Read it in French: Les travaux des mois
The breeders have different works, organized between them, always relating to the seasons and dependent on nature.
During the daily life of the encampment, one always starts by boiling tea with milk. The first part of the tea must be sprinkled by the mistress of the house towards Heaven, the master spirit of the place that protects the family and the flock. Then the cattle-yard and its surroundings are cleaned by collecting excrement and wool from the ground; a morning and inevitable procedure, for, as the proverb says, “the prosperity of a family depends on the step of its door.”
Spring is the hardest season: snowstorm, violent wind … it is especially the time of birth, where cattle require constant surveillance, day and night, to counter the attacks of hungry wolves at this time of the year (from the end of February), and constant care, so that newborns do not freeze. Then comes the cashmere moment, where the goats are meticulously combed at the end of March to recover this fleece that brings a lot of money to breeders for its quality and rarity. However, most breeders favor the traditional balance of a herd with silver, and do not exceed 30% of goats. And despite all the work linked to the spring, this season remains the symbol of a good passage of winter hard and the happiness of the breeder to preserve and increase her livestock.
In summer, the hardest of all, the breeders concentrate on fattening newborns for the coming winter, and transhumant pastures in pasture to the best advantage of the herd. The number of trips depends largely on the region; the nomads travel about twenty times in the south, whereas one can stay 1 to 2 months in the same place in the regions of Khangai. Summer is the peaceful season, where dairy products are abundant, especially the airag, the fermented mare’s milk. After a difficult spring, milk products compensate for vitamin deficiencies and fatigue. The day is organized around milking: cows and goats morning and evening; mare every two hours, 6 times a day. And the rest of the day, we make yoghurt and cheese, we collect the dung for fuel … a part of everything that is done will be reserved for the winter. The children supervise the herds in turn, while the men take care of the big jobs affecting the animals: to tame the foals of 2 years, to castrate the newborns, to shear the sheep …
Autumn is the anti-room of winter. It’s a good season for treats and parties, thanks to the reserves of white foods that have been gathered all summer long. There are weddings, children’s haircuts, new yurt, felt making … for breeders, these celebrations are opportunities to meet again, exchange news and work experiences.
If one prepares well for his winter camp, one should not have problems for the season to come. The winter camp must be equipped much more comfortably than those of the other three seasons; we will stay there for 3 to 4 months without moving. The choice of location is a science that depends on water, grass, natural shelter …