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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
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Our pump is working now, which is good because the rains have not come yet. The rain has taken longer than usual to fall this year. In the past years, it has been shifting in a more subtle way. There was a time when rain would fall by mid October, it slowly changed, until end of October was the normal. This year, we are almost getting into mid November and the majority of areas have not received proper rain. There was a really good chance of it raining, at the beginning of the month with percentages on precipitation chances, ranging between 50% and 84%. We could see clouds forming, with some certainty of rain, but it would get extremly hot in the afternoons, clouds would form and in the evening, it would then become windy and a little chilly and no rain would fall. This week we are expecting it to rain, though the chance is lower than it was at the beginning of the month. We have started replanting some areas where the maize was affected to beyond survival. I have stopped completely working on the flowers and the kitchen garden, for now, our water resources and time are not allowing us to.

Despite the water troubles, our field has life in it, we are so thankful for that.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It is now raining...! . Both the field and the chomolia beds look healthy. Chomolia is on demand, we are getting customers who come from great distances, than we normally get. We are putting more suckers to enable us to cope with the demand, as we are turning away more people than we serve.  

The neighbor right next to us has started preparing his land, they are using holes as well.
20191113_082623.jpg
Cowpeas
Cowpeas
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Maize
Maize
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Chomolia
Chomolia
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Neighbor's field
Neighbor's field
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Two uncles who stay in opposite parts of the country are adopting zai pits. The other one got manure from his animals the other is surrounded by trees and he got a lot of manure from under the trees.

Fertilizer and seed is becoming more and more expensive, finding alternative farming methods is becoming less of a luxury, but a necessity. I an glad we have an alternative to turn. I do not want to imagine what the possibility could be if we only relied on conventional farming.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have managed to mulch most of the sandy part and we decided its better to thickly mulch the area our mulch allows us to. We now get electricity for most of the afternoons so we can use our drip system, we finished laying the pipes.

My sister in-law showed me which leaves to pick from cow peas plants. These can be used as relish, so we will see if we can add this onto our income generating list of items We have started picking some cow-peas, which we intend to add to chicken feed mixture.
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thickly covered
thickly covered
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picking cowpeas leaves
picking cowpeas leaves
 
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Wow, the mulched area looks great!!!

Rufaro, I'm always interested to see what you are doing.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Exciting times ahead...! We grew shallots less than 2 weeks back, it was just a single brown head, now it is green already. We have decided that for a business, instead of just concentrating on selling the tangible product from the garden or field, we will focus on "affordability " as a product. I don't know if this makes sense but, there has been inflation which has now gone out of hand, instead of taking this as an obstacle, we can choose to take it as an opportunity,  we can produce a lot more products and concentrate on pushing volumes rather than just increasing the prices.

If shallots are growing at this rate, we can put a very cheap price knowing we can grow more fast.
IMG_20191124_094418.jpg
shallots
shallots
 
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From what you've discussed before I can't tell if you're focusing on seed saving at all.

Keep 2 seeds from every cob you harvest as long as it's not insect eaten or has other signs of weakness. A few full cobs that are completely healthy might be better than a few seeds from each, depending on your harvest.

Keep 1 bean pod from each bean plant, and so on. Collect only the healthiest, those that are not nibbled by insects or attacked by other pests.

If you haven't done this before, research it. You want to choose one or two criteria for each crop, and pick only the seeds that fill that criteria. As the seeds are planted on your land year after year they will slowly adapt to your conditions.
 
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I think a too short answer on seed saving can lead to problems.
For example with kale, if only CMS hybrids are available, advising to save seeds will lead to problems because it does not work.
With inbreeding plants like corn, only saving seeds from one or a few plants will lead to inbreeding depression, and a highly reduced yield within a few generation

As seed saving is an art, and too much to explain in one post, here a short description from specialists, and the agrodok on seed production.
https://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedsavinginfo.html
https://www.echocommunity.org/resources/96ff0021-b918-4bad-8220-c2cf3991c83a
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Yes we have been saving seed from almost every plant we have, grown but not in any professional way (thank youbfor the link). We got our first onion seed this year which was an experiment.

A friend talked about a possibility of arranging a rocket stove workshop next year. It is exciting, we will go a long way in reducing tree cutting. The impact of cutting trees was formally announced as one of the biggest contributor to why we have not received rain and why the heat is excessive.

I was fortunate to witness a gulley that filled up within a space of year. The hope that this privilege brings is so much.

Below is a link to the one small window I have into the possibility of changing the impact of climate change and other things that camevalong with development. I am glad and privileged to witness positive changes through human action in real life
https://softfootalliance.org/
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I found a complete feed formulation for poultry on the internet, I cannot seem to find amino acid supplements, Is there something I can use to substitute these? Below is the feed formulation, the items in bold are the ones I have not found

Making a 70 kg bag of layers’ mash (18 weeks and above)
Ingredients
34kg of whole maize
12kg of Soya
8kg of fishmeal
10kg of maize bran, rice germ or wheat bran
6kg of lime
Amino acids
175g premix
70g lysine
35g methionine
70kg Threonine
35g tryptophan
50g toxin binder
 
Lauren Ritz
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Fish meal is just going to be the byproducts of fish, dehydrated and powdered. Bones, skin, whatever is left. If you don't have fish in your area other things can be used. Most amino acids are going to be found in your meats and meat products. The mix attempts to recreate the diet of a free range bird (to a certain extent) which would be eating bugs and other small animals as a normal part of its diet. Leftover eggs, bones, eggshells, dairy, small insects, all are going to be sources of amino acids. Vegetable sources aren't going to be as good, but still a possibility. Shells or seeds of pumpkins or gourds, some beans, quinoa or amaranth, etc.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Its been almost two weeks now since we planted the Faidherbia albida tree, and it is still alive. We also have some cactus we planted and they are also doing well. The other trees we tried growing without success are apple tree, snot Apple and mulberry. Soon our field will not be too bare.

We are now looking more and more into what is withstanding the high temperature we now have.  Our drip did not work this season and even though we water our maize it is clear we will have to put in more and more effort. Christmas Lima beans seem to be going well, we have started adding the plants around the fence. We are now covering the planted seed with thick grass before emergence, to avoid evaporation and hence hardening of the soil covering the seed. This worked with recent seeds l planted, l will use this method for all the Lima beans seeds.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We prepared the chicken feed using the formula in one of the previous posts, less the amino acids.  We have made enough feed to monitor progress in egg production and feather development for a week.  The number of eggs has been fluctuating and we got the most when we mixed feed with commercial feed. This time is the first time we have all the quantities available,  and we used some boiled hatchery by-products to substitute for protein. We used a little of the by-product to once again try breeding maggots.  (I have no capacity to send images at the moment,  l will add them in whenever I can)
 
Su Ba
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Rufaro, did the rains ever start?
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We had about 3 days when it rained. We would see it raining in other parts within our province, all we would go as far as was the cloud forming stage. One huge factor could be because of the amount of trees that were cut in our area this year only. When I can send images I will post how a bundle of firewood will be like and in a day, we have not less than 5 mostly women, carrying these bundles, this excludes carts filled with firewood.
 
Su Ba
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Rufaro, has anyone experimented with solar cooking? It may help reduce the amount of firewood used, thus reduce the number of trees being cut down. Just a thought because I use a solar oven when I have good sun available.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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I had my eyes wide open and my heart skipping a bit when I read "solar cooking", I will explain why after I answer the question.

We have seen houses having solar panels being installed, so yes there are some people using solar energy, the only thing that could be slowing the use of these in the majority of homes is their initial installation cost. I have seen a cone shaped silver thing at a friend's house ( soft foot alliance guys), which they explained as a solar cooker, but I do not remember seeing when they cook with it. Outside these examples I have not seen any other kind of solar cooking.

I have been thinking of a possibility of having trees being grown in my community, including in public places, of course this is something beyond me but there is no harm in dreaming. So, one or two days before you sent that message, I had shared with a friend, this idea which I have had for sometime now. Of having a competition through the city council of tree growing 'cacti in public places as these will not be cut down for anything and after researching on whether they can be effective in cooling the place and have some significant evapo-transpiration capacity, then other trees in personal yards as they can be protected better. The competition will have a good enough price as an incentive, which will be given after say maybe a year when the one person with the most number of surviving trees wins the contest. After this, the trees won't even need attention. During the year or whatever period, there will be meetings, maybe some lunch will be provided to the competitors, this is an incentive that I think can steal so many hearts away it will keep them interested and it is a short term thing to look forward to. During these meetings a more detailed education on trees and their impact can then be given. So at the end of the year we have trees,possibly a greater appreciation of their value, and with the introduction of rocket stoves, we could slow down the current cutting down of trees. This I call the start of growing back rain in our place. When you sent that message, it was when the thing filling my brain was, what if the electricity situation takes long to resolve, how do we tackle the root cause of why trees are being cut, a less expensive way of completely getting rid of cooking using firewood and I saw that, "solar cooking", for a moment I forgot about solar panels and saw an option as potentially accessible as the rocket stoves.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Insulated box, covered by a repurposed window, with tinfoil covered reflectors? There are a lot of designs online.
 
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Earlier corn shelling was mentioned, is stumbled upon these two similar designs that might help speed shelling things up a bit. The first one you can make at home, for the second one you'll need tools that can be found in any autoshop. The design is similar but the shop one is more durable:

https://d-lab.mit.edu/sites/default/files/inline-files/4%20CornSheller_DoIt.pdf

https://d-lab.mit.edu/sites/default/files/inline-files/3%20CornSheller_BuildIt_SM.pdf

Edit: How are you holding up with the load shedding, is it still 15+ hours a day?
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Yes it is still 15+ hours
 
Rufaro Makamure
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2019 images, l also got a priviledge to take part in tree planting in Hwange homesteads, and I think there were more than 20 trees planted within half a day (which is where I am getting ideas on tree planting in my community)
20191228_152549.jpg
Making a solar box cooker
Making a solar box cooker
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We managed ingredients for chicken feed formulation
We managed ingredients for chicken feed formulation
20191222_163656.jpg
Feeding the chickens
Feeding the chickens
 
Johan Thorbecke
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Did you manage to get the solar cooker up and running? Your maize is looking good!

Rufaro Makamure wrote:Yes it is still 15+ hours


Oof, I thought is was though when we hit 8 hours down in SA but that's even worse. How is the mobile network coping? I've read that Econet swapped from generators to battery packs for their towers and that they're pretty content with them. Still having access to the mobile network helped a lot during load shedding.

What really surprised me was how most people defaulted back to tea lights and kerosene lamps for lightning, even though they already had a power bank for mobile phones. I got some LED lights that you could plug directly in the usb port and they worked pretty well. They were also surprisingly cheap at around a dollar per light, so they earned themself back within weeks with the savings on kerosene.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Our mobile network is still okay. Occasionally it slows down or the electronic money transfer stops working,  but it is more rare than it is often.

We used to use candles mostly for lighting when there was no power and we had two solar torches. Only three days ago did we manage to put up DC bulbs in two rooms. A funny incident happened during christmas, we had power and it had been a while since we had power, anytime before 10pm and after 6am. l kept on asking what we had changed in the house, furniture wise, it looked different and I hadn't thought it's just the bright light in the evening.


 
Rufaro Makamure
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We used the solar box cooker twice so far and we have not properly baked anything yet. I will relook at the box. I had put a glass slightly smaller than the oven opening (readily available material), l did not think this would affect the oven much, but this is my biggest suspect as to why its not working well. I will have to replace with a big glass and see how it goes.

We found a bird plum tree (munyii) growing in one of our flower pots. Someone must have dropped the seeds there unintentionally and it is now a positive thing for us.

We are slowing down on activities at the plot, giving ourselves time to review and assess how we are progressing and coming up with a common plan on where we want to go with our home and how.

Communication was one of the things we realised needs so much work, last year we decided to share ideas for the growth of the plot in presentation form, allowing one person to say out all they need to say, and responding with a presentation. That way we give each other time to digest whatever we would have heard and preparing a response, makes us think more clearly. We will do this until we understand we all want the same thing and that it is okay to have different opinions.

I am presenting first on why planning is important and l found a great story, that brings this out from Royston Guest's blog 'Why failing to plan really does mean planning to fail". I hope this will initiate a discussion on how we see modern families, successful and not so successful (relative to individual definition of success). Maybe we can come up with a common way of defining success and then make our year's aim based on a common thing.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It's like we opened PANDORA'S box with the topic on planning, especially because of Scott and Amundsen's story on their quest to go to the South pole. I think the part that was so familiar was words from Scott's diary which blames things on bad luck. It would have been difficult to see how much Preparation Amundsen, put in, for his trip as it is not apparent.

We looked at our own individual lives and how we blame so many things for our failures. Things like family background, culture, tribe, race, politics, location,...e.t.c. It is true these issues affect us today, but which things are truly stopping us from achieving our goals

I am going to make  a series of presentations, and these will go into detail of the individual excuses we make.

We have monkeys now visiting our field, some of the cobs that had started emerging were opened up.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We have had major ups and downs with our chicken rearing. Since we managed to get all available ingredients, and made our own feed, we have been watching gradual improvements. We are also casually talking about reconsidering our capacity, at keeping the number of chickens we have, until we finish with all the experiments, and have a concrete method. We did visit someone who is keeping chickens and he is doing a great job, all his chickens have feathers and are big. We have started making adjustments in our chicken run from the notes we took.

Time management skills development, was the next topic we discussed. We talked about the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. We also discovered that we have activities that we want to do, but we either do not have a full vision of what we really want or it's so blurry we end up getting confused as to what it is we intend to achieve. We end up mixing so many things and sometimes not getting things done. The other thing is daily tasks are determined mostly by what has been done in the past (based entirely on societal expectations) or shaped by a job that one does.

When we came up with long term hopes and wishes, we found out that unintentionally we were expecting too much from each other and in some instances getting in each other's way. We still need to focus on this topic, until we create enough time to include planning in our routine, and develop it into a natural habit.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We got very beautiful rain. It rained in the early hours of the day as well as late afternoon, into the evening.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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It is almost two weeks now, since we started talking about coming up with clearly defined long term visions from the two of us (mother and myself), to help us with a skeleton of our daily task.From the many things that came out, we managed to get, at first, a blurry idea of both our wishes and we refined these to somewhat clearer visions. I can safely say yesterday was our first day to put our combined daily plan into practice and, it is a long way in a positive direction from where we were.

I have been going on and on about a sustainable home. What exactly do I mean, why..., and all the other questions crossed my mind as l searched for a way to condense my wishes in one long term one. Could I be all about maize, chickens and chimolia? It has been 3 years, since l have fully engaged my self into trying to help build a productive place at our plot, and the hard reality is, though I have spent all this time and we have moved astonishing strides toward being self-sufficient, we still have not figured out how the place can be self-sustainable and stable. Yet still, the passion still burns even more than when l started. So many questions were answered in our dialogue and gladly I am not all about chickens, maize and chomolia!!!

I was not at all surprised to head my mum's wish. All she wants is "To leave a legacy for generations that are coming after her", l had already assumed so many things in line with this about her, including what I thought she would want to do with her plot and it was spot on. The only thing is, with our different experiences, our interpretations of a number of things are very different.
 
Lauren Ritz
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You have a goal, a direction. Your current position on the trail doesn't matter as much as that you keep moving toward your goal.

You said that part of your goal was to provide a way that your mother doesn't have to work constantly just for her daily needs. That was a sub-goal that led you in the direction of your primary goal. You wanted to prove that sustainable agriculture worked. Another sub-goal. Little goals achieved along the way make the travel a lot easier, and as long as they do not lead you AWAY from your primary goal they contribute.

Even the sustainability is just a step along the way to your primary goal--which I think is taking care of your family over the long term. I may be wrong, but I think you and your mother are essentially working toward the same end goal, just going about it in different ways.
 
Su Ba
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Rufaro, I am so impressed with what you're doing.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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True, our goals are so connected and talking about this subject is helping us a lot.

It was my turn to share my wish in life. Well l ought to be a little embarrassed because my ultimate goal is all about me, but I am not and l will give a reason why. I want a "Happy and purposeful life " l am not embarrassed because there is only one person's life l can fully influence without doubt, and that person is me. I have made it a mission not to  intentionally make other people's lives miserable, or, do actions today that will affect someone in the future negatively and I figured that my purpose of wanting to positively contribute to food abundance and accessibility, is a pretty decent one. Of course based on a set of things l have collected both in my conscious and subconscious mind in my walk of life, my judgement of some things can be gruesomely flawed as l learn and improve every day.

So now we had the two wishes, the problem was, they were both too general. I knew this about mine and I knew l still had to add more detail, but how was l to ask my mother. Getting her to this point was a road trip on it's own. The subject had been triggered by the near catastrophe in our maize field this season, which was saved by the January dear rain.    
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We had waited until we needed to use the drip system to check its functionality. What could possibly go wrong, it was working when we stopped using it. All we were going to do was clean it up and it would be as good as new, I was so wrong. I had also put my long term goals at the plot in a sequence and I was working on them one at a time and close to 95% if not all of my resources currently, were toward solving the problems we were/ are facing with the chickens. I had put the maize field in the maintenance zone for now, so we were only going to do routine activities and I put minimum attention there. I was unpleasantly shocked to learn the filter was not letting water through and the guy who helped us install is km away and I knew getting him to come, meant diverting resources and it was decision making time. It was either we continue with the undivided dedication on the chickens or, diverting and temporarily attending to the drip system. I chose the chickens, I found it difficult to break my sequence and it was the rainy season, plus we had gotten so far with our maize outside the rainy season, I anticipated a fairly good harvest especially after I had looked up the weather forecast for November and December.  The rainfall pattern did not follow the weather forecast, and sometimes when it was close, it would rain everywhere else around except our area.
I realised that, all this while, I was focusing on how we could improve our plot technically, which we have been doing, good soil, equipment …etc. As I stared at the filter the times I would go to the plot, I wondered a lot, what governed our decisions and also if we are actually going anywhere. Obviously our place has become so much more resilient, there are three fields I have seen so far, that have maize that is promising, of the few families close by, that grew something in their fields, and chomolia is scarce even at the common market place in town. But how do we make this resilience more than an event or bigger than a once upon a time story we will tell?

It’s finding out what governs our decisions, actions and use of our time. I have had to be very careful because we ended up talking about really sensitive issues, just to get each other’s blurry wishes out.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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In the process of coming up with our wishes, there is one particular night that stands out. We had been going back and forth about why we needed to write our long term plans and break them down until we got to what tasks we prioritize in a day. There were times when it seemed like I was criticizing how we do things and it created an almost ugly environment, but there is something about love, it always calms things down. Even if, mother did not quite understand what I was trying to get at exactly, she wrote down her to do list and I was so glad when she gave me the paper. I had not wanted to give my written goal yet for the fear of clouding or biasing what she already had in her mind.

The list had things she intended to replace, bills she need to pay ...etc. It was still not quite what I was looking for. Instead of short term tasks, I wanted the reason why she felt she needed to do all those things. It felt like I was pushing her too much, and I should settle for the things we had so far. But if I did, what then, who was I doing a favor? Then I thought of a brilliant analogy of something we do often, i.e, going to town.Always, before we leave for town, we already know what our destination is, that way we never mistaken any other place we stop by for our actual destination. She even helped draw the route with all the bends, turns and stuff that we pass along the way. We might plan to use different routes or stop by a person's place but we always know where we want to end up. So all the short term tasks are like the turns and bends and stops along the way, the important thing to now is the main reason why we are on the journey. I also thought it was time to show my long term wish, with the broken down to activities I thought were a priority, governing what choice I make and what activity I choose to do daily. Some time passed and one night when we sat watching a movie, she was busy scribbling things and later on she just looked at me and said, "You seem to be crazy about things written in a flow diagram, I have something for you". I reached out, and there it was, her ultimate wish and other things linked to it, showing how she wishes to reach this aim. I was speechless and so happy (well, my long term wish is the easiest to achieve, I get pieces of it constantly).  From this we worked on both our goals clarifying them more, making them less general until we came up with two separate daily schedules.    
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We are now talking about real life successes and failures, that we have seen around us. The aim is to see success and failure through each other's eyes and to learn from these examples. We will also check to see if we stick to our schedules and if we improved on anything. The two images I have included have, in one image, the chickens we went to see, that are being kept close to where we stay and then the other one, is of a really big marigold flower, above half my height and it is in our yard (we have never seen it grow this big and it does not show how hot it has been by looking at it). Both the chickens and the flowers are thriving, despite what the surrounding environment is like. This will serve as a constant reminder that we need to create micro-climates/ environments no matter how small and with very little excuses, for us to succeed.



