We are going to do things a little differently this time, I think it is going to be more effective and enjoyable, and we have a space for feedback at the bottom of this page, we would love to know your thoughts and ideas. (There might even be a token reward for making it to the end of the page)
While we would much prefer to see you all in person, and let you see, touch, smell and experience our products physically, there are actually some advantages to being virtual, we are not limited by the physical constraints of location, space, and time. Our first attempts at "virtual events" were just us sitting in front of a camera and trying to tell our story in a limited amount of time and space... to be completely honest, they weren't good. (T and I are makers, not salespeople or entertainers) here is what we got wrong, we limited ourselves to a set timeframe and one medium of communication, we have at our disposal a platform that can incorporate image and video, it can link to other pages and articles, it can be be interactive and informative AND we don't have to sit in front of a camera for hours.
Not being limited by location, anyone in the world can visit and shop here, not being limited by space, we can show off more of the things we are not able to fit in the truck and haul across the country... and we can show some of the places and people we partner with to make these products. If we were to attempt to tell this story from the beginning and explain the entire story, it would take HOURS.. and I don't think that is the best use of your time. So, starting below is a self paced compilation of bits and pieces that tell why and how we do what we do.
Start from the beginning, or skip straight down to the socks.. it is completely your choice. Having this available 24/7 you are able to take your time and experience it as you prefer, visit this page and explore at your own pace... if you want to take it in small bites and revisit sections later, they will still be here. There is a fair bit of information in here, just read or watch what you are interested in, skip the rest, this is your festival, have fun with it.
We are extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the years, and T & I are excited to share it with you.
Have fun, and if you need anything or have any questions, we are available pretty much anytime.
We hope you enjoy the journey.
Theresa & Ron Miskin, The Buffalo Wool Co.
One quick note about shopping here, there are actually TWO websites involved, Stunning String Studio (all the American bison yarns) and The Buffalo Wool Co. (everything else bison), so there are separate checkouts, our show special coupon code "MDSW" works on both, but they are not linked.
Also, the mobile version of this page is slightly abbreviated (we left out a some of the bigger blocks of images and videos, just to make it work better on a phone.
We are Ron & Theresa Miskin. (we just call her "T") Our family has been raising American plains bison for the last 40 years. We started the Buffalo Wool Co. just over 10 years ago in an effort to help bring awareness and economic incentive to bison ranchers to utilize every part of the animal.
More money = More Bison
More Bison = Healthier Planet
Before founding The BWC, Theresa was a social worker, working for the Ft. Worth housing authority, and Ron was a chef and restaurant owner. Cecil Miskin, (Ron’s father, our "Herd Bull") had been working with ranchers around the U.S. trying to get them to collect bison fiber, and trying to develop a processing pipeline to collect, clean, dehair, spin and market bison fiber.
We love doing what we do, and are lucky to be able to do it.
The President signed the National Bison Legacy Act on May 9, 2016 making the North American bison the official National Mammal of the United States. This is a great milestone for an animal that once faced extinction. The bison has played a central role in America's history and culture and helped shape the Great Plains and the lifestyle of Native Americans. Today, bison live in all 50 states and serves as a symbol of unity, resilience and healthy lifestyles and communities.
But our work isn't done yet. We need to spread the word that America's got a new National Mammal. Our first step is changing our name to the American Bison Coalition (ABC). We've also got a new address on the internet, www.NationalMammal.org, and a new twitter handle: @BisonCoalition. Be sure to keep using #NationalMammal for your bison related posts.
The Buffalo Wool Co. was one of the founding members of the coalition and with the support of our friends, fans, and customers, we helped amass over 2 million signatures to get this passed.
As most vendors know, being juried into the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is kind of a big deal… In 2015, we were accepted based on two very important criteria we included in our application: (1) We would accept a spot out in the parking lot and (2) we also would volunteer to pick up trash, sort recycling or wash cars and/or sheep.
We haven’t actually had to wash sheep yet.. But we are ready whenever they ask.
