Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Twins...Double The Work Or Double The Fun?

Sometimes when a cow delivers twins and they both survive birth, she will accept one and reject the other. This creates extra work as the rancher has to try and convince the mother to accept both calves, graft the rejected calf on to a cow who has lost her own calf, bottle feed it themselves or sell the calf. Believe me, bottle-feeding involves the most work out of all the options, so when a cow accepts both calves, we are very thankful.

We have had several sets of twins over the years, but the two yak-cross heifer calves in the photo below are the only ones which we've had in our herd on a long term basis. They were born in 2001 to a black brockle-faced Angus cow crossed with a yak bull.
Here's what these twins look like in 2011 at age ten. These magnificent mommas hang out together quite a bit, just like close sisters often do.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Let me just start off by saying, this is not a paid endorsement.

In my quest to spend a much appreciated gift card I received this past Christmas, I bought a pair of YakTrax. YakTrax Pro to be precise. What are YakTrax? They are a device that you strap on to the bottom of your footwear to give better grip while walking on packed snow and ice.

I didn't buy them because of the name, although I have to admit that did intrigue me at first. Honestly, I bought them because they didn't have my size in the brand I really wanted and YakTrax were the only other choice. The other brand was much beefier (my apologies to yak everywhere) with chains, spikes and everything. They were also more expensive. Apparently they are used for mountain climbing, which I don't do. I just need to be able to walk upright while walking around the farm doing chores in winter. 

Retrospectively, the YakTrax were probably the wiser choice for me anyway. I'm able to walk into the entrance of our house with them on (on rugs only - don't try this on tile, cement or other smooth surfaces!), where I would have had to take the spiked ones on and off constantly.

This is how they look on my (dirty!) boots:

So far, so good. The only weather I seem to have difficulty with is when the temperature rises and there is a layer of snow on top of the ice. The entire bottom of my boot tends to build up with snow and I slip on the ice underneath anyway. Thankfully, we don't have those kinds of conditions all that often. They do grip fairly well the rest of the time.

Some might wonder why would this company call them YakTrax, obviously named after the animal. Quite simply, yak are equipped with sharf-edged hooves that bite into the ice and snow. After all, they originate from Tibet and are used for packing supplies at least part of the way up Mount Everest. You have to have good footing to survive in that part of the world.

Here is an imprint in the snow left behind by a yak which clearly illustrates the shape of their hooves.

Whenever we have moved regular cattle along with yaks on packed snow and ice, the difference is easy to see. While the cattle slip and slide, the yaks run no problem, because they have better hoofwear.