I fell in love this Mother’s Day. Several times, in fact, and I blame it all on adorable residents of the Williams Reindeer Farm near Palmer, Alaska.
Located along the Old Glenn Highway, at the base of a hunk of rock called “The Butte” by residents, the Reindeer Farm plays host to an ever-widening reach of visitors, beginning with the annual springtime gala of babies and ending with a rousing Santa-themed open house in December.
It was all about the glory of spring yesterday, however, and every elk, reindeer, moose, bison, and horse seemed to feel the energy of non-winter, capering about and taking deep breaths from the warmish air and raindrops that did nothing to dampen anybody’s spirits. Given a tour by the farm’s managers, we learned a ton about reindeer (did you know their hair is hollow and the animals float like corks while in the water?), moose (also excellent swimmers, moose can shut their noses and dive down for delectable grasses underwater), and elk (they like to lick fences – see below). The kids also swooned over the barnside “Fuzzy Farm,” where fledgling chicks and a variety of rabbits sniffed and peeped, providing many minutes of cuddly entertainment.
The highlight, however, was offering the midday feeding to a precious little mite named “Moxie.” Tenacious, stubborn, and oh-so-adorable, Moxie was not accepted by her mother and is now in a pen with another female who lost her own calf; farm managers hope the two will form a new family unit soon. But until then, Miss Moxie receives a bottle every two hours, and we got to help.
WARNING: Cuteness alert, HERE.
Want to visit? Check out our suggestions:
1. Know where you’re heading. This is a family farm, not a fancy farm, so don’t expect white fences and manicured lawns. The Reindeer Farm is a working, breathing place, full of awesome old machinery, rolls of hay, and muck. But it’s beautiful; with a jaw-dropping view of Pioneer Peak, placid pastures full of animals, and kind people.
2. Wear your old duds. Boots, jeans, old coats that can be slobbered upon by Denali the Moose (he’s a love) or a herd of pushy reindeer are a must. Kids will splash in mud puddles, be licked by animals, or have hay stuck in their hair. It’s awesome.
3. Wander the property. After your short tour, during which time you’ll learn some amazing stuff, wander the farm, visit the elk herd, horses, and other reindeer, too. Take a trailride for an extra $60 and explore the Butte (talk about views – wowsa!), and visit with farm staff. They know their animals very, very well, and love to tell stories. Plan to spend a few hours. The farm is jog-stroller or backpack friendly for tiny children.
4. Consider contributing! Did you know Denali Moose loves willow sticks, and the elk go crazy for dandelions? Bring your clippings and/or trimmings to the farm and receive FREE admission. I’m so making this AK Kid’s job for the summer.
5. Bring snacks, drinks, and wipes for cleaning dirty hands before you eat. A small snack bar is on the property in the summer, but it’s always good to have your own.
We followed up our day of sweetness with a stop at the Inn Cafe in downtown Palmer, near the historic train depot, museum, and park. Coconut cream pie and coffee on a drizzly afternoon – this mother was one happy lady!