Farming and youth in Minas Gerais

We had to get up early to go to the experimental farm at the FUCAM project in Esmeraldas. We left at 7am but got stuck in traffic.  There was evidently an accident on the main highway, so we had to take the back roads.

The farm is a place for poor kids from rural Minas.  There are classes on singing and art, but also and most importantly on agriculture.  We had a great coffee break, with the snack foods of Minas, including pao de queijo and queijo de Minas.  Pao de queijo is a type of cheese bread, sometimes in little balls and sometimes in slices.   It is very good.  Queijo de Minas is a white cheese, sort of a firm version of cottage cheese.

The farm grows its own vegetables and has some left over for market.  Everything is organic.  Part of the education process is their environmental responsibility. Notice the dirt is brown/black. Most of the dirt around here is red or orange. This shows how much organic matter is in this farm soil. The pond below catches the runoff. There are talapia in it.  Talapia is one of the quickest ways to grow usable protein.  They can thrive in dirty water, in fact they prefer it.

On the way out they told us that there was one more demonstration.   We went to a small barnyard with various animals.  I thought maybe they would show us some tricks.   Instead, they showed us how they castrate a bull.  I got to stand very close.  I am glad that they didn’t hand me the knife.  They tie a string around the sack first and then cut.  There is not much blood, but I don’t think it is pleasant for the bull to become a steer.  This is the first time I saw this close up. I had a closer up picture, but it really was less interesting than you might suppose.  Google if you want to see it.  I did take a picture of the unfortunate animal before the procedure.  See below.