I’m penning this little dispatch from my front porch, where the skeeters are going bonkers because of the yak poop on my foot and my dog is trying to climb into my lap. If you are especially perceptive, you will note that I am not actually penning anything, but rather typing on some sort of computing machine and thereby drastically increasing the likelihood that I will die of carpal tunnel syndrome at an early age. But hopefully not before I get this post out. This one is a doozy.
And by doozy, I mean snoozy. Unless you’re into cute, cuddly, semi-domesticated farm animals from the Tibetan Steppe, I’d suggest you read no further. But, if like me, you think yaks are the greatest thing to hit the countryside since mini donkeys, then by all means continue reading. And then write awesome comments about how much you love yaks (and me).
So today I journied to Waitsfield to meet with a guy about a yak. Or a herd of yaks (yax?). The guy was Rob Williams, one of six owners of Vermont Yak Company, a new enterprise in the valley. You can read all about it in the upcoming Business Monday section of the Freeps. Rob agreed to show me around the farm and tell me everything I ever wanted to know about yaks, which was basically, how can I get my landlord to let me to have one of these things in my Twister board-sized backyard. (Dog and skeeter update- the dog is still in my lap and I’ve murdered three skeeters).
First, we were going to visit one of their new yak babies, Natasha. Yes, the yak’s name was Natasha. Not very Tibetan. If it was me, I’d call her the Dalai Yaka. Or perhaps Yakma Rinpoche. Anyway, we hopped in the Gator and were chauffered up to the upper paddock by one of the other owner’s 11-year-old daughter, Emma. I had my doubts about whether an 11-year-old could safely transport me to our destination. For one, she’s 11. She doesn’t have a driver’s license. Heck, she’s not even out of elementary school (though her bone-crushing handshake suggested otherwise). Plus, I’m pretty sure I smelled alcohol on her breath.
Much to my surprise, Emma was quite a capable driver. She zipped Rob and me up the hill where we paused to meet her strapping 15-year-old brother, Nick. Nick, who was doing something with hay on some big piece of machinery, also didn’t have a driver’s license. He did however have a breathtakingly solid handshake much like his sister’s. Nick and I gabbed about his slave labor situation and decided that he should put in a request to get paid for his efforts. Rob said they could talk about it at the next company meeting.
We let Nick get back to his haying and we headed up to see Natasha, the baby yak. If I had been wearing a bigger shirt, I would have stuffed Natasha inside and made off with her. Next to mini donkeys and baby bison, baby yaks are THE cutest animals ever. They’re also quite good at posing for pictures. See below:
The furry thing on the right is Natasha. The furry thing on the left who is very nearly flashing her skivvies is me.
Natasha and I are in love. I think we’re going to elope as soon as she comes of age. But then I might not want her because she’ll weigh more than 1,000 lbs. and we probably won’t be able to snuggle.
After yakking (Ha!) with Rob, and Emma and Nick’s mom, Susan, about what made five farming newbies want to raise yaks, Rob, Susan and I mosied down to the big paddock where the main herd was chillyaksing (Ha! Another yak-ism!).
Here’s the herd:
They are pretty incredible animals. They love the cold and they are way more efficient grazers than cows. Their hair (not fur) is soft like cashmere and their meat is way more lean than beef. Plus, they grunt a lot.
They also poop a lot, which brings me to my next point (if only I had a point). While walking to see some of the newer members of the herd, Rob and I had to scale a fence, bushwack through some brambles and try to avoid the 800 rabbit holes in the fields. This was a particular challenge for me since I decided to wear a denim skirt and flip flops for our outing. Anyway, as we’re walking down the hill, I’m making a point to avoid all the yak pies lining our path. These things are as big as landmines and nearly as dangerous. They appeared to be hardened by the sun, but most of them were quite fresh as I discovered when I stepped on one and slid about 150 feet down the hill. It was like I stood on a Frisbee coated in Crisco.
Here is the result:
That is my flip-flopp-ed foot with a yak poop smear. I didn’t notice it until I got home. I’m glad I walked around for most of the day with poop on my foot. My dog was glad I didn’t notice it. Every so often, she walks by me and drive-by licks my foot. Ick. That’s why dogs are gross. That’s why I want a yak. They’ll only lick the inside of their own noses, not the poop off of some idiot’s foot.