Zondag, 21 Augustus 2011
Wow, it's weird to think that two weeks ago today was my first real day in Belgium. I'm pretty comfortable with my life here right now, so score!
Woke up around 11, had some quick breakfast, read some articles online. Truut came back (she was out walking with the kids), and we had lunch, as Marcela finally woke up. Read a few more things online before leaving with Truut and Thomas (the cousin with the cows) to go to the grandparents farm where Truut and Patrick keep their cows. One of the cows had delivered twins a few days earlier, but the placenta (I think that would be the correct term, dunno for sure) was still inside the mother, even though it apparently usually comes out a few hours after the birth. So, the mother was feverish, and we had to cut her and her calves out from the rest of the herd.
Boy, that was interesting. Let me tell you, if I ever did wild cow milking, I would not be the fool on the ground. I was getting freaked out a bit - I'm not used to cutting out cows, and basically all the cows in the field had some pretty nasty horns. Plus, the mother hadn't really taken to one of the babies, so once we had the mom and one calf cut from the herd and close to the barn, Truut and Thomas had to go back for the other one, leaving me to both keep the mom and baby by the barn, and to fend off any of the other cows that kept coming towards us. Waving a stick and yelling at a cow to keep back while on the ground is not the safest thing I've ever done. And I haven't been around those cows much, so I didn't know how they'd react to the yelling/stick waving. All I could hope was that they wouldn't take it as a challenge and charge at me. :P
But anyway, that was fun, and once we had the mom in the barn Siemen (who arrived after we cut the mom out of the herd) had to tie her up so she wouldn't move. He kept trying to get a rope around her horns to pull her close to the bars, but kept utterly failing. Truut was like, "This is when you need your rope, eh?". Then, Thomas put on these plastic, shoulder high gloves and went to work. He was like bicep deep in the cow, pulling out bits of the placenta and such. It actually wasn't as disgusting as I thought it would be; I just stood there and watched, didn't feel sick at all. He then put some medicine in her, and it was done. He washed up, and we all had some cola with the grandparents before it started raining, so we went home.
And like, right after we got home, the police came to the house. They had to check that Marcela and I are actually living here so we can get our temporary citizen card or something. It was pretty easy, we just stood there and Truut talked to him. Much less intimidating than cops in America I've encountered. Thomas and his wife took the kids home (his wife stayed with them and Marcela when we went to the farm), Siemen and his friend came by the house, and Marcela and I went upstairs.
I read a bunch of articles online (this, this, this, and this were some of my favorites), before Truut came upstairs asked if I wanted to go to Thomas' and help milk. I of course said yes! We went there, I got a coverall suit to wear, and I helped milk the cows. They have a pretty sweet setup; it's really hard to explain, but it makes it easy to milk their like 200 head. Helped feed the baby calves after as well, which was really fun. When we (Truut and I; we were the only ones who went) left, Truut told me that Thomas was surprised that I wasn't afraid to help milking, as some of the cows were kicking, and their feet were at chest/head level. I dunno, I never thought to be afraid - I was afraid standing in the field with the stick earlier in the day, but not at all milking them.
Anyway, at home we had pizza, Truut gave Marcela and I bus cards so we can go out tomorrow as everyone else is working, and we skyped Robyne. We had to use my computer because they really don't understand technology, and thus, their webcam and mic weren't set up at all. Went back upstairs, figured out it's 37 cents to text to the US (so if any of my friends want to text, just wire me a few bucks every now and then for the cost of it :P), talked to the padre on facebook, and now it's time for another episode of HunterxHunter before bed!
So as you can tell, I really like the farm aspect of being here. Sometimes it makes me really homesick to see or hear horses, or to sit on the tractor, but I feel really comfortable out there. Hopefully I'll get a chance to ride soon. But it makes me really glad I brought my boots. I was thinking of leaving them at home because they took up so much space and weight in my suitcase, but I thought that even if I got to use them once, it would be worth it. And I've used them quite a few times already, so it's so worth it to have them here.
It's weird being out in the "country", but not hearing country music. So, every time I've been on the computer today, I've had Spotify on playing some country music (though there isn't a copy of Rodney Atkin's version of "Take a Back Road", which has been in my head ALL DAY, so I had to go to youtube for that). It's weird, because at home I would rarely listen to country on the computer, usually opting for any of the other music I had. But I just realized that at home I would listen to country like 70% of the time I was in the car, and I was in the car quite a bit. Never really noticed how much I listened to it, until I was around the country and listening to the American pop music on the radio thinking "this isn't right!". Just my odd thought of the day as I sit here listening to Eric Church (and Dad's theme song, "Smoke a Little Smoke").
Oh, and if anyone knows Dutch/has google translate in their browser, you should check out Robyne's blog. I don't know how often she's going to update, but it's worth checking out.
Anyway, this is too long already, so slaapwel!