 
Rufaro Makamure
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We started looking at spaces and people very close to us. There are two elderly women who stay close by and have reached retirement. They are very hardworking and spend most of their time in their gardens. One has a space almost as twice or even thrice as much as the other one. The one with the smaller space has already harvested maize, pumpkin leaves, has chomolia and another bed with maize that has reached fertilization stage and this is between September last year and now. I am sure if we were to measure her longest garden bed, it would be less than 3m*6m, the other two beds are about half the size of the big one. She does most of her gardening by herself, she mentioned how when she went to visit her daughter in a different city, her grandchild literary dragged her to their backyard, so that she could help with their garden too, which she was delighted to do. After weeks her daughter sent her images of how beautiful her garden looked and she skipped a party, just so she could enjoy the view from her garden.

The second woman with the bigger space has had chomolia struggling to grow, her first planted maize failed and she has replanted again. Her visiting son passed a comment which showed little appreciation of the effort, seeing it as a mere waste of time. Both women have city council water,they grow similar crops and are equally affected by the same weather conditions. The difference is,  one is actually benefiting from her garden while the other one is loosing especially on time and energy, We talked about a lot of other examples, including local business start-ups which are usually very short lived. We even talked about the transition from a rural life to a more urban one. I will write about the expectations of urbanization in the next thread.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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What we see now in people who go to stay and work outside the country is exactly what my mum’s generation saw in people who would visit back home from town. They looked smarter, more confident and they seemed to be enjoying much of what life offered, and all of them would look down upon rural life. It became a dream to get out of rural life and go into an urban one. Indeed, it was not disappointing when my parents eventually had their own place in town. It was truly more convenient, they had tap water, electricity, had to put in little physical work to have food on the table, nice clothes and the like. They had decent secure jobs and things used to be like clockwork, you were sure of how tomorrow would be, as long as you continued to work hard.

The majority of mum’s peers took in their siblings and sent them to school, because they wanted them to have this great, easy life. For those family members they could not take in, they would send things back home to help with basic needs. The economy was that good, to enable a new family, to take in extended family, take care of people in the rural homes, while building their nuclear family from scratch. Or was it?
Of the siblings who were taken in, those who made it, afterwards concentrated on their own nuclear families (not that this is a problem but I will explain how it was going off trail for the sibling who took care of others). Some of them never quite got comfortable with town life, so they moved back home adding onto the family that needed to be supported.
Rural homes, in my grandparents’ time, were considered to be the actual homes and towns were just work places usually for men. Rarely would men move their families into town, they would go back home to visit, once, twice or thrice a year. Although some financial support would come from husbands when they would visit, it is clear, judging from the number of times they visited, that whatever work was being done in the rural homes, was taking care of most of the daily needs.  This changed however.

By the time mum and her peers started working in towns, they needed to support family back home, for a number of their basics. So many things had changed but also, the fact that whether those able bodied family members worked or not, their basics were met, could have also crippled them. Instead of assistance helping them have an easier start to building a more stable life, I think they started seeing themselves as permanent dependents, meaning, even though they could sometimes make good incomes, they were not be able to see their capability, instead they would wait to get basics catered for and find other things to do with their own generated incomes. At family levels, rural home life became stagnant. In changing times, the way things were done, in houses and fields were the same, nothing was being improved in the equipment that was being used, water sources... What was changing though, was the number of dependents, as the rural based siblings, started their own nuclear families.

Back to the sibling who made it, moved to town and started to take care of others. For any system to be continuous and sustainable, what goes out should balance what comes in directly or any other way. From the time my mum’s generation started working, they have been giving. Those siblings who made it could have helped indirectly by being younger and fresh labour into a working economy, which could have maintained steady flow of revenue, that could have helped stabilize retirement packages for those going into retirement (this could have been mum’s generation now receiving to balance out what they gave in their working times). But the economy is not working so retirement packages are not even close to covering anyone’s basic needs. Still another way that these siblings could have balanced out the “going out, coming in” equation, could have been remembering that an older brother or sister helped them out and just look out for them in case they needed support which they could offer. Life has changed and more is required to prove success and also to send children to really good schools. Outside the impacts of politics on our current state, I also believe that we lack a selfless nature that was possessed by mum’s generation.

