Sunday, 5 January 2014

Food Prep

One of the big parts of the day at Harnas was preparing food for all of the animals. All of the animals are fed twice a day and had their enclosures cleaned every morning. As a volunteer, we are divided into 4 different groups which each have a set of different animals that we look after : Crocs, Hound Dogs, Owls and Snoobobs ( baboons backwards). I was part of the best team(hehe): Snoobobs. 

Each team normally has 5-6 people so only 2-3 people do food prep every day while the other team members do other activities like feeding animals on the morning tours or going and doing research. 
Food prep area ( pic by Laura)

The 3 tubs on the left hand side of the pic are for cleaning any feed dishes/knives. First one is general washing, 2nd one is for disinfecting and the 3rd a rinse tub. 

The middle table is where most of the big pieces of meat ( portions of legs) were cut into whatever sizes you needed for your animals. Behind that table is all of the grains and pellets. (sunflower seeds, cow, lucern,sheep pellets)

The right side is where each team has space for actually preparing the food. 

Food prep is overseen by one of the coordinators who check over the food before we feed it to ensure we have done it properly. And then they check over the enclosures and have a food prep meeting to let us know if we need to re-do anything.

Most of the animals ate maillepop which is a corn porridge that they add chopped beetroot or carrots too. The maillepop was made by the bushmen everyday in a massive pot over a fire. Most of the time the consistancy was like a normal porridge but there were days that it was soup. Soup conistancy days were not fun if you were on morning tour and had to feed the baboons. There is a people version which is a fine ground corn porridge which is really yummy. 

Animals like the baboons and warthogs also ate leftovers from the human food. It was always kinda fun to sort through a big garbage bin full of leftovers in search of your animals favourite foods. The warthogs in theory can eat anything but really didn't like eggshells but loved cabbage and pasta. 

The toughest part of the Snoobobs food prep was preparing Tyson and the baby jackals food. When you have to chop 2 full frozen chickens, bones and all everyday which takes roughly an hour complete with chicken juices splattering everywhere,  you sometimes want to give them away! lol Tyson at least was insanely cute even though he is still getting use to people. I did ponder giving them to another group. But we did come up with a system that made life easier - chickens were sawed into small long sections. And we took to wearing towels as makeshift aprons. Sharp knives were also a massive help. And do have to give another shout out and thank you to Tamara & M.T who actually bought and sent me a knife in my goody bag when she left. Amazing help to have a sharp knife! That knife has been passed on to the remaining Snoobobs. 

Zoie chopping the dreaded chicken looking stylish! 

The Snoobobs did luck out and we didn't have to deal to much with chopping up meat for our animals. We used donkey meat for all of the animals because it is readily available, cheap and it is a very lean meat. The farm uses 18 donkeys a week. Popeye, the owl, only 4 small pieces of meat a day or one rat. And then our meerkats had a small bowl of chopped meat. Unlike other teams who had to chopped up about 5 liters of very lean, no fat meat for mongooses or fairly big chuncks for the cheetahs.  

All of the other birds ( geese, turkey, chickens) were all straight forward and ate crushed or whole corn, egg shells and growing powder and some fresh lucern ( alfalfa). 

Audrey, She loved pasta and sunflower seeds but also ate apple, carrots and maillepop. 

Cleaning enclosures was pretty easy for the most part. It was mainly just a quick rake to clean up poop and fill in little holes and cleaning the waterholes. I was one for trying to stay one step ahead of the coordinators, so I pretty cleaned waterholes or enclosures if I thought they needed doing. Yup took more time in the morning but beat having to come back after the food prep meeting at noon and doing it in the heat. Thankfully my team was on board with this idea too because they rock ! :D 

The toughest ones to clean besides baboons were the meerkats. They are for ever digging massive tunnel system. And we had to fill them in. Half the time they would have another one dug by the time we had finished filling them in. But we had to so that when it did rain, they wouldn't drown. In the last week, they had been especially annoying by digging holes close enough to the waterhole, that all the sand went directly into said waterhole. To the point that the waterhole was half covered in sand. That made for some massive renovations on our part which didn't completely work. Hope Zoie and Swenja figured something out. 
Silly meerkats throwing sand in their water.

As I said earlier, our other 2 baboons I wasn't a huge fan of but Abu and Chloe were better and younger and did greatly help that due to them escaping multiple times they were moved to jail. This was handy since you can lock them into one side of their jail and clean un harmed. Chloe would still stand and scream at me and try to grab me. Probably had something to do with me taking a water hose away from her early on. oops! Abu was a sweetheart and would sit and hold your hand for ages. 
Abu in jail

Food prep and cleaning took about 2 hours maybe 2 and half- most of that chopping chicken! lol 

Afternoon feeding was very simple and straight forward. Pretty much only having to feed all the animals. The only down side was that we had Tyson and the jackals that couldn't be fed til 6pm. That did mean we had to hang around for awhile but just meant more time to hang out with the animals or friends. And we no longer had to chase all of the guinea fowl and turkeys into their enclosures at night, which they could fly out of anyways. Only had to head count them.

I did a lot of food prep over my 5 weeks there which for the most part I didn't mind since then I knew it was getting done properly and meant I could check my animals too. We did get a fair bit of rain over Christmas which did make food prep and cleaning fun. We had a few rivers flowing through the food prep area. 

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