Because fuel is scarce in the highlands of Tibet (very little wood, for instance, and the ground is too hard to plant much of anything the majority of the year–yay snow!), Tibetan nomads generally use yak excrement for fuel. They gather fresh patties, spread it out on the grass, then wait three or four days–depending on the temperature and weather–to wait for it to dry. Once it’s dry, they gather it again and put it inside, where they pour it into a small oven-type-thing for a fire. Which, surprisingly for a not-so-country girl like me, did not smell like shit.
Here, our hostess gathers yak patties at about six am. She woke up at four am to milk the yaks, and had been at this activity for a solid half hour at least by the time I took this photo. Seriously, Tibetan women nomads NEVER STOP WORKING. It’s so intense.