Yesterday was our last day out in the field. We were further up north that the day before, close to the Russian border and near the city of Darchan, and for some reason the snow hadn’t passed there so the pastures were still green. Or greenish at least. Regardless, it facilitated our work since we were partly out there to get a sense of the quality of the pastures. Another reason was of course to talk to herders, which is my favorite part of my job, and we met three herding families of different income levels that last day. Two of them lived in ghers, the type of mobile huts that herders traditionally live in, so I was able to get a good look inside of them. They are very cozy and comfortable, and surprisingly warm despite the cold weather, but it must be a hard life to live in these ghers without water and limited access to wood when temperatures can drop to -40°C (though it can be noted that one of the herders that we met said that the winter was the easy season for herders). At the same time, there is something appealing about a lifestyle that aims to keep stuff to a minimum. Limited living space and the need to move the entire household multiple times per year make too much stuff a burden (traditionally, Mongolian herders move their livestock every season, but these days, the moves are normally limited to summer and winter pastures). The gher were well-equipped – most herders have a TV now, connected to a satellite dish outside the gher and running on solar panels – but otherwise, there were few things that weren’t intended for food preparation. All families that we met served us traditional snacks and tea. Most snacks were various forms of dairy products, some of them quite sour cheeses, and the tea was boiled with milk and salt. All of it was different from anything I’ve ever had before but quite tasty. We also drank fermented mares’ milk in one home, but just a sip since it can be tough on the stomach for someone who isn’t used to it. We were told that Genghis Khan drank this before he went into battle! So we had an interesting last day out in rural Mongolia, before heading back to Ulaanbaatar.