Posted by: alaskayaks | March 11, 2011

Yak Reading for Kids

Here is a short yak reading list for kids (some with wonderful illustrations):

There’s a Yak in my Bed; By K. Pluta

One Yak Called Jack; Darcia LaBrosse

Kami and the Yaks; Andrea Stenn Stryer

Bob and Jack: A Boy and His Yak; Jeff Moss

Alpha Tales (Letter Y: The Yak Who Yelled Yuck) (Grades PreK-1); Carol Pugliano-Martin

Yakety Yak Yak Yak (Sweet Pickles Series); Richard Hefter

The following I have not  read but they ARE about yaks…..

Yo and the Yak; Micheline Chevallier

See the Yak Yak (Step-Into-Reading, Step 1);  Charles Ghigna

I Am a Yak: All You Wanted to Know About Tibet’s Most Beloved Animal (Paljor Publications’ children series); Norbu C. Kharitsang

Go Track A Yak!; Tony Johnston and Tim Raglin

The Lucky Yak; Annetta Lawson

Yasmin Meets a Yak; Olive L. Groom


There’s more out there that I haven’t listed here….enjoy the search!




Posted by: alaskayaks | March 11, 2011

There’s a Yak in My House–No, Make That TWO!!

When we purchased the yak herd I immediately started a search for cool yak books for kids. Something that would really pique the interest of our three grandchildren. I came up with a few really neat ones but the title that has struck closest to home is the one called “There’s A Yak In My Bed” by K. Pluta and illustrated by Christy Stallop.  While I’ve never actually had a yak in my bed, I have slept with yaks in various places around the house and in hotels (yes, I said hotels! Well, today I have TWO yaks in my house. Drifter and Mariah are both in this morning and keeping them company is my Airedale, Chet.

Drifter moved out of the house three days ago at 9 days old, definitely the longest time we’ve ever kept a calf inside thanks to the extreme cold and wind we’ve had most of the winter. He’s now unhappily living outside in the 12×12 petting pen. Unhappily for him! I am kinda liking not having a baby yak peeing all over my floor and tearing around the kitchen/dining area; under the kitchen island; doing laps around the livingroom…it was more than time he headed out the door to live the life of a “real” yak! We both suffered from separation anxiety for the first two days, though! In the next few days he’ll get to spend more time interacting with the herd and then he’ll spend his days with them except during feeding time when, if he’s like the other “bottle babies” he’ll come tearing out of the pasture at the sound of “How much is that baby yak in the window.” (Sung to the tune of “How Much is That Doggie in the Window.”)

Mariah was born yesterday afternoon to Weasel. I’d been watching her close for the past several days as she looked big enough to pop and since she didn’t calve last summer, I knew she’d be one of the early ones this year. My observations were very correct as yesterday morning I could tell she was beginning labor. (Don’t ask me how, I just can…it’s something only a “yak mom” can do!) By three in the afternoon I noticed her sneaking off to the far reaches of the 9 acre pasture. She realized (good mom that she is!), that the snow was too deep in that area to give birth so she snuck back to more “civilized” places (which is really out of character for Weasel). At about 3:40 she “plopped” out a heifer calf and then the “fun” began. I gave her about 45 minutes to get it cleaned up and dried off  which is accomplished by momma yak licking the baby dry. Yes! I said “licking” the baby dry. If you’ve ever been licked by a yak, you would know how that’s possible. Baby was strong, alert, and active but just wouldn’t stand. At 15 degrees Fahrenheit you don’t give those little ones much time to lay around or the cold (and the cold ground) sucks the life out of them.   The short version is I got it away from Weasel and into the house, dried off the rest of the way, warmed up and fed. She had taken a fall or blow to the nose which has slowed down her sucking ability but she’s doing good and should be reunited with her Momma by later tonight or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Drifter is in here to keep her company (and to pee on the floor) –so, I have two yaks in my house, at least for today.

Gee, I hope no one else decides to calve today!

Mariah--less than 24 hrs. old--sleeping in the house


Posted by: alaskayaks | March 3, 2011

Drifter Meets the Herd

Drifter meets Chisum


Mac was very curious about my little friend, and a bit jealous!

Drifter, four days old

Checking out our make-shift mama yak.


Posted by: alaskayaks | March 2, 2011

Drifter update….

