Friday, April 30, 2010

Holeta Animal Research Center and Holeta Cattle Genetic Improvement Center

Apr. 30th, 2010

We had a good scripture study again today.  Erika and Jessica were at Women’s Conference so we missed them.  I told the family that it would be the last Skype scripture study for this trip.  This has been a hard trip but a very good one.
The staff and facilities at Holeta Animal Research Center
Abera and I left for Holeta about 7:30 and were a little bit late to get ahead of the traffic.  It was slow going through Addis but it did move along.  We stopped in at HARC to drop off flush media, catheter syringes and holding media.  It amazes me to see the labor intensity of the operation.  There were seven people cutting the grass outside the offices, a dozen cleaning the cow corrals, six taking care of the calves,  four working with the bulls, five pregnancy checking, four working on an electrical issue, three hauling milk to the front gate, a dozen people mixing and delivering the feed, several guards and about a dozen researchers.  This is for a 60 cow dairy.  In Ethiopia the goal is to have as many jobs as possible. The average wage of the employees is probably about 10-15 ETB ($1.00)/day so even though they have a lot of workers the actual labor cost may not differ a lot compared to the US.
The Feedmill at the Holeta Cattle Genetic Improvement Center 
We drove over to the Holeta Cattle Genetic Improvement Center and met with Tesfaye, the manager.  This is the oldest government farm and it specializes in raising breeding stock for the country. They have some of the best Holstein cows in the country and provide bulls for the Kaliti semen collection center.  They have an impressive feed mill where they mix wheat bran, wheat middlings, ground corn, and oilseed cake with limestone and salt for their rations.  They have four different rations for cows, heifers, calves and bulls.  They are currently in the process of building new facilities to house and milk their cows.  I think that we will probably work with them in the future.

We fought our way back through the Addis traffic.  It was stop and go all the way across so we were an hour late meeting with Marty to go over our budget.  It is good to step back and look at the financial picture of what we are doing.  We have spent a lot of time just plowing forward with the project and learning as we went.  Now we need to step back with the knowledge that we have, and upgrade our plans.

I turned in my receipts to Akawak and gave the balance of my money to Abera so that he can buy a generator for the Kokosa office.  I only spent about 2/3rds of what I had requested.  My hotel bill was much less because I stayed in Kokosa and Addis at our homes and the hotels I stayed in were the $25 or less ones.
I helped Abera load the cabinets and semen tank in the truck then said goodbye for another couple of months.  I never did get him set up on Skype so hopefully one of the other staff can.
Danny and Worknesh, two of my favorite Ethiopians
Danny stopped in to drop off the gas container for the stove so I road home with him to see Worknesh and the baby. They are both doing very well.  They insisted on feeding me my last meal.  We ate ingera with a potato wot and cooked cabbage. They are such wonderful people.

I packed up my two suitcases to leave and my one to take back home.  I had a quick discussion with Wally who had just arrived from the US. I am glad he is there to work out the government issues we have.  I said goodbye to Weson, Radit, Heidi and Mark then Joe dropped me off at the airport.  The lines were long and slow but I still made it in time for the flight.  I am going to try and stay awake most of the flight then sleep on the way to LA so my clock starts to adjust.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Implanting Embryos and Visiting Other Agriculture Sites

Apr. 29th, 2010

Abera and I got an early start so that we could avoid traffic.  We made it to ATARC in about 2 ½ hours.  Medksa had some of the cows separated already and had the rest ready for us by the time we got set up.  All of the recipients had CL’s and only one was questionable.  We implanted the last six embryos without any difficulty.  The crew has gotten pretty good at working the cattle for us.

We had lunch with Gemachu in Ziway, probably my last Habasha meal for this trip.  I tried to order fish being right on the border of Ziway lake but they were out so we had tibs.  The three of us ate and had drinks for 46 ETB ($3.50) total.

We stopped at a new feedlot at Meki.  They are fattening bulls for export to Middle Eastern countries.  They were very sensitive about us coming on their place and wouldn’t let me take any pictures.  They currently have about 3000 head.

We tried to get into the Holland Dairy processing facility but the guard wouldn’t cooperate.  I tried to leave my card for the manager but the guard wouldn’t even take that. Maybe we can get in next trip.
Girma and Abera at Genesis Farms
We said hello to Girma at Genesis Farms.  He was anxious to see us and asked if we had talked with Bhilu about some cooperative work.  With that encouragement I went and talked with him.  He was anxious to work with us any way that they could.  I will have to discuss the issue with Paul and see what he thinks.
Fasil telling us about his feed mill in Kaliti outside of Addis Ababa
We met with Fasil at his feed mill.  He was frustrated with the city government that seemed to be fighting him every step of the way.  I told him to move his operation to Shashamene.  I enjoy visiting with him because he has a great vision of where this country can go.  He has been raising bull calves to sell for breeding but has had a hard time selling them.  His new cow barn is almost finished.  It will be much nicer than his old one.
Fasil showing off his beautiful cows to Abera
Today was a good day but I was not feeling well after putting in the embryos.  I think it was a combination of an early start and working hard to implant the embryos then eating Habasha food. The positive visits at Genesis Farms and Akaki Feed mill helped to buoy my spirits.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A visit to the Addis Ababa Abattoir

Apr. 28th, 2010

Today we met with Tsehay at the Land O Lakes office with Debay and Georgia.  It is exciting to hear their plans for their land near Chancho.  We spent a couple of hours discussing the dairy industry and formulating plans.  We ran out of time before we ran out of material so we will have to meet again.
Ayenew and I visiting the Abattior in Addia Ababa
This afternoon Ayanew took us to the Addis Ababa Abattoir where he used to work.  It was obvious that he was loved by all there from the manager to the line workers.  The facility is monstrous for Ethiopian standards.  They kill between 1000 and 2000 head a day and reach 3000 as the fasting season ends in April.  The butcher shops buy the animals and present them at the abattoir where they are slaughtered then sent to the shop. It was very interesting.

