Maureen Atsali

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since Feb 06, 2015
Western Kenya
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Recent posts by Maureen Atsali

Thanks for the replies everyone!

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.
3 weeks ago
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:
Georgia Collards
Tree collards
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.)
Jews mallow
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.)
Black nightshade
Passion fruit
Giant chili peppers
Swish chard
Sweet potato
Bunching onions
Irish potatoes

Ha, it looks so much more impressive in the list than it does in the garden!
3 weeks ago
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,

3 weeks ago
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.

Happy Farming Friends!
4 months ago
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.
6 months ago
I wanted to add a comment about gout.  I have it, although rarely these days.  In my case it does NOT appear to be triggered by meat eating, but rather by uncontrolled fluctuations in blood sugar.
6 months ago
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.
6 months ago
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 a pathetic "I just escaped the electric chair AND the guillotine" sort of way.  Bummer I have no pictures.
6 months ago
Oh, why did I say turkeys? Is there anything uglier than turkeys with all their ugly warts and waddles?  Or more tedious than all those feathers?  I think I need to expand my challenge to other animals!
6 months ago
Raven, your fiber arts are AMAZING.  I wish you could come to Africa to teach me. 

I come from Vermont - and I'm glad I don't have snow and ice anymore... But I am finding the the drought is just the same...everything gets brown, its too HOT to play outside, the dirt becomes a brick that you can't dig without a pickaxe, and I still end up with "cabin fever".

I said I was going to just be a spectator... But i have decided to challenge myself to start doing some pencil drawings of my turkeys - one a day.  Just to get myself drawing again... And because the boredom is killing me.

Better late than never, right?
6 months ago