Stay where bison roam in Michigan

You’ll stay where the bison roam when you book a weekend getaway at Pohl Bison Bed and Breakfast in Rosebush, not far from US-127 in Central Michigan.

Wild meets peaceful here.

Peaceful, as in stepping away from your routine. Relaxing. (Remember what that’s like?)

Wild, as in watching a herd of bison from your window or the balcony.

Blue, the bull at Pohl Bison
At age 4, Blue the Bull weighs probably 1,500 pounds, perhaps 500 pounds or less than he’ll weigh at age 10.

Bison have inhabited the earth for thousands of years and are the largest mammal in North America. Completely undomesticated, a bison is quick as lightning, strong as an ox and can jump six feet high from a standing position.

Owners Krista and Jim Pohl offer two B&B rooms that can sleep up to seven guests total. One room has two queen beds. A rollaway can be added to either room. In the evening a snack of sliced cheese and bison summer sausage will be left in the loft fridge for you to enjoy. Wake up to the delicious aroma of a ranch-style breakfast being prepared for you downstairs.

Farming is in their DNA. In his youth, Jim spent the summers at his uncle’s dairy farm in Reed City. Krista grew up on a dairy farm near Rosebush, a place where she and her brother and sister rode horses and swam in the creek that flowed through the property.

Krista never dreamed she’d be a rancher

Neither farming nor ranching was part of Krista’s future plans when she was growing up. Krista says, “I really wanted to be a flight attendant,” a dream inspired by the annual trips to her mother’s hometown in Maine. “As a flight attendant, I would be able to dress up, talk to people, and travel the world.”

Her backup plan, stimulated by her love of playing with Barbie dolls as a girl, was to find a place in the fashion industry. That interest eventually panned out when she opened a fashion boutique at the ranch. Black Horn Boutique, named for the color of bisons’ horns, operates both online as well as on site in an area adjacent to the meat store located at their home.

Jim and Krista Pohl
Jim and Krista Pohl

Married for 38 years, Krista and Jim were high school sweethearts at Sacred Heart Academy in Mt. Pleasant. They have three daughters and two grandchildren.

Jim and Krista were raising feeder calves on their property three minutes from Rosebush when they took a 2008 trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for their 25th wedding anniversary. “We saw bison and were mesmerized,” Krista said.

After returning home, the couple continued to talk about bison ranching and started researching herds in Michigan. Within two weeks, Krista and Jim bought their starter herd of three bison. Michigan has approximately two-dozen bison ranches.

Bison rancher friends of the couple came to Pohl Bison to help design the stock handling system. At the end of their stay, as they were leaving, Krista’s friend said, “Thanks for letting us stay at your B&B.” The seed was planted. The Pohls started welcoming weekend guests in 2013.

Late April through June is a popular time to stay at Pohl Bison because calves are being born and can be seen playing in the field. Pohl Bison is considered a medium-sized ranch according to Michigan standards, with a herd size around 70 animals. Pastures surround the house on three sides.

Young bison in the pasture
Young bison in one of the pastures that surround three sides of the house.

Roundup occurs in October. The wildness and power of these animals can be imagined when you learn that sorting the stock requires two miles of eight-foot-high guardrail supported by 100 telephone poles and a number of strategically positioned chutes and gates. Ordinary fencing would be trampled.

During the roundup, calves that have been weaned are sorted into pens according to their age and size. Late-born calves get to stay with Mom a while longer.

After a couple weeks, cows are moved into a winter pasture, and weanlings are released into their own pasture.

At birth, calves weigh 30 to 70 pounds. At ten years of age, full-grown bulls stand over six feet tall and can weigh over 2,000 pounds. Cows aren’t fully grown until age five and can weigh up to 1,300 pounds — “We had one that big,” Krista says.

The herd feeds on grass and hay, supplemented by salt and minerals. Keeping with their ranch management focus on raising bison as naturally as possible, the Pohls do not feed grain.

Get a taste of ranch life without leaving Michigan

Slip into your jeans and picture yourselves arriving at Pohl Bison B&B to relax and decompress. Take the Rosebush exit of U.S.-127 between Mt. Pleasant and Clare and head west. In a little over two miles, as you crest a hill, you’ll see the Pohl Bison sign at the road. Make the turn and head for the log house on the hill.

Instead of Krista fulfilling her flight attendant dream of meeting people and traveling the world, the world now comes to her and Jim. It’s no surprise that one of the things she loves most about innkeeping is “the different stories you hear,  the things that people share about their lives. How guests met. What they do for a living and what they enjoy doing.”

She and Jim especially enjoy hearing guests say, “It’s so quiet here.” That’s how they know their mid-Michigan B&B is working its magic.