The holding yard outside the beef side of the abottoir.
The goat area at the abottoir. The pelts are in front, the worker is carrying some heads. This place slaughters thousands of animals each day.
This evening Abera and I met again with Tsehay to discuss the Kokosa property.  It became a brainstorming and information sharing discussion that lasted two hours.  We decided that we all needed to do a little more homework and some number crunching to be able to put together a good plan to present to Paul.  Tsehay and Abera helped each other see the others perspective which was helpful in generating and evaluating ideas.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Multiple Ovulation Embryo Transfer seminar at the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research

Apr. 27th, 2010

I was planning on working on my presentation for the EIAR Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research when I got up this morning but I spent the morning reading and sending emails about our meeting with the Investment Office yesterday.  Abera and I really stirred a hornets’ nest with our emails.  Hopefully we can use this opportunity to finalize everything with the property and move on.
Abera and Dr. Azage
I was really surprised that when we arrived most of the participants were there and already registered.  We didn’t even have time to say hello to everyone before Seyoum started it. It was a very good review of Embryo Transfer in Ethiopia.  Dr Azage, who did the first ET work in Ethiopia, presented his work.  He currently works with the International Livestock Research Institute in Debre Zeit.  I talked with him on breaks.  He is one of the few Ethiopians that really understands what is going on with their countries agriculture.  Unfortunately he is occupied with priorities other than ET right now.

It was apparent that without our help ET would still be on the shelf.  The last eight years they have had many attempts to push it forward but have always been unsuccessful.  At Debre Zeit they had a professor from Cuba teach them for several months without any embryos.  Holeta also went through similar training without success.  They were really at a standstill when we came along and gave them the jumpstart that they needed.  It will be interesting to see how they proceed at this point in time.  I am concerned that politics may get in the way.
My embryo transfer team members
Overall the meeting was very positive and upbeat. My presentation was a little disjointed and ended rather abruptly.  It was probably my poorest prepared presentation in Ethiopia.  It was still very good but I would have liked to do better but I have to realize that I don’t have unlimited time to polish presentations.  At the end Dr. Solomon gave a rousing speech in Amharic then presented gifts for Paul and me (a traditional bathrobe, an EIAR tie, and a tie tack).  I was embarrassed that they focused so much on us and didn’t say anything about Dr. Azage.  Afterwards he came up to shake my hand and get my contact information.  I told him how I felt and he graciously thanked us for our work.

We didn’t have a ride home so we hitched a ride with the Debre Zeit team.  We had to wait a little while for them to get their “per diem” for attending the meetings.  I told Dr. Tamrat that in the US the participants paid a registration fee instead of receiving one.  He saw that you would value the education more if you paid for it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Anniversary and Working Through Government Red Tape

Apr. 26th, 2010

I had a hard day today even though work wise it was pretty good.  Today is our 19th wedding anniversary and we are half a world apart.  I am not sure why but this trip has been the hardest on both of us and today is by far the worst.  Today as I thought of Erika I missed her so badly that my whole body ached.  I am afraid that this week is going to drag on forever.  It was bitter/sweet to talk with her this morning.  I wanted to talk to her all day long but at the same time it was torturous to talk to her and not be able to be with her.  She provides me with incredible strength.  I love her so much!
The Love of My Life and the Wind Beneath my Wings!
I tried to work on my presentation for tomorrow but I couldn’t concentrate so I cleaned out and repacked my ET supplies carrying cases.  I decided that I should make sure that I had my priorities set for this week so I called Abera in and we talked through our progress and plans.  We selected the most important items to focus on this week.

This afternoon we went with Ashaber to the Oromia Regional Investment Office to correct the lease on the Kokosa property and to tie up the loose ends on the structures.  What we found out was that the current lease that was drawn up in the Zonal Office has no validity at all.  In other words we have no property.  We explained to them that we were just following instructions and we needed their help to get everything worked out.  They were willing to help and asked us to write up a letter explaining what had happened and what we wanted to do and they would help us get everything settled.  On the way back Abera said that he had been trying to tell Paul and the office staff what they needed to do but nobody would listen to him.

This afternoon we went over our proposed yearly budget and made adjustment based on what we had and had not accomplished. After spending a couple of hours on it I could see why we felt so overwhelmed.  We have a lot of different projects and tasks going on at the same time.  We have control over most of them but some of them are subject to outside factors like the weather, the government, etc.

This evening most of the Farenge crew from Beltu came in.  They were thrilled to be back in Addis.  They went out to Avanti’s tonight for dinner but I didn’t feel like going so I watch parts of a couple of movies with Weson, Radit and Elans.  The DVD’s here are frustrating to watch.  You get about half through with one and it starts skipping, pausing and other crazy stuff until you finally turn it off in frustration.  I need to work on my presentation but I’m having a hard time thinking about it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Meetings

Apr. 25th, 2010

After family prayer today Erika and I had a good discussion with Joseph.  He has a lot going on in his life right now and is a little over whelmed.  I am very pleased with him and the choices that he is making in his life.  I expressed to him my approval and encouraged him to focus on the most important issues and let the other ones go if he can’t get to them.

I fried up some potatoes, onions, and zucchini for breakfast.  It is nice to be able to cook for myself again.  Abera even thought that it was edible.
My good friend Abera and I
Abera joined me at church where they were watching General Conference.  We watched the Sunday morning session then took a short break before starting the afternoon session.  The talks and music were so uplifting and inspirational.  I have a renewed desire to work harder and be better.

I took a pair of pants and a shirt for a man that had asked me for help a couple of weeks ago.  His clothes were torn, ragged and were filthy.  He said that he had tried to get a job but no one would take him seriously.  The clothes were too big for him but were much better than what he had so hopefully he can get a job and get on his feet.

