In an article called Smallholder Prospers in Mixed Farming the author writes…”Apart from breeding dogs, the couple rears eight hybrid dairy cows which produces between 20-30 litres of milk daily. The milk is sold to a milk-processing factory while some is sold in the neighbourhood. The farm is also the home of 86 children, some of which are imported indigenous children. Out of the number, 13 of them are cocks for breeding purposes…” (Don't count your chickens!!!!!)
In another issue of the magazine I learnt something new about the problems faced by Masai beekeepers. The Masai are most famous for being cattlemen, so bee keeping is a significant departure for them. Given the problems of being stung by bees and the anti-social behaviour of mongooses, (or should that be mongeese?), I’d be tempted to stick to cattle.
“… When the hives were initially started the honey harvesters had to brave the angry bees without any protective clothing. “They used to go there very early in the morning, naked,” explains Johnson Kuntayo, one of the Masais involved in bee keeping.
“The bees at that time cannot see the harvester properly but they still sting his hands when going for the honey…”
Mongooses are also a problem
“… the Masai honey harvesters do face some stiff competition – from mongooses. They raid the beehives at night and steal all the honey. “The mongooses are very clever animals. They climb up the trees where the beehives are,” says Mr Matampash, who runs Neighbours Initiative Alliance, an NGO backing the beekeepers. “Once up there, they pass wind – forcing the bees to flee from the foul smell and then they knock down the beehive and eat the honey.”
(Makes you wonder why the Masai didn’t copy the strategy during their early morning sessions. I hope burglars don’t read Farmers Pride).
We had yet more rain today, (sorry, but it’s such great news).
Our friends Ian and Hilda McMillan from Paisley in Scotland have joined our work in Kosele and will be in Kenya with me until next February. They have started a number of initiatives with our church, including a men’s meeting which is held on Saturday afternoon. This is led by Ian and Kennedy, (one of the church leaders). The meeting today was well attended. It was great to be with the guys as they took further steps of faith together and shared each other’s problems. One of the group explained a problem that he had obtaining enough ‘poles’, (trees), to continue building his house. 15 minutes later the guys had worked out how many poles they could each give him and he was well on the way to solving the problem.
At the end of the meeting the heavens opened and we all shuffled our benches to the corner of the corrugated iron church building that doesn’t leak. This gave Kennedy an opportunity to finalise the details of the pole donations. I started a conversation with one our longest standing and most faithful church members, (a guy called Hakim). With one of the other guys interpreting we established that Hakim’s farm was doing OK but he needed some top dressing fertiliser, which is expensive. I told him that if he reminded me after church on Sunday he can have some of the urine that we store from our Ecosan latrine, (we have got gallons of it). Not the kind of offer you get at every church meeting. Hakim was pleased.
During a lull in the rain, (when it slowed to a steady drizzle), four of us made a visit to our Farming God’s Way, (FGW), plots. I’m very keen to promote this method of farming and the guys, (including Hakim), were very interested. We inspected the maize and bean plants and had a good Q&A session. I think I have at least four confirmed attendees at the first FGW training that we do.
One small step ………………..