Isn't that an epic blog title? It's actually accurate. Let me explain.
I have long coveted this white deer mount from Z Gallerie:
I love the idea of a faux animal mount. It's rustic and cabin-esque (Rob's decor of choice), but this one is shiny and modern as well. Plus I wouldn't want a real animal mounted on my wall. That's just not my style, and I think it would creep me out (no offense intended to any of the deer hunters out there, especially my sister or other family members).
I liked this deer, and I envisioned it hanging on the partial wall that separates our living room from the kitchen. Rob liked the idea of an animal head in this space, but he wasn't sold on the deer. He said, "Why a deer? That's not significant to us in any way." And he's right. Plus it's not all that unique since a bevy of other bloggers have already incorporated the same (or similar) pieces in their homes.
I saw that Z Gallerie has a ram, a moose, another deer head... They even have a rhino head! Kinda bizarre, but ok.
None of them really spoke to me.
Then Rob located this white American buffalo* (aka bison) on Etsy:
* I use the words "buffalo" and "bison" interchangeably, but sometimes others use the word "buffalo" to refer to a much smaller breed of European cow. You are now ready for some bar room trivia.
The buffalo was perfect! You see, I have connections to this animal. The obvious reason - the bison is my beloved alma matter's school mascot. I am a proud North Dakota State University graduate. Hail the Bison! So the bison head was immediately very cool to me for that, but there's more. (If you keep reading, you'll get a little history lesson at the end of this post.)
The thing is, this buffalo head was pricey. The price is no longer listed, but I know it was in the $125-140 range. That's a lot for a young married couple on a budget!You all know how frugal the Whitmans are, and you might also know about our strict spending plan. Plus we make almost all of our own artwork, and so it was even more painful to think about dropping $125+ (plus $35 shipping) for this item that we couldn't even see in person before purchasing. We just weren't quite sure. Maybe if we could get the seller to drop the price a little?
One of my life mottos is this: "It doesn't hurt to try." So I emailed the seller and explained that we'd love the piece for our home but that it was a little out of our budget. I asked if she was willing to budge on the price or perhaps throw in free shipping instead? I offered to feature her shop on our blog and share our purchase with all our readers. But... We were shot down. To her credit, the seller was very nice in her reply and I have no hard feelings. Like I said, it doesn't hurt to ask.
A few days later, I was searching (for probably the 30th time) for another buffalo head. I doubted that the one on Etsy was one-of-a-kind, and so I searched. I also searched for a brown buffalo mount, knowing that my spray paint skills could easily turn it into a white one. I searched, mostly in vain. I did find a small shop with a very similar brown buffalo head for sale, but it was out of stock. So I contacted them to ask if they would be receiving any more. The shop emailed me back with the the somewhat comical response of: "No.. I am sorry... The supplier went under because of 'HOPE & CHANGE'."
Darn. The search continued.
And then I found it! It was brown, but it was IDENTICAL to the white buffalo we'd found earlier on Etsy.
And get this... it was only $34. Wow. The store (Decor for Your Home) only had one left in stock, and I snatched it right up. Shipping costs were $18. A can of white spray paint was $1. Total spending = $53.
That sure beats $150 for the one on Etsy.
We already received the bison head in the mail (that's a weird sentence). And it's perfect! Here's Rob checking it out:
And trying to pick a fight:
And being creepy:
We'll be spray-painting the bison white soon. I promise to post pics.
Here's where you get the history lesson.
Why a buffalo? Why a white one?
I grew up in Mandan, North Dakota, and the area has a rich history involving the Native American tribes that first settled that area. In fact, the town is named for the Mandan tribe, who lived in earth lodges (which you can still see and tour if you come to my hometown).
An earth lodge -- Photo source
The Mandan tribe hunted buffalo. From a very young age, I learned about buffalo and their importance to these tribes. This is from wikipedia:
We weren't the only ones. A lot of people traveled to see this rare animal. She's still there today, where she lives with the live herd that roams the pastures surrounding the museum. These pastures can be seen from Interstate 94, and I usually can spot White Cloud from my car every time I drive home to visit my family.
The birth of a white buffalo was a big story in ND, but it became even bigger when White Cloud gave birth to her own white calf just a few years ago:
Photo from the Bismarck Tribune
So a white buffalo has more significance than just a shiny, modern decoration. I am a believer in decorating your home with things that have personal meaning. And now you see why I am so excited about this find and to have this in my home.
This concludes my epic and history-riddled post. You can read more about the Mandan tribe here, if you'd like.