Change of Seasons
Change of Seasons
I enjoy weather changes, I can’t see myself living in a place without seasons, Wisconsin suits me just fine. My favorite season change is summer to fall, I know I’m not the only person that loves the cool weather, beautiful colors and the end of fly and mosquito season. And, crazy as it sounds I embrace the clean up after summer. By September my vegetable garden is out of control; I have slacked off on weed pulling, my plants are overgrown, dying back and blooming is past on everything but a few late season flowers. This year I enjoyed vacation the last week of September and just like almost all farmers, we didn’t take a vacation, we stayed right here. Fortunately the rain held off for most days and I was able to begin my fall cleanup.
Here are my two gardens this summer, you can see I have lots to clean up!
The tomato and cucumber garden.
The tomato and cucumber bed cleared out.
The main vegetable garden
When people visit our farm in the summer they almost always say, “Oh, your flowers!”. And, I reply, “Flowers are my thing”. I give credit for my love of flora to my Grandmas, Minnie Ackerman and Lena Lender. Minnie had a huge vegetable garden, raspberry patch and sweet peas that grew on the side of her garage. BTW, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted raspberry pie or raspberry jelly like Grandma A’s, nope never. Lena had flowers, flowering bulbs and flowering shrubs in her town yard. Oh, her Lilac’s were so fragrant and beautiful, I had them at my wedding 43 years ago. I have a soft spot for yellow tulips, they were at Grandma L’s back door; always the first burst of color after a long Northern Illinois winter. What sweet memories I have of my Grandmas, I’ll need to write a blog post on them, but back to clean up!
Our granddaughter Freya with a bucket of blooms ready to arrange.
My husband, the all-knowing and wise farmer tells me, “You have too many flowerbeds and garden spots to keep up”. Like usual, he’s right but, don’t tell him I admitted this. Clean up is the price I pay for walking out to the garden and harvesting veggies for dinner or cutting a huge bouquet of blooms for my table. In late September I start cleanup with my vegetable gardens; growing fences and tomato cages need to be taken down, plant debris carted off and compost spread for the winter. Thank goodness I have the bucket of the tractor, it makes clean up so easy and I feel so accomplished when it’s finished.
After clean out of the vegetable garden; our tractor Gabe and the very helpful bucket.
Flowerbeds are harder for me to clear out, I just can’t say goodbye to the possibility of a late bloom on one of my flowers. I do clean out my perennial beds early, they won’t be blooming again this year, but I am holding out on my annual beds. With the shortened sunlight and cloudy days (and rain) my late summer gardens aren’t as beautiful as they normally are. One of my favorite annual plants is the Victoria Salvia and it is still sending up purple spires, my marigolds are bright and pretty although the blooms are not as huge as they were this summer. My red geraniums are looking poorly, the question – bring them in for the winter or let them go – a gardener’s fall dilemma.
My big flowerbed past its glory.
Once we have a freeze, I’ll have no choice – everything will be frozen back and cleanup will resume in my big flowerbed. Until then, I’m enjoying every last hint of color.
Thanks for reading my ramblings of life on our little farm.
Vet Students Visit Token Creek Alpacas
Token Creek Alpacas has a history of supporting the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary School in general and in particular the Small Ruminant Club; we love having these students visit our farm. Once or twice a year we invite the club for our monthly herd health day. With nearly 40 animals of assorted ages, both sexes and with females in different stages of pregnancy it’s an opportunity for the students to have hands on experience with alpacas. Elden corresponds with the club president, we set a mutual date and we begin to plan for their arrival.
Elden aka the Farmer and I print health records, prepare our barn and gather supplies. On the day of our clinic we begin by welcoming everyone in the house for a morning beverage and quick overview of the day. Once in the barn Elden fills everyone in on what is ahead and gives them basic information on alpacas. The Farmer works through the particular procedures he’s developed over the past several years, always taking all the time necessary for questions from students. From the importance of weighing each alpacas to drawing up injections, checking eye membranes for anemia to checking under tails – it’s all covered.
Students rotate through procedures, they learn about body scoring, check for tooth abscesses, ear problems, skin issues and we explain stages of alpaca life. Toe nails, teeth and utters are checked as well. Each animal has a place on the herd health form, details are written by a student, weights are recorded, injections are given, vitamins administered as needed and every health detail taken care of.
After several hours in the barn filled with firsthand experience and questions we all gather in the house for a hearty lunch together. This time is especially enjoyable as we greet returning students, rotate around the tables asking everyone’s name, where they hail from and ask everyone to answer a few quick questions: Why Vet School? Do you expect to practice large or small animal care? Why the small Ruminant Club? Answers are as varied as the personalities and often surprising. From the student who was raised on a dairy goat farm in New England to someone interested in small animals from L.A., it’s great hearing everyone’s story.
Students are always thankful for a little time away from campus and a meal they don’t have to prepare! Elden and I want them to feel relaxed and at home here. We explain our farm has a pressure free zone around it and we hope everyone can enjoy the experience, food and fellowship. After finishing in the barn, we even take time for a group photo op! When we stand on our back steps and wave as the students drive away, our hope is the day has been as much of a blessing to them as it’s been to us.
