Mesick Family History
In 1793 Fritz Mesick, an immigrant from southern Germany purchased approximately 100 acres in South Schodack. It is here that Fritz and his family established a small dairy farm where they worked and lived for many years. This original piece of property is still in the Mesick family today. Over the years, more parcels of land were purchased, resulting in the current Gem Farms’ holdings of 600 acres
Gem Farms’ Beginnings…
George Mesick, the great, great grandson of Fritz Mesick, purchased the family dairy farm in 1960 from his father, George E. Mesick, Sr. George and his wife Gerry, both graduates of Cornell University, continued to work and expand the farm. Through the years, they had five children, two sons and three daughters. Their son, David is an active partner in the family farming business. Dave’s son Sam is carrying on the tradition, making it a 10th generation family farm.
… And Then Came the Buffalo
People often ask George and Gerry how they got started raising buffalo, to which Gerry replied, “After our children were nearly grown, we thought it would be ‘fun’ to have a couple of buffalo on our farm. We had been raising dairy cattle for years and couldn’t imagine that buffalo would be that different from dairy cows…… There were no buffalo in the South Schodack area, and in fact, there had not been any buffalo in the South Schodack area in over two hundred years. So in 1973, we decided to purchase our first buffalo – an American Bison bull, cow and calf.” George adds, “I was first introduced to buffalo in 1939 when my father took me to Hoosick Falls, NY to see the only herd of buffalo in the area. I was very impressed by the size of the animals and by the serenity of the herd. They did not act at all like the wild herds described in the history books I had read.”
George and Gerry planned on starting a small herd by artificially inseminating the bison cows – after all, they had done this many times before with their dairy cows. How does the story go? The greatest plans of mice and men…. Anyway, it did not take long for George and Gerry to learn that handling bison is entirely different than handling dairy cattle. Despite their serene appearance, Bison are wild animals. So wild that the neighbors still like to talk about the “Great Escape” when a bull and cow managed to jump a five-foot fence back in 1976. Good fencing is one of the farm’s higher priorities nowadays.
Learning about the animals is an ongoing education for George and Gerry. They are members of the National Bison Association, of which George was formerly a director, Pennsylvania Bison Association, and Eastern Bison Association. They have traveled across the country several times attending buffalo conventions and exchanging knowledge with fellow bison breeders. Over the years, these contacts have made it possible to build up their herd and introduce new bloodlines by purchasing buffalo from Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.
Gem Farms Buffalo now consists of over 100 buffalo, give or take a few horns. Frozen cuts of meat are sold retail in their farm store along with hundreds of other buffalo and Native American Indian related gift items. And who says farmers are old fashioned? Not George and Gerry – they’ve kept up with the latest in technology as proven by this website.
The public is always welcome to visit Gem Farms Buffalo. The animals are right along Van Hoesen Road in Castleton, NY. All that is asked is that you park safely off the road and do not block any driveways. Enjoy the sight, take pictures, come visit the shop, but remember, don’t touch or feed the buffalo.