Sunday, October 4, 2009

Now for something completely different...

Maybe Mopple can learn to pack too! I don’t know why not. I ran across the first quote in this series while doing yak research for Storey’s Have a Cow.

I’d heard of Himalayan pack sheep but never any specifics. Sheep aren’t a supple as goats but they’re just as strong and they follow just as well. I can’t imagine a modern wool breed sheep in fleece wearing a pack saddle (ow!) but a hair sheep? Yeah, I do…

Quotes from books in public domain downloaded for free at Google Books (

The yak-cow and hardy mountain sheep are the favourite beasts of burden in the inner ranges. The little yak-cow, whose bushy tail is manufactured in Europe into lace, patiently toils up the steepest gorges with a heavy burden on her back. The sheep, laden with bags of borax, are driven to marts on the outer ranges near the plains, where they are shorn of their wool, and then return to the interior with a load of grain or salt.

- The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume VI, W.W. Hunter. London: Trübner & Company, 1886

The principal beast of burden in the Himalayas is the Mountain sheep. It is said to comfortably draw a load of about twenty-five pounds and lives entirely on the herbage on the wayside. It has been known to travel a journey of 1000 miles and be little the worse for wear. Animals of this class were used in the Younghusband expedition in Tibet. It is common in the Himalayas to load sheep high up in the mountains with borax and then drive them down to the plains, shear them and return with loads, shear them and return with loads of grain or salt. They stand the severe cold of the higher ranges of Tibet better than any other animal, and are indispensable to the needs of transit of the people there.

- William James Clarke, Modern Sheep: Breeds and Management. Chicago: American Sheep Breeder Company, 1907

In some parts of India the sheep is even used as a beast of burden, carrying loads of 35 to 40 pounds over rough tracks, and up steep crags, where almost no other animal could be employed.

- Chambers’s Encyclopaedia, Volume VII. New York: Collier, 1887

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