(unsolicited review video from a shepherd)
and we wanted to show off their lambs
Grazing by herbivorous mammals like bison increases biodiversity in North American grasslands, says National Science Foundation (NSF) ecologist Scott Collins, even during periods of frequent burning and other stresses. In fact, loss of species diversity in these grasslands due to frequent burning was reversed by bison grazing, according to Collins.
"Thus, reestablishing grazing in grasslands stressed by human activities enhances biodiversity," says the scientist. Collins' research results are published in this week's issue of the journal Science. His work was conducted at NSF's Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in northeastern Kansas, one of a network of 20 such NSF sites in North America and Antarctica.
Bison emit methane, but experts argue their positive environmental impact far offsets their negligible methane output. The animals roam as they eat and aren’t prone to overgrazing. They help promote a functional ecosystem by cropping native vegetation, fertilizing native grasses with manure and urine, and stirring seeds into the ground with their hooves as they move.
“They are absolutely essential to the ecology of the prairie,” says Kirk Gadzia, founder of Resource Management Services, a New Mexico-based consulting, training and monitoring organization for ranchers. While naturally occurring wildfires keep the prairie healthy by removing dead vegetation, preventing the invasion of trees and increasing the nutrients available in the soil, “we’re finding that fire alone without grazing is not enough to promote species diversity,” he says
The Buffalo Wool Co. takes this position of eco-consciousness very seriously, from our processing to our packaging, we want to deliver all of the benefits without excessive plastics and waste.
"Tankashla" (Lakota for "Grandfather) dad's favorite bull
Bison Wool is soft enough to wrap a baby in, and tough enough to keep a mountain man warm in a blizzard! Bison down has a remarkable “I want to be next to the skin” feel. The fiber has a micron count of about 15, comparable to a good cashmere. You won’t find prickles, scratches, or itches - just softness and a great sense of cozy. Plus, the fiber is hypo-allergenic - there are no known allergies to this fiber!
Have you ever seen a buffalo in the snow? The crimpy down creates thousands of tiny air pockets that keep the animal warm. That same concept helps keep you insulated as no other fiber can. If you’re looking for something not quite so warm, try one of our blended yarns.
Fine bison down is lightweight and durable. From laceweight to our heavier sport yarns, the fiber only gets softer with wear. Bison down yarns blooms a bit, creating a beautiful halo. Bison down is perfect for knitting heirloom quality pieces and strong enough to use your creation every chance you get
Five stars - only because thats the limit to the scale.
I have purchased 3 pairs of socks from the Buffalo Wool Co. and I'm afraid this is the start of a complete replacement of everything in my sock drawer. These are by far the most comfortable socks I have put on my feet and worth every penny. I am no stranger to high end wool and merino socks, and these are head and shoulders better than other pairs of boot socks I have owned. Buy with confidence, and enjoy as you wrap your feet in the warmth of an icon on the American frontier.
Hands on and field tested.
Every product we make is something we have personally overseen. In each stage of development, from designing the yarns specifically for the garment, to meeting with the manufacturers in their facilities, and developing the best quality product possible.
T and I learned to spin, felt, weave and knit before we even considered producing ready to wear garments. We spent 15+ years attending every Knitting Event, Sheep and Wool Festival and worked with many many many fiber experts, teachers, designers and mills to truly understand how fibers work, which spinning methods and compositions are most appropriate for each garment and then we personally have tested these products under extreme conditions.
We believe that in order to create something exceptional, you need to understand the process fully.
...learn to walk before you can run.
Our partners are an exceptional resource in learning about composition and construction. S&D Spinning has been making yarn for 5 generations, Zeilinger's Woolen Mill has been processing wool and fiber since 1910, Bailey/Bollman has been making hats since 1853, Michael Caird at The Knitting Mill, who makes our fine knitwear, helped engineer the ShimaSeiki knitting machines he uses, Fox River Mills has been making socks since 1900.
I figure they have more than 500 years of textile knowledge behind them.
We utilize their expertise and knowledge and apply our standards of quality control and engineered design to every product we put our name on. Our products are made here in the U.S. by people we know and trust to do things the right way.
We are extremely lucky to have such a wealth of experience on our team. #Teambison
My Cell # is 817-905-4584 and T's is 817-320-2966
look forward to hearing from ya'll.
