Token Creek Alpacas

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.