We made it to Shanghai around 8:30. We had Chinese fast food for dinner at a chain called “Yangs Dumplings” . I had “Pork Bone Soup” and a couple dumplings. Pretty good really. Kai, however went to the noodle place next door because he dislikes the dumplings here. You see, they are pan fried, not baked, which is an abomination in his opinion. He say’s people in South China don’t know how to make dumplings. Another interesting thing: in North China people are more likely to eat bread than rice. In south China rice is the thing. You can see rice paddies around here.The architecture is a little different here too. One sees more sloped tile roofs rather than flat – top buildings. They are more ornate too. Hao says we are at the same Latitude as North Carolina. You can really tell because of the plants and the warmth of the air.
Right now I am sitting in a very nice waiting room at a dairy about one hour southwest of Shanghai during the mandatory post prandial rest period. We spent the morning doing the usual walk through and addressing problems. This is a older dairy, but apparently a very high profile one. They have a really nice visitor center as you can see.
There are a lot of beautiful plants and trees here, even a grove of bamboo.
Calves were fed in groups after trained to buckets. I thought their group feeding system was ingenious. You can see the feeder on wheels that is designed to hold a bunch of buckets of milk. They fill the buckets and roll it up to the manger and away they go.
One thing these large Chinese farms seem to have in common is a lot of space. Most US farmers would walk in these barns and say, “Where the heck are the cows?” And they would be mentally counting just how many more cows they could put in the pens, and if they could get them all through the parlor, and how much more milk they could sell every day. That’s just the way the business is in the US. You need to maximize your capital investment. Here, it seems capital is readily available.
We had lunch at the farm lunchroom as usual. This one had a few more choices than some others. Kai pointed out that there was a bamboo dish on the menu, and I thought I would like some since it is growing right outside the door. Then he pointed again, and with a smile, said, “chicken feet.” I looked again and could see the limbs sticking out here and there. No thanks. I took the Hairtail fish instead. the hairtail is a long skinny fish that looks like and eel, though everyone insists it is not. You eat it in slices. It has a million bones per slice and the meat is very thin, perhaps 1/4 inch – so mostly bones. You kind of suck the meat off the bones and bend down and spit the bones out. Its quite good really. It reminds me of smelt, except that the bones are just a little to big to eat, unlike smelt where you can just chomp them all down.
Last night we were at the Hilton in Shanghai. After quite a few days of being the only westerner it was kind of a shock to see others that looked like me. When a Chinese-looking guy walked up to me and said, in perfect English, “Are you in line?” I almost did not understand him because my brain was caught off guard. Breakfast was great, with a variety of international selections. The only western choices I allowed myself to take were a couple nice dark, hard rolls. The only bread I have seen for the last week is that really white, steamed soda bread, which is fine but pretty tasteless IMHO.
This is an impressive dairy. I love it when everyone wants to know everything you think and see because they are committed to doing a quality job. Its fun. I can make a quick, passing comment, and about 10 minutes of loud chatter takes place within the group. Then maybe one question for clarification and another few minutes of excited chatter. Every dairy, and every enterprise has areas where they can improve. The best ones are usually the ones that make the most improvements, even though they are already better than the rest. They rise to the challenge.
Another nice thing about this farm: they have chocolate milk. I had not seen this yet in China. They have this waiting room with about 15 chairs. On a table between each set they have carefully arranged two bottles of water, two containers of yogurt, and two chocolate milks. Very tidy. If you drink one of the milks and walk out of the room some person will come in and replentish it from the cooler.
There was also this 15 foot high mural on the wall nearby. I think the team is advertising for their products.
There was a man-pass in both of the gates above, and a cow head poking through each one. Cows see a hole as an opportunity to put their head through. Funny beasts, even in China.
This farm was very safety conscious. There were marked lanes around the site where we were to walk. Notice the safety harness too.
I gave a presentation to about 20 of the farm top managers later in the day about my findings. We will be back tomorrow to do some teaching to managers from this farm and from some other farms owned by the same group.
Later we went out for dinner. Same plan as most nights, big round table, too much food. Tonight we had over 30 people. There were people from the farm plus people who will be at the sessions tomorrow. There was some kind of famous Chinese alcohol that you drink in a very tiny shot glass. You toast to whatever you want and everyone takes a shot, or if you prefer, wine or beer. All 30 of them came up to me to toast me. The ones from today’s farm toasted me for the knowledge I gave them and the ones from the other farms toasted me for the knowledge I was going to give them tomorrow. A narcissist’s dream..
I counted the main courses and lost count around 16.. There were 8 appetizers and some fruit to round it out. One interesting appetizer was conch. It was served cold. They were a very small kind of conch. You take a toothpick and slowly wind the conch out of the shell. They were pretty tasty. For main dishes we had crab, river mussels, two other kinds of fish, shrimp, sirloin, pigs feet, some other pork, some kind of seafood called “sea blubber” which tasted like a shoe, a bunch of vegetables and more. Eating in China is like birding in Costa Rica. In one visit you can double your life list of different birds or food.
As you can imagine meals area slow affair. You just keep moving the table top slowly and grab a bite as things go by. It is quite festive.