We’re bringing back the Crab Cakes!
Pre-order now for shipment by May 15th
This special, limited little set is perfect for all those Missing Maryland again in 2021.
You will get:
The collaboration between the Buffalo Wool Company and Stunning String Studio has resulted in the new line of Stunning Buffalo.
This amazingly soft and delicate yarn is called Sexy for a reason. It is decadent to work with and wear. The American Bison down is soooo soft and light, but warm. Add in the Mulberry Silk and it becomes down right drool worthy. Plus it is machine wash and dry!
Everyone who purchases Crab Cakes from SSS will get an instant mystery bonus coupon good at The Buffalo Wool Co. (we are still working on the mechanics of this, if you have purchased it, and would like your coupon code, please message me @ Ron@thebuffalowoolco.com and I will send it)
100% Dehaired bison down fiber. Buy 3oz get one oz FREE
Why not have a special on our finest fiber? We thought you might like this.
If you enjoy spinning ultra soft and fine fiber, you will LOVE spinning this luxurious, expertly processed bison fiber. It truly doesn't get any better than this. We have worked hard to produce the purest, softest, finest pure American bison down with the longest staple length possible. The fibers have been doubled scoured, and carefully dehaired removing all VM (vegtable matter) along with all guard hairs to bring you the softest buffalo fiber available.
From now until May 3rd, all you have to do is add 4 to your cart, and the website will automatically make the 4th one Free.
White Bison Fiber. Completely Free! (yes, there are some strings)
This really comes from a naturally white bison.. not ours, but a friends. This is not something we do often (or ever really) This is truly a special occasion. Because of the incredibly rare nature of this fiber, this is not something we sell. You cannot put a price on it (well, you could, but I don't feel comfortable doing it) This represents 3 years of collecting the fiber from the fences and bushes around the ranch. This is a labor of love and not a commodity to be bought and sold. We are in possession of 5 lbs of hand picked naturally shed white bison fiber. We are going to distribute this in 1 lb packages to 5 individuals who have the time to process it (being naturally shed fiber picked up from the ground, it is full of grass and "stuff" We will even cover the shipping.
If you are interested, send us your story of how you plan to use this fiber... we are looking for something that honors the bison and the people who revere these animals. We would love to share these stories and the process along the way.
please note, it is completely raw, has not been washed, picked or dehaired in any way.. It will be a lot of work, but has the potential to be amazing.
Send your story to Adventure@thebuffalowoolco.com Winners will be announced May 3rd.
In 2018 The Buffalo Wool Co. and Stunning String Studio put their heads together and by combining their strengths created "Stunning Buffalo"
The Buffalo Wool Co continues to make the most luxurious American Bison yarns and Stunning String Studio takes them and makes them beautiful.
A bit about Stunning String In their own words....
Knitting, sewing and fiber arts in general have always been a huge part of my life and identity. When I left corporate America to become a mom, I found myself drawn back into the joy and satisfaction that come from being a creator. I fell in love with knitting all over again, and soon was obsessed with knit designing.
My obsession for finding the perfect yarns and colors soon led to a whole new, unexpected, world for our family. The answer to all my designer challenges came from a very unexpected source, my husband.
He said he thought it was time for a change (he had been a traveling healthcare project manager for over 10 years) and he’d like to learn to dye yarn. So he did, and he loved it! His art background was being put to use, and he found a real sense of calm and fulfillment. Cindy Garland, Stunning String Studio.
Click any of the below images to see the full color range at Stunning String Studio
American Bison Socks: Your feet will thank you!
The best use of American bison fiber (so far) seems to be socks… our customers can’t get enough of them, and where we started originally with one very basic style, a decade of listening to consumers and field testing have helped us develop a wide range of socks, from outdoor sports, such as skiing, hiking and hunting to sleep socks and compression socks designed to help maintain comfort and circulation. We never intended to become a sock company, but here we are. They just work, and work well.
Bison fiber insulates better than any other natural fiber, wicks moisture stronger than any synthetic and is just exceedingly comfortable. It keeps you warm when it is cold, cool when it is hot, and dry no matter what.
