Posted by: alaskayaks | March 5, 2014

Happy Yak New Year

For most people the New Year starts on January 1st, but a far north yak herder’s New Year starts when the first calves hit the ground. At the Circle F Ranch this year, that happened on February 25th.
When I went out to check the yak cows one beautiful early summer morning in 2013, and found our herd bull, Teddy, in with them I knew without a doubt that “Happy Yak New Year 2014” was going to be very, very early.
The best laid plans of mice and men…or in this case, yak herders….
I’m sure you get the picture.
So begins long days of looking at the south side of each expecting cow once or twice a day, trying to determine whose been naughty or nice. (It’s an undisputed fact that yak cows always face their tails toward the south very late in parturition, which tends makes my job much easier, until I realize that MY yaks are not aware of this interesting fact and face their tails alternately to the north, east, and west for no particular reason.) I do have my suspicions though, about who is due when and discretely follow those shy gals around, trying my best to get a peek at what does or does not lay behind that full and flowing tail. Mostly I’m looking for a “ripe udder” but most days I have to rely on attitude, eye contact (or lack of it) and attendance. If someone is MIA it’s a good bet she’s headed to parts unknown to do her business without my prying eyes and best intentions invading, what to her, is a very private affair.
I am thoroughly convinced that they all conspire against me and take turns feigning labor just to laugh at me behind my back as I doggedly trail after first one and then another soon-to-be, or more likely than not, soon-NOT-to-be, yak mom. My yak herder intuition has gotten better over the years and while I can often tell when I’m being played the fool, those girls keep coming up with new scenarios in an attempt to win the game of  “stump the yak herder.” I won’t give up though, because one of these days I know I’m going to win!

In the meantime, I’m donning my parka and boots at 6am and heading out with my headlamp to enjoy yet another day in the life of a far north yak herder….
….and by the way,
Happy Yak New Year!


  1. Bobby & Barbara, Guess Who? It’s Melissa but not from Reno Printing anymore. I’m at Cube Services now. Anyway, My husband wants to go on an Alaskan Brown (Kodiak Bear) hunt. Can you help us. It would be the best if you could be his guide. Please contact me if you get this email. I’ve missed being in touch with you and hope you get this message. Love you both. Melissa


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