Was taken out of biography book of Dr B. Laagan, a famous Mongolian sea buckthorn researcher, where he has shared from his experiences as a small herder boy following his herder-father.

 

Father and son are often together out in the pasture tending on animals. Specially, in winter time, pasture use is subject to many strict rules. In the morning, animals have to be moved into the pasture along the narrow path clearly seen in the midst of snow following after one another. In the evening, they have to be trucked back home along the same path.

It is the responsibility of the son not to let a single animal step out of the path so that they don’t disturb the pasture along side the path. A punishment comes if he doesn’t abide by the rule. “Bayad” people (ethnic minority live in Uvs province) have a special name for reserve pastures “full” meaning untouched. In winter, herder families fix their pasture borders  marking it with small sand towers. During cold months, herders keep the animals inside their pasture border.

In the morning, father helps son with moving animals onto the pasture and show him around the border within which the animals have to kept that day. Son has to keep the animals only within that border. If it happens to be rich grass pasture, father and son divide it into two, one for morning and for afternoon. Pastures that have been used are named as “tsaraa” meaning partly used.

Herder families honor and try their best not to cross over the borders of pastures of their neighbors. If someone have his animals to cross over the pasture border of an another by mistake, he immediately comes in person and asks for forgiveness. If someone lets his animals to cross over the pasture border of an another herder on purpose more than once, the community forces him to pay a fine in the form of animals. It was utmost shame in front of the community of someone is caught using pasture land of others on purpose. Rotational grazing had its own strict rules. A decision about moving from one pasture to another is usually made by a head of khot ail (group of families). If a herder family lives on its own, usually a head of the family makes a decision. There are many advantages of keeping animals within a certain border, first it is warm for the animals when they stay close to each other, less running around thus less disturbances for the pasture.

For the night, animals are often kept inside a shelter or a fence. A primary reason is associated with not to causing disturbances to pastures in the vicinity. Herders would divide pastures into two types depending on the distances the animals need to travel to reach. Pastures in the vicinity to a family ger is considered as short distance pastures. Pastures where animals spent the day time is considered as long distance pastures. It is unthinkable to use short distance pastures before spring season comes by when new borns come. This is reserved for new mothers, new borns, and young animals weakened through wintering. It is always wise to keep short distance pastures reserved for unexpected weather changes in spring. If a herder uses short distance pastures in advance, he is certainly in a very huge risk. Therefore “full” or reserve pastures are seen as the most valuable treasure for a herder family.

Someone from a khot ail usually keeps one horse ready to check on their “full” pasture first thing every morning. This is to make sure that reserve pastures are not disturbed by animals of neighbors or by wild animals. This person would leave so early that his time of coming back home coincides with the time a wife of a family makes her first tea of the day. When spring approaches, top of small valleys which are cleared first from snow by animal hoof starts getting green. For a while herders keep their animals on this fresh spring green.

            “Bayad” ethnic people say blessings to each other “ May you take harvest from five lands” It has a meaning. Five lands mean:

First, Still in a winter camp, for a short while herders let animals enjoy fresh green grass grown in the vicinity.

Second, After moving out of a winter camp, herders make sure that animals saturate with lash green grass in river valleys.

Third, Then animals are moved up to higher pastures in mountain valleys to indulge  in fresh green grass. But as mountain pastures lack minerals before animals are moved on herders transport salt and minerals by camels and spread on it.

Fourth, After two months in mountain pastures, herders move back to gobi pasture. Pastures have been in rest for two months look really fresh and in the peak of its nutrition.  

Fifth, The last stage is to have animals eat “taar” Animals eaten “taar” don’t easily loose weight in winter and develop better resistance to disease and tiredness as well. “Taar” is a species of legume that grow in our home region.  

 

In winter, “Bayad” ethnic people would build animal fences out of snow which are very warm and less costly. In spring they would melt down and next winter they are built again.

 

My father used to carefully observe to take notice of mating period of wild sheep and goats in the mountains to fix the mating dates for the herd. As he say, wild animals can sense the nature of coming seasons accurately than human beings so is wise to follow them.

 

My childhood, the time I spent with my parents and their ways of living and interacting with the nature, has given me foundational values and insights upon which I built my life and try to pursue in my everyday life.

 

Published: 2017-11-06 05:05:11