From extreme conditions to circulation issues, whether you are standing in a stream fishing, hiking a mountain trail, or sitting on the couch and knitting. There just isn’t anything on the market that works as well for maintaining a constant body temperature and helping to regulate circulation.
From another friend: Yanasa Ama Ranch, this time with bison.
A vast river of life surges through the valley—as wide as the Mississippi and flowing over the horizon. It’s the dawn of the 19th century, and this bison herd is nearly unfathomable in its size. Among the estimated 30 to 60 million American bison flowing over the Western plains at this time, each bison deposits 50 pounds of nutrient-rich manure a day on the land, pummeling it into the soil with sharp cloven hooves. Warily eyeing the bison, wolves lay in wait to dispense of the sick and weak. In the wake of the herd, countless scores of avian species pick through the manure for tasty seeds. The seeds left behind replenish the land’s plant diversity, and vast herds of elk, mule deer, and whitetails soon follow to feast on the renewed grasses. The spongy, chocolate-cake soil—enriched with trodden-in manure and teeming with beneficial microbes—retains rainfall to nourish terrestrial, avian, and aquatic life.
By the middle of the 19th century, three threats convened to threaten the very survival of the American bison.
First—in its quest to drive native Americans from their ancestral lands by deliberately starving them out—the U.S. Army killed hundreds of thousands of bison a year from 1865 through 1883. Plains Indians relied on bison not only for meat, but utilized every part of the animal, including skins for tipis; fur for robes; bones for tools; horns for spoons, ladles, and cups; hair for ropes and pillows; and fat for tallow, soap, and pemmican. The Indians revered the bison, whose generosity provided them with food, clothing, and shelter and whose existence was fundamental to their economy.
Second, the invention of barbed wire in 1874 would lead to the fencing-off of large tracts of range, allowing the new settlers to bring in their preferred bovine: the more-docile European and English cattle without the strong migratory instincts, humongous size, and independent dispositions of native bison.
Finally, the last spike of the Pacific Railroad was a spike in the heart of bison, as well: Now buffalo hunters could shoot bison by the hundreds each day from the comfort of the train, and settlers found easier passage west for themselves, their domestic cattle, and their “devil’s rope,” as its detractors called barbed wire.
Calving season at the 777 Bison Ranch. Photo by Toby Brusseau.
By the end of the 19th century, only 300 American bison remained in the wild.
It would take not just a miracle but a plenitude of miracles to restore this keystone species to its native lands.
But what the heck … cowgirls thrive on miracles.
Heaven at the Triple-Seven
Although her two sisters lit a shuck for California from their hometown in South Dakota, Mimi Hillenbrand knew from the time she was a small girl that running her family’s 777 Bison Ranch, near Hermosa on the vast shortgrass prairie, would be her life’s calling. After graduating from the University of Montana with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and earning her Master’s in Agricultural Sciences from Colorado State University, she turned her full attention to her beloved 777.
“The ranch has been in the family since 1972,” says Mimi. “My dad was a businessman first, but oversaw the ranch operation, as well. I took over from the previous manager nearly 20 years ago.
“The 777 began ranching bison in the early ’80s,” she continues. “Our original bison came from Custer National Park and the National Bison Range, both in Montana. I currently have about 1,800 bison on the 26,000-acre ranch.”
Dawn breaks over part of the 777 herd. Photo by Toby Brusseau.
Mimi has been a disciple of Holistic Management since the ’80s. It’s a four-pronged system for managing livestock on grasslands designed to absorb and store carbon in the soil; retain water and increase biodiversity; provide nutritious and healthy foods; and create economic abundance for farmers and ranchers.
“It really does work, and it does make a difference,” she states. “Through this partnership with nature, and by creating a living classroom, the 777 Bison Ranch proves that a ranch can be both profitable and sustainable. Developing the ranch’s biodiversity takes patience, as it happens slowly over years. I’ve been rewarded with swarms of life—plants, insects, birds, wildlife—through managing the ecosystem. Basically, I manage the grasslands, and the bison pretty much manage themselves. They have such an interdependency with all the other animals, that when the bison thrive, everything thrives.
