Jacob Baynham riding a yak in Northern Afghanistan.
When my dear friend Jacob, journalist and photographer, went to northern Afghanistan and traveled the Teeth of the Pamirs, he rode a ''Mountain 4 Wheel Drive'' the last few days.... to quote from his Afghan Letters, ''We continued riding for five days, staying with shepherds camped at the base of the snows. One day we rode yaks to climb a 15,500 foot snowbound pass that would have been impossible for horses to climb. Theyaks were broad-backed and sturdy, moving over the rock and ice like a four-wheel drive vehicle. Every so often they would bellow to each other, spooky sounds like orcs.''
I was starting to fall in love with these gentle, curious bovines, known for their ''built-in'' domestication!
Then our friends Monte & Lana Fastnacht got a small herd, and boy were they amazing! Wild, but looking so cute, and the babies racing around like big dogs, tails in the air, just having a great time!
Watch Solo's Last Bottle, great entertainment!!!!
Yaks come in MANY colors; Solo is Trim--black with a white star on his forehead and 2 white socks behind. For great photos and descriptions of all Colors, read HERE!
Photo...Solo loves eating all flowers, but loves the yellow and gold ones the best!
But what clinched it was seeing a National Geographic special, Impossible Journeys ''The Travelers,'' July 26, 2008. An amazing story of of Karma and his family traveling hundreds of miles from Saldang, a small village in NW Nepal, to Hurikot in the south; with their huge salt caravan carrying the life-blood mineral for humans and animals.
I looked high and low on the National Geographic website for some video or photos from this Impossible Journey, but incredibly, there was nothing!!!! It is on our DVR, and we watch it often....... following are some grainy photos from my digital camera taking pics of the TV! Hopefully you will get the idea, and hopefully Nat Geo will get this amazing journey online soon!!!!
Karma and his father have been making the journey each year of their lives, just as the countless generations before.... ''My yak are everything. They are worth more than all the money in the world'' he says.
Struggling over the Himalayan snow in November, the yak are festooned in flags, colorful ribbons in their thick hair, and laden with huge packs carrying salt and household belongings.
Centuries old rock pilings shore up the pathway of the sheer cliff trails
The people of Saldang, called the Dolpo, are perhaps the only pure Tibetan culture left..... Saldang was inhabited 1100 years ago, perhaps by monks looking for solitude. It is also known as Bayul, meaing ''hidden land.''
The salt comes from Ringmo, and in early November, the salt caravans leave on their long, arduous trip, lasting about 3 weeks. The Dolpo people depend completely on just one animal, the Yak. Yak provide milk, cheese, wool, transportation, companionship, meat, and income.
Their travels take them over the Shey Gompa, the Kagmara La Pass--16,000 feet --, the Shey La Pass -- 17,000 feet --, along an amazingly tiny trail around the Phoksundo Lake, and the Chutong La, another 17,0090 foot pass...
Finally, a resting place---the villagers need salt, and trade some barley.
Check out this video of Packing near the base camp of Mount Everest.
The FAO, Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN, Asia & Pacific Region, has published THE MOST amazing and complete online booklet, the unique and special role of the Yak!
My new friend Debi Bordoni has been answering tons of my questions. I have raised puppies, kittens, goats, and horses but never one of these amazing bovines! There are some fabulous photos on her website, ThankGodItsYak.
What an adventure this will be...... going from this tiny baby Solo (who has finally accepted the yukky rubber nipple and artificial formula), to the big handsome guy who will carry me many miles over the Cerrillos Hills!
In about a months time, when Solo has become totally bonded to us, we will bring home a mama and her baby who will, they say, see that Solo loves and trusts us, and their curiosity will bring them to love and trust us!
Poor little Solo, he was not feeling well, his coat was dry, his hooves lined -- he was missing out on the super rich, nutritious milk from his mama Princess Leia -- the milk replacer was just not the same..... Read this link about the Natural Supplements I put into his bottle (along with the replacer powder) to give him the extra nutrition boost he so desperately needed!! Now he feels fabulous!!
Solo, now 3 months, and Inky one month old, are together playing and having a great time! Tom built a terrific little pass-thru gate for the kids; mom's stay in the big corral while the little guys come into the small one for brushing and eating calf manna!
AND NOW IT'S OCTOBER, and we are making great progress with the girls, even totally wild 7 year old Pluma!!
Leia is really loving attention! She gets treats AFTER we scratch her, and I can now hold either horn for a long time without her trying to take it away....yak ''leadropes'' are their horns!!
Poor Pluma---she seems to have a sticker in her mouth, but she won't let us do anything other than feed her some treats, and touch her face for 1/4 of a second.... soon we'll have a headgate for her, but hopefully her mouth will heal before then! (We have looked for some store-bought headgates, ie. Powder River , but Tom thinks he'll just weld one up. VERY important...... be sure the slot opens to the bottom in case the bovine lies or falls down, they won't strangle themselves.... if they won't stand back up, you just open the gate and out they go.....)
Inky, Solo, Leia, & Pluma the morning after the all-day rain!
And we thought only Equines loved getting muddy!!!
Cindy Roper came to ride today, and then we played with the yak; she took these terrific photos of baby-growing-up-fast Solo and his mama, Princess Leia!!! Solo LOVES being scratched on his face, and still thinks our thumbs are binkies!!! And Yes, those are my Zcoil Shoes!!!
Solo never met a stranger!!! He just today met Cindy, but was right away in her lap and hugging her big time!!!
Our friend & vet, Leslie, has raised many cattle from babies, and she was amazed that the yak would come up to anyone for treats and scratching! Even her hand-raised cattle won't do that, and a stranger is left in the dust!!
Nothing like Real Yak Milk to help a baby grow big, fast, and fat! Inky, on the left, is 2 months younger than Solo, but is already nearly as big and definitely as heavy! All the fat in the milk has added to Inky's fat layer, so he's much frostier than Solo........ Yes, Inky is the Wooly type as well!
The folks at Vermont Yak have a gorgeous place, and a great herd! Can't let ours see This YouTube, they'd be green with envy!!
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Baby Yak Loves His Bottle Not rated yet When we first got Solo he was about 4 weeks old. We nick named him Mr. Buttinski because he did not like us, and he'd crash into our legs at every opportunity! …