BUHLER — A wild and windy Wednesday calmed quickly for three buffalo calves when they were welcomed to a new home after life on the prairie near Roxbury.
Born into a herd at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, the young bison, freshly weaned from their moms, became a "winter project" of Tina and Earl Hancock — mostly Tina.
The action-packed, hourlong annual bison auction on the refuge 5 miles southwest of Roxbury culminated with the three bison calves being loaded into a stock trailer and taken to the Hancock place in rural Buhler.
"We got ’em loaded and then unloaded ’em in a little corral," Earl said. "They’ll stay there a couple days until they calm down, and then we’ll put ’em in a larger corral."
Tina Hancock named the heifer calf and two bull calves Martha, Max and Melvin.
"Tina’s the buffalo whisperer. She kind of tames them down," Earl said. "She will work with them every day, and they will get to know her, and by next spring, they will walk right up to you and let you touch them."
The Hancocks also have horses, turkeys, guineas and beef calves at times in their barnyard and farm.
The key to Tina’s domestication plan is "just patience, a lot of it," she said.
Her buffalo trio started receiving the nurturing treatment upon their arrival.
"I was out there already talking to them," Tina said, although she had yet to enter their pen.
She has followed the same routine for their other bison. The Hancocks have been winning bidders at the Maxwell auction in three of the past four years.
This year’s purchase was a bargain, as the calves sold for an average of $400 each.
"These were about $150 cheaper than what we paid for them last year," Earl said.
The couple usually keep the buffaloes through the winter and sell them to friends and acquaintances with buffalo herds who use them for breeding, Earl said.
The livestock avocation is part of a happy retirement for the Hancocks, both 63. Earl retired four years ago from the NCRA oil refinery and Tina’s career was at Pfizer, both in McPherson.