“Over the past 30 years, I’ve watched the ranch go through two seven-year droughts,” she continues, “and seen how the soil’s ability to hold water helped the ranch recover much more quickly.” The deep seed bank, aided by the bisons’ hooves working seed deep into the rich prairie soil, also hastened its post-drought renewal.
“We’re bringing a candy store to the bison with all the diverse grasses they have to choose from,” says Mimi. “The diversity in their diet assures that the bison are getting the most nutrition possible; they know what they need.”
Mimi Hillenbrand and the 777 management team. Photo by Toby Brusseau.
Mimi’s efforts with the 777 have made the ranch an international model for modern ranching. “We were the first bison ranch in the U.S. to receive certification from the Global Animal Partnership,” she says. The ranch has garnered additional certifications from the American Grass-Fed Association and from Audubon for its grassland conservation efforts. Additionally, the 777 has earned Ecological Outcome Verification Certification and certification from the Savory Institute—the holy grail of Holistic Management developed by Allan Savory through his grasslands ecosystem research on four continents. Mimi follows Bud Williams’ low-stress livestock handling techniques and consults as well with Dr. Temple Grandin. As Mimi continues to build the genetic diversity of her herd, she has any new bison brought to the 777 DNA-tested to ensure they do not carry cattle genes.
The verdant, bison-dotted panoramic vistas she has created on the 777 have not escaped Hollywood: Her ranch was the location for both Wyatt Earp and Dances with Wolves.
Mimi Hillenbrand, owner of the 777 Bison Ranch. Photo by Toby Brusseau.
“I want to be able to see green needlegrass … dung beetles … long-billed curlews,” says Mimi. “I want to be able to share all this with my nieces and nephews, and show the next generation that it’s not all about machines and chemicals.”
Starting from Scratch
“I have a bison herd; I just don’t have any land,” Sarah Gleason tells me, laughing, a couple years ago when we first met. A lot has happened since then.
Sarah, who grew up in a suburb of Colorado Springs, earned her chops as a competitive swimmer through training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center from the time she was 12. Her prowess earned her a berth on the Texas Christian University swim team, with which she competed for two years before transferring to the University of Colorado to complete her B.S. in Political Science. Following graduation, she worked for a congressman in Washington, D.C., and also for the non-profit Miami Fish Conservation Network.
Still, Colorado called her home, and she joined the staff at Zuke’s, a Durango-based all-natural dog treat company. “I worked directly with Zuke’s suppliers—primarily farmers and ranchers—and became entranced with bison,” she says. “I visited as many ranches as I could, and joined the National Bison Association.” Sarah then moved on to Whole Foods in Denver, where she was excited to see a new product launched by Austin, Texas, startup Epic Provisions: a high-energy protein bar that’s a modern-day version of pemmican, a Native American staple, made with berries, seeds, nuts, and lean meat. The meat was bison.
Right to Left: Sarah Gleason on her Gleason Bison Ranch outside of Durango; taking soil core samples to measure the seed bank. Photos courtesy of Gleason Bison Ranch.
That fueled her passion to totally immerse herself in learning about bison ranching. “I saw then what I wanted to do,” Sarah says. “I went to work for Allan Savory at the Savory Institute to learn as much as I could about Holistic Management. I served as Savory’s marketing director from 2015 through 2019. While there, she would establish her brand and buy her first bison—from Mimi Hillenbrand.
Sarah would purchase the bison, and arrange for them to remain with Mimi’s herd on the 777 until she found a suitable ranch. Mimi was reluctant at first to accept Sarah’s proposal.
“I had never done a mentorship before,” Mimi tells me, “and really didn’t want to start. But Sarah, as you know, can be very … persistent.” Sarah bought 15 pregnant bison cows from Mimi in 2016, and together the women changed their ear tags from 777 Bison to Gleason Bison.
“I continued working for Savory while I searched for land and researched financing options,” says Sarah, “and in 2019, I purchased 882 acres near Durango: mixed irrigated pasture, rangeland, and 150 acres of timber and juniper forest that I manage for drought resistance.”
