Goats and Coffee

So this morning I helped the other researcher take samples again. Otherwise I would probably be bored. Although I love the work ethic I have, sometimes I think I forget along the way that its ok to be doing nothing. We walked ‘across to the other hill’ to sample from cows and goats. Unfortunately they were trying to bring the cattle to pasture before we got there so they had to bring them back home which was a little upsetting to me. Cows are creatures of habit. They know that if they walk down this hill in the morning, they are going to pasture. And they know that later when they walk up the hill, they will sleep. Well we forced them to do that more often today. They were ok, maybe a little hot but we got our samples. The best part was I learned how they make coffee down here. There are two types they grow here: Robosta and Aribica. When the balls of coffee beans turn pink, they are ready to be picked off the plant. Then you dry them out in the sun for a few days to a week so that the beans inside dry out too. Each ball has two beans in it. The man who owned the cattle today, was happy to show them to me and how it works. Once they crush the outer shell, and get the beans out then they are sent away to be processed. Since I love coffee I was so excited to hear about it!DSCN0742DSCN0741

We also sampled goats today. There weren’t that many goats but their housing wasn’t on an incline so that when they went to the bathroom it just accumulated below the house. It was hard to explain to the owner that he needed to dig into the side of the hill below the goat house so that it would allow for drainage. He was happy though that we helped treat his cattle for worms, and one cow who had a huge cut on her leg was treated with antibiotics. These are not your average cows. They can withstand heat, and hard rain. They eat literally everything whereas my old cows were picky with what they ate, and would nose around in the feed to find the nice tasting stuff.

These baby goats though win the day. I couldn’t believe how cute they were.

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The second herd of goats we saw had a very interesting history. A few of the younger ones had died when born, and two of the older ones had this odd cut on one side of their face. Stephen and I probably talked about it for an hour but didn’t get an answer. He wants to go back to take a sample from the cuts but the problem is here, that who will pay for that? Who will pay for the medicine? And it would take away from his time doing other things. There isn’t a vet down in this area for live stock because no one wants to live out here. It really is quite far away. There have been many who have gone to school for veterinary but they don’t come back. It is the same with doctors, and teachers. I am not surprised but it does make me sad. Once you get a taste of the big city why bother coming back?

Stephen did tell me that there have been programs where students are sent to school on a contract that schooling is paid for if they work for 5 years for the government but he said the problem is no one is enforcing it. That person might come work in Bwindi for 6 months but then they will disappear and no one has the energy and resources in Bwindi to find the person, and because we are so far from the head quarters, it will be lost in the paperwork.

So when my fellow classmates go to remote places to do veterinary work, I think now I understand its because those areas are underrepresented by veterinarians. Don’t worry everyone I will come back to the first world in 5 weeks time no matter what but it does make me think, if all of the vet students in ‘first world’ schools gave up 6 months to 1 year to go live in a place like this, the impact would be everlasting because they would spread knowledge throughout the farms here. Just a thought!!

As for my research – I have said this to many people: that New Hampshire prepared me for Ireland, but Ireland has prepared me for Uganda. The communication is different, the expectations are different, the timing is different. It is not bad nor good just different. So I haven’t started collected samples but I hope to next week. This is a type of place that no matter how much you plan ahead of time, you really need to be in country, on site to actually make decisions. I am still enjoying my time here because I am learning more here than in any classroom.

Stephen said to me that my knowledge gained in traveling and experiencing is worth more than the student who gets a bachelors, masters, PhD doing the same thing in the same place. Its not about the degree, its where you have been.

3 thoughts on “Goats and Coffee

  1. So interesting Maggie!! It sounds like you are having a wonderful time there! Can’t wait to read your next post 🙂


  2. Love hearing/reading these entries. These experiences are priceless and emotional. Your receiving a level of knowledge that is creating so many connections. Connections that only a few people in the world will ever get their hands on.
    So incredible proud of you and thank you for taking the time to keep us updated..;)
    If i ever get stuck in a remote location with you, I know that we will be able to have coffee eventually. 🙂


  3. You have a good way of describing all the cool things your seeing! Keep ’em coming. It’s better than watching TV oh wait I don’t watch TV. It’s as good as any book
    Looking forward to the next post


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