Today, We visited several farms to vaccinate their horses, which we were able to do ourselves! I’ve worked with horses in the past however it felt completely different to be able to vaccinate and conduct a physical exam practically on my own. I definitely learned a lot more about the culture through seeing how the farms were managed and speaking to the farm owners. However shocking and exciting those experiences were, they did not compare to the pick-up truck dog spay that Dr. T did later. Between the food, the people, and the shocking differences in veterinary practices, I am fully feeling the Belize culture and lifestyle. I can definitely see the benefits in the way that Dr. T runs his practice and does his surgeries. People aren’t able to afford a surgery in which their pet is hooked up to a million monitors in a completely sterile OR. A midline cut surgery is also not ideal when the animal will remain outdoors, lying on the ground, throughout its recovery. So although these differences are shocking at first, they make complete sense in the context of Belize.
I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the food, trying new things, and ownING IT! This morning, I palpated a cow’s reproductive system for the first time in my life, and I was able to determine that she was not pregnant by the feel of the cervix. Everyday, I’m gaining more and more respect for everyone around me who’s teaching me these new procedures. I also had never met a Brangus cow or done injections in cows before, so today was a lot of firsts. But I did feel like I really enjoyed working with cattle! At the clinic I worked at, we would always send fecal samples to get fecal flotation tests done. Today, at the BAHA lab, I was able to finally see what that test actually was. The lab was fun in that it unveiled that curtain about lab diagnostics for me. Learning the blood smear technique was also fun because I never understood what was a successful smear vs. an unsuccessful smear in the US.
Although our original plan was to go to bed at a ripe 9:00 PM to get enough sleep before the dairy class, Safa and I had an unexpected and very unwelcome roommate the night before. A scorpion (~4 inches long!!!) had gotten into our room, and my entire bed had to be taken apart in the search to find it again. Thankfully, the scorpion was found, but it had gotten really late already. This morning, though, we got up on time. There was something about the mist and the fog on the hills of Belize at 5 in the morning that I feel like I’ll never forget. The dairy farm owner was cute old man who taught us about the California Mastitis Test, how he milked cows, how he built up his farm from one heifer, how he fed his cows, upon other things. I loved how he wanted us to truly know his thought process with every decision and every development of his farm that he narrated. Because of the climate (hot and humid), Belize dairy farms can only really produce 40 lbs per cow on the high end, which makes for dairy farming to be pretty unpopular. He was able to maximize his milk production and keep the cows a bit more adapted to climate through making them almost entirely Holstein with a little bit of Brahman. My favorite part of the morning was drinking the raw milk, and also, I liked watching Letty drink it straight from the teat haha. A little stomach ache later is nothing compared to the cool experience of being on a dairy farm in Belize and tasting fresh milk like that.