Sarah adheres to the Ecological Outcome Verification methodology on quantifying agnostic (without pre-conceived theories of change or expectation) regenerative outcomes in soil, carbon sequestration, water, species diversity, and native ground cover. As her ranch is so young, she only has baseline data at this time.
Her herd has grown: She now has 29 breeding cows, five calves, and 10 meat animals.
Some of Sarah Gleason’s growing herd. Photos courtesy of Gleason Bison Ranch.
Before leaving the Savory Institute, she traveled to Zimbabwe with Allan Savory to his flagship regenerative project there, where she met Allan’s guests—the creators of that Epic Provisions Bison Bar that had caught her eye years ago at Whole Foods—Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest.
Seed (and fruit and meat) Money
Katie and Taylor both attended Austin High School but did not become sweethearts until they reconnected at Texas State University, over their shared love of endurance running. They soon discovered that not only did they share core values, but they also worked very well together.
Thousands of birds following the herd at ROAM Ranch. Photo courtesy of ROAM Ranch.
“Our first company, which we ran throughout college, was a commercial recycling company,” Katie tells me, “which served about three dozen restaurants and other businesses. We’d start at about 4 a.m., and basically go ‘dumpster diving’ for recyclables. Horrible stenches, rats flying in your face, you name it.”
The nasty, backbreaking work saw them through college and funded their second company, Thunderbird Bars, making vegan energy bars for endurance athletes. Katie, a vegan herself, began to experience a series of unresolved health issues until her doctor made an unusual request: Her body needed protein and she should start eating meat. She began to thrive almost immediately.
The couple then sold Thunderbird Bars and launched Epic Provisions, a protein bar business that combined the best of energy bars with the best of meat snacks in 2013—creating an entirely new market in their freshly conceived niche between energy bars and jerky snacks. In 2016, they sold Epic Provisions to General Mills in 2016 for $100 million, as reported by Inc. magazine.
Now, they were able to pursue their real dream: Implementing Allan Savory’s Holistic Management practices on a piece of spent-out Hill Country land by raising bison.
The following year, Katie and Taylor purchased 450 acres of overgrazed and overfarmed ranchland along the Pedernales River, just east of Fredericksburg, Texas. When I visited their ROAM Ranch this past year, they had expanded their operation to more than 1,000 acres through a combination of acquisitions and leases.
“Bison have always been a symbol of strength and resilience,” says Katie. “And they can help build up soil more quickly than can cattle, which tend to concentrate in waterways and under trees. Bison prefer staying in grasslands, in a tight herd, so you see a great impact from high-density grazing. Their hooves are spade-shaped, so they break up the soil, preventing soil compaction and re-releasing seeds.”
Katie and Taylor rotate the bison to fresh pasture every few days. Trailing the bison, heritage turkeys, dozens of chickens, and ducks—along with throngs of meadowlarks and other songbirds—pick through the worked-up soil and manure for seeds, much as the birds followed the bison herds since time immortal. The couple allows the bison occasional access to the fragile riparian areas for a reason: “That’s where the best seed banks are,” says Katie. “The bison graze on big bluestem, switchgrass, and other native grasses there and spread the seeds throughout the ranch.
As of February 2021, ROAM Ranch had 126 bison, with spring calves on the way. “We acquired 23 from the Nature Conservancy, 35 from Wyoming, five from Kansas, a bull from Colorado, and our best bull, Cecil, who is a descendant of the Charles Goodnight herd. Many others have been born on the ranch.”
In addition, Katie and Taylor operate ROAM Ranch as an outdoor classroom, with classes on various regenerative ranching aspects, native grassland restoration, field-harvesting, and hunting mentorship throughout the year.
Bison Leather goods from some of our partners.
The Miskin family's involvement in the bison industry. 38 years and counting.
Cecil Miskin, currently Chairman, National Buffalo Foundation.
Theresa Miskin, currently Secretary, National Buffalo Foundation
Ron Miskin, currently Vice President, The Texas Bison Foundation.
Are you interested in preserving the heritage and legacy of the American Buffalo? If so, please consider a contribution to The National Buffalo Foundation, a registered 501c(3) organization devoted to this effort.
Free Shipping ● 100% Guaranteed ● American Made