BUTTE — It’s calf season at the Williams Reindeer Farm. It’s spring and with new life comes new opportunities.

Since April 9, 23 reindeer calves have been born, according to farm manager, Lauren Waite. She said it’s been pretty much on par for a typical calf season and they normally see about 30 or 40 each year.

“There’s more on the way,” Waite said. “It’s different every year.”

The farm has been closed during the outbreak of COVID-19. They plan to reopen in May, offering tours by appointment only.

Typically, around 15 farm hands help out during the summer but this year is very different. Waite said they’ll only be able to have family members working this year, anticipating a slower season due to social distancing efforts and upcoming lack of tourists.

“This is definitely going to affect our summer,” Waite said.

This follows the state of Alaska’s health mandates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and limitations to non-essential businesses aimed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Non-essential services are required to limit the number of customers on site and they have to operate by reservations only, according to state officials.

Waite said they will only have up to 15 maximum people on any given tour and thankfully, the wide open farmland makes it easy to stay physically distant. She said they’re taking a number of precautions to ensure the safety of their customers and greater community.

“We just want to make everyone feel happy and safe; and the animals are definitely looking forward to seeing them,” Waite said.

Summer is just around the corner and it’s the busiest time of the year for most local businesses, especially groups like the Reindeer Farm who’s customer base is largely tourists during the season. Waite said they’re staying positive and still just as excited to start another summer.

“We really appreciate the support from the community,” Waite said. “We’ll need a lot of support from our locals this summer… It’ll be a good summer, but it’ll be more different than ever before.”

The Reindeer Farm’s annual Mother’s Day is coming up. Mothers are admitted for free and there will be pony rides in addition to regular reindeer tours. Waite said that’s normally a well attended event but recent events are giving her the impression that it’ll be slower this time around.

“I don’t know if people are ready to leave their houses yet,” Waite said.

For more information and to book a tour, call 907-745-4000 or visit reindeerfarm.com. They also have a Facebook page that posts updates.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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