If I stepped out of my being and gazed at myself, I know the kind of picture I would portray; a young lady of average height in a flowing green coat, the glasses she always wore hiding her eyes, a straw hat on her head with a stick almost her height in her hand. An undergraduate herdsman.
My first day at the cattle, sheep and goats unit was a memorable moment, one filled with beautiful stories. The unit’s supervisor was really adept at carrying his students along. While cows mooed and goats bleated, we sat in front of him under a large tree, like little kids listening to tales under the moonlight. He educated us on what to expect from the animals; their temperaments and the ever dynamic relationship cattle have with egrets.
After the lectures, I was in high spirits. I had learnt so much from the man with the beautiful stories. Then, we were tasked with feeding cattle. Apparently, that meant leading the animals to graze. It was only that morning I had seen a Fulani herdsman leading his livestock with his signature stick, I didn’t feel any different except for the fact that I was more fashionable. My groupmates and I walked almost the length of the school under the scorching sun while the hats on our heads did little to help. I want to pretend that we successfully led the animals to graze, but that would be a terrible lie. In a bid to display integrity, I’m going to say that the animals actually knew where they wanted to go. They led while we followed.
For some time, we were scattered about, everyone with solemn looks about them. I would love to say that I know what was going through my colleagues’ minds then, but I find that I’m not psychic. I can only say what I thought. I felt cheated. I knew there was so much more to rearing cattle than I could learn as a primitive herdsman. Although it was an experience that I am now glad to have had as it exposed me to my opportunities as an animal farmer, it also broke the heart of the agriculturist in me.
During the course of the week, we alternated between leading cattle to graze and making pasture beds. Now, that was brilliant. The act of measuring the area of land to make the pasture beds on and, actually making the beds, filled me with a sense of pride. At least, if anyone asked me what my achievement at the unit was, I would find it easy to raise my head, tilt my chin, puff my chest and declare that I made pasture beds.
By: AbdulWaheed Fatima (Zahra)