Sunday, February 1, 2009

YAK TRACKS: Dreaming of Yaks In Spring...

February 1 marks the "hump" of winter here at Steadfast Farm and Vermont Yak Company.

Our primary concerns going into our first cold season - Will we have enough hay to feed our four-legged friends? Will the water remain flowing to the trough despite the cold weather? - have been alleviated in the face of direct experience. Other than the new year's loss of little Bebe to pneumonia (our best guess), our first winter has been pleasantly uneventful. The rhythm of each day blends one into the next - Susan and Ted handle the early a.m. feeding chores, and Dave, Kate and Rob handle the afternoon feeding. The water pipe froze up a few times in sub-zero temperatures - but our electrical heat wrapped water pipe with has held up well. We even managed to "worm" the yaks on a relatively warm January day as a team - moving all of them in and out of the corrals with surprising ease.

Famous last words, of course - the nature of farming, we are learning, is that just when you think you've figured everything out, a new problem or challenge presents itself.

Having a team of five of us (plus kids), though, makes the unknowns much easier to navigate.

My son Theron said to me this morning, as we were looking at some yak photos for a new 2009 "rack card" brochure, "I miss the spring and the grass with the yaks."

It being February 1, I'd say that sentiment's right on time.

We'll separate the bulls from the rest of the herd in a few weeks, to avoid "yak on yak action" that would result in calves nine months later, at the very beginning of winter 2009.

Until then, though, we'll enjoy the late winter days, as the light stays a bit longer, the sugaring season approaches, and we prepare for our first full spring at the farm.

Yak to the future!

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