Posted by & filed under The Roosevelt.

Buffalo Lodge KC gorgeous rustic event spaceWe have all fallen in love with the wedding photos teeming through Pinterest where draping fabric and strings of lights transform an ancient barn into something charming and romantic. Being from the Midwest, my next question is, “Where is that barn located?” Because, I know if it’s anywhere around here, the odds are high that the barn was unbelievably hot and humid. Not to mention the flies, spiders, wasps, and other critters who love to make their homes in every nook and cranny.

We have a couple of barns on-site at Buffalo Lodge – and we scrapped the idea of ever using them for a wedding. Why? Because we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing we were selling an inferior product to our brides. The reality of barns is that they were never intended to host people, much less a high dollar reception. Californians may be able to get away with it with their cool evenings and dry climate, but around here, it’s often more pleasant outside the barn than inside where there is NO air conditioning and limited air flow.

Shall we address rain? If you happen to be in a barn someday, look up. Chances are you’ll see the underside of a corrugated, metal roof. The metal is a few millimeters thick and is designed to keep rain out but has ZERO soundproofing. That means when there is a gentle sprinkle outside, it sounds like a hailstorm inside as each droplet pings off the metal. Heavy rain is deafening, as in completely and totally. Now imagine screaming your vows at your betrothed…

When we designed The Roosevelt at Buffalo Lodge, we made every effort to plan for the weather and bugs. Yes, the ceremony lawn is perfect in every way for an outdoor wedding, but our Plan B indoor ceremony is so stunning, some brides choose it over worrying about the weather. If you look up when inside The Roosevelt, you’ll notice long, color-matched ducts powered by six high-efficiency HVAC units – so when it’s utterly miserable outside, you and your guests will be comfortable and cool (or warm!) inside. You’ll also notice you can’t see daylight through the walls or ceiling – so you also won’t see wasp nests, elaborate spiderwebs, or flies on your cake. What you can’t see is what’s hiding under the roof – a thick slab of foam insulation, well beyond builder’s grade to ensure comfort and quiet, so it’s romantic and cozy to watch the storm through the windows.

Could we have saved money and mimicked a rustic, old-fashioned barn? Most definitely, but we also know that weddings are meant to be once in a lifetime, and frankly, we feel pretty good about ourselves knowing we offered you the best experience for your special day!

 

Posted by & filed under Buffalo.

 “How are bison (buffalo) different than cattle?” The answer boils down to what’s the difference between a wild animal and a domesticated one.

“How are bison (buffalo) different than cattle?” I field this question all the time, and the answer boils down to what’s the difference between a wild animal and a domesticated one.

Cattle began domestication about 10,500 years ago presumably in the Fertile Crescent region of what is now Iraq. Over they millennia, they have been selectively bred to develop desirable characteristics such as muscling, milk production, temperament, and even loss of horns. Bison have not been domesticated, that is selectively bred for certain characteristics not necessarily in line with their natural physical and behavioral attributes. Therefore, bison are considered wild and must be managed thoughtfully and with respect to maintain a happy herd and a safer environment for their handlers.

Bison in the pasture behave very similarly to cattle. Their number one priority is to eat grass! They stay in close proximity to their herd mates – an adaptation that has served them well. With more eyes and ears (and noses!) on the scene, they are better able to detect a threat to the herd and instantly alert the whole herd due to their natural cohesiveness. They spend their days grazing, resting, and occasionally drumming up some playtime with a romp around the pasture or some head-butting.

Because bison have been adapting to our climate since their ancestors crossed the Bering Strait approximately 500,000 years ago. They have an almost unbelievable ability to “weather” anything Mother Nature throws at them from extreme cold to extreme heat. In fact, the cold doesn’t appear to bother them in the least. It’s the relentless summer heat that will slow them down. They sweat and pant and generally will spend more time in the shade resting. Cattle, on the other hand, are known to struggle with the extremes in weather and are more susceptible to dying from the stress particularly due to cold weather events.

The biggest difference between cattle and bison is how they behave when handled, i.e. working them in the chutes. A number of diseases were brought to North America by cattle. Bison and cattle both require yearly vaccinations to help keep these diseases at bay. Therefore, it is necessary to have a corral and working chutes that hold the animal in place, so we can administer to them without them getting hurt or hurting one of us. Cattle don’t exactly appreciate the process, but bison positively hate it! Bison have all their survival instincts fully intact, and there is nothing more terrifying to them than being trapped with no way out. With thoughtful handling and well-designed facilities, we can substantially reduce their stress, but we can never be complacent around them. You don’t want to ever find yourself in the way of a scared 2000 lb buffalo!