Weson fed us a good lunch when we arrived home.  She fried up potatoes and rice and had sura wot and ingera on the side.  She and Abera had a discussion about religion.  They discussed the differences in the Protestant faiths versus the Orthodox Church.  I want them to enjoy the blessings of the gospel but feel like my place is to set an example and let them learn at their own pace.  It is easy for me to see how much the other religions lack.  I am very grateful for my testimony of the gospel and the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Successful Embryo Recovery and Transfer, An Expensive Wreck

Apr. 24th, 2010

I slept well last night and woke up feeling much better.  I still had a bad case of diarrhea but otherwise I felt good.  I called Abera and asked him to bring the anti-diarrheal medicine that I had given him for Duety. I didn’t have an appetite at all when I went to breakfast but I knew that I needed to eat so I forced myself to eat an omelet sandwich.  I did enjoy the fresh juice that came with breakfast.
Boran Embryo Recipients
Abera and I drove to ATARC and implanted four embryos in the recipients that they had for us.  Four of the five animals that came into heat had good CL’s.  None of the main staff was there but the herders and feeders helped us separate and work the five cows.  When we finished I gave them all a piece of jerky. They were hesitant at first but several of them came back for another piece so even though it was something new to them they liked it.
Dr. Tamrat at DZARC implanting the recovered embryos. Abera and the staff looking on.

We made it to DZARC about 12:30 just as they were finishing searching the first cows flush dish.  They hadn’t found any embryos and were very discouraged.  I changed the light source from above the dish to below it and found an embryo within a few minutes.  Everybody was thrilled.  We found eight more embryos four of them were good fertile embryos.  The second cow had a uterine infection so we didn’t get any embryos from her at all.  Dr. Tamrat transferred the fresh embryos into the recipients.  There was one that they couldn’t pass and ask me to try.  She had the S shaped cervix and I couldn’t get through either.
My dear friends Dr. Kafena and Dr. Tamrat after successfully recovering and implanting embryos
I think that they have enough experience and confidence that they can go forward on their own now.  We haven’t frozen embryos yet but they have the equipment to do it.  I went over the manual with Dr. Tamrat and challenged him to practice with it so that he will be comfortable using it when the time comes to use it.  I explained to them that I would need to focus more on our project now but felt confident that they could be successful on their own.

Abera mentioned that he had been on the Morrell Agro website and read about our project.  He mentioned something about a short biography for himself on the site.  I encouraged him to write one but he said it was better to have someone else write it because they could “make it bigger” then he laughed.  I spent much of the four hour drive learning about my incredible companion and his struggle from poverty to success.  I took some notes so that I could put together a biography for him.  His is a great story!

The home was locked when we arrived so we left our luggage and went to eat.  Abera took me to Passion Burger for pizza, for Ethiopian food it was pretty good.  I had a Coke to help settle my stomach.  I felt much better today but I am still having digestive problems.

I called Getu to settle things with him concerning the car.  He ended ordering all of the parts from Moenco which put the total cost of the repairs at 22,000 ETB about $1600.  Legally I am probably not obligated to pay anything but I was the one that wrecked the car so I am responsible.  It is a hard decision to make but it is the correct one.

I had two texts and a missed call from Erika today.  I was very excited to hear from her and miss her dearly.  I had a nice visit with her and Jessica this evening.  I can’t wait to get back to see her and my family.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Terrible Day of Sickness. Lesson Learned!

Apr. 23rd, 2010

My choice of dinner turned out to be a very bad one, especially sopping up the liquid.  I awoke in the middle of the night with fever and chills.  I put on several more layers of clothes and took some medicine.  A short time later I raced to the bathroom with a terrible case of diahrea and an upset stomach.  After I threw up my stomach calmed down but the diarrhea lasted all night and most of the day, I haven’t felt so sick and so weak in a long time.

I got up at 6:30 to call my family but the network was down so I couldn’t call out.  I was very dehydrated so I went to the front desk to get some water.  I was so out of it that I paid 7 ETB too much.  The waiter probably didn’t know what to think.  I went to tell Joe that I would not be able to go with him to Kokosa.  It had been raining all night so he decided to cancel the trip altogether.  Abera showed up about 8:00 am having arrived in public transportation.  Not having phones had fouled up everything as far as the transportation to Kokosa.  I told him that I was too sick to do anything so we just cancelled the whole trip.

When I told Celina that we were cancelling the trip and that I was very sick she offered me some Cipro.  I had heard that it was very good for solving digestive problems.  I spent the day between the bed and the bathroom.  I was so weak I could hardly move.  I made some soup for myself about noon which gave me a little strength.  I cancelled my meeting with the Arsi dairy farmers at 4:00 and went back to bed again.  Mekonen came by about 5:00 to check up on me.  I had been sleeping but was feeling a little better.  By 6:00 I forced myself to get dressed and go get some food.  I ordered plain rice and a Pepsi. The rice was cooked in the local water so it smelled like dirt.  It was all I could do to get myself to eat it.  The waitress asked me what was wrong and then brought me some ginger, lemon and another plant that is supposed to be good for the stomach.  I put the lemon on the rice which made it more palatable.  The ginger root and the other plant were very strong flavored so I ate them quickly and followed it up with rice and Pepsi.

By the time I left the restaurant I was feeling much better.  I now have a lot of my strength back and my digestive system has calmed down.  I hope that I can get a good night’s sleep and be fully recovered by tomorrow.  We have a big day ahead of us.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gobe Ranch and Marty's visit with his team

Apr. 22nd, 2010

I awoke early to a beautiful morning with the birds singing and the air fresh and clean.  I headed outside so that I wouldn’t bother the other guys when my family called.  It turned out to be a nice walk by myself without a phone call.
The beautiful Ethiopian mountain  pastures
At about 6:30 I made it back to the house.  Mulgeta was up so we went over to the corrals and started breeding the animals.  He did three of the four and probably could have done the forth but he felt her kidney and thought that she was pregnant so he had me check her.  I went ahead and placed the gun into the uterus then had him go in to feel what it was like.  I am glad that he has picked up on breeding so quickly.

