Greetings my loyal followers! I apologize for not updating in the last week, things have been uncharacteristically busy for us at UDS guesthouse.
First! The non-vet stuff.
In typical soap opera fashion, I will describe the goings-on of all major characters. Jenna’s PhD project on the health insurance scheme in the UWR is going really well. Her minions have been taking out hundreds of surveys and returning them promptly (soon she will be swimming in data to enter!) and she reported to have had a great time at her first (of many) focus groups today. Her goat, Noma, is also thriving and frequently strolls nonchalantly into our living room whenever we leave the backdoor open. This is highly entertaining for three urbanites, and was made even funnier when we found goat poop on one of the couches today (funny for me, because Jenna cleaned it up)
Our menagerie has grown by one since my last update- Dor has adopted a little brown goat, named Empress Mackerel. She is not quite so friendly as Noma, but we enjoy her all the same as she puts our kitchen scraps to good use.
Kuli-kuli my kitten, and Sagu the puppy are both growing at an incredible rate; they are a great source of entertainment and it will be hard to say goodbye at the end of the project (hope to find them good homes!)
The weekend before last, Dor and I were invited to go to Kintampo waterfalls which are about a 5 hour drive from Wa. We ended up visiting two sets of waterfalls- Fuller falls, and the Kintampo falls- both were beautiful! Along with scores of school children, our party frolicked in the falls for the entire afternoon. The town of Kintampo, aside from being at the centre of Ghana (and the universe, as the sign informed us) is also known for it’s abundant fruit, so Dor and I picked up about 30 mangoes for ~ 3 CAD. We also bought a large bunch of plantains which we then had a chance to stop at a mango/cashew/pineapple nursery which was fabulous.
This past weekend, Dor, Jenna and I took the bus to Mole National Park. We woke up at about 3:30am to make to the bus depot by 4am (the time printed on the ticket) but of course everything runs on Ghana time so we didn’t pull out of the depot until 6am. We arrived at the town of Larabanga, where we had our first unpleasant experience in Ghana as we were harassed by some local ‘tour guides.’
Arriving at the Mole motel and seeing a baboon steal a bottle of ketchup off a table near the pool (!!!!) quickly put us in high spirits again, as did our walking safari. The next day we went on a safari by car, and by the end of the weekend we had seen monkeys, warthog, elephants, crocodiles, bushbuck, waterbuck and hyena tracks. Amazing.
Perhaps you are now thinking- wow, this all sounds fantastic, but are these girls doing any work? Yes. Yes we are.
Kirstin invited us to help process cattle with her last week- what an experience!
We were working with Zebu and African short horn cattle, which are extremely beautiful and actually fairly docile. There are no chutes or squeezes or headgates here- the local ‘cowboys’ simple lasso the hindleg of a cow, slow her down enough to wrap the rope around the other hindlimb and then pull the animal down using the horns. Then about 4 or 5 of them will restrain the animal (hold neck back, sit on shoulders, and pull on hindlegs) while Dor, Kirstin and I administered antibiotics, vitamins, dewormers and topical treatment for ectoparasites. I hope to post a photo of the size of the ticks we found, they were verging on mindboggling.
We spent the better part of a morning with these gorgeous cattle, before a young bull got too feisty and in the interest of our safety, the cowboys said we should call it a day.
Now, on to our guinea fowl project!
Dor and I have been going out to the four villages, and meeting with the farmers to ask them questions about how they rear their birds, as well as trying to determine how many birds they want to raise so as to better estimate the scale of this potential operation. We have been getting a mix of answers, from farmers wanting 25 birds to 300! We have also been meeting with groups of women in each village, and the contrast in responses to similar questions is interesting (e.g. Women give much more conservative numbers in response to “how many keets would you like to raise next year?”)
We have made incredible headway in terms of gathering information for the grant proposal, and have learned a lot about Ghanaian life just by interacting with the villagers during our visits.
It has also been fun learning how each of the four villages differ- despite being within ~40 minutes drive of one another. Chang, Isaac Luginaah’s village is very peaceful and orderly. During meetings, everyone is one time, they raise their hands to speak and ask remarkably thoughtful questions. Sombo is quiet too, but we found the women to be very forthcoming when asked about challenges they faced in guinea fowl rearing. Nator is also quite orderly but today we witnessed a great outburst of traditional dancing after our meeting, and the children there are extremely friendly towards us. Charia is the most lively village- there is always a lot of talking and shouting during our meetings there but it is all in good fun.
Although we have not been receiving any dead/sick birds from the villagers this year, we are hoping to do some necropsies with Stephen (vet tech at MOFA, who has also been translating for us at many village meetings) to hone our skills.
Again, I must lamely promise to provide photos later on (actually, Dor has agreed to be the offical photo uploader, while I take on the written descriptions) so please check back! We have a lot of really great photos to share. Really.
Thanks for checking in with us!