Maureen Atsali wrote:The challenges...
-All of the soil issues I have touched on before. It has improved, but it is still pretty pathetic. I dump all the mulch and compost on it I can, but the tropical conditions eat through it faster than I produce it. As for the erosion factor, I haven't done much about that yet, except to try and keep the soil covered in mulch, planted, or otherwise undisturbed. More erosion control is on the to do list this year.
- By far my biggest losses come from my nearby neighbors - on two fronts. Their domestic animals which escape or free range onto my property. Cows, pigs and chickens. And its not just accidental... I have found their cows TIED in my garden. Secondly thieves of the two legged variety. They will steal anything. Sugarcane, greens, fruits, fish from the pond, the dog's chains. The man next door tries to sneak in and cut my Napier grass for his cows. This last fall my husband caught 4 of that man's kids digging up sweet potatoes and hiding them in the coat of the littlest one. A few weeks ago someone dug up two young papaya trees that were about 4 feet tall and took the whole trees. This is a cultural problem here...people pull each other down. This mentality of "if I can't succeed, neither should you." Aside from that, especially during the dry season, people are experiencing hunger.
My husband thinks a good fence will curb that problem. I am not so optimistic. It might deter the animals, but I think it will just be a challenge to the people. Either way, we can't afford to fence the entire 2.5 acres right now, and we have so many other projects on the table. And projects are a subject for another post.
- The third challenge is ME. I pretty much handle all the farm work alone. My husband hates farm work, probably because he was forced to do it as a child. He runs a tree and timber service. I love the farm work, but find 2.5 acres an awful lot for one person to manage. And I am slightly disabled and there is no mechanization. I can only put in about 2 hours of hard labor a day. Ohh and add to that that I am highly distractable. I get side tracked, have too many things going at once, and have a hard time finishing a project.
Fourth is finances. We survive on 400 USD a month, give or take. Because we have no debt and no bills and life is fairly cheap here, we are able to survive. But it doesn't leave much for savings, investments, improvements, or emergencies. We had a terrible problem last month when my 13 yo needed an emergency surgery. Really opened my eyes for the need of some reserve, which really requires more income.
Always open to new ideas in solving these problems!