We went back to the house and were just finishing our breakfast when Marty’s group arrived.  We shared our bread and bananas with them before we headed out for a tour.  We spent a couple of hours walking around the compound and talking about the progress of the project.  Zerihun went over the financial reporting with Abera, Nageso, and Mulgeta.  It has been great to have Marty as part of the team to provide leadership and stability to the financial side of the business.

Abera took the truck over to load it with grass hay for the cow at the compound while I packed up the suitcases.  It started to pour down rain and we were concerned that we would not be able to get out.  Abera said, “We are in God’s hands we will get out.”  He was right even though it was raining hard the road was still firm enough that we made it out.
The graded-up  Arsi-Holstein cross milking cows
Mulgeta had arranged a meeting for us with Tsegaye at the Gobe Ranch.  It was a government ranch similar to Kokosa that has now been privatized.  He has 1600 hectares of the most beautiful land that you will ever see.  Tsegaye took us on a tour and explained what he was doing with his cattle.  He has a base herd of Arsi cows that he breeds AI to Holstein bulls.  The crossed animals are then bred back to the Holstein bulls again.  He has some nice facilities for Ethiopia and his cows look fantastic.  He also milks about 70 head of the cows and gets 3 to 4 liters a day from them.  They turn the calves in with the mothers then pull them off after the milk has let down.  They milk out the cow then let the calf have the last of the milk.
Cows being milked at the Gobe Ranch
He invited us to have a drink with him so I had some fresh hot milk.  Then he ordered ingera with cabbage, wot, and ibe.  I am almost getting to the point that I enjoy the Ethiopian food.

We drove back to the compound and unloaded the grass hay for the cow and I implanted her with an embryo.  I hope that she will settle this time. It has been a year since she calved and I am concerned that her milk production will come to an end.

I dropped off Mulgeta and Abera at their homes then drove back to the Lilly Valley in the pouring rain.  Joe arrived when I was sitting down for dinner so we ate together.  I was a little constipated so I just had a salad for dinner.  The salad had a cup of water, lemon and vinegar in the bottom of it.  I used my bread to sop it all up. Probably not the smartest thing to do because the water is not the cleanest but it tasted good. I am becoming a little to careless when I eat here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Restaurant and a Night in Kokosa

Apr. 20th, 2010
This morning I woke up without electricity.  I regularly wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 each day.  It makes a big difference when I am sleeping by 10:00 or 10:30.  Usually they turn on the generator when the power is out but I guess they decided not to run it until people were up and moving around.  Fortunately my hot water heater was full of hot water and my computer runs on battery.  I tried to Skype my family but the connection was very poor. I exchanged a couple of brief messages with Erika and called it good for the day.

Abera and I spent the morning going over the financial records of the Kokosa farm.  I was thrilled to see the detailed records that he has kept and the way that he has organized them.  We were able to see quickly what our remaining cash balance was.  This enabled us to go to his bank and withdraw the company money and deposit in the company account.  Everybody will be more comfortable now. This speaks volumes to the integrity of Abera. At any time he could have used this money for his own purposes or just ran off with it as some of the others have done. Instead he kept very detailed records and the receipts. He is a great man!
Through the window you can see the fresh carcass hanging. It doesn't get much fresher!
We tried a new restaurant that was open for the first time today. It was freshly painted and clean.  At the entrance was a typical butcher shop with the carcasses hanging on the back wall and the butchers cutting of large chunks then chopping them up on the cutting boards in the front.  It made eating the meal much less appetizing but I did know that the meat was fresh.  About half way through my meal I turned around and saw a man eating his meat raw.  It is not uncommon for Ethiopians to eat meat raw but this was the first time that I had seen big chunks of raw meat on the plate.
Negeso's motel in Kokosa
It was raining most of the way to Kokosa so we decided not to try to get to the farm.  Nageso had room at his hotel so we drove on to Kokosa to stay for the night.  They charge 15 ETB ($1.25)/night for the rooms which is about a day’s wage around here. The room is about 10X10 with an all metal door and medium sized window.
The toilet complex

The toilet which is at the back of the yard is the standard rural toilet, a tin shack with a cement floor that has a whole in the middle of it with some raised areas in the concrete to stand on during the process.  They brought me a plastic bowl to use as a chamber pot. They informed me that I am the first foreigner to stay in the hotel and probably the first foreigner to ever stay the night in Kokosa.  I think that I am doing a lot of firsts here in Ethiopia.  Some of them make me a little uncomfortable.  I sprayed my bed down with bed bug spray and coated myself with insect repellent.  We will see how it works.
My room in Kokosa

I had a glass of hot milk tonight and called it good. The tibs that I had for lunch are still heavy in my stomach. I am still fighting a head cold so I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

I finished reading Thomas Jefferson’s biography and was amazed at what a great man he was.  As good an education as I have had I didn't have any idea how magnificent he was.  If our current leaders were half the statesmen that he was we would have few of the problems that our country is facing.  Without his tireless fighting for a republican form of government it is very possible that we would have drifted back towards a monarchical government with an aristocracy.  There appears to be an element of our society that is pushing for that now just like the king men in the Book of Mormon.  Jefferson died deeply in debt because he had a huge benevolent heart.  He entertained guests at his own expense even when he was President.  I am sure that our current political leaders don’t pay for their lavish parties out of their own pockets.  They use our money to foot the bill.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wildlife Refuge and Cooking Corn on the Cob in Hot Springs

Apr. 19th, 2010

I slept well last night except for the occasional itching and my stuffy nose.  I had a good visit and scripture study with my family.  Joseph was able to figure out what was wrong with his laptop so we chatted for a while.  He is very good with computers.  He started out with Grandpa Jay’s laptop and whenever he had problems he would work at it until he had them solved.  His tenacity has given him a very good education.

