In 1873, Abel Palkie, along with his wife and three children arrived and staked a claim for 160 acres in northern Thompson Township. A century later, Don and Marlene Solwold and their children bought a portion of that homestead with the intent of raising bison. The family’s goal was to target a small but growing consumer trend that sought to reduce animal fats and cholesterol in the diet by switching to naturally leaner meats, including bison.
The first pair of bison arrived on the family’s farm in 1974 and the Solwold family has been actively raising the animals on their property under the Quartermaster Buffalo label ever since. The Solwolds provided bison steaks, roasts, and burgers to restaurants, hospitals, and a loyal group of gracious customers for many years.
While the current enterprise has been scaled back from the 90-plus animals required to sustain the slaughter production of early years, the Solwolds’ bison operation has become a cow/calf business. Yearlings are sold to other bison farmers for future breeding purposes and/or meat production.
Don and Marlene’s son-in-law, Mychal Franklin, is the right-hand man of the operation, involved in all aspects of the farm including feeding, fencing, sourcing, maintenance and transport. Don and Marlene’s daughter Lori Franklin brings her decades of experience raising bison and is a second pair of hands around the farm. Don and Marlene’s daughter Julie Solwold provides additional labor and helps with the farm’s accounting.
In the mid-1980s, the Solwolds became very involved in another fledgling industry: peat as an energy source. Don and Marlene organized the Minnesota Peat Association and Marlene served as the group’s first executive director.
Don is a charter member of the Minnesota Bison Association. He served as president for two terms and started the group’s newsletter in 1993. Don was an officer in the Minnesota Air National Guard, serving over 37 years in the Guard and the US Air Force.