The Michigan Bison Association

conducted their summer meeting at this event along with the event being open to the public. The

various seminars provided information on agri-tourism, herd health, and tax issues just to name a few.

The new information we obtained from the meeting has given us more work to do here on the ranch!


One new piece of information we learned is that black walnut trees are poisonous to Bison. We have

several black walnut trees in the area we have designated to be the first pasture and we have to take

them down. Although there is a likelihood the Bison will not eat them…better to be safe and keep our

starter herd healthy! It is great to learn new things that will make our ranch the best it can be!


Stay tuned as I continue to update the blog on the progress of the first pasture and the arrival of our

starter herd!

By |September 10th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments|