If you know a hen is laying, and you confine her you can observe her becoming really agitated when she wants to lay. Pacing the fence, looking for an escape. Let her out at that point she will generally make a beeline straight to her nest...and you can follow at a distance to find the spot.
I'm in Vermont, which seems more like "the great white north" than Eastern USA. I hope I'm in the right forum. I spent the last 8 years in Africa. This will be my first year back in Vermont. I'm feeling kind of bleak as I face the long, dark winter. What do you do during the winter?
Where I live, especially during the rainy season, certain parts of the farm produce so much biomass. I'll see if I can put a recent picture here. The locals slash it down, pile it up, and burn it, or leave the pile to rot in place. And yet the tropical soils here are STARVING. In many places the top soil is gone and farmers are trying to grow into a gravely, lifeless subsoil. It's a lot of work, but my method is to slash it down with a machete, chop it into a size I can handle (about 2 ft) and then spread it everywhere. Around trees, between rows in annuals and around perennials. When we get rains here they are torrential, so having the mulch in big pieces helps keep them from washing away. They help some with weed suppressing. Weeds will sprout in and on the mulch, but they are easy to yank out on a walk through, and are often beneficial type weeds like blackjack, which all the livestock, especially the rabbits love. Also some of the chopped mulch doesn't die, it will try to re-root. Again just keeping vigilant and yanking up the piece if you see it starting to sprout leaves. The soil is so hungry that it will eat through 6 inches of compost in one 4 month season. You will find nothing but a few of the fattest sticks left. So for me, it's part of a never ending cycle of controlling the bio-mass, and feeding/rebuilding the soil.
That's it R Jay. I am thankful that I was able to learn as much as I did when I lived in the village, and now my kids and I enjoy a wide variety of healthful, easy to grow food. Can't force anything on any one. At least people aren't as likely to steal my indigenous goodies and even the chickens aren't so thrilled with them 😁. But I keep hoping it will catch on. (With people, not the chickens.)
I learned about indigenous African foods only when all of my american imports failed to grow. All of my squash succumbed to mildew and insects, but I noticed that my elderly neighbor had indigenoud mystery squash growing abundantly on her fence. I had to mine those seeds and that knowledge from the elders in the village. Changing over to indigenous food crops transformed the farm into a productive successful project. There are still half a dozen things I dont have an English name for. Some studies done in Nairobi a few years ago showed that only 17% of urban Kenyans ate indigenous greens, and the main reasons were availability and not knowing how to prepare them. (And of that 17% the most common greens eaten were cowpeas and pumpkin leaves, not much variety there.). In my experience in rural areas it has been more than lack of knowledge but a strong prejudice against those foods which are regarded as poverty foods or "old peoples food.". They are insulted if you serve it to them. I had an american friend who was staying with a Kenyan man, and I offered to bring her " omurere" (Jews mallow) to try. Her man friend turned to my husband and said (in Luhya, not knowing I understood.) "I dont want that sh*t in my house.". And that man friend was overweight and suffered from bleeding ulcers thanks to his rich, western diet.
I have no idea how to overcome that mind set. Just this week I had to chase a local lady out of my garden who thought she was doing me a favor by "weeding" out all of the amaranth between the rows. She was incredulous that I had scattered that seed there on purpose. And this was a poor lady in her sixties who surely knew that "mchicha" was a nutritious veggie. She also didn't like my system of growing between the rows. She complained that it was messy and unsightly. She is planting collards on her side, with fertilizers and insecticides.
"Tend to the part of the garden you can reach.". Its good to be sensitive to the fact that there are starving children in Yemen, but that's out of reach for most of us. Instead of philosophical discussion about " world hunger" I would love to see permies all over the world addressing local hunger in their corner of the world garden...
Sometimes its hard to read these posts. I live in the third world, and let me assure you that any time there is instability, people do NOT run to help each other here. It takes very little to break civilization when you are already on edge. And people DO immediately default into rioting, looting and murder here.
Also let me say that people are already suffering in many parts of the world, right now. I do home care visits, and was out the day before yesterday to see a woman with spinal TB who lives in a 10x10 mud room in a squatters slum behind a cemetery. She shares that house with about 8 kids and grandkids. The only food she had were a few packages of enriched porridge flour given out by the government at the TB clinic, but she had no way to cook it. She used to earn money washing laundry for others, but now her spine has collapsed and she is barely mobile. She has no money to buy food or charcoal or firewood, or water. She was burning her plastic jerricans to cook, but eventually ran out of plastic too. Pictures from Friday, not 1933.
Haha Dale. You crack me up. Note I mentioned in my original post that the Masai have gone to the standard western diet. I went to the city park yesterday in Kakamega. While relaxing 5 masai men came and sat in a semi-circle about 5 feet away from me, aparently fascinated by my daughter. They were all close to six foot, but yes rather scrawny. How many generations of eating sh*t does it take to ruin your genetic heritage?
Given you were at a tourist sight, i would question if your entertainers were really Masai or just some random actors? The few Masai I know here come for work and usually work as security guards...or sell beaded sandals while they walk around in shoes made from recycled tires. And they eat ugali like everyone else.
Luo's eat a lot of fish, so perhaps that explains their robustness. Although my first friend in Kenya was a 6 foot 1 inch Luo man who was so skinny you could practically see through him. Lots of variation I guess.
And as long as I am posting i should add that day 1 of carivory has been rough. I went into the slums to do a home visit, and I almost fainted... Which would have been really bad because there was no vehicular access to this particular squatters slum. I'm not really sure the cause. They were cooking over charcoal indoors in a tiny mud room with no windows, and it was like an oven in there... So carbon monoxide? Or hypoglycemia? Or anemia on my part? I had an orange in my back pack and I sucked that down to make sure I could get out of there on my own two feet. I made it home, but I still feel tired and weak. Impending malaria is also a possibility. So i ate an orange. I dont intend to eat anything else non-animal today. But oh well, try again tomorrow.
All these studies that say low carbers and meat-eaters will die early have already been dismissed as incomplete and unscientific. I am much more afraid of dying from diabetic complications than I am of dying from eating a clean low carb or carnivorous diet.
Having said that, I am trying again to zero carb, attempting to make it over that three day hump. I am desperate to feel better.
Just for the sake of argument, I'd like to point out that there are tropical cultures that are carnivorous. Here in Kenya its the Masai. I remember seeing some documentaries about Amazonian tribes as well. Its interesting to see the difference in body structure between the Masai and my husband's luhya tribe. Although the masai are now being forced into a Western diet, they are still about a foot taller than the average luhya and they have much better jaw and teeth structure. The luhya were traditionally agrarian. They are shorter and have smaller jaws with crowded, often crooked teeth.
How have you (speaking to the carnivore folks on this thread) deal with food addictions... I can't seem to make it over that hump. I have a long history of disordered eating, so I seem to hit a psychological barrier about 3 days in, where I feel panicky. My health has really gone down hill since I left the farm and moved to town... I need to get a handle on my diet or I think I'm headed for big trouble.
I second what everyone else said. I rarely do anything special, just throw them right in the pot when making soup or stew. Or if doing BBQ, I'll scewer them and put them on the grill. Really nice flavor. Here in Luhya Land, the gizzard is usually for the man of the house. So i claimed the heart and liver and proclaimed them the woman's parts. The liver of a pasture raised chicken is my favorite!
The process of legally importing plant matter into the USA is crazy hard and expensive. I am in Africa but have never heard of any 3 month cultivar. My variety, which I just got from local villagers, takes a full year. If you wrangle up more info, I'd be really interested. I think I remember reading that there was an improved variety developed here for the coast which grows faster and more prolifically than our Western province variety, but I think it still takes 6-9 months.
Oh this is a favorite pet peeve of mine, having lived in rural western Kenya for almost 8 years now. Most folks here have ditched their indigenous diets for a Western one. Maize has become the staple food, even though it is not particularly well suited to the conditions. I came here with an expensive selection of heirloom american fruit and vegetable seeds... And my first garden was an epic failure. So I started researching indigenous foods. I experimented with eating and growing. I sourced seeds from old ladies in the village... And no surprise, the native crops were easy to grow and well adapted. Example: The local squash is not susceptible to fruitflies or powdery mildew, but every variety of summer or winter squash I imported was destroyed. I also started researching the wild edibles: mushrooms, greens, fruits. I was so excited because my eyes were open to the huge abundance. There was absolutely no reason for locals to suffer from hunger and malnutrition. But when presented with these nutritious foods, locals scorned them. Guavas for example grow in wild abundance along many back roads and hedges. But that's "kids food". Other things were scorned as " grandmothers' food." Or "poor peoples food.". (As if they weren't poor people!). The cultural attitude is that modern sophisticated people eat western foods, and only backwards ignorant people ate indigenous foods. In 5 years time I had built up a farm that was able to meet all the caloric and nutritional needs for a family of six and a part time employee, and a half dozen hungry kids that were always hanging around. I bought sugar, cooking fat and salt from the supermarket. But if I'd been ambitious enough to render animal fats and or plant oil palms, if I had the press for sugarcane or a few top bar hives...the only thing I couldnt produce was salt. I knew nobody wanted to listen to a know-it-all american, but I thought in time if they saw abundance demonstrated, they might be interested. But nope. Because my garden was green during the annual drought I was accused of witchcraft. And those same people would show up at my gate begging for food or money during famine months.
Like another mentioned, I can't hire workers, because they flat out refuse to follow directions. They pull out edibles as weeds (like amaranth), they sweep away mulch because its "making the soil dirty.", and they plow under anything they dont recognize as valuable. They stubbornly refuse to consider new (or very old) ideas. They want modern chemical agriculture and store bought white bread.
I have been playing with the idea of community dinners built around indigenous foods, in a gradual subtle way. Unfamiliar veggies mixed in familiar ones. Bambura groundnut mixed in the beans. Sweet potatoes in the mandazi and millet, sorghum and casava mixed in the maize for ugali. Bananas cooked in savory meat dishes and taro cut with Irish potatoes. None of these foods are " new", they've just fallen out of fashion for two generations. I would love to introduce young people to the tasty possibilities.
Most of these foods were unknown to ME, but I came at them with an open mind and an adventurous palette, and I have learned to like and appreciate almost everything, except termites and omena (tiny dried fish.) I have tried termites, and they do taste rather nice, like buttered popcorn. But I can't get past my cultural conditioning against the idea of eating bugs. And I have never liked any fish EXCEPT shellfish...so little dried minnows with shiny eyes looking at me...nope. I could eat any of them if I was hungry and desperate, but they will never be a part of my regular diet. So does that make me as stubborn and narrow minded as I perceive my neighbors to be? 😝 probably!
Great subject, and thanks to everyone who has shared so far.
This is kind of a lifelong frustration for me. I have ideas and ambitions along side a long list of boring but necessary chores... and a body that just can't keep up. I have autoimmune issues which cause me pain and fatigue, migraines, insomnia. I have some mental health issues that get in my way...depression, anxiety, OCD...and each issue feeds the others. Geez when I write it out, I'm always shocked at what a mess I am. If I dont get things done, I get anxious. When I'm anxious i dont sleep, no sleep can cause a flare of pain/fatigue/weakness which means I get less done, which maybe leads to some OCD crackdown and overworking obsessively on some project, which leads to more pain, more depression, and a 2 day migraine.
I'm intrigued by the idea of a habit forming app. But a little wary as well. With my obsessive personality another app just means another excuse to have the phone glued to my face. I have used an old fashioned journal for years, writing out my to-do list, roughly in order. I am mindful of the most important tasks, those things I MUST do no matter how shitty I feel. The kids and the animals must get care. Some wise soul once advised me to do the hardest most hated chore first. For me, that's washing laundry by hand. And I have to say by sheer force of will I have simply FORCED myself to complete that one vile task first thing every morning... And it has indeed become a habit. After that I simply peck away at my daily list. I get that nice hit of dopamine whenever I actually finish something and I get to scratch it off the list. I havent actually FINISHED a daily list in years, but I still find that I get more done with it than without it. I also play games and make deals with myself. If I finish a chore I reward myself with a rest and a YouTube video. I also do what Jocelyn already mentioned - I play audio books or listen to inspirational content during mindless tasks.
But for me it feels like I'm juggling flaming swords. To be productive without overworking. To accept my physical disability and limitations without hating myself. To make healthy choices without becoming obsessive. To stay in the present and stay positive. To try and make sure a bad day doesn't become a bad week, month, year. To find those things that give me joy and satisfaction. To have big dreams and ambitions, but break them up into reasonable pieces, bite size daily tasks. Immediate achievable goals. I can't replant the whole garden, but maybe I can do one row (and that works out better anyway - staggered harvest). I can't clean the whole kitchen, but I can wash the dishes. Some days I am so incapacitated I can't get off the bed. Then I need to surrender, and not do battle with myself for being "lazy", " useless" , "stupid", and "worthless". I always remind myself that each task I complete is one more thing than I did yesterday. My mantra of late is, " safe, sane and serene. "
Here in Kenya people LIKE tough meat and tend to shun softer meat. If you go in a restaurant you will generally find broiler chicken (soft, tasteless) listed separately and at a lower price than kienyeji. Kienyeji is the local, indigenous chicken (almost feral). It is hard, chewy, lean, and actually tastes like a chicken. Boil it long, low and slow before cooking it in your preferred method, which here usually means pan frying with tomato and onions. The locals also make a kind of marinade which contains (I think?) The ash from bean plants, which (I think?) acts like baking soda and has a tenderizing effect. The tough old chicken really does have so much more flavor than supermarket variety broilers, but so hard on my teeth! We also make a chicken and dumplings, but boiled on the stove top, not baked, my grandmother's recipe from the depression, definitely NOT Kenyan. This thread is making me hungry!
Fantastic and inspiring photos, as always Joseph. I was thinking about trying to paint one of your plum photos, but I dont think I will ever be able to recreate that amazing purple hue. Its one of those God-colors that no paint can replicate. This is one of my favorite all time threads!
OK last one for today, I promise. My phone can only handle one upload at a time. These are the little gardens that spring up behind the chicken tractor. Keep in mind he first patch has been picked and pruned at least a dozen times. Also, I dont weed. I just throw on the seed and let them duke it out. Many thanks to Tyler Ludens who turned me on to this method.
The kenbos. "Hello mama, where is the food bucket?". Do you see the little one outside? He got out when I was tossing in the food scraps and is just waiting to be let in. Foraging? No way. Also that particular chick is a genetic anomaly. He is small, and his color is off.
I'm on a photo binge today. Mystery chicks in the brooder. Is there a special name for the throw away rooster chicks in a layer operation??? I need to google that.
Note how long the wing feathers are. In my 8 years experience of hatching and brooding chicks, I've come to see this as a BAD sign. If the wing feathers outgrow the body (extend past the butt end) the chick usually dies. But I bought them anyway, about $6 USD for 21 of them...small gamble.
Some squash from last seasons garden. Squash take a really long time to fruit and might actually be perennial if the dry season doesn't kill them. (At the old farm I had vines still flowering and fruiting after more than a year.). These bad boys took about 7 months, and some weren't fully ripe. But they were being stolen, so I brought them in. Plus I wanted that space for something else.
I've been plugging away at planting. I generally clean a short 20ft row and replant it each day. I am putting in tomato, cabbage and collard transplants, and direct seeding Swiss chard and 7 or 8 varieties of local green leafy veggies. My giant chile peppers have become chile trees, and the tree collards are about 4 feet tall.
I've had a problem with mulching, because the chickens won't leave the mulch alone. There must be good life under there because they insist on scratching it up, and end up ripping up my plants in their enthusiasm. I dont like any bare soil, but im waiting to put down mulch cover until my plants are well established.
Every month i slide the chicken tractor-composter over to fresh grass, and, gee how did that garden get there? I go over the bare spot with a fork to remove as much of the invasive grass root that I can, and then I plant into it and scatter seed. Wow. These little lazy-woman gardens produce more veggies than my two large gardens combined. The chickens and the compost leave behind a fertility bomb. The greens growing here are huge, with leaves 3x as big, and they even seem to taste better.
Chickens. My kenbros are down to only 14. According to the advertising, this patented breed is supposed to be hardy and self-sufficient. Not so, says I. They are as dumb as they come, terrible scavengers, ridiculously tame, no scratching and no instincts. If I let them out, they just follow me around, waiting to be fed. They won't dig on the compost, and if it rains and they can't get back in the tractor, they dont have enough brain to seek shelter in the bushes or under the eves. They are easy pickings for predators and human thieves because they are so slow and docile. On the other end of the spectrum I have 3 kienyeji hens, 1 mature rooster, and 2 young roosters. These are almost wild chickens, super efficient scavengers, mad scratchers, fast as hell, able to fly short distances, predator saavy, impossible to catch, insanely broody and very slow to mature. These guys are my compost workers, but they hate being confined in the tractor. They make a break for it every time I open it for feeding and watering. A few days ago I added 20 mystery chicks to my brooder. I suspect they are the throw-away roosters from a layer hen nursery. (The seller tried to cheat me that they were kari improved, but I'm sure they are NOT.). They sell these throw away male chicks for 30 cents each, and I figured I would try raising a few just for meat while I'm waiting for my other chickens to start laying.
My landlady, in an act that seems a bit passive-aggressive, gave the other 3/4ths of my rental's plot to these ladies to grow their crop in the present rainy season, for free. Nothing against these ladies, but I pay rent here and only get to use a quarter of what I guess is a third of an acre. She told me I couldn't use the other part because she was using it for her own household crops. Last season they grew little more than weeds. And these lovely ladies have planted only a quarter of the area with sweet potatoes, collards and cowpea. I'm watching weeds grow up in the plowed but unused portions. Unfortunately, because these ladies planted collards, I can't allow my chickens to free range. Well, I could, but I believe in being a good neighbor. Actually I wanted to post this photo so people could see the tool - a sort of oversized hoe with a short handle, called a jembe. This all purpose goodie is used for plowing, planting, weeding, and all general digging work. Many of my neighbors back in the village plow multiple acres by hand with jembes.
I quit all the time. I quit, i mope, i try to conform to a non-garden living, but always my mind turns back...and after a time I shake off the hopelessness, and pick up where i left off. Its like an addiction. I am addicted to hard labor, dirt under my fingernails, and the smell of compost, irregardless of whether or not I produce a viable income. And food I grow myself just tastes better.
Its been one hell of a month so far. I was really sick for a couple weeks (malaria, a kidney infection.). Its only been the last few days I've been off medications and feeling fairly normal.
Things at my little urban farm are going along fairly well, despite irregular rains. My nursery basins are ready for transplanting. None of the "exotic imports" have germinated. A bummer but no huge loss, just experimental. Once I get those transplants in, I won't have much to do here except manage chickens, pull the occasional weed, and twiddle my thumbs. So different from the chaos of managing 2.5 acres and 5 or 6 varieties of lifestock...i confess im a bit bored.
I went back to the old farm for another visit. As i mentioned in an earlier post, the farm has been abandoned for 7 months. It was pretty well ravaged during the dry season by in-laws and neighbors, and the jungle is encroaching. But thanks to the power of perennials, i still found an abundance of food. A sweet banana of good size...someday i need to weigh these things so I have a system of comparison. A ripe pineapple hidden in the overgrowth. A couple of small papayas, and small-sized but perfectly edible taro roots that the thieves ignored.
The three beds i planted at the last visit were untouched. The dirt in these beds is worthless, and I had nothing to add, and no time to mulch. Still there was an abundance of cowpea, which i pruned for greens, and lots of stunted amaranth. Other seeds in the poly culture blend germinated here and there. The Irish potatoes do not appear to be doing well, as I found only a few sprouted in the cowpea cover crop.
While I was there i cleaned out and replanted one line of taro and added a fourth bed behind the house with sweet potato vines left to run wild after the sweet potatoes were stolen. That's all I had the time and energy for. The taro line was disheartening, as i was starting from scratch, planting tops from tubers the size of golf balls into the empty holes that once contained tubers the size of my thigh. (For those who dont know taro, you replant the top, each planting the top grows larger in diameter, thus producing fatter tubers underneith. You also get small off shoots from the mother tuber to start new plants.)
