Yak It Up

 When you travel the rural areas in Oklahoma, you probably expect to see a few horses, a herd of cows or maybe even a bison or two. What you don’t expect to come across is a big, furry yak. Let alone three of them.

Marja and Jim Willis raise domesticated yaks. Since these bovine animals are native to the Himalayas, we had to ask Marja how she got into the yak business.

 “We were looking at a house in Crested Butte, Colorado and I noticed an animal on the neighbor’s property,” Marja said. “I thought, ‘I’ve never seen a cow with such a bushy tail!’ The realtor told me that the owner raised yaks. I had no idea they could be pets.”


Marja and Jim eventually purchased the house next to the yaks. A year later, Marja received a call from the neighbor. Myrtle, her Yak, had given birth during a treacherous time of the winter and the neighbor was afraid the calf wouldn’t make it. She wanted to know if Marja would buy it.

 “I had no desire to buy a yak,” Marja laughed. “But suddenly, I had one named Lincoln. And since yaks are herd animals, I had to buy his friend Willie. Then we had two yaks. Then Jim saw an ad for a free yak (Yetta) and now we have three.”

 “We take them up to Colorado when we go in the summer,” said Marja. “Jim hauls them in a trailer and I drive the car with the dogs. They stay all summer and eat the grass before we head back to Oklahoma for the winter. They love it.”