Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rachel's Story

In our post titled "Morning Surprise", I mentioned the time that all the yaks were out on the loose. Rachel wrote a story for a school assignment called "The Great Yak Escape", recalling the event. If you would like to read it, it is posted in the archives dated 9/1/08.Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Baby Yak Kisses

This little guy loves the attention. Born at the end of August 2008. He has such a sweet disposition.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Morning Surprise

Most mornings I start my day by going downstairs, pouring myself a cup of coffee, and gazing out the kitchen window to the back fields. Usually a peaceful sight, sometimes there is a flock of turkeys close to the house, sometimes they are in the back field, just big enough for me to spot, but needing binoculars to verify they are turkeys. Deer are somewhere to be found, except once hunting season starts. Occasionally we happen to catch the deer in the garden and can chase them out. The yaks are either in the woods keeping cool or grazing the fields. This is the time of year we keep a closer eye on them, hoping each morning to spot a new baby. The other morning began like most. I was watching the fields, taking a head count of the yaks, then I realized Boy was not in the field he should be.......actually, Boy was NOT in a fenced field, he was in our garden, outside the fencing, and just yards from the house. OK, no shot of caffeine needed this morning. The sight of our biggest yak bull loose in the back yard got the adrenaline flowing. My first thought was, "who else is loose?" A couple of years ago they all got out and walked through the woods to a neighbor's property, disturbing a family gathering, just back from a funeral. We had no idea where they had wandered so first we had to find them and then herd them all home, long hot day, very tiring and not a day I ever want to repeat. Our biggest bull at that time was not to be found. It took a couple of days and a sheriff's deputy to get him home. We'll have to post that story soon. With that experience in mind I was not thrilled to see Boy loose. So this morning Kenny was awakened to my excited words, "Boy is in the garden!" It didn't take long to find out that he was the only one loose. Boy had apparently knocked the gate off the hinges so it was just hanging, and then climbed or jumped over it. He hadn't gone far, pacing the fence line to stay with his heard. He's such a sweet bull, but those horns are intimidating. He was easy to coax back into his fenced field, the gate secured, and all was good. Not as bad a scenario as I had imagined, but I'd prefer to start my day with a little less excitement and a nice hot cup of coffee.Pin It Now!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Molly's Baby Boy

Just a couple of photos of the new baby. These were taken when he was just a day old. Looks like he dipped his left hoof in white paint. So far we're just referring to him as "the baby".
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Bath Time for Baby Yak

There is always a lot of excitement when a new baby arrives. On Tuesday, August 26, 2008, our yak, Molly, gave birth to a little yak bull. This video was taken within 48 hours of his birth.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

The Great Yak Escape

Rachel's Story

I could not believe that I was spending my weekend trudging through the woods. My family and I had planned a day trip to Busch Gardens. But that is not what happened. We were all ready to leave that morning, when my dad noticed a gate to our yak field was open. He went to investigate and told us that our yaks were missing. Apparently one of my family members hadn’t latched the gate properly and the animals had escaped during the night. My parents, three sisters, and I began to search for them right away.

The gate they had escaped through led into a small field on our property which led into our woods. Our woods backed several different properties. We could only hope they hadn’t gone far. Luckily, one yak was in the small field. She went back into the fenced area with little trouble, but we still had the rest of the herd to locate. We began to follow their tracks into the woods. We were all keeping our eyes down to navigate the rocky ground and keep the cloven tracks in sight. Eventually, someone glanced up and saw one of our bulls lying on a hill watching us search. After determining the bull was alone, one of my sisters was stationed with him to warn us if he decided to leave. Meanwhile the rest of us continued the search.

After fruitlessly searching the woods, I received some exciting news. My dad had located our herd on someone’s farm. Unfortunately, upon reaching the farm, we discovered that the farm owner had chased our animals away. He was worried that our yaks were going to tear down his cow’s fence. He proceeded to tell my father that the yaks had interrupted a funeral down the road. Even though I was unhappy and worn out, I had to laugh at the image that information portrayed. Great, furry, horned animals emerging through the woods right into the middle of a funeral!

When we reached the funeral location we found our yaks. All but one, that is. Our biggest bull had wondered off on his own. The rest were grazing in the area while the funeral gathering continued. People were standing around talking, not even seeming to notice the large Tibetan animals nearby. We began to herd the yaks back to our property. It was frightening to be in such close proximity with the yaks. I had pet and hand fed most of them before, but there had always been a fence between us! Now we had to corral and navigate them through the woods back to our home. I was armed with a large stick just in case a yak bolted my way.

The woods all looked the same to me and I wanted to ask many times if we were going in the right direction, but I was afraid to distract anyone. It was challenging to weave the yaks through an endless number of trees, especially when they continuously looked for breaks in our moving human enclosure. After a while we met up with my sister and the yak she was watching. Getting that yak to follow was harder than all of the others combined. Eventually we made it back, and I could see our fence! After some more maneuvering we got them all into the fenced field and locked the gate.

