Around 200 elk are home on the range at Dave Flory’s Quiet Harmony Ranch in the rolling Preble County hills.
Flory, a retired entrepreneur who established — and later sold — a nationally known swine-breeding business, located the ranch on 185 acres of land served by Darke Rural Electric Cooperative. His mission is to work in harmony to produce unique farm products while providing a place for families to come, learn, and enjoy.
His fascination with elk is a result of thinking out of the box and a desire to remain involved in animal husbandry after he got out of the swine business. He established the ranch in 2015, and opened it as a business a few years later.
After viewing an informational movie, visitors can drive through the elk park to view the statuesque animals lounging in pastures and paddocks or opt for the 50-minute Outback Encounter, which affords a closer look and commentary. The inquisitive elk often approach fences for a peek at visitors or simply watch from their open shelters.
Females weigh an average of 650 pounds, full-grown males around 1,000 pounds. They are natural browsers, chomping on tree branches, bark, grass, and dead leaves. Hay, grain, and minerals supplement their diets. Their bodies can withstand temperatures down to -20 F; when it’s hot and humid, they can head to nearby ponds.
Elk came to the United States centuries ago, traveling from Asia across the Bering Strait — a land bridge to Alaska. They eventually spread throughout the country, some settling in southwest Ohio and the Great Black Swamp area in the northwest part of the state. Although very much in evidence when Ohio gained statehood in 1803, they disappeared by 1838 due to hunting and migration.
“The only ones still in Ohio are on farms and ranches like this one,” Flory says. Quiet Harmony Ranch places elk into wildlife reintroduction projects and sells stock for breeding purposes to other elk breeders.
Elk antlers and bones were once used as tools in bygone days; rib bones even served as runners on primitive sleds. Today, velvet antlers are used in nutritional supplements for both people and animals, while hard antler often becomes chews for dogs, knife handles, or rustic furnishings.
People also have rediscovered the nutritional value of elk meat — low in fat, low in cholesterol, and high in protein, according to Flory. Although the meat resembles beef, there is less marbling.
Quiet Harmony Ranch harvested 27 elk for meat purposes last year — the majority was sold in the trading post. Available cuts include ribeye steaks, New York strips, roasts, patties, and bacon cheeseburgers in vacuum-sealed packages. Elk meat also goes into summer sausage, meat sticks, and jerky of various flavors. Homemade fudge in 30 flavors, unique gifts, T-shirts, and souvenirs round out store offerings.
Hungry visitors often head to the food cabin for elk BBQ on homemade buns, side dishes, and a variety of ice cream desserts.
Kids’ attractions include twin tailspin slides, a pedal car racetrack, Intelli-Maze, a giant sandbox, and timed basketball shootout courts.
Quiet Harmony Ranch is also a host location for Harvest Hosts. RV campers who are members of the organization can stay free of charge on the property. Visit www.harvesthosts.com for more information.
Quiet Harmony Ranch, 10684 Morrison-Mikesell Road, New Paris, OH 45347. Open from June through October on Fridays and Saturdays. The trading post is open year-round on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, including hours and prices, visit www.quietharmonyranch.com or call 937-437-7777.