BueLingo Beginnings
A tribute to Alfred Ostrum - a founding member of the BueLingo Cattle Society


Alfred Ostrum was born and raised in the Absarokee area of Montana.  At the young age of nine years he started herding sheep for his father, and while still a teenager, he started shearing sheep. On October 8, 1938 he was united in marriage to Berniece Bue, who was from the Reedpoint area.

In 1942 they purchased a ranch six miles west of Reedpoint, MT and moved there and started ranching with both sheep and cattle. Alfred continued to shear sheep in his younger days when they were getting started, and Berniece did a lot of the riding and looking after the sheep and cattle. She spent many days of long hours helping with the ranch work. The family was blessed with two children, Al Dean who was born in 1939 and Arlean who was born in 1940.

As the ranch continued to grow and prosper, a new home was built.  The ranch is located right along the Yellowstone River, and is cut in two by Interstate I-90.  Bridger Creek crosses the Interstate there and runs right through the building site.  It waters some of the pastures in the foothills to the south and is used some for irrigating the smaller pastures near the ranch headquarters. There are about 800 acres along the interstate, mostly in flats used for hay ground.  About 1200 acres lay in the foot-hills to the south and this is where the cattle are mostly grazed.

On their ranch on Bridger Creek the Ostrums ran primarily black cattle. In 1954 Berniece was looking through a farm magazine and found an ad from Tillamook, Oregon, advertising some Dutch Belted dairy calves. She told Alfred that it would be interesting to try a couple of these heifer calves to use as ranch milk cows. She made out an order for two heifer calves, not knowing what a Dutch Belt looked like. She said that she was so surprised to see the beautiful white belts around their bodies when the two calves arrived in crates at the depot in Big Timber. They arrived on the same day that the Ostrum’s daughter, Arlean, graduated from grade school. She named one of the calves “Cindy” and the other one “Jeanne”.

“Cindy” grew into a rather large cow and looked a lot like a Holstein. One year she suckled four calves, her own and three orphans. She lived to be 17 years of age and then died of milk fever.

“Jeanne” was quite a bit smaller and resembled a Jersey. She gave richer milk but less of it. She lived to be 16 years old. When she died Berniece buried her in a spot that later became the entrance ramp of Interstate 94 at the Bridger Creek Exit.

These two cows, of course, were always bred by the black bulls on the ranch. The belted color gene was very strong so some of the resulting offspring were also belted. One year Alfred sold his black heifers to a neighbor, later to discover that even these solid black heifers carried the gene and upon breeding them to Black Angus bulls they would occasionally throw a perfect belted calf which he then bought back from the neighbor.

About this time Alfred thought that he should try to find a belted bull. He finally located two from Mr. Bert Spykerboer at Ellsworth, MN.  He bought them and had them sent out on a semi that was taking some cattle to a feed-lot in Wyoming and he picked them up there. These bulls were sired by a bull that Mr. Spykerboer had purchases in Canada and they did a good job of restoring the belting gene. Since they carried Belted Galloway blood they also eliminated most of the horns on their calves.

About this same time Alfred got acquainted and became a close friend of Russell Bueling of Sheldon, ND. They entered into what became a long and lasting friendship and partnership.  After that the bulls were furnished from the Bueling herd.  Since Alfred was getting along in years and could not expand his herd any more Mr. Bueling would help with the spring branding and go back in the fall and take all of the best of the heifer calves back to North Dakota. They were then infused into his herd of belted cattle.

Russell Bueling and Alfred Ostrum worked closely together for many years and their relationship was an exceptionally good one. The Buelings and Ostrums visited back and forth many times.  It was always a pleasure for Alfred to keep track of the cows in the Bueling herd that originated from the Ostrum herd.

In 1977 Alfred and Berniece built a new home in Big Timber and moved there and left their son, Al Dean, to live on and run the ranch. He was killed in an accident near the ranch in 1983. Alfred and Berniece then ran the ranch from their home in Big Timber and most of the cattle were sold off as Alfred’s health would not permit him to do all of the work. Their daughter, Arlean, married Dr. Kenneth Collenborne.  They live in Billings, MT. Alfred had a history of heart problems starting with his first heart attack in 1950. In a couple of years he had another. In 1982 he had open heart surgery and had four by-passes.  He got along fairly well for a few years, but his problems reoccurred in February 1990 and he passed away on October 12th, 1990.

Berniece had a horseback accident in 1975. It is not known if the horse fell with her or if she was thrown off. She was found unconscious and has been left permanently crippled. She now lives alone in the home in Big Timber. (Mrs. Ostrum passed away in December of 2008)

The remainders of the Ostrum’s belted cattle were sold in February of 1990 when Alfred took sick. Some of the herd went to Russ and Sandy Buhler at Lima, MT, some to Ralph Brown of Broadview, MT and the balance to Ron and Gay Pearson of Big Sandy, MT.

Arlean Collenborne says, “Ranching and cattle were dad’s great love.  Many times while in the hospital he’d talk about his experiences as a rancher, the great people that he’d come into contact with and what a good life it had been for him.

This is the story of one of the first herds of Belted Beef cattle in this part of the United States.  Alfred Ostrum was one of the founding members of the BueLingo Cattle Society and he had his herd registered with them.  This story is meant to be a fitting tribute to Alfred and his wife, Berniece. These people need to be remembered for their contributions to the formation of our Society as it stands today.