Bright Spot

Baby Mel was born under mysterious circumstances.

It’s not easy to get a white buffalo born on your bison farm — and once you have one, it’s even harder to safely get a good shot of that rare baby, considering the 1,000-pound security system lurking nearby. “We have tried and tried to take some good pictures that we could share, but the mother is so protective, it’s actually been very hard to even catch [the baby] out in the open,” says Robin Nelon, who, with her husband Jerry, owns Nelon Knoll Farms. (Nelon Knoll specializes in antibiotic- and hormone-free bison meat and was a recent stop on the Polk Fresh Farm Tour, sponsored by Growing Rural Opportunities).

Named Melody after the niece of a family friend and dubbed “Baby Mel,” the calf was most likely sired by a Charolais bull — a type of white cattle — named “Spirit” (technically making her a “beefalo”). But her paternity can’t be confirmed, since Spirit was fatally harmed after a mating incident with another bull, and, curiously, the baby was born on June 20, considerably later than the typical calves who arrive in May.

Baby white buffaloes are often imbued with major spiritual significance. However, as suits a practical agriculturist, Robin says that it’s not the only cool thing happening at Nelon Knoll. “On another note,” she says, “twin buffalo babies are extremely rare, as well, yet we did have a set born here on our farm last year.” In this case, helping the “miracle” along by purchasing a special breed of livestock wasn’t necessary.

“It happened naturally,” she says, “with no help from us.”

Nelon Knoll Farms is located in Polk County. For more information, call 828-863-2899 or see

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