Boran embryo recipients at ATARC
Abera and I drove to ATARC and found the heifers just going through their vaccination.  I liked the facility much better for working cattle so we just used it to give the PGF shots.  The heifer that we were going to put an embryo in wasn’t ready so we just left her alone.  On our way out we had a glass of hot milk.  I like drinking the milk when I know where it comes from and how it has been handled.

We met with Dr Hailu in Ziway to review the progress and our plans.  He also gave me a draft of his proposal for improving the cattle in Ethiopia.  He will be presenting it the same day that we have the embryo workshop.
Ostrich at the Wildlife Refuge

On our way back we stopped at the wildlife refuge and saw some ostrich, antelope, a fox, a wart hog, and a lot of beautiful birds.  
The beautiful blue waters of Shala Lake
We also drove down to Shala Lake which is a very large and deep partly salty lake.  It is fed in part by hot springs.  The water comes out of the ground in some places boiling.  I estimated with my thermometer that it was about 200 degrees Fahrenheit where the people cook their corn on the cob. 
The locals throw corn in for a couple of minutes to cook it. When they are done they throw the cob back into the water .

The area would make some fantastic beach front property or a great resort.  Instead the land is overgrazed and suffers a lot of erosion in the rainy season.  Many people come to bathe in the lake and use the spring waters for medicinal purposes.

We stopped at the compound to check on the milk cow and discovered more issues with her.  They were purchasing the two ingredients for the concentrate mix separately and instead of feeding them together they would feed one ingredient one day and one the next.

Abera and I started going over the numbers at dinner but my sinuses were draining so I told him to go home and we would tackle it in the morning.  I am glad that I have some allergy pills to take. I took one a couple of hours ago and it seemed to help some but I am still very drippy.  To make matter worse I ran out of toilet paper and it took two trips to the front desk and half an hour to get some more.  Toilet paper is one of those luxury items in Ethiopia.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

MoreProblems with Bug Bites but an Inspiring Sabbath Anyway

Apr. 18th, 2010

The last couple of nights I have been awakened by my itching ankles that I think could be caused by an allergic reaction to the bed bug spray that I have been using.  I have used liberal amounts on my socks, shoes and pant legs.  Because of the rash I haven’t sprayed down my bed lately or my clothes either.  Last night I woke up several times with severe itching on my body.  Not only did my ankles still itch but I had new bites on my lower back, hands, arms and neck. I probably have 15 to 20 new bites from the last two days.  I still have no idea if these come from the farm or from my bed or both.  As I was palpating the cows I noticed a small ant like insect with wings and asked the crew if they bite or sting but they said they didn’t think so. I had found three of them dead in my bed the day before. I decided to spray my bed again today and just be more careful around the foot of my bed.

I talked with Erika about stake conference and her experience with Jessica going to the temple.  She is having some very special spiritual experiences.  We read scriptures as a family and had family prayer just before Abera arrived.  I dropped Abera off at his class then went back to the hotel where I worked on my talk a little more before going to church.  Celina rode with me to church.  Her family came to Ethiopia about five years ago on an expedition and developed the Foresight Fathers program.  This program has been successful in helping children from very poor families get education.  Now Celina is working with single mothers, teaching them basic life skills and helping them to get the necessities of life.
The Church in Awasa
I had called President Amanuel yesterday to tell him that I was coming to church and offer help. He quickly accepted my invitation and asked me to speak on the signs of the second coming.  Celina gave a great talk on the Atonement then I spoke followed by President Ayele, the District President.  He gave a powerful talk on the authority and duties of the priesthood. He gave his talk without a translator and interspersed enough English for Celina and I to understand.  President Amanuel did the same thing with the Sunday School lesson.  I tried really hard to follow by picking out a few words here and there and reading the scriptures.  I didn’t get it all but I got the main idea. There were probably a dozen new people there today.  The branch is maturing from when I saw it just a year ago.

I had a good talk with Amanuel.  He is continuing his studies and getting good grades.  His experience translating in the branch will really be a benefit to him in the future.  He will be a great leader here in Ethiopia in the future.

I was fighting a headache all day so when I arrived at the hotel I ate some crackers and jerky and took a nap.  I slept for about three hours and felt better when I got up and going.  I was itching like crazy so I got some of the lidocaine out and dripped it onto the bites. It seems to calm the itching down enough that I can do something besides scratch it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mekonen's Cows and Arsi Negeli Dairymen Presentation

Apr. 17th, 2010

I slept in a little this morning after such a hard day yesterday.  I was quite sore in my arms, shoulders, back and legs but I felt good after accomplishing so much.  I had a nice leisurely breakfast out on the veranda with the sun shining and the birds singing.  I thought that it would be wonderful if Erika were with me.
Mekonen's cows on an earlier trip with Dr. Kolste
 Mekonen came to get me at 8:30 to check his cows and dehorn his calves.  I was very surprised that neither of his cows had come into heat.  I am not sure why they didn’t unless they are both not cycling.  Even though we didn’t have time he insisted that we go to his father-in-laws home where they fed me goat tibs and hot milk.  The milk was very good.  Abera joined us and helped me finish off my tibs.

We met Mulgeta and Gemechu at the Arsi Negele office.  A couple of the dairymen had arrived already and the other two showed up as we were setting up.  Mulgeta introduced me and translated for me as I explained to them what embryo transfer was and how it could be a very good business opportunity for them.  I also encouraged them to work together as a group to improve their herds and the dairy industry in general in the Arsi Negele area.  I encouraged them to lead out and help develop the programs that would push the industry forward.  I said that I was planting a seed that I hoped would be nurtured by them and grow into a large fruitful tree.  What I was talking about could not be done at this time but the preparations for it could be started now so that we could do it in a year or two.  I told them that too many of the development projects in Ethiopia were brought in by foreigners.  It was like them transplanting a mature tree for the Ethiopians and then leaving them to deal with it without teaching them how to care for the tree which quickly withered and died leaving a monument to failure.

