19 August 2013

Meet the Musk Ox - DH in Alaska

Musk ox farm near Anchorage, Alaska.

My husband recently traveled to Alaska on business, so of course this eager textile junkie suggested he enable my addiction and investigate the purchase of some qiviut yarn.  Pronounced kiv-ee-ute, this luxury fiber is spun from the undercoat of  musk oxen. Well, DH got into the spirit of things and even went to a musk ox farm, where he met these survivors of Pleistocene megafauna. This is his report, straight from the horse's - um, ox's - mouth.

Seasonal farm visits are popular with tourists.

Both adult males and females have horns.

I look like a cow, but I'm more of a cousin of sheep and goats.  I like to butt heads at up to 35 mph, and always wear my helmet just in case.  I'm panting because it's freaking hot today at 65 degrees (Fahrenheit).  It would be a lot worse if those nice people had not combed out my undercoat in the spring.  Did you know that there are city slickers from places like Newton who will buy an ounce of my yarn for $95 (200 yards)?

Left: skein of qiviut. Right: Naturally shed hair.

I'm just one year old. It takes me four years to grow to full size.


I'm about 3 months old.  My species is only now being domesticated at the Musk Ox Farm project.  If I'm friendly toward people, I will be invited to reproduce when I grow up.

Musk ox were extinct in Alaska in the 1800s, possibly due to hunting.  My cousins from Greenland were re-introduced into the wild in the 1930s.  Our DNA has a common root about 10,000 years ago.

How I spend my day.

When I'm not doing one of the activities on the sign above, or pretending that I like people, I enjoy reading about my home, Musk Ox Farm, on my iPhone.