Friday, August 14, 2009

Rain, Mud & Fleas. . .

Today we implanted an embryo in the heifer and worked with the bull at the Village of Hope. It was fun to see all of the children again. They are so happy and healthy all the time. They begged me to let them go to church with us again this week so I told them that they could come. Mambrat, the village “mother”, made us some fresh hot milk with sugar. I have really enjoyed drinking fresh hot milk here. Due to disease issues, the Ethiopians always boil their milk before serving it. It is impossible to get a glass of cold milk here. During our work at Adami Tulu we often had a glass of hot milk after working or during breaks.

We went back to Shashamene to purchase supplies for Kokossa. We swam through the people and taxis to get to a couple of hardware shops where we purchased wire and metal banding to fix the bridge. Then we began the three hour bouncy drive to Kokossa, which is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Chris was excited by all the new sights of the Ethiopian highlands. They are so beautiful, and the villages are so fascinating. We stopped at one point on the road and took pictures of us with some of the locals that were on their way to market. It is amazing how fast a crowd of people can gather when we stop along the road.

It was raining hard when we reached Kokossa. Some of the worst parts of the road have been fixed, but with all the extra rain we found several more bad spots, and it was still a challenge getting to the dairy site. We got stuck once, but were able to drive ourselves out. Brent and Chris were good at teaching Teddy how to drive in the mud, which helped a lot, and the villagers helped push us out of the places where we got stuck. One bump caught me just as I was coming down from another and catapulted me into the ceiling. My head and neck are still sore today from that one. We need to do some more road work and get a four wheel drive.

As we unloaded in the rain, Chris asked what we were going to do now. I told him if we were smart we would turn around and get out of here right now! But instead we went to work. I prayed silently for some help with the weather. The rain let up some and only came down hard a couple of times the rest of the afternoon. It was a long, tiring day. We need to do some more road work and get a four wheel drive.

Brent and I gathered a crowd of villagers and had them help us work on the bridge for which will make it safer for them to cross the river. The banding didn’t work like we thought that it would, so we cut up young trees and nailed treads onto the bridge. It's still not ideal, but at least it is more stable. Brent was soaked from head to toe and I was glad that I had my rain gear with me and that my boots were mostly waterproof.

In the meantime, Chris & Abera took a crew and began processing the 100 heifers. Brent and I helped them finish when we were done working on the bridge. We pulled the CIDRs, put in eartags, vaccinated and put on heat detect patches. It rained on us most of the time that we were up there, and the little corral became very mucky as the rain continued. I was pulling out one of the CIDRs when a heifer kicked me from behind in the back of the leg and knocked me right on my rear end in the mud. I quickly scrambled to get up so that I didn’t get kicked again. My record book and passport fell out of my pocket and were covered in muck. The rain pants that I had on protected me fairly well, and a couple of the workers helped me clean off the rest of the way.

The villagers love to crowd around as we are working, this can be dangerous. A few of them were in the way of the needles that we were giving shots with. We need to figure out a way to let them observe and learn without being in danger of getting hurt.

Several days ago I noticed some red, itchy insect bites on my arm and legs. They felt a little like mosquito bites. Over the next couple of days I got more and more of them. I ask the hotel owner about them because I had no idea what was causing them. She said that they were probably fleas! She recommended that I go heavy on the insect repellent. I counted over 30 bites on my legs from my knees down plus a few on my arms. The last couple of days I have soaked myself with Off and it has taken care of the problem. I have also used some army issue foot powder that has anti-itch and bug repellant properties. Now my children can sing “My dad has fleas” when they tune their instruments. :)

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