When we finished I had them do the jerky taste test for me.  I think that everyone of them preferred the sliced meat with the Leggs jerky spice.  I am finding that Ethiopians as a whole really like eating jerky with any kind of spice.

This afternoon I went over the records and got them all caught up.  We have 13 embryos left to implant. I hope that we can implant them this week at Adami Tulu.  I would love to have all of the embryos implanted before I go home this trip.

I had the wonderful green salad and some fried fish for super tonight.  The fish was very dry but had a good flavor.  This trip I have had a large variety of meals here at the Lily Valley.  On my past trips I have mainly eaten the rice with meat sauce.

Real Thomas Jefferson - by Allison, Maxfield, Cook, SkousenI have really enjoyed reading Thomas Jefferson’s biography this trip. When I go to the restaurant I take it with me and read while I am waiting for my food to be prepared.  He was an amazing man.  I find it interesting that he like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington really didn’t want to serve in the positions that they did.  They would have been much happier to be at home taking care of their personal business.  In fact all of their estates suffered because they were away serving their country.  I am sure that in the end they were much happier because they had served and achieved tremendous results.  Their example helps keep me going as I work here under difficult circumstances.  I would definitely prefer to be home with my family but I believe that when all is said and done I will be very grateful that I had this opportunity to serve the Lord and the Ethiopian people in this way.  Each day I pray that the Lord will magnify my efforts for the good of the people and of the company. I am so grateful that I have a wonderful wife that can so effectively manage the challenges at home.  She is an incredible lady!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Embryo Transfer and Vaccination at Kokosa

Apr. 16th, 2010

Abera arrived with Mulgeta, Gemachu, and two more guys.  I grabbed my breakfast omelet, loaded my gear and we headed out.  Gemechu and the other two spread out a tarp and rode in the back. I am sure it was not a pleasant ride freezing the first half and getting bounced a lot the second half but they did it.  In spite of very threatening skies and rain all around us we didn’t get rained on much on the way up.  The road in was wet so we had to push the truck in a few places but we made it in.
MAI Staff implanting embryos

I wasn’t excited about working in the rain but got everything set up anyway.  I prayed that the elements would be tempered for us.  As we drove over to the corrals the clouds parted and the sun came out.  For the next four hours we worked in bright sunny weather.  In fact I got a sun burn on my neck and arms.  We were about ¾ done when the clouds came back and saved me from a more severe burn, unfortunately they brought the rain and hail with them.  The Ethiopians ran for cover but I just kept working.  They got out their umbrellas and came back to work.  Mulgeta said “When it rains like this the Ethiopians quit work and go inside.  Today we are learning from you how to work hard.”  We finished working the cattle at about 5:30 pm.  We had vaccinated the whole herd and transferred 32 embryos. 
Boran cows used for embryo recipients
I was very happy with the way that the recipients responded to the hormone synchronization this time. Having them on the good Kokosa grass has fattened them up and improved their reproductive response.

I was very tired and hungry but knew that we still had to get the truck to the main road before we could drive home.  I coached Abera through driving in the very slick mud and we took along with us a crew to help push us through the worst spots. Within about 20 minutes we made it to the main road where we piled in and headed home.  I was so grateful when we finally pulled into the hotel.  The Lord had really blessed us.

I had a quick dinner of chicken stir-fry and chips which was very good.  I talked briefly with the family then headed to bed. I am looking forward to being able to sleep in tomorrow morning.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Embryo Implantation at ATARC and Al Amin Feedlot Visit

Apr. 15th, 2010

Boran cows that were embryo recipients
Abera and I headed to ATARC this morning to implant embryos.  It was overcast when we got ready to leave so I asked Abera if I should get my coat.  He said no it will not rain at Adami Tulu.  It rained much of the drive and was raining in Adami Tulu when we arrived.  We sorted out the animals and began to work.  The rain slowed down and stopped most of the time that we were working. The Ethiopian crew did a very good job working the cows and assisting us.  We transferred eight embryos.  I could not pass through the cervix of one of the recipients but the others went very well.

After we finished Abera and I talked with the two main herdsmen that we worked with.  I gave them each a pocket knife and had Abera explain to them what it meant to me.  I challenged them to take very good care of all of the animals especially the five that were going to calve in May.  They were very happy and agreed to do a very good job.

We had lunch at the American hamburger place in Ziway.  Eddy was there so we talked with him for a little while.  It appears that the business is not doing very well.  For Ethiopia the food was very good but I think the quality of the hamburgers has slipped a little.
Bull fattening for export at Al Amin Feedlot south of Adami Tulu

On our way back we stopped at the Al Amin feedlot and talked with Abe the on site manager.  He gave us a tour of the facility.  It is another USAID project which seems to be working very well.  The animals are fattened and then shipped to slaughter houses near Nazaret.  The meat is exported for international sale.  The export market recognizes the better quality beef and pays more of a premium than the local market does.  We saw a feed that is an oilseed cake mixed with whole cottonseed.  I was very excited to see the cottonseed used as feed.  I hope that I can get some for our cattle too.
Fully Fattened Boran bull ready to go to market

We spent the afternoon in Abera’s store in Arsi Negele.  It appears that he was in the right place at the right time with the right amount of money.  It is a nice medium sized shop on Main Street with two rooms facing the street and a large open area in back.  He hauled in a truckload of the red volcanic gravel to put on top of the mud making it a lot nicer to walk from the road to his shop.  He hasn’t decided what to do with his shop yet so we used it as an office.

I went through the Select Sires DVD with Mulgeta, Gemechu and Abera teaching them the theory of artificial insemination of dairy cattle.  If all goes well I will have them breed a few tomorrow in Kokosa.

