A now blond `Miracle the Buffalo' may be pregnant
Owner of sacred calf, now an adult, to speak tonight in Rock County
"She's a blond. The buffalo is predicted to again turn white `when there's peace in the world." - Dave Heider
By Pat Carome
Beloit Daily News staff writer
Beloit Daily News
Wednesday - February 18, 1998
JANESVILLE _ People still flock to see the buffalo that was white when it was born.
Dave and Valerie Heider tried closing their farm to the public during the winter, but it was impossible. Too many visitors drove too far on too many ``closed'' days, said Dave Heider, just to see the buffalo named Miracle.
``We can't close up,'' he said. ``You say, `No, we're closed,' and you wouldn't believe the look on their face.''
Miracle was born in the spring of 1994 with a coat of fur that was snow white. The buffalo, however, is not albino.
Native Americans began trekking to the Heider's Janesville farm, telling of their folk lore: that a white buffalo would unite humanity. Other people followed Native American suit and soon thousands of people were heading to Janesville to see the white buffalo calf.
Visitors set gifts and momentos on the fence surrounding the buffalo enclosure, until the fence was covered with a colorful array of ribbons, photos, woven Indian ``dream catchers'' and items set with beads and feathers.
Dave Heider still travels the country, presenting talks about Miracle. Heider will bring photos, the Miracle story and a video about the calf aired on TV's Unsolved Mysteries to the Green-Rock County Audubon Society meeting 7 p.m. tonight. The meeting will be at the U-Rock Hyatt-Smith building.
As Miracle grew, her coat darkened. The folk lore continued to unfold, however, predicting the buffalo would turn black, red and yellow _ the colors of the people of the world.
Miracle completed those color changes in just 11 months, said Heider, adding he will bring photos of the color changes to the Audubon Society meeting. Most buffalo calves are born with a reddish coat that turn dark brown.
And after all the switches in her appearance, Miracle is now a yellow, lighter yellow than in 1995. ``She's a blond,'' Heider said. The buffalo is predicted to again turn white ``when there's peace in the world,'' he said.
The once-white calf is also now an adult, possibly expecting a calf of her own.
Heider has traveled the country the past 2 1/2 years, giving presentations about the buffalo and displaying the gifts people have brought to the farm.
One of the most poignant momentos left at the buffalo fence was two Sesame Street Burt and Ernie dolls, said Heider. The toys were left by a woman who spent the day at the farm and told how her two children died in a fire. The only momentos of the children left by the flames were the dolls.
``Some of the stories, it'll tear your heart out,'' Heider said. Since the calf was born, media magnate Ted Turner put in a bid to buy the buffalo. So has Rock Star Ted Nugent. In addition, one Native American tribe offered to trade their 750 buffalo for Miracle.
The market value for those near-800 buffalo is $2.6 million, said Heider, adding that was not his highest offer. The Heiders, however, opted to keep Miracle and have created a gift shop and museum on their farm. The farm is ready with a couple of golf carts, to accommodate the elderly and handicapped. In addition, Miracle fans can head to the buffalo's web page: www.whitemiracle.com.
The Heiders also sell buffalo meat and Dave contends the meat sales are not sacrilegious. ``We are a working farm. Originally we got into the buffalo business to get into the beef business,'' he said, adding buffalo meat is low fat and low cholesterol.
The Heiders had owned buffalo for four years when Miracle was born. They started with four animals and owned 13 in 1994. Their herd has reached a maximum 37 head.
And while Miracle still draws a crowd and seems to send people away with a spiritual boost, Heider says he, personally, does not detect the power so many people believe the animal possesses.
``I don't feel what this calf supposedly gives people,'' he said. ``To me she's a buffalo. I don't treat her any differently than any other buffalo.''
But, Heider added, Miracle has a genuine effect on people that visit the farm.
``You can see it in their face and in their eyes,'' he said. ``Something has changed.''