They could have simply sent their own children to better schools, move to even greater neighborhoods than they settled for and saved up a lot for their retirement. They experienced something good, and wanted it not only for themselves but also for others, so they sacrificed.  We could learn from them how much to sacrifice and balance this, but also we need to learn how sacrificing has improved so many things, as so many people got exposed to vast opportunities, especially education.

The giving did not end there, as they still had the responsibility of taking care of their own children.

To be continued…

 
Rufaro Makamure
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My generation got lucky early in life.  As long as it was within our parents’ capacity we had basics taken care of. When it was time for us to start working, there were not enough jobs and it is hard for basics to be cared for, from a basic salary. Personally I was one of the very few lucky ones, when I finished school. A lot of people moved out of the country, which seems like the only logical thing to do, if you are looking for a stable steady life.
“Fortunately” most of my peers send money back home to take care of their parents. Fortunately in quotes because as good as money can be, to help one get by, it is not enough. A family with relatives outside the country lives better, they eat well, dress well and their homes are furnished well. What this money cannot do is to protect these families from instabilities at a national or city level, for example, clean water shortages, if a town has low water reserves, or electricity if there is no power (some houses have solar systems set up, but these are very few) or proper health care if as a nation it is poor. That education that was invested in, could do a lot more if it is also applied onto resources which are available geographically to allow for some kind of stability. Houses can be bigger, number of cars has increased, but the quality of life, looking at basics like good sanitary, healthy food…, has deteriorated. Those working out of the country, can make life comfortable only to a certain extent, but they also have their own bills to pay, and lives to live where ever they are.

Unlike with my mum’s generation, our generation cannot help as many people as they could, yet the number of people to be assisted has increased. There are those who stayed behind in the rural areas and their children, our parents and our siblings (though nowadays there is not that much involvement in each other’s lives, especially financially). With all that is going on there is never enough to set aside for proper retirement. I wonder if this way of helping each other, will be sustainable in the future. We saw a change already in the way those in diaspora used to help. They would send clothes, school fees for so many people within a clan... After 2010, the amount of help started reducing and now most of it is focused on biological parents and to a certain extent siblings.

For those that could not go out of the country, they barely get paid enough to see them through the month and most of the unemployed are still living in their parent’s homes (my mum’s generation keeps giving even as they are retiring). The opportunities of working outside are not as easy as before and it only makes sense, because where ever we are going to seek employment, there are people there too, and we will be adding onto the competitors for their existing resources. It is as if we are creating a huge vacuum that sucks anything that comes into its vicinity. We use up our resources, get people from outside to send us money and we use this money to import goods for basic use also from outside. What it means is the space we occupy, our energy, our time and other resources are not of much benefit to us, which is what we need to change.

Again looking at all other aspects besides politics which we might have little control of, we could do a lot to start benefiting from our space, time, energy and other resources. If we manage to make our homes habitable, stable and sustainable, it could solve so many issues that are affecting us and also other people indirectly. For example, it could lead to development of steady jobs and if things are more stable it lessens the dependency of families on those working outside the country, and even lowers the need to seek for jobs outside. It will also be an alternative place to come back to, if things do not work well in the diaspora.

Judging from a trend that is about to repeat itself, I think the greatest legacy is to equip each other, with the ability to extract benefits from surroundings or nature in a direct or indirect way, in a regenerative way. That way it lessens the pressures that come with the scramble for resources.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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The maize field is now looking good.  I am still experimenting with the solar oven.  l replaced the glass which was too small with a plastic I found which can stand heat upto 120°C. It
had been cloudy in the past days and I tried it out yesterday, still it did not cook well, I am trying again for a longer period.
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Lauren Ritz
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Consider doing reflective side flanges for the solar cooker. The more reflective surface you have the more heat you're going to get.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We did it!!! We baked and it worked. I had to turn the box around to keep the flap at an angle that would trap the sun's rays.

It is such a wonderful achievement!
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The human mind is a dangerous plaything. This tiny ad is pretty safe:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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