If Terry Lieb's dreams come true, part of his farm will be a type of living history museum, showing how the land looked before European settlement. A dominant feature of that landscape was the buffalo, and Terry already has the beginnings of a herd contentedly grazing on his Piatt County farm. He looks like a conventional farmer. His bread and butter comes from 2500 acres of corn and soybeans. He's on the Board of Directors for the Piatt County Farm Bureau and a member of the Conservation Board. But what about these large, hulking beasts grazing in the fields around the house? "People drive by here all the time, just to look at them," he says with a smile. "Believe it or not, I like it."

There was a neighbor in Monticello who had two buffalo. Growing up, Terry was always fascinated by them. To him, they were a living symbol of the historic old West in which Terry had a strong interest. Then two years ago, he went to a farm sale. Terry laughs. "I didn't know it was going to be there and I had no intension of buying it." That was the start of Terry Lieb's buffalo herd.... He plans to build a cow-calf herd over the next few years and develop the entire 80 acres of owned ground into native prairie for the buffalo herd. His purpose is to show others how the land used to look, while producing a healthy meat to market directly to consumers from off the farm.

The American Buffalo is a fascinating creature with a direct connection to our land and history. They are ideally suited for the region because they were such a vital part of the native ecosystem. Terry Lieb's idea for restoring that ecosystem while still using it for production is innovative farming that benefits everyone - the farmer, the land and the culture.

UIUC Extension