What i learned from this visit? There should be no hungry people in Kenya. Food insecurity is created by a dependence (addiction?) to food introduced from the West - mainly maize (corn) and wheat. The news papers here are always counting the tons of maize in storage, wringing their hands in worry over chronic shortages and impending famine. Meanwhile, i just carried home about 60 lbs of produce from a completely neglected farm - indigenous produce (or at least long-term adapted.). If people would grow and eat these foods that their grandparents ate, there would be bountiful food and a much healthier population. Africans did not evolve to eat maize. I know I'm preaching to the choir here on permies, but its a message I still wish I could convey to my neighbors. But since i still havent convinced my own husband... In fact he and my in-laws were still harping on me to plow my Shamba and plant maize. For 7 years i have refused to monocrop maize. I even sat down with a pen and paper to show my husband and mother in law that planting maize was a financial loss - it cost more to grow (by chemical monocropping) than it does to go buy a sack at the market. Because of cheaper imports from other parts of the country, its not profitable to sell. My mother in law grows maize every year, and sells at a loss every year - but since she keeps no records, she can ignore that loss and continue to cry poverty and wonder why she's not getting ahead. So frustrating. I used to grow a small plot of open pollinated maize in a poly culture each season, which we ate fresh as boiled or roasted maize, and only dried seed for replanting. Now i have stopped eating maize altogether, so why grow it at all (except to prove that it can be done with no chemicals.)?
Whoops, got off on a rant there. I'll get some pictures from the garden after I get the transplants in. Happy growing!
Burra, I havent kept up with Permies well these last many months, so i am very sorry to hear about your loss.
Dale, hats off to you for going in to help. You rock.
The reason you see so much eucalyptus in Kenya is because it was marketed as a get-rich timber scheme. Fast growing straight trunk trees with a "guarenteed" market to the Kenya power company as power poles. Every farmer jumped in, planting eucalyptus. And now Kenya power has switched over to cement poles, so that market has crashed. It still has value as building timber, but it has ruined countless hectares of productive farm land. It is extremely allopathic and I have heard that even if you rip out the stumps it can take a decade for the allopathic chemicals to get out of the soil. There are much better alternatives, such as biblia, but it doesn't grow as fast. My husband of course insisted on putting in a stand of eucalyptus at the old farm. Also the way they plant it here, sometimes as dense as a tree every two feet, it is totally sucking off the water tables. The famous "crying stone" in Kakamega no longer cries, presumably because of the surrounding eucalyptus plantation.
Im also removing as much of the grass area from my yard as possible. With no space for a ruminant to mow it, all mowing is done here with a hand tool called a "slasher". Not fun. Not particularly safe either.
I keep my chickens in a chicken-tractor-composter. Nothing complicated, i throw all my weeds, leaf litter, grass cuttings, food scraps, and organic refuse into the chicken tractor, alternating front and back. The back is enclosed and would stay dry except there is often liquid in my food scrap bucket. Like old black tea, or the water i used to soak the ugali pan...plus the juicy stuff from fruits and veggies. I dont turn it. It has no smell. It does get hot on the bottom. After 6 weeks I rake out the compost. The first couple inches is raw and unfinished. The bottom is usually 4 to 6 inches of black gold. I harvest that, slide the tractor over to the next section of grass, and throw the raw stuff back in. They have effectively removed and or smothered the previous patch of lawn. I have to do a bit of digging to take out invasive root systems...we have nasty grass that might be Bermuda or Kikuyu grass. Then I seed the naked spot with a poly culture of vegetable seeds. Thus my chickens are happily removing the lawn one six week section at a time, and manufacturing beautiful compost in the process. But you have a lot more lawn to deal with than I do.
I havent had much to write about as we are between growing seasons and there isn't much going on except watching last seasons veggies go to seed. As i clean out old rows i reseed with a polyculture blend of indigenous greens. I've started the nursery basins (under a net to keep the neighborhood chickens out) with a variety of coñventional veggies: tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, cabbage and collards. Plus some unconventional experiments. Figs. Pansies. Rubekia. Blue bamboo and butterfly bush. Will be interesting to see if any of those germinate.
I got my 50 kenbro chicks. I had a quarrel with the dealer as they tried to stick me with a mixture that contained naked necks. The naked neck kenbro was specifically "engineered" for coast province, as it is able to endure harsher conditions and the extreme heat. It also doesn't grow as big and lays half as many eggs. On top of that, while I dont personally care about naked neck vs. Normal feathers, there is a local cultural bias against the naked neck snd consumers will not pay as much for a naked neck, regardless of weight. So I threw an American tantrum and demànded that they pick out all the naked necks and give me only the red or tricolor chicks. The chicks come in boxes of 100, but they let you do a minimum order of 50. I feel a bit sorry for the person who got the other half of my box, because they got nothin' but necks. I'm feeling a bit uncertain about whether i will be able to order chicks again from this dealer...and as far as I know they are the only kenchic agent in town.
