When You’re at Farms and Farmer Meetings You Sometimes Forget You’re in Africa… and Then You See Elephants!!

By: Hanna Hone and Chantel Doyle – QES Vet Interns – July 26, 2019

 This week we’re back with the Buuri Dairy. We spent the first half of the week visiting new homes and finding new candidates for our study, and the last half revisitng farms for secondary blood samples from our vaccinates. The Buuri farms are super diverse, located in both semi-arid lowland areas to cooler wetter hilly areas, and we are still amazed at the huge diversity of climates and landscapes that Kenya has to offer. It was lovely getting to revisit some Buuri farmers for the blood sampling, and we were pleased to see how many of them already implemented the advice that we had provided on their first visit. However, there were some farmers to which we had to reiterate our messages and emphasize that simple changes could make a big difference for them and their animals. While not all recommendations can be implemented right away, putting in work to improve cow comfort would, in turn, improve production to gain some extra capital that the farmers would need to implement the rest. During our revisits we not only saw the cows, but also the puppies and kittens that we fell in love with initially. Fortunately we were able to source some dewormer and a “dusting” flea treatment to bring along for those that really need it. We got to revisit Tom, the sweet puppy that stole our hearts at first tail wag, and met his new puppy buddy and were luckily able to treat them both.

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(Photo 1: Us, Tom and his little puppy bro)

We were thanked by many farmers and gifted with sweet treats including tea, fruit and a giant bag full of avocados!

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(Photo2: Avocados!!!!!)

 This week also provided us with the opportunity to spend a morning crashing one of the annual general farmer meetings at the Buuri Dairy. We were asked to stand up and introduce ourselves in front of the hard-working farmers, many of whom we’ve had the privilege of meeting already but there were definitely new faces in the crowd as well. We practiced our Kimeru – the local language of the Meru tribe of Meru Country- and showed the farmers what we’d learnt over the past couple of months. Realistically, its kidogo (a small amount) but they were appreciative of our efforts, even slightly amused; there were definitely a few chuckles in the crowd. The main purpose of our attendance at the meeting was for Daniel to clarify aspects of the project, the specificities of candidates, and the importance of BVDV to the overall sustainability of farms around the world.

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(Photo 3: Farmer’s Meeting)

We also encouraged farmers to participate by explaining that, in addition to vaccinations, farms with candidate cattle would also be offered examinations and treatments for additional animals as well as advice on management. We wanted to ensure that our activities, as well as the farmers’ expectations, were understood by all and that everyone was on the same page.

 After the meeting we made our way to Meru town to stock up on some medical supplies as we are going through our blood tubes like crazy! We also made a pit stop at a local cafe to enjoy a delicious espresso milkshake, which would have been the highlight of the day had we not spotted a family of wild elephants on the way home! Along the highway to Meru town there are signs for baboon and elephant crossings, and while we regularly oogle the cute baboons and the little baby baboons hanging on the mothers’ chests, we were quite ecstatic to finally catch a glimpse of these massive creatures.

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(Photo 4: Ooogling the elephants)

 We pulled over and were ecstatic to be able to capture a few photos and videos of the seven elephants simply enjoying an afternoon snack. But alas, no photo could really ever do it justice so we focused on just being present in the moment. Fortunately the family of elephants did not seem to mind the crowd accumulating at the roadside but always kept an eye out and a huge ear up. It was nice to see these wild animals being admired and respected and it really reminded us of exactly where we are- Africa! We had similar feelings when we joined Haley on a local hike up Maitei Hill. We made it to the summit to find many locals praying and singing upon the beautiful grass overlooking the rolling hills and local towns. We took our time taking in the view before starting our descent and happily found some fun stumps that we couldn’t resist challenging ourselves to climb and balance on.

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(Photo 5: Getting our balance on the Blue Gum tree stumps)

 The mountains in the distance and the many shades of green between the villages was just another absolutely surreal experience from this summer that will stay with us forever.


(Photo 6: Basking in the view).