The first sheep farm that we went to today, I was a little frazzled. The sheep were much rowdier than the ones from Friday. Luckily, I definitely got a hand of it by the end. I never handled sheep before Belize, so after handing such a rowdy herd, I felt proud. Even the uncastrated males at the breeding facility acted more calmly than any of the sheep at the rowdy farm. The breeding facility was cool to visit. I definitely haven’t had to deal with a lot of biosecurity issues at school since we’re only working at one farm at a time, which is already open to the public. It was a lot more stressful than it should’ve been for me to clean my boots. I was really scared the foam was going to turn pink. But it ended up being fine, and I got in. I never really thought about how important herd genetics and getting pure breeds in your herd is, and it made me appreciate a facility like this a lot more. The worker told us about how they just received Dorsets from Illinois, and they had to be quarantined for 40 days after arrival. It also cost them about $4,000 per sheep to get them here. However, after today, I was very proud of myself for becoming a much better and comfortable handling sheep, even in the worst situations of getting kicked in the stomach and thrown into walls.
Horses still make me nervous, but I definitely feel myself getting better at handling them and giving them vaccines/physical exams after today. We visited a gorgeous horse farm where the horses just roam leisurely next to a beautiful huge estate with dogs running around playing. Surrounded by beautiful tropical mountains and forests, this farm really was the dream. When we were taken horseback riding, the view of the area from the mountaintop was breathtaking. I only wish I remembered how tiring horseback riding was. I rode a mule named Salsita, and I loved her. I had a lot of fun, especially when she trotted, but I got tired really fast on the way down from the mountain. I definitely have a new appreciation for people who regularly horseback ride. Afterwards, Ruben brought us to cave canoeing, where we explored a cave that the Mayans once believed was the entry to the underworld. The cave was so massive and beautiful, but it definitely was unsettling knowing that human sacrifice was once preformed there. We then had fun swimming in the water outside the cave for a bit before heading back home.
I definitely have a soft spot for pigs so I was excited for today. I was able to do another castration today. I’m realizing that I’m pretty comfortable handling pigs and getting things done with them. I had never seen a castration of a boar that wasn’t a piglet, so seeing that larger castration was super cool, as well. In the US, to avoid boar taint and aggressive male behavior, we rarely don’t castrate boars unless we need to replace a boar. And the process to choose which boar to raise is pretty selective and thought through. I don’t really understood why we castrated the boar when it probably already had boar taint in its meat, but it might’ve been inconvenient to keep the boar uncastrated. Doing surgery outside with the dog out on a turned over plastic tub in front of the whole family is starting to not be off-putting to me. I’ll definitely never forget these outdoor surgeries when I’m in the super sterile OR with all the monitors and all the extra equipment. I’m glad we had one more chance to see more dog spay/neuters before leaving Belize. I’m beginning to mentally prepare myself for going back to the US. Belize was so eye-opening, going back to regular life is going to be a little hard.
I can’t believe today was the last day of class. I’m speechless. People would tell me that it would all go by so fast, and they were so right. It was a nice day, today, even if it was hot. I rarely worked with beef cattle before Belize, let alone with Brahmans, so it was definitely exciting to really get into that today. The palpation lab last week was the only other time I worked with beef cattle. Today we vaccinated the cattle for rabies and black leg and injected them with dewormer and vitamins. At this point, I was barely nervous at all when learning what to do. I think the biggest thing this course has brought out of me is to jump out of my comfort zone. A large difference between the US and Belize is the injection spot for cattle. Any animal used for meat is given injections near the neck subcutaneously in the US to minimize damage to the meat. However, we gave all our injections today IM in the hindside of the cattle. I was one of the two people who were able to help Dr. T castrate the stallion on the farm today. I was definitely more nervous to go into this procedure than any other procedure because 1) I definitely have hesitations about working with horses and 2) he was taking a long time to become sedated and kicking a lot. But he eventually became more sedate and I held the testicle as Dr. T worked. The coolest part was that the horse was a cryptorchid so he only had one testicle that was descended, which I had never seen before. When the other testicle descends in a few months, he will have to get it castrated, as well.