GSM 2016 Sustainable Homes Tour
Oct 3, 2016Public
Photo: Clear Spring Farm in rural Welch, MN: Woodstove-heated pool with converted barn behind.
Photo: Wood stove which heats the pool and serves as a pizza oven.
Photo: Hugh Smith, the owner, shows Joanie, Vern, and Randy Clear Spring Farm's 24.5 kW solar photovoltaic array, which sits on the roof of their yak barn.
Photo: This grid-tied electric array breaks even annually on the electric bill, meaning the Smiths don't pay for electricity. After considering charges, it is probably generating more than they use.
Photo: One of the yaks in the shade of the barn, under the solar cells.
Photo: A yak calf.
Photo: Notice it already has horns. (Both sexes grow them.)
Photo: Clear Spring Farm is home to around 30 Tibetian and Royal yaks.
Photo: This is the largest yak heard in Minnesota.
Photo: In the center is the bull of the herd. Yaks have small ears and a wide forehead, with smooth horns that are generally dark in color. In males, the horns sweep out from the sides of the head, and then curve forward; they typically range from 19 to 39 inches in length. The horns of females are smaller, only 11 to 25 inches in length, and have a more upright shape.
Photo: The yak is a long-haired bovid native to the Himalaya region of southern Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau, and as far north as Mongolia and Russia.
Photo: Yaks are heavily built animals with a bulky frame, sturdy legs, and rounded cloven hooves. They are the only wild bovids of this size with extremely dense, long fur that hangs down lower than the belly.
Photo: Wild yaks are generally dark, blackish to brown, in colouration. However, domestic yaks can be quite variable in colour, often having patches of rusty brown and cream.
Photo: Both sexes have a short neck with a pronounced hump over the shoulders, although this is larger and more visible in males. The tail is long and horselike rather than tufted like the tails of cattle or bison
Photo: Yaks are highly friendly in nature and can easily be trained. There has been very little documented aggression from yaks towards human beings, although mothers can be extremely protective of their young and will bluff charge if they feel threatened.
Photo: Clear Spring Farm also uses ground-sourced heat (geothermal) to heat both their home and the converted barn, powered by their solar array.
Photo: A few other species of farm animals also inhabit Clear Spring Farm.
Photo: Randy & Joanie enjoy a bowl of yak chili in the converted barn.
Photo: Weathered boards repurposed to make an interior wall in the converted barn.
Photo: The loft of the converted barn.