July 18, 2016 was a very exciting day for Laos Buffalo Dairy. After a long year doing all the necessary preparation (getting licenses, renting land, preparing land, sourcing buffalo, getting more licenses etc), we hit a monumental moment: The arrival of our first buffalo!
We met a man several months ago in Kok Mun Village, named Mr. Bing. Despite some people in his village feeling unsure about what our company was doing, Tao Bing said to us: “My people love to follow an example. I will be the example for you.”
Mr. Bing’s buffalo was a little wild. It took 5 of our staff 3 days of running around the Mekong riverbank to catch her.
We were all thrilled to welcome the very first buffalo to Laos Buffalo Dairy. We had not milked a buffalo in over a year, since June 2016 for our trial! The very next day, Susie, Steven, Rachel, Lathsavong, Lam, Jennifer and Link all went out to the farm and joined Boun Soun and Saw, two of our farm staff, for the first try.
It took a few attempts to fit the buffalo into the crush (a few pieces of wood were removed and re-nailed). She was a little sensitive at first, but within a few minutes she was perfectly comfortable with our staff and let us try milking.
We taught our staff how to properly clean the teats and how to attach the milking machine. There were a few tense moments, as the machine was on and no milk was coming – and then there was cheering! Our very first buffalo on our very first day gave us our very first milk!
Each day we’re getting more milk and we are eager to see how this number increases further, as we begin milking twice per day and start getting many more buffalo. Most of all, we can’t wait to try our first piece of cheese, to be made any day now!
It was even more of an adventure trying to feed the calf for the first time – but we will have to save that story for next time!