Here are on the Anak Ranch we are getting a bit closer to living as the early pioneers must have lived. True – we get served our 3 meals a day (albeit usually in a bucket!) which some other kind sole has cooked for us, and we do get to sleep in a Ger- which in fact would not be too much different from a covered wagon. We are so accustomed to sleeping on hard board beds that the occasional wire-wove springy base is quite uncomfortable. A hard base under a sleeping bag and a rolled up jacket for a pillow is our norm – not too unlike a bed-roll and a saddle for a pillow!
At the gers we are quite accustomed to the ‘long drop’ toilet – and the middle of the night walk to it is none too pleasant with the temperature diving to somewhere below zero. If it is windy (not too often) the wind-chill factor around the exposed tail ensures that you do not linger about the task.
All the kids had a bath (a loose term in the circumstances) in a small tin bath which they found on the ranch. Usually we wash down with the aid of a basin of water so the bath was something of a luxury. Standing room only but at least they could wash themselves down without losing any precious water!
Water is stored in our ger in an old milk-churn, and each day a couple of us wheel it around the corral fences in an old hand barrow to the hand-pump in the cattle yard. The water comes from a deep bore and has to be coaxed to the surface by vigorous use of a hand pump (which has to be primed before it will do the job) So again we are learning of the precious value of hard-won water-just as the pioneers would have done.
This evening we had a major clothes washing session using the tin bath once more. We were in fact washing all our jackets, which. were getting in a frightful state. The reason for condition of our jackets was a mixture of much horse riding and the constant dusty Mongolian atmosphere. The dust is so fine it penetrates into everything and just loves our polar-fleece jackets. The horses are a motley bunch of long-haired Mongolian nags.
As far as we can tell, these horses are never groomed. They do a day’s work and are then stuck into a corral to fend for themselves. Their long hair sheds itself over everything and in this dry atmosphere our polar fleece becomes charged with static electricity. The hair practically flies from horse to jacket and at the end of today’s adventures, our jackets looked more horse hair than polar fleece!
Which brings me to our other pioneer-like experience for the day. Today we went horse-trekking. We had a horse-drawn cart, plus three horses plus another mounted Mongolian ‘minder’ who led the way and set the pace.
A variety of people rode the three horses, either solo or sometimes two or three up. The rest sat on the flat top of the cart being jarred, jangled and jolted unmercifully as we made our way across the ragged surface of the plain. We trekked across this vast, seemingly limitless Mongolian landscape,slowly making our way up into the low mountains surrounding the plains we are on.
The cart could not make it up the steep slopes leading to the top so many of us walked.
The lucky ones stayed on horseback and arrived at the top quite fresh. The rest of us laboured on up in varying degrees of weariness. The view and the sense of accomplishment made it all worth while.
As is normal in our daily activities, something notable, often amusing, occurred on our trek.The first was not actually amusing: Rach was riding one of the horses and Lboy8 was transferred from cart to the back of the horse, for a change of scenery. We have had the situation in the yard where 5 littlies sat astride one horse, quite safely. But this was another horse- one that objected to another passenger on the back. The horse did a couple of quick spins on the spot, the force of which launched Lboy8 into space. Naturally he grabbed something to stop the fall. In this case it was Mama who was trying valiantly to steady the horse down. Her efforts came to an abrupt end when she was dragged out of the saddle by the boy. Worse was to follow because Mama’s boot refused to release from the stirrup. So the horse took off, dragging Mamma alongside and leaving one shaken and wailing boy in its wake. The victims were duly cheched out and fortunately found to have suffered no serious damage. Bruises and abrasions were the main points of pain. To their credit, Mama,a re-mounted and after a short while Lboy8 was back on horseback. The other, more amusing incident involved me. (why is it that I seem to be the butt of so many jokes?) I was on the cart, which was negotiating some really bumpy tussocky ground. As the cart leaped up and down I got propelled upward and outward, being ejected from the cart deck, fortunately landing at the run. The rest of the trek was without incident and we all quite memorable day.Tags: Family, Observations, Oddities, Weather, Tag Index