Yak shaving

Yak shaving

This is the story of how I ended up with a smaller yak herd on my desk at work.

First, let's set the record straight. In the beginning they where not yaks, they were bisons. They are made by a Swedish artist called Göran Andersson, that crafted them at Upsala-Ekeby somewhere in the 1960s. To me, however, they are yaks.

There are a couple of reasons why they are yaks. Firstly, they might as well have been ducks, as from the rubber ducks debugging. I have a tendency to talk to myself and my co-workers tease me about it sometimes. My first yak I partly got to have someone to talk to.

Another reason why they are yaks is that they are all female. And the female bison share a portion of the same mitochondrial DNA with the yak. Thus logic dictates that as long as my yaks are female they could just as easily be yaks as bisons.

My third reason comes from the computer term yak shaving, meaning that you do "any apparently useless activity which, by allowing you to overcome intermediate difficulties, allows you to solve a larger problem." Have you ever heard about shaving bisons? No, I haven’t either, and that’s why my bisons are yaks.

So, to present my yaks and where I got them.

First up was Zak, why she got that name I don’t remember. I found her at Auctionet, which is where I work. When I started working there one of the first tasks I was assigned was to buy a small item and try the site out. After I got Zak I started feeling a bit sorry for her, being all alone in the office at night. So I started looking around for a friend to keep her company. It didn’t take long to realise that Zak had two siblings, Zak being the middle sibling in the bunch. And here my frantic search for siblings started.


I found the smaller one on Tradera and quickly got her home. Being somewhat of a pattern nerd I felt I needed a naming pattern for my yaks. Zak started with a "Z" and had an "a" as the second letter, maybe they all should start with Z followed by the next vowel in the alphabet. And that’s how Zelda got her name.


Now, the only one missing was the big one, her I found on Bukowskis market and after some bidding she belonged to me. Following my naming pattern she was named Ziggie. I got my pensioned parents to go pick her up, and she was a really heavy girl.


Having these three should have made me happy, but something was amiss. I noticed Zelda missing a "G" in her serial number. What did this mean? I contacted some experts on Upsala-Ekeby stuff, but they had no idea what it meant. Maybe it had to do with the ceramic glaze?

Being the curious person I am I had to know and to know I needed another yak, one of those that I didn’t already have. The search was on again and quite soon I found the middle-sized yak without the "G". I bought her and named her Zorba. Compared to Zak, Zorba was less shiny and not as white, but comparing just one out of three is not enough. Let’s get yet another one!


I found the two missing yaks at around the same time, the auctions ended just two days apart. The smaller one came home first. Naming her proved to be a great problem, but after have gone through a variety of name lists I finally settled for Zunami. The last one, Zynthia, arrived only a few days later.



With all my yaks at the same place I could start my comparisons. The smaller ones are actually not that different at all, which is a bit annoying. The bigger ones follow the same pattern like the middle ones, the ones without a "G" are less shiny and more grey. The ones with the "G" are markedly more heavy.

Now my desk is full of yaks and I can’t stop looking for more of them. I want to have a big herd of them, but right now the goal is to find a small one with grey horns and a non-shiny glaze.