For dinner tonight I had a nice salad with a light olive oil and vinegar dressing and some spaghetti with meat sauce.  The spaghetti was slightly overcooked and the sauce was very sweet, a little disappointing after such a great salad.

I had a good long talk with Erika on Skype.  The family has had the flu which in addition to the home repairs is very tiring but she seems to be handling it well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Embryo Implantation and Recipient Preparation

Apr. 14th, 2010

The MAI Kokosa team ready to work cattle

Mulgeta, Gemechu and I rode with Esaus our driver to Kokosa. The weather was beautiful for us sunny with occasional clouds to keep us from getting too hot.  We were able to implant an embryo in the cow that was in heat last week and breed one that was in heat today.  The transfer went very well but the insemination was impossible.  I wonder if she really was in heat.  I had Mulgeta try for a while because I am teaching him how to artificially inseminate cows.  He finally gave up so I tried but didn’t have much more success than he did. I hope the semen are up for a long swimJ.  The crew is starting to learn how to handle cattle better so it is much faster and less frustrating.  The cows are learning that every time they go in the shoot they get stuck with a needle.  I wish that I had a good corral set up here.
Lunch time everybody dig in!
 For lunch I ate the omelet sandwich that Almas made for me for breakfast.  Negesu brought over ingera and wot from his restaurant for everyone else. I had a little of the spinach sauce which was pretty good.  I also had a radish out of the garden.  I have a feeling that the Ethiopians are not going to like them at all. I guess we will see.  The peas, beats, beans, and carrots seem to be growing alright.  I hope to see a bounteous harvest next time I come to Ethiopia.

To pass the time on the drive I read from the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.  Being in the middle of needing and seeing miracles here brings those books more to life.  I can empathize more with their challenges and joys when they are triumphant.

It appears that we had a really good response from our recipients in Kokosa.  We will know for sure on Friday when we transfer the embryos.  We could have as many as 50 recipients to receive embryos.
These bites itch terribly
I am still fighting the bug bites but I think that I am winning. I still don’t know exactly what kind of a bug it is or when it gets me.  I have been spraying my clothes and bedding with bug spray and it seems to work most of the time.  I have even rubbed it right on my legs like insect repellent, then I read the warning not to get it on your skin and to wash for 20 minutes if you do.  It hasn’t killed me yet so I think that I am safe.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Embryo Transfer at Adami Tulu Animal Research Center

Apr. 13th, 2010

Darege picked me up at 5:30 this morning to go to Shashamene. I was just getting on Skype for FHE when he arrived so we prayed as a family and I said goodnight to them.  I quickly called Steve Larsen to answer a few urgent questions that he had.  Darege is a very cautious driver which almost drove me crazy as we slowly made our way out of Addis.  I think that he went above 60km/hr(35m/h) only a couple of times on the highway where the speed limit is 80 (50k/h).  The few vehicles that were on the road whipped past us.  He did speed up a little outside of Addis.  I decided that after my accident last week I should not worry about it and let him drive so I opened up my scriptures and read about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in between my chats with Darege.
Embryo recipient cows at ATARC

I had factored in a half an hour cushion so we were only about 10 minutes late when we arrived.  Chali and Belay were there to help us get going.  The herdsman quickly sorted the five animals we needed and drove them to the working area.  I had marked a big 5, the date, on their hips so even though one of the animals was not identified on the paperwork we still were able to work with her.  I was very pleased to find that all five of them had a corpus luteum so we were able to put embryos in them all.  We had a problem with some ice at the bottom of the goblet freezing all of the embryo straws together.  It was a little difficult separating the straws without damaging the embryos. The transfers went smoothly. Two of the animals were difficult to thread the cervix but everything else went fine.

We stopped in the cafeteria and had a glass of hot milk.  My milk must have been a little burnt or else they hadn’t washed my glass out very good because there was a slight off taste to it.  I thought that it might have coffee in it at first so I asked Abera but they said it was straight milk.  I don’t drink milk very often here so I enjoy the hot milk at ATARC.

I talked with Belay, one of the ATARC staff, about his handicapped daughter.  I explained what I had found out and asked him additional questions so that I could get the best information for him.  I wish that I could just take her to Primary Children’s Hospital but that is not an option right now. There really isn’t much help for her in Ethiopia.
Two of the Holstein (Friesian) cows from the VOH compound
 We drove on to the compound where I checked the cow and gave her a PGF shot.  We discussed her feed and care.  It looks like Abera’s wife, Tgist, will eventually assume the role of milker once the children are gone.

Abera invited Darege and I to eat tibs with him for lunch.  I think I would really like tibs if the meat was from tender American beef but I struggle with the tough Ethiopian meat even when it is cut up for me.  I am becoming accustomed to ingera so that I don’t mind eating it as much.

We set up a bank account in Shashamene to handle the money for the Kokosa project.  I will be much happier to have the money in the bank instead of in huge bundles in my briefcase.  The process of setting up an account is similar to setting one up in the US except you have to have several different people doing several different steps.  Abera had most of the work finished so it only took us half an hour to finish it up.

This evening I went over to Mekonen’s farm to check his two cows and prepare them for breeding.  The older cow had some scar tissue on the end of her teat.  The milker brought out an old cannula that he was going to insert into her teat to help the milk flow.  I quickly discouraged it and taught them how inserting the cannula would be like giving the cow an injection of bacteria leading to mastitis.  He also had some antibiotic pills to give the cow but I told him it was not necessary and that in the US if you gave them to a cow you would not be able to sell the milk for a week.  He smiled and said we are not that advanced here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jerky testing ... No car for me

Apr. 12th, 2010

Today has been another office day.  I ran another jerky taste test trial to determine the best type of jerky to make.  Ironically the best one seems to be a commercial American jerky spice.  I have not used the Ethiopian mitmita spice which is the common one for their quanta which is equivalent to our jerky.  I will try that and see how they like it.