Though bison are generally calm and peaceful creatures, they are very much wild and must be treated with great care and respect. Being cognizant of the differences as well as the similarities between cattle and bison is very important in devising an effective management strategy. The more educated we are, the happier our buffalo herd!

Posted by & filed under Our Critters.

LucyBuffalo Lodge–Kansas City’s Best Rustic Wedding Venue

More than a few of you have met the endearing Lucy on your visit to Buffalo Lodge–Kansas City’s best rustic wedding venue. Lucy takes her job as official greeter very seriously and never fails to charm her way into the hearts of our guests!

This adorable Lab Mix entered our lives under tragic circumstances. Lucy was abandoned along the road in front of our property. At first we thought she was someone’s new dog checking out the neighborhood. After a couple of days, we realized something wasn’t right. She was exhibiting classic “dumped” behavior. Never imagining her owners wouldn’t come back, she would pop up out of the ditch to check each passing vehicle to see if it belonged to her people.

Michael and I decided it was time for her to adopt some new people, so we stopped the car one evening. She was absolutely petrified and cowered as Michael approached. He picked her up and carried her to the car where she trembled like a leaf all the way to the house. Once she had a nice bowl of food and met the rest of our motley crue, she began to settle in and appreciate the attention.

Now Lucy is our confident alpha dog – first to investigate anything suspicious and diligently keeps critters out of my garden! Her favorite thing in the world is to run at break-neck speed next to my car as I drive from my house to The Lodge and The Roosevelt (all on the same property). I’ve clocked her at 29 mph!

You’ll always know when I’m in the office because she stands as sentinel near the front door. Lucy loves people, especially little people that are at the perfect level for a cheek smooch. She has been featured in countless “selfies” and was made the guest of honor at one of our weddings. So, give her a pat when you come see us at Buffalo Lodge and let her know she’s doing a good job!

Posted by & filed under The Roosevelt.

 

When we began Is It Worth the Cost to Green Up? possibilities on designing a “green” buildingconstruction of The Roosevelt, we were excited about all the possibilities on designing a “green” building. Very quickly, we learned that the sky is the limit, and it all boils down to budget.

 

Our “pie in the sky vision” included LEED certification, geothermal heating and cooling, self-dimming windows, and solar. When the price tags showed up, we ate our slice of humble pie and went back to the drawing board to investigate more budget friendly options.

 

In the country, we have less electricity to tap into, and therefore, needed to be mindful of our power consumption. This spelled LED lighting in our book and a high-efficiency HVAC system. As an example, we have 3 monstrous antler chandeliers with 25 light sockets each. If we used 25 watt incandescent bulbs, we’d be drawing 1,875 watts of power with all 3 chandeliers lit. Instead, we chose to purchase 3 watt LEDs which in total pull about 225 watts of power – over 8 times less! From another perspective, by using all LEDs, we could light 24 additional chandeliers with all that power we saved! That translates into a much friendlier power bill at the end of the month. The initial investment was $10 per LED bulb that will last 26+ years, compared to an incandescent at <$1 per bulb that lasts 2-3 years. For us, it was a no brainer.

 

We also were mindful of our window and insulation choices. We chose maximum insulation ratings in our walls and under our roof. Energy-efficient windows were an absolute must with an added UV coating and roller shades outfitted on all west-facing windows which not only keeps out excess heat, but also prevents bleaching of our carpet. When you have a room full of guests, room temperature is critical, and we have been thrilled with our ability to maintain a comfortable a temperature even on extreme weather days.

 

So, what’s next? With solar becoming increasing more affordable (80% reduction in costs over the past 7 years!), we see a solar array in our future. I mean, who wouldn’t like to receive a check from the power company once in awhile! ;-)

 

 

Posted by & filed under Real Weddings.

Ah yes, cocktail hour – that seemingly minor stretch of time between ceremony and reception when bridal couple and family are whisked away for photos and guests are invited to mingle. After witnessing multiple approaches, we’ve found a fail-safe list of ingredients to help your cocktail hour set a festive mood for your reception.