There was still the problem of finding the other bull who had wondered off on his own. But my family and I were done for the day. We all went to bed that night, exhausted, hoping against hope that the bull would find his way home. Saturday came, but there was no yak. Apparently, he liked his freedom just fine. On Sunday, when we returned from Sunday School, there was a note on our door that said while we were out our bovine had been returned to our field.

Later, my mom talked to a police officer and what he told her made me laugh. A neighbor had awakened to find our yak munching his backyard grass. He had called animal control, who already knew our yak was missing, and an officer was sent to get him back. The officer had no clue how to return our animal and at one point thought he would lasso him and lead him home. In the end, the bull headed through the woods and led the officer to our house!Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Farm Work

Anyone that lives on a farm, big or small, knows there is always work to be done. Sometimes the work can be more enjoyable with the company of others lending a helping hand. Sometimes it seems you can't get the help you need, just the company of an observer, seeming to monitor your every move. Such was the case the other day when Kenny was replacing a fence post. I don't know if our yak, Boy, is just very social or very curious, but he seems to show up whenever anything is happening. Some of our yaks tend to ignore our activities while others seem curious by whatever is going on around them. That's our Boy, very curious. He also loves attention and tends to travel wherever he thinks attention may be given. Too bad he can't lend a helping hand.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bos Grunniens or Grunting Ox

Have you ever noticed how children and animals will do the funniest, cutest, or most interesting things until you try to get them on film? Must be some sort of instinctive thing, they know if you record their action they might lose their audience. I've been trying to get a video of the yaks "talking" to each other. I'll get a little bit of it and then they stop their conversing. They'll grunt to each other at length, unless I'm there with the camera. I think they must tell each other to stay quiet, there's a camera nearby. The other day Little Bear decided she needed to talk to me, so finally, here's a little video of her very brief oration, after which she decided that she needed to add a little bluff charge in my direction. The video begins with her talking. You might have to watch it more than once to hear the two times she "speaks".

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Button and the Helicopter

We had some excitement the other day. Apparently Southside Electric, our local power company, is trimming the trees near the power lines using some equipment we've never witnessed before, neither have the yaks. At first we didn't know what was going on, other than we could see this helicopter hovering near our house with something hanging from it. We realized it was flying slowly above where the power lines are and dragging a cable. We later saw what appeared to be circular blades at the end of the cable. It was quite fascinating and noisy. This was all happening close to the yak field. The only yak that showed any interested was Button. She generally seems to be pretty observant. Here's a little video of her reaction to the helicopter.

Seeing a helicopter this close to the farm was pretty interesting.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Annual Vaccination

Yesterday we began vaccinating the yaks. It's a family project, corralling the animals and herding them through to the head gate. Since the yaks are separated into two different fields we only vaccinated the herd from one field yesterday. Here are a couple of videos of the process. The yaks were communicating a lot with each other. We'll post a video soon where hopefully you can hear them calling to each other.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wildlife on the Farm

No, this isn't a yak. Thought maybe the blog could use a little photo variety. This young deer came almost right up to our front porch. You can see the porch railing in the bottom left hand corner of the picture.Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


We have several yaks that are not full blood yak but are cow yak crossbreeds. Our cow/yaks still have the horns of the yak but generally they have a smaller skirt, are not as woolly, and they have a more square or straight back. They don't seem to be as friendly as our full blood yaks and are a little skittish. One of our cow/yak crossbreeds, #36, is 3/4 blood yak. She tends to be pretty jumpy but she has proven to be a wonderful mother. Her off springs are 7/8 blood yak and have more yak characteristics. When #36 arrived on our farm she exited the trailer and began to explore the fields. We noticed that she appeared to have a slight limp. We would watch the yaks, see how they were getting along. We began to refer to her as "the one with the limp", soon that turned into "Limpy". The name has stuck with her, not the most creative name choice, but at least she has a name...... unlike the farm.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Different Types of Yaks

Here's a little bit of info on the different types of yaks or Bos grunniens (grunting ox). There are six different types, categorized by their physical appearance. There is the Imperial yak which is all black with a black nose, the Black yak which is all black with a gray nose, the Trim yak which is black with white trim usually on the forehead, feet, and the tip of the tail, the Royal yak which is black and white in patches, the Golden yak which is dun coloring over black, and the Woolly yak with a longer and thicker coat. Our yaks are mostly Trim yaks and Royal yaks. This is a photo of Dakota, a Trim bull yak, and I5, a Royal yak. I5, or i5, called that because of her ear tag number, is the mother of our other bull, Boy.
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Farm Name ............

Thanks to all who participated in the poll and submitted name suggestions. Quartz Creek received the most votes, but the farm has yet to be officially named. Still waiting final approval. The saga continues. Please stay tuned. I'm really hoping the final approval is granted soon. If you would like to receive an email when the name is decided, please enter your email address in the subscribe box, right hand column of this blog, and hit subscribe. This will NOT generate spam, just an email from zfarmmom. Until the name is "official", additional suggestions or comments are welcome.Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Boy, looking for attention.

