Jandy and Brad Spouse raise yaks on their ranch in Maple City. The yaks are a little smaller than a dairy cow, but they don’t look like one.
"They have a long fiber that comes down, and it looks like a skirt,” explains Brad. “They have a very long tail that’s similar to a horse."
Brad says there are only about 3,000 yaks registered in the United States. They have about 20 yaks at their farm.
Here in the U.S., most livestock are raised for one or two uses. But yaks are like a Swiss army knife. You can raise them for multiple reasons. Jandy says that started in Tibet.
"For the nomad, the yak is their total sustenance,” she explains. “They sell the butter, they sell the cheese, they sell the fiber. There isn’t anything in Tibet that they don’t use.”
Here in the United States, yak meat is the more popular reason for raising the animal. But Brad says more yak owners are following Jandy’s lead and using yak fiber to make clothing.
Matt Mikus is a journalist for the Petoskey News-Review and a contributor to Interlochen Public Radio. He came to Interlochen in June for the Transom Traveling Workshop taught by Rob Rosenthal.