Ingredients for the Perfect Cocktail Hour - Buffalo Lodge KCIngredients for the Perfect Cocktail Hour - Buffalo Lodge KCIngredients for the Perfect Cocktail Hour - Buffalo Lodge KC

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Cocktails!
    • If there is one constant we’ve learned about human behavior, it’s that they flock around the bar. It’s as though there is some unwritten rule that the party is where the bar is. No bar, no party, and guests shift about awkwardly, wandering in various directions attempting to gain access to the reception space – all in a dire quest of finding that bar! Even if you have an alcohol-free event, serving creative beverages will be much appreciated and will help serve as the “glue” that keeps guests together and comfortably occupied.

     

  2. Passed Hordoerves
    • Another must-have for the cocktail hour. Nothing tells guests how special they are quite like passed hordoerves. Think of it as a conversation saver and starter. On the one end, you don’t have the starved guest eyeballing the appetizer table but helpless to interrupt Cousin Betty. On the other, passed hordoerves are great conversation starters: “Oh my, have you tried this one? It’s pure heaven!” You also avoid the awkward line to the appetizer table – lines notoriously suck the life out of a party.

     

  3. Music
    • Never underestimate the power of music to set the mood. It also creates intimacy in conversations, allowing guests to focus on each other versus neighboring conversations. Jazz classics instantly come to mind. A little Frank Sinatra will put guests in a festive spirit. Thinking something more contemporary? There are a slew of amazing renditions of popular music performed by string quartets that will create buzz among your guests. And you can always ask the DJ – they’re experts in this department and will be happy to offer suggestions.

     

  4. Optional: Children’s Activity Station
    • This is a great idea if there will be young children in attendance. Simply setting up a table with coloring books and/or games will keep energetic souls occupied and give parents a reprieve from entertaining young ones.

     

With these ingredients lovingly attended to, you can rest assured that your guests will be fully enjoying themselves and looking forward to carrying their high spirits into your reception!

Posted by & filed under Real Weddings.

It’s true. Where once it was considered taboo for a wedding to take place on any day but Saturday, we’re seeing increasing interest in the long-neglected 6 other days of the week. Why would anyone consider an alternate day, you ask? 3 reasons particularly stand out:

1) You’ve got to have that date!eekday Weddings

  • Some dates have particular meaning to couples whether it be an anniversary of their first date or a lucky number combination. We’ve had brides tell us that there are certain numbers that have an uncanny recurrence in their family, and they don’t want to break the mold. Others have jumped on the creative dates for early in the century like 12/12/12 or 5/15/15. (No bookings yet for 6/16/16!)

2) Um, weddings are kinda pricey…

  • You bet they are! We all know that we can go to the courthouse and make it official for peanuts, but we want our day to be special and to share the celebration with family and friends. And, frankly, our mothers would kill us if we didn’t!! So here’s the deal, venues and vendors create their budgets and pricing based on the days they expect to be booked – namely Saturdays, a fair number of Fridays, and a smattering of Sundays. This is why you often see a pricing gradient at venues – highest on Saturdays and progressively lower on the others. For couples wanting to have their cake and eat it, too, they can have the wedding of their dreams while respecting their budget – if they are flexible on the day of week.

3) This is a celebration of love, not free booze.

  • Some couples prefer a more reserved atmosphere versus a “rager.” Or, maybe they’re really struggling with the choice of paying for alcohol or paying for a videographer. Guests tend to be more tame and less likely to expect an all-out party on weddings scheduled Sunday through Thursday – they still have to get up for work the next morning!

For consideration: Don’t expect your guests to stay until the end of your event. Weddings that do not serve alcohol and/or are held on a weekday can expect guests to begin trickling out after the cake cutting and first dances are complete. Many guests reach their limit of entertainment after 2-3 hours, especially without the addition of “liquid courage.” Don’t take it personally – they’ve enjoyed themselves and have had their fair share of chatting and merry-making!

Posted by & filed under Buffalo.

 

My brother, Ryan, and I are very close and always have been. We’re cut from the same cloth, making us avid environmentalists and suckers for all things sustainable. Where I’m the buffalo rancher, he’s the organic urban farmer. With the “buffalo bug” being admittedly contagious, Ryan now owns some members of our herd. After the buffalo conference, we also discovered that deep down, we are still incredibly immature.