Anyway...brooding the chicks was less than successful. Between weeks 2 and 4 there was a massive die off for no apparent reason. They had all the right stuff - food, water, heat source, and showed no signs of sickness. Yet every morning I'd find a bunch dead. It was quite discouraging. In the end only 20 survived. I moved them out to the tractor two weeks ago, amd they've done great, no more fatalities. They share the tractor with two kienyeji hens and two kienyeji juvenile roosters, "Mr. Bean," and "Prince" as named by my preschool girls. I am slowly gathering materials to build a second tractor. When i have another tractor ready i may try again. I would also like a separate tractor for just kienyeji. Its only lack of funds slowing me down.
We also added a puppy, and I rescued my cat and one of her kittens from the old farm. I've been back to the old farm three times now. The first time was so traumatic I had a nervous breakdown. Everything was stolen, from my taro roots to my dog...and even my cat, but she ended up running away and coming home. The second trip i just did a lot of clean up, burned a lot of things like my old journals and ruined clothes, and put the ransacked hoguse back in order. Third trip I did some experimental gardening, just to see what will happen. Three 4x10 beds inside the compound, with my kienyeji polyculture, collards, and potatoes. If the in-laws steal or sabotage I'm only out a days work and about 4 dollars worth of seeds and starts. And each visit I've smuggled out more of my stuff, clothes, books. And my cat! I also brought some casava stems and some ornamental bushes back to plant here. Still not sure what to do about that property. If I dont use it, my in-laws will likely move in on it. The cost of the commute is prohibitive, but I do miss the place.
Ive got some photos but I'll attach them in a seperate post. I dont want to lose all I've typed on my wonky phone. Happy gardening!
Dustin, that food you are referring to is called Tsimbande in the local language, or bambura ground nut in English. The problem is I dont really have space to grow it in sufficient quantity to sell.
But... And this is probably a subject for a separate post, I still have rights to access part of the farm which i left. But I have doubts and concerns about the cost of the commute, the amount of time im willing to put in there, the emotional and psychological effects, and the very real possibility that anything I do there might be stolen or sabotaged by in-laws. So...if i went back i would have room for pulses and grains, but I just havent decided.
I wanted to expand a bit on what I've got growing on. I've got very little space so I'll probably have to let go of my 100 species goal. But we are only a couple months in and here is what we have so far:
Popcorn (maybe? Mystery seeds from China, it was supposed to be regular colored corn, but the seeds that arrived were tiny and colored like bits of glass.)
Kanseraa (I dont know exactly what this is, and havent got an English translation...its a leafy green, and seems to be the catch all term for several varieties of indigenous greens that might be brassicas or mustards, although the taste is mild and the texture soft.)
Giant chili peppers
Ha, it looks so much more impressive in the list than it does in the garden!
Hey friends, Maureen here, formerly from ASF farm. I've been away for months, trying to figure out which way to go since my marriage exploded and I left the farm back in February.
I have landed on a tiny rental property, and I have been afraid to put down any proverbial roots here because I still dont know if we will be here for months or years. So I tried container gardening, and rescued a couple of kienyeji hens from the meat market. I found container garden completely boring and unsatisfying. Its like "impermiculture" because everything is temporary and portable, and you aren't really doing anything to sustain or support the ecosystem.
I finally decided to relax and enjoy the property to its fullest as long as I'm here. Instead of thinking of it as wasting my money, time and energy on a property that's not mine, I am considering it a service to the earth and humanity - hopefully I can leave this little place better than I found it.
I am converting most of the grass lawn into gardens. I have already built one chicken tractor composter, and hope to add several more in the coming months. I have an order for 50 kenbro chicks expected tomorrow. I've got sweet potatoes growing in sacks behind the house.
The very first day I was planting in the garden, a neighbor came, crossed his arms over his chest and told me, "you are doing it wrong.". I heard that sooo much for 7 years that its become an inside joke. At the ASF farm I made it our slogan "Doing it wrong since 2011.". This time I decided to name the whole farm, "Wrong way Farm".
