After returning from the morning herding and having a quick lunch, I was again asked to pasture the goats. I think my usefulness is starting to come into play and Durukh and his wife Biyambai are starting to do things that (I’m guessing) usually can’t get to…..or so I would like to think. I noticed that Durukh is working more with the cattle and horses yesterday and today.
Anyway, the task of herding is still new to me. Here’s some clips from the afternoon. You can get an idea of how windy it is from the audio!
The previous day’s riding was tough on the body. There’s no warm shower here to heat up the muscles in the morning. Well, this is what I asked for……
The morning was normally cold, slightly above freezing again (~34 F or ~2C). We did the routine rounding up of horses and goat sorting, This morning however, some of the newborns received their “brands”, which consisted of making 2 cuts in their ears with metal shears. I wasn’t expecting it, so I didn’t get any pictures of video. There was a little but of bleeding but not much. I believe this is how the nomads keep track of the young goats and sheep. Later, as the goat/sheep grow, the nomads will paint their horns with unique colors to identify/brand them.
This morning, while at the local well, the nomads were trying to “lasso” one horse in particular. Let’s take a look at the Mongolian lasso first:
I first saw the lasso used by Biyambai, my host’s wife. She used it to do some of the sheep sorting in the evening. After lassoing a particular sheep, the handle portion of the lasso is twisted or “twirled” so that the slack is wrapped around the animal’s head. The nomad will then climb up the handle “hand over hand” until it reaches the animal. Once the nomad has finished moving, branding, etc of the animal, letting it go is a simple matter of “untwisting/untwirling” the pole. As with most discoveries this came up unexpected and I didn’t get the process on video. However, here’s a look at the nomads trying to lasso the horse at the well:
That concluded the morning’s work. We’ll look at the afternoon/evening in the next post.
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I was just reviewing some video the other day and noticed that I used some phrases/sayings that we may use in everyday language in the USA to mean something similar.
Phrase #1: “The local watering hole”
People use this ( or used to use this) to refer to a bar or restaurant where they may meet regularly to informally discuss a number of things -typically after work or some other type of regular meeting (like a team practice). A good example would be corporate employees going to a “happy hour” after work.
Phrase #2: “Seeking greener pastures”
Usually meant to leave one thing for something better (eg job, boyfriend/girlfriend, home). Well I’m pretty sure that the literal phrase came from moving livestock from one location to another as the nomads do.
I arrived in Mongolia about 1-2 weeks after the snow melted. The animals were weak and skinny because they had to dig through the snow with their hooves to find vegetation. The landscape is still pretty barren as you can see. When the rain comes, I’m sure the nomads will move their camp in search of “greener pastures.”
The livestock usually fatten up over the spring/summer in order to survive the incredibly cold Mongolian winter.
The type of work I do at the camp generally depends on the particular need for that day. I made this video the following morning which sums up day 5:
So as I said in the video, After the ritual horse tracking and goat sorting in the early morning, we left the Ger on horseback towards the area where some of the livestock were grazing. Durukh headed in one direction to herd cattle and asked me to meet him at the well after performing the following mission (my best video of the trip):
I usually go to sleep at 930 pm in the nomad camp. Work finishes between 730-800pm followed by a couple of hours of Satellite TV. The most popular show among all the nomads (and I’m betting in all Mongolia) is “Mongolia’s got Talent”. I’ll talk about TV more in another post.
Anyway about 1030pm, Durukh, my host woke me up, and I was surprised that there were a bunch of other people in the Ger. He asked me if I wanted to go to his younger brother’s house. Well, I was sleepy and tired but couldn’t say no….
Five of us and one child piled into this Mongolian style field truck/flatbed and drove in the pitch black night to his brother’s Ger. The details are in the video:
Anyway it was great to meet Anna. She was just finishing the last 2 weeks of her stay and going on a tour of the Gobi Desert before returning to Switzerland.
Anna if you’re reading this please leave a comment and message me your contact info!
This morning was very cold (4/10). I would guess it was about 10 degrees colder than the previous day. If you add in the wind, it makes the working conditions rather tough. It started out as usual with the search for the horses. Today they also wandered further than usual, but not as far as the first day, which had me thinking that I may have actually attached the hobble correctly.
As I said earlier, the job of a nomad can not be performed without his horse. It’s comparable to a computer programmer trying to work without a computer.
I stayed in for a good part of the morning due to the conditions. This gave me the opportunity to take some pictures and video of the Ger. The traditonal layout of the Nomadic Ger is: