Saturday, March 1, 2014

Yakking it up

I'm trying hard - really hard - not to be one of those indie authors who fucks up a perfectly good story by getting too into her research and putting more of it into the book than needs to be there. But I got really into my research on yaks this morning, and I'm dying to share what I learned. So in the interests of Lilly and Torren, I'm going to share that information here so I can get it out of my system and refrain from unnecessary details in the book.

Yesterday Lilly told me a little about her travels in Mongolia - she went there mainly because it's a large, sparsely populated area - and she mentioned yaks and a yurt. So of course today I had to double-check that there are in fact yaks and yurts to be found in Mongolia. And there are! Yay! :)

In the interest of time, I should have stopped researching there. But once I started learning about yaks, I got a little carried away. Here are a few interesting (in my opinion) facts about yaks that I learned today:

  • Yaks are high-altitude creatures and don't thrive below 3,000 ft.
  • Contrary to what you might expect, their wool is naturally odor-resistant, so yaks don't stink.
  • Whereas cattle need to eat 3% of their body weight daily to survive, yaks only eat 1% of their body weight daily, and they have great stores of fat for the leaner months.
  • There are very few wild yaks left; the vast majority of yaks these days are domesticated.
  • Mongolians use yaks as transportation and beasts of burden, they use yak wool to make clothing, they eat dairy products made of yak milk, they eat yak meat, and - the kicker! - they drink yak blood as medicine!!!
Lilly was super excited (I think for obvious reasons) to find that there are humans who voluntarily drink blood and who believe the blood has restorative properties.

And look at this adorable Mongolian child with this adorable baby yak!

I mean, seriously.

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