Always looking for animals

Sam, Katy, and Noggs in Africa

Down on the farm

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For my PhD I’m currently investigating a local community and how they perceive and interact with animals. So what better way to do this than to head to a farm for the day.

Noeks and I volunteered as farm workers. We offered to do everything and anything to help as part of a social anthropology technique called participant observation. Participant observation is when an observer takes part in the daily activities of people being studied as one way of learning about their culture.  

Our first task of the day was to join the chicken processing line. We were at the end of the line and our tasks were to fold and tuck the chicken legs away properly and to bag the whole chickens for freezing.

Here’s Noeks dancing with a chicken and me folding the legs up.  We had sexy aprons and wellie boots to wear.

The chickens were just ‘hanging’ around!

Here are all chicken heads from the animals killed that morning in a bucket and all the chicken feet. In Africa people love eating chicken feet and while we were there we even got to help sell some bags of chicken feet to customers.

On the day several hundreds of six week old chickens were slaughtered but thousands of tiny less than one day old chicks arrived to start the process again. The chicks come in boxes and have to be kept warm with heaters.

A bit later in the day they took all the chicks out the boxes and let them be free. They were so so so cute. I wanted to lie down in the middle of them and be covered in cuteness but the chicks would probably get germs from me and die or get squished  by me and die. All in all probably a bad idea but I can still dream about a blanket of chicks! 

After a morning of live chickens, dead chickens, young chickens and old chickens, we were invited to have lunch with the farmers. Guess what we had??? Chicken from the farm! It was so tasty and had only been killed about 20 meters away. Six weeks ago it was a fluffy chick and now it was in my belly. 

After lunch we helped weigh several week old live chickens. The farmer has to do this to make sure they are growing at the right speed and that they have the right amount of food and medication for their weight.

We also got to see and learn about the crops, the cows, the goats and the pigs. Everything on the farm is recycled and reused. The pigs are the cleaner uppers and eat any leftover mealie meals or chicken bits. 

We helped a bit more with bagging, skinning and deboning chicken breasts until it was cow milking time.

The little calves got the first drink and then we had to go in with a stick to scare them off and  then help milk all the heffers.

Ahh fresh and creamy, straight from the teat!

Awesome day and I didn’t even get salmonella! We’re going back again to help for another morning soon. I feel like I have a much better understanding of farming and the people and will as a result be able to express this in my thesis.

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