Our yak bull, Boy, loves to have his head scratched. Jennalee says that if you stop scratching his head, he will rub it on the fence, like he's trying to make you feel guilty about stopping.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Naming the Farm, part 2

The response to our poll has been great. Thanks so much to all of you that have voted. Please encourage others to visit our blog and vote. We have gotten several comments that have been quite amusing. Name suggestions like: Gentle Grunting Creek Farm, The Seven-Years-Without-A-Name Yak Farm, Yaktastic Yaks, Yaks of Powhatan, Crystal Creek, Cedar Meadows, Cedar Creek, Shaggy Farm. (A special thank you to our friends in AR, you know who you are.) Unfortunately, several of these names are already being used by others. Some of you have really gotten into this. We appreciate all name suggestions. However, if you find you are dreaming about farm names, or waking up at 1:00 AM with new farm name ideas, be careful, you might be obsessing.Pin It Now!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Pig" in the Dirt

video by Jennalee

Here's our yak-cow mix, "Pig", trying to either scratch her back or roll over, but she's just a little too big to do so. You can see one of the others looking on as if to offer some encouragement.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Naming the Farm

It seems naming the yaks is much easier than naming the farm. We've been trying to agree on a name for almost 7 years. Of course once we decide on the name we have to make sure it isn't already being used by someone else. I'm about ready to set up a "name that farm" contest, or poll who ever we can for their opinion. We've gone through names using cedars, creek, quartz, crystal, all things that are abundant on our farm...... just nothing seems to fit. We're open to suggestions.Pin It Now!

Teaching Challenge

video by Jennalee

A short video of Boy teaching Challenge to head butt. The lesson had been going on for a while before the video was started. Apparently, the student wore the teacher out.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Naming the Yaks

It's probably not the best idea to name your farm animals. Some how, once named, you tend to become more attached to them. The idea of farming is to increase the herd and sell some of the animals. Not as easy when you've become attached to them. We probably only have a couple of yaks that aren't named. Some of our yaks were already named when we bought them. We originally started our herd with four yaks, an adult bull named Fred, two female yaks, and a 5 month old bull, the baby of one of the females. OK, Fred would not be a top name choice, but he came to us already named, and it seemed to suit him. After awhile we settled on names for the other three. The mother and baby were named Destiny and Dakota, and the other female was named Molly. Molly was pretty feisty when we first got her. She was a young heifer but has calmed down quite a lot since becoming a mother. We named one of her babies Button. Very sweet and gentle. Usually the offspring has a temperament similar to her mother, but not in Button's case. We'll have to post a picture of Button and her story. Seems like every yak has a story behind his/her name. Then there's the newest baby that Ken wants to call "Challenge". The name says it all.Pin It Now!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Here's our little mischief maker, Rosey. We're not sure if Rosey realizes that she is different from the other animals in the field. She does have a pony playmate, Thunder, but Rosey seems to enjoy "playing" with the yaks. Kind of like the child that wants to get a rise out of their sibling, Rosey will watch for the opportunity to get the yaks stirred up. The other day she decided to start running around the field, which caused the yaks to start running and kicking their heels up. Then Rosey calmly steps back and watches the show. Thunder, on the other hand, seems to watch Rosey in disbelief, as if he knows not to mess with an animal larger than himself with rather ominous horns.Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Gathering Place

Recently we had to separate our herd. We have two bulls that have been vying for the attention of the female yaks, well, more like they have been competing for the right to receive the attention of the females. They will quite forcefully butt heads with any other rival bulls to show off their stuff. They are built for this and it is quite natural, but sometimes a horn can cause some injury, usually minor and very seldom. So, rather than letting them spend all their time butting heads, each bull was given a field of his own, with the company of some of the females. Up until this point they have all lived together in relative harmony. This was because our oldest bull didn't really have a real challenger until this year. Now the yaks are in two fields, separated by a fence. It seems that fence is a "gathering place". Several times during the day they will stop their grazing in the middle of their fields and come to the fence to be together. It's kind of sad and kind of sweet. You can hear them communicating with each other through the fence. Yaks make this sort of grunting noise, nothing like the incessant mooing that a cow can do. (although some farmers may think this is music to their ears, I'm not so sure the non farming neighbors would agree) We had a cow in with the yaks for awhile. That's another story, or several stories..... but that cow could make some noise. The yak grunting is much more pleasant. Anyway, the yaks remind me of neighbors meeting at their property lines for an afternoon visit, maybe to catch up on the neighborhood news.Pin It Now!

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Glad you found our blog. We're trying to be more active with this. I hope to post some interesting stories about our life with the yaks (maybe about our other animals, too, like our pony who thinks she's a yak). Please take a moment to subscribe. We hope you will enjoy our posts. Any comments are welcomed.Pin It Now!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Here's the baby from the 2/05 post, now almost 4 years old and not quite full grown. We lovingly call him "Boy". He has a wonderful disposition. He LOVES to have his head scratched, and his shoulders, and really likes to have the area around his eyes rubbed. He will stand there and almost go to sleep while he is being rubbed. You can hear his breathing change and according to one of our daughters, he purrs. Too Funny. He's such a big guy and so gentle.Pin It Now!

2007 Addition

It's been a long time since anything new has been posted. We're going to have to post an updated picture of the baby boy, our last post in 2005. But here's a photo of our newest addition, born in August of 2007.
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