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Farmers get unexpected visitors
Where the buffalo roam
TERRA BELLA — Farmers Brent Doyel and Michael McMaster did not have a typical ranching day Wednesday. The two farmers helped in the attempt to drive a couple of buffaloes, found strolling through their groves, back home.
Doyel said he first found large tracks in his grove and followed them to McMaster’s.
“They were big tracks. At first I thought they were big cows,” Doyel said. “I followed them and suddenly saw what I thought was a tall narrow, hairy man.”
But something looked odd and when the thing turned around, Doyel said he was shocked to see it was a couple of buffalo.
“I immediately started making calls to see who owned them,” Doyel said.
One of his calls was to McMaster.
“I had just started irrigating in that citrus grove when I got the call from Brent,” McMaster said. “I thought he was going to tell me something about the water getting into his grove and was shocked when he said there were some buffalo in my grove.”
The buffalo was something he had to see for himself. McMaster said he and his wife jumped in the car and drove to the grove.
“I’m just glad we didn’t run into them sooner, when we were out irrigating. That would have been a shock,” McMaster said.
Doyel said he finally found the owners of the buffalo — Gary and Kay Watt — who promptly made their way to the area.
The buffalo were seen at home at approximately 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Kay Watt said, as her husband walked through the grove, driving the buffalo towards home.
“This morning when he went out to feed them, they were gone. He looked all around for them and couldn’t find them,” she said.
The buffalo sisters, which they have owned for nine years, are not aggressive. They escaped by pushing their way out past a wire fence, Kay Watt said.
However safety is always important as buffalo can jump six-feet fences and move fast as they trot with a four-legged hop motion.
The Watts, with a little help from Doyel and McMaster, worked on driving the buffalo in the right direction.
“It got more interesting,” McMaster said Wednesday evening. “We got them up to the fence line and then they decided to split up. One went North and the other vanished into a grove and did circles for two hours.”
As dusk set in, the buffalo will settle down for the night and not move, McMaster said, and Watt will return with his horses at sunrise, round them up and drive them home.
“We had a California Black Bear out here about 20 years ago. The Fish and Game people came out and got him,” Doyel said. “We’ve had occasional wild turkey, coyote and bobcats, but never buffalo. This is definitely something different.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.