Here is to a new beginning. More to come.
Hugs from Kenya,
This post, I am sorry to say, announces the END of the ASF farm. Family problems necessitated that I take my children and leave the farm, probably forever. My (now estranged) husband has no aspirations to farm and has likely turned everything over to his relatives - which means they will go back to mono-cropping with chemicals. Seven years of work to bring the soil back to life... All gone. I understand that the dogs already killed the turkeys. So much wasted work and money! But I am grateful for the amazing education I got. I have learned a tremendous amount, mostly by trial and error, about tropical farming, dead soils, indigenous plants and animals. Now I am living in a little rental house, still in Kenya, but a lot closer to civilization. I pestered and begged my landlords until they gave me a decent sized space to garden, and they don't mind if I keep small animals like chickens or rabbits. There is a lot that could be done here, if my landlords will give me the freedom. Maybe someday soon I will start a new project thread detailing my now miniaturized permaculture projects.
Again, I don't have scientific data, only personal experience - I am a diabetic, and protein has had no impact on my blood sugar readings, unless I am still combining it with carb foods. I think the point is that you can't know how your body will adapt until you've tried it, and the perpetual fear keeps people from trying. My reading online indicates that once you stop overloading with carbs, in most cases diabetes is reversed or "cured". (I am a big fan of the writings of Dr. Jason Fung, but can't post a link with this phone. He is not a zero carb guy, he is an intermittent fasting and lchf guy, but the info is relevant.). I can't speak with authority on anything because my diet bounces with availability. I'll spend a few days zero carb, a couple weeks lchf, fast a couple days, and then get hungry enough that I go back to carbs from the garden.
A concern I have had is this: I have no gall bladder. Thus I question my body's ability to extract the nutrition it needs from a lchf or zero carb diet. But rather than say, I can't do it because I have no gall bladder, I'd rather do it and see for myself...and so far, I haven't keeled over from malnutrition, and I still feel my best when I eat the least carb.
I haven't been able to watch the videos yet, but I am very much interested in this topic. I am not exaggerating when I say I have tried every diet in an attempt to lose weight and improve my health. I did lose about 125lbs six or seven years ago, but my health remains very poor, and I'm still looking for the dietary fix - as I strongly believe "let thy food be thy medicine.". Living as I do in remote, rural Africa, and being poor---I don't always have a choice about what to eat. Yesterday it was eat cassavas or go hungry. (And today, incidentally, I feel awful.). I am however aiming for LCHF and I finding that the closer I get to NO carbs, the better I feel. I also reached a point where eating vegetables felt completely repulsive. Totally unappetising. That was new, because I've always LIKED vegetables. I face two problems right now, the first being financial viability. I don't have my animal production up to the point that I can live off them without buying from outside. Secondly is my husband and his culture - which view meat-eating as a priveledge and luxory of the rich. Thus he has accused me of " wasting money ", being selfish and overindulgent and other unpleasant things - without understanding that my motivation is to FEEL better and stop being sick and sad. Hopefully I'll get a good connection and be able to view your videos - and keep this thread going, I want to follow your progress.
Was that truly a silky, or a frizzled feathered hen of some other breed? Frizzle feather is a genetic defect which can appear, or be bred into any type of chicken. I love frizzle feathered chickens, just because they ARE so funny. (I purposely bred for the defective gene, which is a little tricky as it requires a dominant gene with a recessive marker.). So while true silkies are a tiny breed with blue meat... you can get a frizzle feathered chicken of any size - I had a HUGE curly rooster. Frizzle feathers tend to have brittle feathers and start to look pretty ratty after awhile. And if you are in a cold climate, those tattered feathers may effect the hens ability to keep the eggs at a steady temp.
The problem i had here is that locals are superstitious of the frizzled chickens. They are associated with witchcraft. So it was very hard to sell my curly chickens. I stopped purposely breeding them, but am always happy when the odd one still turns up.
Naked-neck chickens are also common here - again maybe it has to do with the climate. Usually they have a little tuft of feathers on top, like a little hat. I think they are kind of cute. And yes I have seen naked-neck frizzled chickens. They look pretty funny...in a pathetic "I just escaped the electric chair AND the guillotine" sort of way. Bummer I have no pictures.