health project

Vet gives shots while back hooves are trimmed.

See more yak images and Yack Facts on page 2.


Gina and Mystery


sort of okay

curious yaks



last ones in

wandering pasture

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2. Yaks only slightly reluctant .
3. Last ones in.
1. What's this?
4. First hours in new home pasture.
first time in pasture
5. Off exploring new home pasture.
New Home Pasture
At three a.m. on the night of the last full moon, I woke up and went outside to my newly fenced and cross-fenced yard. In the shadow of the trees, I saw a slowly drifting dark mound that looked, at first glance, to be the size and shape of a bear. Then other mounds floated into view, and the blue moonlight caught a glint of curving horn: the yaks of Laytonville, exploring their new home. As I watched, they glided past the tree trunks toward the meadow of their new pasture. Finally I could see them clearly: the three yak cows and their calves were grazing calmly at the edge of the pines.

Yaks in the night reveal another of their differences from cattle -- their silence. The only vocalization yaks ever make is a low grunt, and that seldom. Their movements involve none of the crashing that often identifies cattle in the dark. Though they weigh 600-700 pounds and are shaped like barrels on legs, they move with surprising grace on their nimble little hooves. Their long hair skirts add to the effect, hiding their feet so they seem to be truly gliding.

taking a load off

Even a saddled yak knows how to relax.

We'll be hosting a yak open house once spring truly arrives. If you can't wait to meet the yaks and get involved, by all means call Gina at 707-984-7414 or Sharon at 707-216-3055 to make arrangements for a visit.

Text written by Gina Covina. Photo of Gina and yak by
KC Chamberlain. The 2 yak saddled up images are from nomadspirit.org. All other photos/image captions and web design by tapestry weaver and yakalera Sharon Jokela.

About the Move
T
he yaks are settling into their new quarters at Gina and Lin's. Yaks and yakaleros alike extend our gratitude and appreciation to John and Susan Bradley, who agreed to house the yaks without ever having seen them, and provided a home for the yaks' first six months in Laytonville. The Bradleys stepped up when the yaks urgently needed a place. As some of you may know, this was indeed a rescue operation -- the yaks' previous owner had become too ill to remain at her ranch, and the caretaker she left in charge didn't keep up with the job.

Who Would Have Expected the Move to be This Calm?
The yaks' new home includes a headgate and chute -- more often called the "yak trap" -- that allows the animals to be held securely and safely for vet work. Large animal vet Dr. Paul Michelsen came up from Redwood Valley for his first yak experience, and hoof trimmer extraordinaire Kay Lieberknecht brought her expertise, and her one-of-a-kind long-handled hoof cutter, from Ukiah. With more helpers than we knew what to do with, the job went smoothly. Yaks were vaccinated and dewormed, and long hooves were finally trimmed. Dr. Michelsen remarked on how much easier the yaks were to work with than cattle -- no eye-rolling, no trying to climb the chute, no throwing themselves around (well, baby Bella did a bit of twisting for her first hoof-trim). The yaks stood quietly while their necks were held in the gate, eating treats offered to them and snuffling the back of Kay's neck as she knelt to work on their front feet.

At the time the yaks moved, two of them -- Sparky, the year-and-a-half-old bull, and his mom Alice -- went to live in Ukiah with a crew of other big hoofed pets. Of the three calves born in 2005, one of the boys will be leaving soon to join a yak pack that tours on behalf of Tibetan cultural preservation (see www.nomadspirit.org). The other bull calf will be traded for a bull calf unrelated to our yaks. Yak bulls take three years to mature, which will give these girls a break (they've had calves every year since they were two-year-olds). Equally important, all the prospective yakeroos of Laytonville will have a chance to get to know our yaks before their numbers increase.
2.Well, okay, I guess.
Finally - a visit from
the Vet and the hoof trimmer.
What a relief.
getting back on
Traveling by yak in very
northern Laytonville.

which way

Which way is the front?

feels good
Baby Bella looks on as Mother Que nuzzles Kay who's trimming
front hooves.