Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yaking it up!

If you'd told me that tomorrow morning I'd be the owner of three (or is that 2 1/2?) yaks, I'd have said you're crazy.

Yeah, I really do mean those huge horned and shaggy bovines that if anything you've probably only seen in a zoo before.

Not that our nefarious plan for creating a sustainable farm hasn't been in the works for a couple years now, but it's pretty amazing how this is all coming together.

Should I start at the beginning?

Around 2005, my hubby started getting antsy to leave Florida.  I couldn't disagree.  I moved out of New York to avoid the miserable wet winters.  For a while I'd been thrilled with the fact that I didn't have to shovel the humidity out of the driveway.  Now it was getting weary.  Florida summers are nothing short of miserable.  For all that we get a gorgeous winter akin to summers back home, in summer we're stuck with racing from the air-conditioned house to the air-conditioned car and back.  Anything else is purely horrible.

So one day we decided to move.  No clue how we'd do that or pay for it or whatever.  My honey wanted to be close to Four Corners.  That's the Native American "Grand Central" for the West, and since my husband is Chiricahua Apache on his dad's side, he wanted to go "home".  I remembered a family vacation to Colorado when I was seven.  Dad had been drawn there by an employment offer which he later rejected because he was afraid to leave familiar territory.  I'd been enthralled with the beauty of Colorado since that visit. 

Clear mountain streams where we fished up rainbow trout and fried them in cornmeal.  Daddy holding me over the edge of a cliff, and my view down a mountain chasm into a river.  It was in my mind, the most beautiful land on the face of the planet.

So I said, "Colorado" and we searched through the land available online.  Somewhere along there we came across this gorgeous piece of land.  No clue how we'd afford it, no clue on pretty much anything.  It just felt right.

And I licked it.

Licking it … might sound weird to some of you.  I'm amongst other stuff a metaphysician, have been since very young.    One of our "spells" was that if you licked something you wanted, it became yours.  I'll try to explain this at some later point I guess.  For now, just bear with me.

40 gorgeous acres in southern Colorado.  Pictures of wildflowers, a meadow, rock formations, a small stream.  I licked it and hoped that it would one day be mine.

Two years went by.  Then my Dad died in a horrible and weird sort of way.  I might go into it further in another post, but for now the basic info is that he had a heart attack and they found his body a week later.  His dog was still guarding him.

As a result of this, I now had a small amount of money.  Once I got over the general shock, we called the realtor about the land.  Maybe it was still available?  Dad had loved Colorado, and it felt like by purchasing the place we were honoring him.  Within a few months of Dad's death, we somehow owned it. 

So getting back to the Yaks…

Somewhere early in the process, years before we even owned the land, my husband turned to me and said, "How about yaks?"

My reaction was much like that of supposedly sane people worldwide.  "A yak?  Have you lost your freaking mind?"

Now when I was a small kid visiting the Bronx Zoo, the yak had for some reason been one of my favorite animals.  Even so I was pretty sure that hubby was nuts.

So I did some research.  Turns out that yaks are extremely docile.  They're also very efficient.  You can pasture 3 yaks on the amount of land that just one modern beef or milk cow would use.

Their benefits include milk, wool, and if you're willing to murder your critters, meat as well.  Two out of three anyhow.  Not a chance in hell I would use an animal for meat once I'd made friends with it.

We'd spent two or more years intermittently researching yaks.  We still weren't living on the land, but were getting closer to the process of moving. 

So last week we were talking about the yaks again and doing some more research.  There's not a huge amount of information on the web about yaks, but one of the yak breeders mentioned that she gave away a small pamphlet when you bought the yaks.  I wrote to see if I could purchase just the pamphlet.  She wrote back to say she had a couple yaks she was selling rather inexpensively.
Yonkers is a 9 year old cow.  Yazoo is her daughter, 8 months old.  On top of that Yonkers is pregnant.  They're going to board them for us till we move.  Can you believe?  I don't even live in Colorado yet, and I'm about to own three yaks!

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