Brazil Day 5

The view from the top of a plateu today for lunch. The picture doesn't even begin to do it justice, we could see for about 100 miles and it was gorgeous. 

While I love being the person behind the camera, I firmly believe that sometimes moments are better spent lived than captured by a shutter. Today was one of those days. So there is not a plethora of beautiful photos for today’s blog. Instead, I’ll tell you about the adventures I had.

The producer we met with today raised Nelore bulls and horses. This is one of his champion stallions that he showed us. He breeds horses specifically for working with cattle in the Pantanal where it is very wet and the horses have to withstand the work in the heat and wet marshy environment.  

Today we saw more Nelore cattle. They are white, with big humps and so much skin (it helps keep them cool in all the heat). However, an exciting moment of the day was meeting a Brazillian producer who castrates his cattle before he sends them to the packer. I repeat he CASTRATES them. If you are a non agriculture person reading this, that probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to you but to someone who knows that castration (aka like when you get your dog neutered…turning a bull into a steer) is the number one thing a producer can do to improve meat quality, my eyes got wide and so did my ears. (P.S. no one really castrates here or in Europe)

They had been working cattle while we were there and we got to see how they use vaccines and a squeeze shoot. Similar to the U.S. but a bit different.
The producer we met today is a seedstock guy (he makes the bulls that other people use to breed) but for his animals that don’t make the cut he feeds them out and sends them to slaughterhouse. While the producers we spoke with yesterday said that they don’t get premiums or discounts on their carcasses, Ricardo (today’s beef producer) said that he gets a better price for castrated cattle because his are not raised in confinement. My understanding of this was because he only feeds them on grass, they take longer to mature and you can get a better price for an older animal if it has been castrated.
This is our tour bus. As you can see we have done quite a bit of off roading in this thing when visiting the ranches. However, the bus did not survive our trip, we had to have a new one delivered because this one may have been driven a little too hard (and high centered one too many times). 
The best thing about today had to be swimming in a waterfall. Okay so it wasn’t exactly in a waterfall but directly below it and in the Brazillian heat, it felt so amazing. We trekked through what I can only describe as jungle up and down this river until Luiz finally found a spot that he felt was safe for us to swim (honestly he didn’t grow up around rivers so he would have preferred we didn’t swim in it at all and told us very scary stories about snakes that would grab us and drag us under but this girl put on a bikini and was sweltering so there was no stopping me from getting in that water). It was amazing and beautiful and fun and relaxing. Really, Brazil reminds me a lot of Hawaii except we haven’t seen a beach yet.
It is so beautiful here. 
The culture here is so interesting because unlike the other foreign countries I have visited, it isn’t very safe and it is an odd mix of people and classes. If you research the history of Brazil they’ve never been able to have a stable government for very long and it shows in their infrastructure and people. It’s an odd mix of first and third world in one spot with no separation between them. For example, a resort hotel and rubble and a shack could be all next to each other. While it’s dangerous and Luiz (a native Brazilian and now professor at K-State) is terrified something is going to happen the people are all very welcoming and kind. Even though we suffer a difficult language barrier it’s so beautiful to see how people can bond and create relationships and communicate with no need for language. Hand motions, body language and laughter can create deeper bonds than understanding each other’s words ever could and in the midst of the humid, sweat, dirt and exhaustion, there is a wonderful laid back and fun atmosphere that this country and it’s people provide.

I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.

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