Working on a Ranch in Mongolia

Most of my time in Mongolia I spent as a volunteer at Anak Ranch, a farm in Northern Mongolia, run by a German expat and his Mongolian wife. They had quite a number of horses, cows, sheep and goats. I was helping to milk the cows early in the mornings, chopped a lot of wood and also otherwise helped prepare the place for winter. And I went herding the goats and sheep.


Goat and Sheep

Herding sheep and goats

I got a horse and was told to go northward and stay outside for the whole day with the animals, and that was it. I had not ridden for more than ten years, but quickly figured out how to do it, and was actually surprised by how easy it was. It was thrilling to feel that it did not require any strength, just a flick of the hand or a sign with the legs, to change direction or speed.

Another day – this time not herding – I took the horse out for a tour and galloped across the Mongolian steppe, feeling like a hun, or the protagonist in a Western. Coupled with the bright sun and the vastness of the land this was truly a sense of freedom!


For a few days the weather was pleasantly warm and sunny, but after an unexpected snow storm temperatures hardly rose above 0°C anymore. The steppe and the mountains that had been golden brown upon my arrival were now covered by a white layer; it was still beautiful, although in a different way: The snow, glittering in the sun, made this vast landscape look even more uninhabitable and rough, but pure.



My stay at Anak Ranch was also instructive, especially socially: I met inspiring volunteers from all around the world, we had a great time talking and working together, and with one of them I even ended up travelling on to China. And then there was the boss… Briefly: it did not work too well between us. I disapproved of the way he treated his workers and the volunteers, and he did not like me taking matters into my own hands when I felt the need for it. I ended up leaving the place a few hours earlier than intended, and although it was not easy, frustrating at times, and I made different experiences from what I had set out for, I still value my stay at the ranch.

Mongolian Herder


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