Sweet Serendipity

IMG_0790[1]Serendipity:

When you’re headed for an Agricultural Research Station, and find yourself in a town named Ever Spring (Hengchun), holding a juicy, perfectly ripe mango, standing on a stunningly beautiful tropical beach.

After all, what should I call it? Blessing. Fate. Karma. Never coincidence.

We headed south from Koahsiung, on our way to the Hengchun Agricultural Research Station. On the way out, we passed Wang’s Steakhouse (I kid you not, I suffered irrational chortle fits for 30 miles thinking about it) and two hours later, we arrived at the station, where they have some cattle, and a lot of goats. Truth is, they do fewer bovine research projects in Taiwan than they used to. Researchers Dr. James and Mr. Simon trained in Texas for a while, and now dedicate time to researching a short list of beef breeds in Taiwan, and preserving the native Taiwan Yellow beef breed for traditional dishes like hot pots and meat balls (ask me about the meat balls we had for supper last night sometime, or better yet, ask Randy). As I mentioned before, Taiwan folk eat quite a bit of pork and goat, and depend on imports to satisfy a rapidly growing hunger for beef. That’s serendipity too, for U.S. producers.

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They don’t look addicting, do they? I wish you could smell the sweet fragrance.

Our visit to another (much larger) Holstein feedlot proved fascinating.

But…
Honestly, I’m not sure the feedlot was quite as fascinating as seeing mangoes, bananas, pineapple and sweet apples on the tree, simply because that was all new to me. Especially the part where each luscious mango and beautiful banana bunch hides beneath a lovingly applied paper wrapper while finishing the ripening process–to protect the precious fruit from sun and insects. After harvest by hand, farmers place each mango in a mesh foam wrapper and stack them carefully for transport.

(Can you visualize me at this moment, trying to keep the mango juice running off my chin from dripping to my keyboard as I type? I’ve never tasted fruit like this. I’m totally addicted. I’m not alone, they’ve loved ’em in India for thousands of years, too. I think I will experience withdrawal when I get back to the States. Maybe my friend William at the Mango Board can hook me up. I hear they worship mangos in Key West…can they possibly grow them like this in Margaritaville?)

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Sleep tight, sweet mango, until you are perfectly ripe.

But I digress.

Thank you, thank you James and Simon. For the magnificent mangoes.Sigh.

…Oh, and for the wonderful information about agriculture in Taiwan, translating the technical stuff at the feedlot and your kindness. Here are some feedlot photos–mostly about the ration, because it was a great lesson in using what feedstuffs you have available to produce nutritious beef.

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Cassava byproducts, processed into pellets, fed to the steiners at the Sung Sing feedlot. What is cassava, you may ask? Cassava is an edible, woody shrub that is a dietary staple to nourish tropical Africa. Nearly every person in Africa eats around 80 kilograms of cassava per year. About 37% of dietary energy there comes from cassava. If prepared incorrectly, the cassava plant can produce cyanide, a deadly compound when consumed. Rich in rich in carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins B and C, and essential minerals, Americans may know it better as tapioca.

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The Sung Sing lot (certified by Taiwan Good Ag Practice or TGAF) feeds 15 metric tons of chopped fresh Napier grass and 40 metric tons of wet distiller’s every day.

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Soy sauce meal, a byproduct of soy sauce production, pressed into wafers at the manufacturer and sold as feed. The owner told me this provides potassium supplementation as well. Other feedstuffs in the ration include Pangola grass, soybean hulls, barley straw, and wet distillers’ grains, both corn and sorghum.

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Clean, modern feeding facility for older calves. Baby calves are housed in a climate controlled facility using “wet pads”–a sort of evaporative cooling system–to help combat heat stress.

 

Random photo of the day:

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Midnight snack, Taiwan style: Seaweed Sun Bites and a Taiwan Beer while watching Manny Ramirez play ball on TV.

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4 thoughts on “Sweet Serendipity

  1. You sound like you’re having way too much fun. Did you meet Dorcas at the steakhouse? Just askin. M. Armie

  2. Serendipity: Closing my eyes in Denver today (where we appear to be celebrating Lidong) and opening them to find myself on that beach, with mango juice dripping down my chin….

    Thanks for sharing all the wonderful stories and information!

    Diane

    • Yes, I see from weather.com that we’ve missed quite a bit of snow in Denver! Sorry to tease you with the beach at a time like this…

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