Thursday, November 11, 2021

Chinese Simmentals and Canadian Sarcasm

 Scanning photos from the 1990s before I had a digital camera brought back a great many memories of adventures in various parts of the world. Many in China as that was where I made several trips as part of trade missions or as technical support for a genetics export company.

This one trip took me back into the mountains SW of Beijing to see a cattle herd that had been bred up to Simmental for so many generations they were, for all intents and purposes, purebred. The village and pasture land were located on a high plateau and the road into the place was typically bad. Rough, unpaved, in many places mountain on one side and a drop off on the other. Driving over it in daylight was an adventure in itself.

We set off in the morning, four of us, in a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV: Livestock specialist and senior bureaucrat, livestock specialist and interpreter, driver, and livestock specialist and Canadian. We got there in mid-late afternoon. The village bureaucrats met us and we toured the cattle herd. It had the makings of a good herd but was very much on the thin side. 

Too often in my travels I have seen breeders with big productive animals that forgot they need better quality feed in order to take advantage of their genetics. As one goes from goats to sheep to beef cattle to dairy cattle the quality and quantity of feed requirements goes up.

The buyers sure loved the calves though. Once they hit the feedlot and compensatory growth kicked in, those calves made money. Trucking the calves back down the mountain was not a job I would look forward to.

By the time we were done touring it was getting dark and of course we had to sit down to a banquet. It was getting late and starting to rain. The village mayor suggested we had better stay the night and go back in the morning. Now I have stayed in guest houses in villages but none this small and I could well imagine what it would be like. There was also a community outhouse which was impossible to get up wind of and which likely went with the guest house accommodations.

My Chinese counterparts were visible horrified at the thought of staying the night, so I thought I would help. I came down hard on the side of the mayor  and was all in favour of staying the night. We kept this discussion going for some time and my group was really having a hard time of it, trying to be polite. I kept a straight face though how, I have no idea.

Finally we just up and left. On that road, in the rain. No idea when we got back to Beijing as I curled up in the back seat and went to sleep. If we were going off the road into a canyon, I did not want to know about it.

Some days I am just plain evil.

L-R: driver, interpreter, me, senior bureaucrat


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