After an eventful night of sleep (see Part 2: Naked Cowboy), we (myself, husband – Michael, and Ryan) sat down for a speech of particular interest to us: absentee ownership. For the past couple of years, we had been muddling around with ideas on how to create a fair financial relationship concerning the care and sales of the buffalo owned by Ryan. We were absolutely tickled to get some insight from an expert in the biz. With pen and notepad at the ready, we prepared for an education.

The speaker began on the subject of breeding rights with, “If you want to control breeding rights to your balls, err bulls, then you need to consider….” I have no idea what he said after that. My brain distinctly noted that he said “balls” and that the context of his Freudian slip was priceless. I imagined that yes, many people would want to control breeding rights to their balls, and then I attempted to stifle a snicker, reminding myself that I was an adult.

Apparently Ryan had been digesting the same information because my snicker completely destroyed his resolve. For a brief moment, I digested the horror of the situation: I was not going to be able to keep my composure. I, too, “lost it,” and we spent the next several minutes attempting to behave ourselves and failing miserably. Not another soul had partaken in our merriment. Michael was thoroughly perplexed with our childish behavior. It was as though we had been transported back to childhood, suffering from the giggles at church because someone farted.

Finally, Ryan, six years my junior and clearly the more mature sibling, gathered his things and removed himself from the meeting hall. I would like to say that I learned mounds of good information from the speaker, but sadly, I only absorbed a couple of points. Oh, well. Maybe discovering that Ryan and I are still the same goofballs we always have been was what we really needed to learn most of all!

Posted by & filed under Buffalo.

In the wee hours of Day 2 of the Buffalo Conference, I was getting some musScreen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.54.25 PMt needed shut-eye. Out of nowhere, I awaken to the sound of someone attempting to enter our room. I lay there, frozen, waiting for the door to open and cursing myself for not securing the bolt-catching thingy. A handful of seconds go by before – AHA! there it is again – someone is trying to get in the room. Apparently, Michael (the hubby) has also been lying in wait for the next attack as he quite literally sprang out of bed to pounce on the door.

“Is someone there?” I ask.

“No,” Michael mutters and plows back into bed. I am completely unsatisfied with this answer. Looking through the peephole and seeing nothing should obviously be followed up by a more thorough investigation of the hallway.

So, I lay there waiting for it to happen again. I look at the clock: 4:30 – not even teenagers should be playing pranks at this hour…

And then I hear it, only this time it sounds slightly muffled, and it dawns on me that it’s the door next to ours. Curiosity immediately switches over to annoyance. “What idiot is repeatedly trying to get in their door and not figuring out that it’s not working,” I thought. I listened to the fumbling a couple more time before deciding to put on my “Mom” hat and go regulate. Preparing for battle, I shuffle to the door in a night-shirt emblazoned with “I Don’t Do Mornings.”

I look out the peephole. Nothing. I open the door. Nothing. I crane my neck out and peer down the vast hallway. Nothing. Then I look to the right, and there, in all his glory, is the reincarnation of Sam Elliott staring back at me with startled blue eyes. I stared. I could not make sense of the sight before me. He was facing the wall and had opened the Fire Hose door strategically shielding his “parts” from view. In fact, the only discernible piece of clothing were his socks – impeccably white tube socks pulled up to his knees. I became aware that he was pleading with me to call the front desk and turned my head back into the room to summon Michael.

“Michael, there’s a guy out here that can’t get in his room. Can you call the front desk and send someone up?”

“No, he can do it himself.” Grumble, grumble.

“Uh, Michael (ahem) I think he’s naked,” I whisper as loudly as possible.

“What?”

At this point, I close the door and tell Michael he must call the front desk as I can see no other way to remove the naked cowboy from the hallway. Begrudgingly, Michael dials down and in a sleepy stupor argues with the staff about sending someone up to take care of the situation. I wait for what feels like an eternity for them to show up. I probably should have told the guy they were coming, but I’m not feeling any more generous than I already have been. I mean, what the hell is a white-haired cowboy doing standing naked in the hallway at this time of night??

A male (thank God) staff member shows up and questions the cowboy. His Texas drawl informs the staff that he’s naked and embarrassed and would you please be so kind as to open the door? And then he’s asked his name, putting my ears on full alert. And yes, I fully admit to promptly pulling out my laptop to investigate further, and, no, I will not divulge the lurid details.

Satisfied that the situation had been fully resolved, I took my place in bed and dissolved into giggles – much to Michael’s chagrin.