I’ve enjoyed spending the past two days entertaining little Drifter in the house…there is NOTHING LIKE A BABY YAK!  (well most of the time–mopping up puddles of pee is getting a little tiring)

Today we took several short walks outside (+5F and the wind is blowing still) and he really enjoyed himself. Tomorrow we’ll do more and finish his little “porch pen” so we can move him out of the house and into his “natural” environment.

I checked and double checked my calving schedule and feel it’s safe to travel, so on Friday I’ll travel to the Mat Valley for an overnighter to see my newborn  twin grandsons. Drifter will go along, too. Big sister, Lorna will really have a blast seeing him!  Travelling baby yaks are sure crowd drawers and he should be more-so due to the fact that he’s a Royal. The socialization is really good for him and since our plans are for him to be one of our ranch “spokes-yaks” this is a good training run for him!

Look out world!  Here comes Drifter!!!!

Posted by: alaskayaks | March 1, 2011


Here is a photo of the newest member of our yak herd.

Drifter, born 27 Feb 2011 at 4:30am during one of the windiest storms we’ve had so far this winter.

He’s doing great and eating well. More pictures to follow!

Posted by: alaskayaks | March 1, 2011

Yak Meat is Available!

We have yak meat available for sale again.

Beginning today, we have a limited amount of yak available for sale. This includes some high end steaks and a very limited amount of burger in 2# tubes.

The burger runs $6.50 per pound (which is our 2010 price).  As always, our meat is USDA inspected, packaged and approved.

Starting in April, there will be an increase in price on the burger although at this time we don’t foresee an increase in the prices on our steaks.

Isn’t it time YOU tried yak?

Once you go yak, you’ll never go back!

Posted by: alaskayaks | February 28, 2011

A Pleasant Bonus–Chisum’s Story

The following story took place this past summer and was written up by Bobby Fithian to share with our yak interested friends. It is reprinted here in it’s entirety.

Circle F Ranch
Lower Tonsina, Alaska

Dear Friends,

Thought you may enjoy this pleasant story. My wife Barbara and I live on a plateau in Interior Alaska between the mighty Wrangell Saint-Elias and Chugach mountain ranges. This is the mountain kingdom of North America. Part of our life here includes operating a small ranch where we raise Tibetan yak and grade horses.

A few weeks ago I was scheduled to travel to Sidney, Nebraska for a day of meetings with Cabela’s Inc. While taking a shower prior to leaving our home for the trip my wife heard me laughing and asked me what I was laughing about. I asked her if she really knew why I was traveling to Nebraska.

She replied: for the meeting with Cabela’s and to bring our grandchildren home. I said no, and what lies by the wood stove and goes: suck, suck, suck? She asked me if I was crazy and what was I talking about? I told her the real reason I was going down there was to pick up a baby yak bull and bring it back with me to help diversify the genetics within our yak herd.

It was a half joke actually, as I had no time to contact breeders, review airlines regulations or shipping requirements, nor did I during the trip. Arriving into Sidney via a rental car from Denver a couple of days early I checked into a nice hotel and began some focused preparation for the upcoming meeting. One of the Cabela’s corporate people, Mr. Ev Tarrel contacted me and asked if I would join him for dinner one night. There is a great steak house in Sidney and we enjoyed a good dinner where part of the communication was about the attributes of yak meat and raising of yak. Mr. Tarrel was a long time friend of Mr. McRoberts of the nearby McRoberts ranch but who unfortunately had passed away in January. Without telling me, Mr. Tarrel contacted Mrs. McRoberts of and asked her if she had anytime to share with me if he were to send me up there. She currently owns a tremendous herd of yaks and her ranch is an incredible place.

After the ensuing full day of Cabela’s Inc. meetings, my head was spinning from all that had occurred that day. Mr. Tarrel met with me last and as he walked me out of the corporate building, he informed me of the opportunity for me to drive up to the McRoberts ranch. Although Mrs. McRoberts would not be available, at least I could see the country and probably some yak from the road. I thanked Mr. Tarrel for the pleasant initiative and we parted ways.

