Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grazing Mayhem & Traveling South

My alarm went off after about four hours of sleep.  I dragged myself out of bed, did some final packing, and then headed upstairs to meet Abera.  We loaded up the truck and headed south to Shashamene.  I let Abera drive so that I could try and get some more sleep.  The roads were fairly clear that early in the morning so we made it to Abera’s home in about three hours.  I slept off and on as we drove down and felt pretty good.

I dropped Abera off, then went over to see the alfalfa.  I was terribly disappointed with what I saw.  They had allowed the goats and donkeys to come in and graze most of the alfalfa and some of the safflower.  To make matters worse there was a lot of thistle growing in the grain fields and the safflower.  I went and got Abera so he could see.  He was even more disappointed than I was.  Last year he was in charge of it and had everything looking very nice.  

We ran into Gamachu and Ingeda on the road so we talked to them about it.  Later we met with them and Makonen again.  I was not surprised by the blaming and finger pointing that went on as we discussed the situation.  They went as far as to blame Abera because he had not come and told them to harvest.  After a few minutes, I stopped them and told them that they were wasting time blaming each other.  I told them that we all should look at what we can do different so that it doesn’t happen again.  Wally came over about that time and asked how things were going so I filled him in on the details.  Evan was at the hotel so we stopped in and talked to him about it also.  Hopefully we will see some action.

The cow was in heat when we arrived so I took advantage of the situation and breed her.  I was just dropping the semen in the water when I realized that we didn’t have an AI gun. I found a dry alfalfa stem that would work as a plunger.  I pushed the semen straw as far into the cervix as I could and still hold the end then I pushed the semen out using the stem and a needle.  It is a long shot that she will conceive given the circumstances but there is a chance.  It was better than just throwing the straw away after we had thawed it out.

We picked up Emebet in Awasa when we fueled up then headed south.  I watched the beautiful scenery go by - It is amazing how lush and green the area south of Awasa is.  Further south it starts to dry out and is over grazed like the rest of the country. We stopped at the Boran Breeding center which is about 20 km or 12 miles from our final destination of Yebelo.  We met with the assistant manager Derge since Girma, the manager, was away at meetings.  Derge explained to us what they were doing then showed us around the facility.  The animals look really good for being in Ethiopia.  Some of the six month old calves would outweigh some of the recipient heifers that we have at ATARC.  

The place looks like many of the others that we have seen.  It looks like 30 years ago someone spent a lot of time and money in putting together a facility but not much has happened since.  They have a D8 Caterpillar dozer that is acting as a large beehive.  I counted 18 people just standing around the corrals.  If they were instructed what to do or encouraged to think for themselves the place could really look nice in a short period of time.  Abera is one of the few Ethiopians that I have met that understands the concept of maintenance and beautification.  I am so grateful that he is working with me and I can see Paul’s wisdom in having him help get the 1000 hectare program going.

We checked into our rooms at Yebelo then drove to meet Emebet’s mother.  She made dura wot and ingera for us.  They offered clabbered milk which Abera accepted but I passed on.  When it came time for coffee I explained to them that I didn’t drink it because of religious convictions.  They brought me hot milk instead.  I have noticed that some of the hot milk has a charcoal taste to it. I think that it comes from cooking it over the coals but it could also be a filtering type deal.  I am appreciative of people who have so little but are so generous in giving.

Back at my hotel room I killed a couple of roaches in the bathroom and some mosquitoes.  I tried the hot water in the shower but it wasn’t working so I just rinsed my head with cool water which actually felt very good.  When I slid the slippers away from the side of the bed several more roaches scurried away but I was too tired to chase after then.  The Farenge (foreigner) price for this room is 200 birr ( under $20).  The Abesha(local) room rate is 81 birr ( about $7).  I guess it is a good thing that I am tired or I might have a hard time sleeping tonight.

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