Yakking it up in the Shiretown

7 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — It is not everyday that one sees a baby yak in the parking lot outside of a retail store. But that was the case Wednesday, May 24, at the Houlton Tractor Supply Company.

Chris Devaney, a New Limerick farmer who is the owner of Yak Outback, brought a 10-day old baby yak to the store for people to see. “I have talked with the folks here at Tractor Supply many times about our yaks and when they heard we had a newborn, they asked me to bring it by,” Devaney said.

At 10-days old, “Sister Mary Elizabeth” (or Sissy M for short), still has her “baby blue” eyes. Weighing about 40 pounds, the golden royal breed of yak, will grow to about 600 pounds. Devaney said he prefers to call them “Maine Blondes.”

The animals draw attention if a passing motorist happens to see one, which is not very often. “That’s why I live remotely,” he said. “I have them back in the yard. Otherwise, people would drive by and probably go off the road.”

While yaks are commonly raised for meat, Devaney said he breeds his yaks for a different purpose — as pets. Devaney said the animals’ thick fur makes them perfectly suited for Maine winters.

“Mine are insanely friendly,” he said. “They love hanging out with the dogs. I don’t sell the babies. I like to keep them for at least a year.”

A technical writer, Devaney said he lives a rather secluded lifestyle.

“The yaks and the dogs are instrumental in keeping me communicating,” he said. “In addition to the companionship and unrelenting belly laughs, I do harvest their fiber (they are presently shedding), and will someday do something with it other than just give it away.”