Channel 2’s Marti Glaser reports live from the Circle F Ranch with a story about an Alaska yak farm.
We are really excited with all the changes and new happenings here at Alaska Yaks.
The yak herd continues to grow and evolve. We’re expecting many new babies this year and are anxiously looking forward to the results of our breeding program. We are proud of our three herd sires–Chisum, our Imperial bull, Hutch our Royal and Teddy our Black. We have two Teddy babies on the ground and boy are they cuties! Lucie was our first and is a stocky little gal out of Schick. Snowflake is a gorgeous and sweet little Royal out of Gotty. It’s so nice to see our Royal cows once again producing Royal calves, which we didn’t have happen with our former herdsire, Dell.
Our meat sales are continuing to expand and we now have several restaurants around the state serving our delicious yak meat. We are looking forward to expanding our retail sales through local open air markets around Southcentral Alaska and I will be posting often to let you know when and where those locations will be. We continue to offer yak meat for sale here at the ranch and have added a new Interpretive Center/Gift Shop to meet this need(see below).
Last summer we started working on the Interpretive Center/Gift Shop here at the ranch. It was open with a limited inventory but we didn’t publicize it much. Our official “Grand Opening” will be happening in mid-May, so plan on heading out and stopping by to visit. We’ll have prize drawings and yummy treats throughout the grand opening. We offer a wide selection of yak products and gift items; raw fiber, ready to be spun fiber, yarn, knitted items and some really great 100% yak wool sweaters and shawls from Khunu. We carry both Khunu and The Rocking Yak products because we believe in supporting local yak producers in Tibet. Both these companies do this through the production of their products, through local fiber sourcing and/or production of yarn and garments. We also have greeting cards, books, videos, music, toys, jewelry, and so much more. I’ve scoured the world for unique yak items and I’m sure you’ll find something to love! We hope to have the whole Yak Shack inventory available on our website by May so check it out.
Beginning in May 2014 we will be offering Ranch Interpretive Tours and Nature Walks.
These will be available May through August seven days a week between the hours of 10am and 7pm. Our tour leaders are well versed in yak facts and these tours take about an hour. We have plenty of turn around space for cars/campers/buses and can accommodate large groups with prior notice. The cost for these informative tours are $10 for adults and $5 for children over 5 yrs. We do offer family rates.
Nature walks start here at the ranch and are approximately 1 1/2 miles in length. One of our gentle pack yaks and a guide will accompany your group, with the yak carrying lunches (please bring you own), and other gear. You’ll learn about local history, plants, wildlife and of course, about yaks from your knowledgeable guide ! These are slow paced walks with lots of photo opportunities, so don’t forget to bring your camera! Nature Walk Tours are $65.00 per person and are limited to ages 10 and older.
Come join us this summer for lots of yak fun!
For most people the New Year starts on January 1st, but a far north yak herder’s New Year starts when the first calves hit the ground. At the Circle F Ranch this year, that happened on February 25th.
When I went out to check the yak cows one beautiful early summer morning in 2013, and found our herd bull, Teddy, in with them I knew without a doubt that “Happy Yak New Year 2014″ was going to be very, very early.
The best laid plans of mice and men…or in this case, yak herders….
I’m sure you get the picture.
So begins long days of looking at the south side of each expecting cow once or twice a day, trying to determine whose been naughty or nice. (It’s an undisputed fact that yak cows always face their tails toward the south very late in parturition, which tends makes my job much easier, until I realize that MY yaks are not aware of this interesting fact and face their tails alternately to the north, east, and west for no particular reason.) I do have my suspicions though, about who is due when and discretely follow those shy gals around, trying my best to get a peek at what does or does not lay behind that full and flowing tail. Mostly I’m looking for a “ripe udder” but most days I have to rely on attitude, eye contact (or lack of it) and attendance. If someone is MIA it’s a good bet she’s headed to parts unknown to do her business without my prying eyes and best intentions invading, what to her, is a very private affair.
I am thoroughly convinced that they all conspire against me and take turns feigning labor just to laugh at me behind my back as I doggedly trail after first one and then another soon-to-be, or more likely than not, soon-NOT-to-be, yak mom. My yak herder intuition has gotten better over the years and while I can often tell when I’m being played the fool, those girls keep coming up with new scenarios in an attempt to win the game of “stump the yak herder.” I won’t give up though, because one of these days I know I’m going to win!
In the meantime, I’m donning my parka and boots at 6am and heading out with my headlamp to enjoy yet another day in the life of a far north yak herder….
….and by the way,
Happy Yak New Year!
Wow! It’s been a year. Yak-keeping keeps me too busy sometimes to keep up with my “yakking” here on the blog. It has been a pretty uneventful year here at Alaska Yaks. The regular ups and downs. Haying season came and went with a good return. We bought a large amount of hay from Scott Plagerman Farms at Delta Junction. Winter is nearing its end (well, officially it IS spring) and we have lots and lots of snow, like most places in Alaska this year!
We started something new last summer that needs updating.
We donated our first yak calf to a worthy 4H’er in August 2011. Laurel lives on the Kenai Peninsula and sent an email to IYAK asking about yaks and they put us in touch with us. We decided after corresponding with her a bit that we would make the offer of the yak calf for her 4-H project. Her only requirements were an essay detailing why she wanted a yak and how she would care for it and her plans for 4H. If she was chosen to receive the yak then she’d be required to send us semi monthly updates on how the yak was doing and what she was doing with her. She fulfilled the essay part with flying colors and we made arrangements to drive the yak (Yolanda) to Palmer to meet Laurel and her family. What a wonderful experience for us to help a young 4H’er get started with large livestock and especially with something as great as yaks.
We’ll be chronicling Laurels achievements with Yolanda and 4H so stay tuned.
…now back to this year’s calvings….
….we are up to seven with our newest one born last night to Weasel. A pretty little heifer calf, all black with a gray nose! Pictures to follow.
Welcome to our newest yak baby!
This little guy was born this afternoon and is now safely fed and bedded down in, of all places, my kitchen!
Our Yak cow Gotty, gave birth this afternoon to a whopping big bull calf. He’s eating well and doing great!
Since we’ve had several folks put in orders for calves this year, this little guy will be bottle raised in preparation for his new home. If he’s anything like his two older brothers he’s going to be one friendly little guy and BIG!
Congratulations to his new owners!