Michael modeling the view.

Michael modeling the view.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Buffalo.

tongueI escaped the ranch for the National Bison Association Winter Conference and learned a lot (ahem!). So much, in fact, that three particular events stood out and warrant their own posts.

Part One: Spicy Tongue

We opened Friday morning with Mr. Butcher and a huge hunk of meat. Mr. Butcher could have been pulled straight off a Disney set, complete with black apron, chain-link belt, burly frame, and black beard. I entered the room with trepidation, wondering if the gore would put me ill at ease but was remarkably impressed with the precision and science that was shared. Slicing cuts of meat from the carcass (such an ugly word) actually is more art form than not. (Helpful hint: when in doubt, slice with the bone.)

I absorbed it all like a sponge. Mr. Butcher hefted a bison shoulder around, delicately removing bone and separating muscle all while explaining the qualities of each cut of meat from its toughness to its flavor quality. Biggest take away: muscles used more heavily by the animal during life contain the most flavor; therefore, our lovely filet mignon, though tender, lacks the flavor found in “less desirable” cuts. My next stop at the butcher counter will include flat iron steak – deemed by Mr. Butcher as superior to the elitist filet.

And then he pulled out tongue, 3 in fact. Amazingly (or not) it looks exactly like a tongue. Mr. Butcher began singing its praises while peeling (yes, peeling) the outer layer off the stiff chunk of meat. I felt as though I was being let in on a big secret – that tongue is actually a delicacy I’ve been ignorant of all these years. My only experience of tongue had been a trick my mother played on me and my siblings in our youth. She served what for all the world looked like a tongue, and she happily indulged our fears much to her glee. It was actually a tenderloin, but I refused to touch the thing. Mother was not to be trusted.

Meanwhile, Mr. Butcher, with genuine delight, shares that he is going to have his student chefs prepare a serving of tongue for all of us to enjoy. My first thought: resignation – I was actually going to try this. Hell the Indians did it, and they bit it off raw and bloody (read: Dances With Wolves bison hunt). I dutifully took my place in line and thanked the chef for my salsa verde smothered tongue on corn tortilla. Knowing procrastination is the enemy of progress, I took a bite and for all the world, it reminded my of a Greek Gyro – the texture was identical. “Not bad,” I thought, and gobbled up the rest.

So what’s next, brains or intestines anyone? Let’s not push it. My maturity has its limits…

Posted by & filed under Real Weddings.

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After being told we are a “boutique” venue on more than one occasion, I finally looked up the word to better understand what all that encompasses. Outside of referring to a retail shop, it implies a business that is “small, elite and highly specialized” (Wikipedia – my apologies to college professors). Well that pretty much hits the nose on the head but bears some further explanation.

Are we small? Yes, as in we have one location and a limited offering to guarantee an exclusive and very private experience for our guests.

Do we serve the elite? Being that the term “elite” carries with it the expectation of elevated noses, let’s delve into what elite would mean in this sense. Buffalo Lodge caters to individuals who value privacy, the outdoors, and the socially & environmentally responsible business model. These individuals consciously choose to avoid the fast-food life style and big-chain / mass-market experiences. Is there a difference in price point – you bet there is! We don’t market to the masses by having an on-site hotel, restaurant, and amusement park to spread the costs around. That would destroy the experience that is Buffalo Lodge. Our guests recognize this and readily appreciate the added value of a business kept intentionally small to satisfy their needs for privacy and the ability to unplug.

I have in part answered the question of our level of specialization. In addition, The Lodge has been carefully and lovingly decorated with artful furnishings and authentic Native American artifacts. It is in every sense a “home away from home” – a place that caters to creature comforts and to those who love feeling valued. Great thought went into creating a sense discovery from my favorite Paul Goble picture books to Navajo Sand Paintings to the luxurious buffalo hide rug.

Our venue space, The Roosevelt, was designed for weddings that embrace the outdoors but also remain sensitive to the comfort of guests. From the french-country Bridal Boudoir to the frontier-style Groom’s Cabin, we have endeavored to make every part of the wedding day as charming and inviting as possible. I have had plenty of “verklempt” moments to know we have done something right! (Forgive the SNL reference – it’s just too perfect.)

Cheers to fellow businesses embracing the boutique model and a gracious thank you to our guests who validate us in choosing the path less traveled.