I packed everything for my trip tomorrow.  I just hope that I will have a car.  I could have had a 4 wheel drive truck but they were asking 1400 ETB/day which was more than I wanted to spend. I may end up with another car which will mean that Abera and I will drive his truck when we go to Kokosa. Sometimes I get discouraged when I have planned so carefully with plenty of time but things don’t work out right.  It is easy to see why foreign investors get discouraged and leave.  I see wisdom in the way Paul is going forward.  He has a good team that can sub in for each other and keep the energy and enthusiasm going.

I think that one of my challenges here is to be caught in between two different worlds.  In America we just buy what we need and don’t think twice about it.  We spend our time choosing between the many wants that are easily available to us.  In Ethiopia time is spent trying to find the things you need or figuring out a way to get by with some form of a substitute.
They finally got a land cruiser for me but it was extremely old, had loose steering, bad brakes, wipers that were falling apart, etc.  I decided to go with plan b.  I will have Darege drive me to ATARC then on to Awasa where we can pick up Abera’s truck.  From there I will just ride with Abera the next two weeks and find a ride back to Addis when the time comes.  It will save the company about 20,000 ETB ($1,500) and we should be able to do it without slowing down the work.
I was feeling discouraged today but after reading scriptures and getting the transportation issue worked out I feel much better.  I am anxious to get going tomorrow.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday with Georgia and Debay

Apr. 11th, 2010

I started the day with scripture study and prayer with my family.  It is a great way to start the day off, or end it in their case.  I was able to listen to another session of conference today.  I am so grateful that I have that opportunity.

I left for church about 45 minutes early so that I would be there on time even if I had problems which I did not.  I was able to read about half of the Sunday school lesson while I was waiting for the meeting to start. I had to push myself to gain from the meetings.  The lessons were very basic and translated in Amharic so I found my mind wandering at times.  I saw a little bit of a violent show yesterday and the scenes kept coming into my mind.  Some people say that violence isn’t that big a deal in a movie but for me it definitely offends the Spirit.

Debay and Georgia came and led me to their home for Sunday dinner.  I had fun playing with their four children while dinner was being prepared.  Georgia made bar-b-que pork and chicken along with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.  It was fantastic!  I ate so much that I thought I would explode.  Then she brought out the carrot cake so I made room for it.  I had a great talk with them about everything from children in church to Ethiopian business.  They are a really neat family.  I am excited to see them succeed with their business.

I spent the evening catching up on my journal and listening to conference.  A strong theme of conference is the importance of the family.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Moral Dilema... Who Pays to Repair the Car

Apr. 10th, 2010

I was exhausted after a stressful couple of days and a short night’s sleep last night so I slept very well and for a long time.  I woke up at 6:00 but went back to sleep until 7:30. 

Getu came over to give me my Ethiopian driver’s license and talk about the car repairs.  It is going to cost about 17,000 ETB ($1300) to get the car fixed.  I am struggling to know what I should do with this situation.  He did not have insurance on the car so either he pays to fix it or I pay.  Joe talked to Duche about it and he said that it was their responsibility because they should have had insurance on it.  Joe asked him to look into it further.  I was the one who wrecked the car so I want to take responsibility but if he was responsible to have insurance on it then I think that he should shoulder some of the costs.  I have been praying for guidance and direction to know how to approach the situation and to know what to do.
I spent the day doing office type work, filling out forms answering emails, writing reports, etc.  It has been good to get caught up on that work.  I went over my finances and made sure that I had everything accounted for and balanced.

For lunch today I made a zucchini tortilla for Joe and me.  It was pretty good.  This evening I cooked up some rice with some spam.  The rice was getting old so there was a slight off flavor but it was still edible. I have found that when I am in Ethiopia my tolerance for flavors has increased.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Recovering the wrecked car and bug bites

In spite of my late night I awoke early feeling surprisingly refreshed and maybe slightly stiff.  I tried to Skype home for scripture study but no one was on the computer. I met Ashaber in the lobby and we waited for Teddy and Getu to come from Addis to pick us up.

While I was waiting I called Georgia to cancel our meeting for the day due to the accident.  She called back later and offered to help any way that she could.  I thanked her and just asked her to pray for me.  She said that they already had and would continue.  I also called Ashaiere and finally got a hold of him.  I told him that I would like to see him.  He said that he would be in church on Sunday.  I was excited to have been able to talk to him.
The car was headed away, spun around off the road then rolled on its top.
 We went back and took pictures and looked over the scene.  The asphalt has some shallow grooves where the heavy trucks drive.  I suspect that a combination of my turning the wheels, pressing the brake and hitting the uneven road at the same time caused the car to spin around and off the road where the slope of the shoulder caused the car to roll.  The car has substantial body damage but no mechanical damage. 

Geta, the guy that rented us the car, helped us work with the police and they gave my license back.  He did not have comprehensive insurance on the car.  Biya had worked out the rental of the car over the Easter weekend so I had not gone through our typical procedure of assuring that there was insurance. (I had planned on using Abera’s pickup but it was in the shop)  When Mogess and I asked him about insurance today he said that on small cars they usually don’t carry comprehensive.  

I was warmly greeted by the staff when we arrived back to Addis.  It was somewhat touching and somewhat embarrassing.  We are a newly organized group but we are coming together as a team.
Bug bites that I get every time  that I am in Ethiopia. Not sure if they are bed bugs or fleas. I never see the bugs but the bites itch like crazy for a week.

Yesterday I had some bug bites around my waste, on my toe and on my hand.  Today I have some on my upper thigh and legs.  They are incredibly annoying. I took a hot bath to see if I couldn’t drown any bugs that might be on me.  I think that I found a couple floating in the water but they were so small it was hard to tell.  I will try what I have in the past, spray my clothing, bedding, suitcase and a few parts of my body with the lice and bed bug spray to see if I can’t kill them all.

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