Avalon’s Peruvian Tri-Star
First the Back Story
A little back story is needed on Tri-Star. From 2000 through 2003, Donna Pearre and Carole Van House at Avalon Farm Alpacas bred Avalon’s Peruvian Aristocrat to Avalon’s Peruvian Celestial Dream three times. The results of those breedings produced three stellar breeding males: Avalon’s Aries, Polaris and Tri-Star. Polaris was purchased by Sue Evon at Sleeping Monk Farm. Her words on Polaris from February of 2018:
“Our first champion herdsire Avalon’s Peruvian Polaris crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last night to join many of his herd mates. Polaris was the herdsire who put Sleeping Monk Farm Alpacas on the map. He sired many champions for us, including Sleeping Monk Farm Peruvian Arlo, our first AOBA National Reserve Champion and then our 7 X Champion, The Monk’s Peruvian Oliver.”
In 2002, Cory and Erin Klement of Summer Hummer Camelids visited Avalon Farm Alpacas with the intent of purchasing a previously identified male. The short story is they took a look at the male they came to see as well as Aries and bought Aries, a juvenile, on the spot. He went on to be a show ring championship and most notably to produce SHC Moonlight Rendezvous. Julie Skinner, previous owner of Snowmass Alpacas, purchased Rendezvous at auction who became “one of the most successful ‘outside’ dams in the history of the Snowmass herd”. Rendezvous is the dam of Snowmass Oblivion, arguably one of the top herdsires in the Snowmass herd since Quechua.
The only male alive of those three full siblings is Avalon’s Tri-Star. He’s up there in age at a little over fifteen years but still available to impart his proven genetics into your herd. (Read more below)
Another winner from our Accoyo/Allianza cross female, Celeste, and our 1/2 Accoyo Royal Fawn son, Aristocrat. Tri-Star is the third in a line of color champions, and he carries on this proud tradition. Like his older brothers, Tri-Star’s bright white fiber has a pleasing soft hand organized in crimpy bundles that cover him from topknot to toe. His typey, conformationally correct frame completes the picture, making him a “complete package”.
At his first show, the 2004 GMAF, Tri-Star won the blue even though he had JUST turned 6 months old. And then, again, at the NIAE he took the blue as the youngest in the white yearling class. Judge Shannon McConnell stated that his balance & proportion were excellent & that his fiber was extremely bright and consistent in lock, bundles and fineness from front to back. Later, in that same show, he took 2nd in the Bred and Owned Yearling class in a competitive field of 4 NIAE Color Champions! Once again, he was the youngest in the class!
Tri-Star has continued to follow in the footsteps of his Color Champion brothers, earning two Color Championships, a Reserve Color Championship, and numerous blue ribbons. At the MOPACA Invitational, Maggie Krieger selected Tri-Star from a field of 60 quality white males to be the Color Champion, citing his “elite fleece” as something we should all be breeding to achieve.
Special pricing is available for champion females, multiple breedings, drive-by, and mobile breedings.
Avalon’s Majestic Peruvian Talisman
Talisman is a beautiful dark fawn son of the well known Jeremiah’s Peruvian Jumanji from Majestic Meadows and a two time Reserve Color Champion. His overall conformation is excellent, including an upright posture, perfect bite, and handsome head. Judge Amanda VandenBosch commented on the excellent soft handle of his fiber and the overall great degree of brightness. Be sure to check out his histogram at four years of age, the link is below. We have a few offspring from Talisman and all have shown great uniformity and brightness. Bring some color and brightness to your breeding program with Talisman.
Special pricing is available for champion females, multiple breedings, drive-by, and mobile breedings.
TCAFA Stardust Melody
It took a bit of time for Melody to show the fleece quality we expected from her. As a cria and juvenile, fleece architecture was certainly there but not showing the consistent crimp we expected. Her second fleece is very nice, showing the base to tip zipper crimp we had hoped to see. That display of fleece character earned her a first place out of eight entries in the fawn yearling class at the 2018 AOA National Show. She is growing well and she’ll be bred to our stellar white male, Paca Paradise White Walker in the fall of 2022.
Token Creek’s Lily
Check out Lily’s registration certificate and see the notable names there. Then take a look at her histogram taken at the age of 31 months. Her AFD of 21.5 should be useful in anyone’s breeding program. Then go to the Alpaca Owners’ Association website, log in and look up her EPDs. In one category she’s in the top 15% bracket and 5 in the top 25%. But notice this: she just missed the 15% bracket by just a few points in four measurement categories. Yes she’s that nice. Lily is a great mom with easy deliveries, attentive and with plenty of milk for good cria weight gains.
How’s this for a production female? Three offspring, three females, two color champions, the third to be shown in 2021! Sandles comes from one of the best paternal lines ever produced at Magical Farm Alpacas. Her sire is MFI Peruvian Quest and with him comes MFI Peruvian Abundance, Snowmass Millennium, 4Peruvian Legacy and Starr Kahn. Her maternal line includes White Out who left the United States for Australia early in his breeding career. Sandles is a rock solid foundation female that maintains body condition well throughout lactation, and has proven to be a very attentive dam. We wish we could have a pasture full of dams like Sandles.