I went to my room to unwind a bit while continuing to summarize some of the meetings. After a while I looked outside and decided to try to drive to the ranch before dark as I had to leave Sidney early the next day to make my flight out of Denver. Drove to the remote ranch, filmed what I believe were over one thousand yaks in one herd with an incredible backdrop and did happen to meet the ranch foreman. I asked about whether they ever sold any bottle babies and he said they do not as they are primarily a meat operation and their animals were primarily pretty wild.

After leaving to head back to Sidney I traveled several miles or so down the road and lo and behold, next to the road by a cattle guard lay a just born and still wet baby yak without a mom and no yaks anywhere near. I stopped and it let me walk up to it which was very odd. I looked and then walked around the prairie looking for a mom but there was none to be found. The baby got up and tried to follow me but was pretty weak. This location was a few miles from the big herd of yak.

It was a baby yak!

I felt awkward but knew it needed colostrum to survive, and surely, a good mother yak was not going to abandon a newborn baby, so I picked it up, put it in the rental car and drove back to the ranch foreman’s place. It was coming dark when I arrived there and he could not believe I had a newborn baby yak in my rental car. Please keep in mind I had just asked him if he had any bottle babies for sale. He did not have any colostrum but called Mrs. McRoberts at the home place and walked away telling her about this guy from Alaska who claims to have found a baby yak abandoned by the side of the road just a little while after asking if they had any for sale???

Chisum in the rental car.

She did have some colostrum and he gave me directions to her place. It took me a while to find the place. When I did, her ranch manager took me to a barn where they had some March 3, 2003 goat colostrum thawing in a sink. After an hour or so of struggle, we got the baby to nurse two four oz. baby bottles down, and found of course, that it was a bull calf. They wanted nothing to do with wet nursing this calf and gave me another frozen bag of colostrum and said if he lives, he’s yours.

Chisum settling down for a night's rest in the hotel.

I took him to my fancy hotel, and, as my room was the closest possible to the front desk, snuck him in the back way. It was about midnight when I got him settled in. At 3:00am I gave him two more bottles, and again at 5:00. At eight I was at the Mercantile in Sidney and bought a bag of freeze-dried colostrum, a halter and lead. Tried to sneak him out of the hotel, except that one big-eyed maid caught me and did not say a word as I went by her.

Chisum sporting his new halter and lead outside the hotel in Sidney, Nebraska.

Took him for a walk, loaded him up and drove him to my brother Ronnie’s home North of Fort Collins Colorado and asked him to take care of him and ship him up when I could make arrangements. The next day the less than twenty-four hour old baby yak traveled by truck another four hundred miles to attend a rodeo clinic where he was a pretty big hit with the folks that saw him being led around by my niece McKayla. Is that a dog? Is that a calf? What is that thing?

After a few days of communication between state and federal veterinarians and brand inspectors and Mrs. McRoberts and her employees to prove I am not a cow/yak thief, he arrived into Anchorage and then traveled here to the ranch where he has become part of the family/yak herd?? He thinks I am his mom. He is a treasure and bears the name Chisum given to him by McKayla.

Without the thoughtful consideration of Mr. Tarrel or the hand of God, this great story could not have been told. Please share this story and if ever anyone asks you what lay’s beside the wood stove and goes, suck, suck, suck, be prepared for what may lay down the path.

Very Best,

Bobby Fithian

Bobby and Chisum in early October 2010

Posted by: alaskayaks | February 28, 2011

Welcome to Alaska Yaks!

Welcome to the Circle F Ranch. We raise Tibetans Yaks  on our small ranch in Lower Tonsina, Alaska.

Yaks are ideally suited for Alaska and are an economical alternative to raising cattle. They convert feed more efficiently and thus consume less to produce the same. They are easy keepers and are multi purpose animals. Yaks can be used for meat, fiber, pack animals and for riding.

Our herd consists of Royals, Imperials, Blacks and Trims. We sell yak calves, yearlings, and adults for pets, meat, fiber, and have breeding stock for sale.

We welcome visitors to the ranch and offer ranch tours Monday thru Friday between 9am and 7pm during the months of May–September.

Come visit us at: Mile 14.9 Edgerton Highway, Lower Tonsina, Alaska (between Kenny Lake and Chitina)

How to find us: Take the Richardson Highway (Hwy 4) south from Glennallen to the Edgerton Highway (Hwy 10) turn left and travel 14.9 miles toward Chitina, Alaska. We are on the right–look for the yaks!

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