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Monday, March 19, 2012

Yak Is The New Black

Well, that's what someone in this newspaper article about yaks in Northern New Mexico said. Raising yaks is the cool thing to do. We live next door to a herd of yaks and our cattle like to visit them. Let's go for a walk on a frigid morning to say hi to the yaks, too.

Let's walk across the footbridge to the Enchanted Forest. Our property line is just past the pines in the forest and the yaks like to gather at the fence for a convo most mornings. First, Ms. Pearl wants to freak me out and walk on the ice.

I like the yaks because they look almost prehistoric, like cattle probably looked a zillion years ago. They are native to the Himalayas, so raising yaks here makes sense: we are at 7200 feet with cold winters and summers not too hot, usually in the 70's or 80's.

What do you do with yaks? Well, you can eat them and you can comb them. The eating part is self explanatory, but the combing? Some of a yak's fur is soft and fluffy, comparable to cashmere. People don't shear the yaks, though, but instead comb the fibers in the springtime when they are shedding. They don't shed a lot of down, about a pound each per year, but yak fiber sells for around $16 an ounce, so it's worth it to collect the fur.

Here's a mama and her baby. Yak horns make me nervous, but in this herd there is only one meanie. He has thrown two different guys, hooking their clothing and flinging them up and over a corral fence. Bystanders estimate the smaller man flew five feet vertically and six feet horizontally. Maybe there should be yak Olympics with "man tossing" as an event.

Most of the yaks are nervous around people, but this guy came over to the fence for a chat. He has mocos in the corner of his eyes. I wanted to reach over and help him clean them, but we just met and I didn't think it would be the right thing to do to a relative stranger.

And then there's my favorite, Lily, who was hand raised and added to the herd last year after living in a neighbor's front yard all her life. She's friendly and loves to have her head scratched. You might remember her from our yak round up photos.

I think she misses her people, so when Lily comes up to the fence, we have a long talk and a good old head rub right between the horns. No one will ever eat Lily. She has immunity.

We've thought about having yaks on our ranch. They are simple to take care of as long as they don't wander off, have less impact on the land and waterways than cattle because they are smaller and have dainty hooves, and are extremely cold hardy.

Hope you enjoyed our walk. It looks cold, doesn't it? But that's an okay price to pay for mild summers. I do not miss 100 degree heat!


  1. Thanks for the awesome walk! Wish I could have taken my dogs ;0( Jeanie
    P.S. I call the "eye stuff" goggies....

  2. I enjoyed your walk. You amaze me doing this in "retirement". I liked Lily the best.

  3. What a perfect way to begin my morning! I loved bringing my coffee and walking over to visit the yaks with you... Lily definitely steals my heart with those soulful big eyes and curly blonde locks. The only thing I've ever know about yaks comes from my kids alphabet books...."Y is for YAK"! Who knew they could look so sweet? Thanks Bridget!


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