I can’t believe it’s already the second week of classes! On May 21st, we were supposed to visit and work on a goat farm, but since today was the holiday Commonwealth Day, the farmer’s goat staff were not working today. Instead, we got another chance to work with sheep. It was a great time administering injections to the herd of about 30 sheep ranging in age. I again, really appreciated that those who I worked with did the lifting portion and I was able to just give the injection. We went down the road to another sheep farm where we castrated some older sheep. This was the most confident in castrating I had felt yet. The incision I made was clean and cut right to the testicle, I knew which ligaments to pull at, and how to clamp it all off at the end!
The next day, May 22nd, we had a stinky day ahead of us. We were visiting a pig farm where we were tasked with castrating five pigs and administering injections to about 30 pigs. In case you, the reader at home, has never come into contact with a pig farm, lemme just tell you straight up: It smells AWFUL. One girl in our group was amazing and managed to wrangle all of the pigs that were being castrated and held them down. I castrated a pig and again, I was super confident in my ability to make an accurate incision. After the five pigs were castrated, we walked into the stalls where the smell was even more overwhelming. In order to get the pig to administer an intramuscular injection, one person had to wrangle the pig by grabbing the pig by the ears, getting their legs over the pig so it was between their thighs, and hold on and try not to slip in the layer of pig poop that coated the stall floor. This was another experience that I’m super fortunate my partner took the lead on. After we finished the injections, we had to change out of our scrubs and boots and keep everything tied off in a plastic bag— the smell of pig farm wouldn’t leave the van for the rest of our trip if we didn’t. On our way back from the farm, we made a pit stop at a beautiful waterfall that was on the way back to Midas. I really love how after a long day of hard work at the farm, we are able to still enjoy the amazing natural beauties that Belize has to offer. That night, we went to this beautiful restaurant called Guava Limb that served super fresh dishes. It was a great way to end a tiring day.
To close out this post, the 23rd was cow day! We started off leaving Midas at 5am to go to Spanish Lookout, a town where there is a Mennonite dairy farm. We left so early so that we could watch the milking and feeding process. As soon as we got there, the first thing we were offered was the opportunity to milk a cow! It’s a lot harder than it seems, but I got the hang of it!
It was really cool seeing the difference between the farms run by Belizians vs. those who identify as Mennonites. The farm used a lot of technology, however the Mennonites culturally dress in a very traditional way— bonnets and all. The farm was run by a man who started his dairy farm by receiving one cow from his father. He now runs his farm with his wife, some workers, and his son comes and helps during the week as well. I’ve heard Belize described as a salad bowl of culture as opposed to a melting pot, and I’d have to agree.
After we got a tour of his farm, we drove back to Midas and had breakfast at 8am. By 9am we were back out and driving to the BAHA Complex where we were going to be palpating cows! Palpating is a super quick and easy way (if you know what you’re doing) to determine if a cow is pregnant. The way you palpate is you stick your arm (covered in a shoulder length glove) up the rectum of the cow and feel for the cervix. We each had an opportunity to feel what the cervix was like before being tested. My group went and had to identify whether or not the cow was pregnant or not. At first, when I inserted my hand, I had to take it out because the cow started to poop and my arm was a tad bit in the way of that. After that though, I got to feel around and I wasn’t able to find the cervix. I was nervous because I thought I just didn’t do a good job trying to find it, but I went with my gut and said that the cow was pregnant. When we were checked, it turns out she was!
That night we had the most amazing experience of going to a restaurant that was only in its fifth day of being open. We got to this adorable indoor seating area and the owner was immediately running around trying to accommodate us. I got chicken fingers for dinner and they were literally the greatest chicken fingers I had ever had in my entire life. The chicken was so fresh and the breading was delicious. The owner’s name was Shirlet, and I got to talking with her about fry jacks and how she makes them. She gave me the run down of her recipe and had me take pictures of the products that she uses. I ended up going to the supermarket to buy the brand of baking powder she suggested! She said whenever she tries to make fry jacks in the states, they never turn out the same, so hopefully, with her tips and some Belizian products, I’ll be able to do my best to replicate them. I really appreciate the hospitality and generosity of everyone that I have met so far while in Belize. I can’t believe there are only a few more days left to the large animal course! :^)