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"Ridiculous" demand for Badger apparel in Northwoods after Final Four berthSubmitted: 04/04/2014

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


MINOCQUA - A Northwoods sports fan shop usually sells far more Packers apparel than anything else.

But with the Badgers in the Final Four, Packerland Plus in Minocqua has been flooded with demand for Wisconsin gear.

The Badger basketball team beat Arizona on Saturday.

It will take on Kentucky Saturday night at the Final Four in the Dallas area.

"It has been really ridiculous. The Badger clothes have just been flying off the shelves. The phone has been ringing constantly. Everybody's looking for their gear for the game on Saturday," says Brittany Garfield of Packerland Plus.

Packerland Plus got shipments of official Final Four gear earlier this week.

But their stock didn't last long.

"They were telling me, people followed the UPS truck in and were literally buying it out of the box as the box was opened. People definitely wanted those shirts this year," she says.

Wisconsin made the Final Four for the first time since 2000.

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FLORENCE COUNTY - Driving through the Northwoods, you can see plenty of deer, cows, and horses… But bison? That's a little rarer.

Unless you travel to a ranch in Florence County, where the Rock family thinks they've tapped into a special and healthy food source.

Raising bison has always seemed normal to Michael Rock. His favorite is Badaxe, who is 25 years old.
"He became my baby and I feed him maple syrup and apples all the time, that's his favorite treat," said Michael.

But the Rock family knows their livestock are rare for these parts.

"We got into it for the health issues because now we know what we're eating," said David.
David started the business about 10 years ago. These days, the Rocks have around 130 bison on their Florence County ranch.

"For me this is enjoyment because I'm outside and I'm with my family. And I like to be outside and work with them on that," said David.

Two of the Rocks' four children live and work on the ranch.

"Being able to tell them what to do. I'm still the dad, so I rule the roost. They are a big help and they do have good ideas. You do have to watch the younger generation," said David.

Their daughter, Josie, and son, Michael, help with feeding and maintaining the herd.

"My favorite are the babies. The babies when they're younger, they like fighting and playing. And they'll just be running around and playing," said Josie.

But raising these animals isn't just about entertainment. In the 1800's, bison were almost killed off. Now, the Rocks hope to promote the animal's health benefits be carefully managing which ones go to be processed.

"Bison is about the only other meat out there that they can eat. It's healthier than chicken, it's healthier than salmon, pig, beef, anything. It's the top of the line," said Karen.

Raising an animal is a large project, one that Michael would like to do for a long time.

"I like bailing hay with the tractors, I like taking care of the animals. I have a future goal, to have big barns full of them," said Michael.

All of their meat is sent to the U. P. to a USDA approved facility and most of it stays local to the Midwest.

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