We had a very practical morning going over all of our land and planning what we will grow on it next year and what we need to do to get it ready. It was great being outdoors, imagining what the land will look like when we have brought it under full cultivation. Working with Duncan and Mary is very satisfying. They are both very keen to see our farming project succeed and have a lot of good ideas. This work is new for all of us and we are determined to do it well. Tomorrow we plan to start collecting data about growth rates, germination rates and the effectiveness of the fertiliser inputs that we have used on the Well Watered Garden, (WWG), plots that were prepared and planted in August.
It is interesting to see the differences between the plots that were planted with organic fertiliser from our composting latrine and the plots that used chemical fertiliser. At the moment the chemicals are winning on the WWG plots. One section of the field was planted using the traditional method of ploughing and no fertiliser. This is an experiment to see how well our Farming God’s Way plots perform compared to the more usual approach in our area. I thought we had planted the “traditional” plot without using fertiliser but it turns out that one edge of it was used as a “dump site” for a largish amount of the Ecosan latrine compost about 9 months ago. Growth in this part of the field is amazing! This gives us confidence in building up the soil’s fertility over the coming years by farming organically.
On a completely different note we had a buzz of excitement today, (literally), when the wild bees that have been living in the chimney of Ian and Hilda’s house decided to swarm – into Ian and Hilda’s kitchen and bedroom. It’s actually quite a scary experience – the bees are very fierce and were, (according to two of our staff), made more excited by having a hive full of honey. All this happened while I was out being a farmer, but the empty Doom cans, (the aptly named insect spray that we use in Kenya), and pile of dead bees in the kitchen spoke of a serious problem. I remember it happening during the year that Judi, Tom, Ellie and I lived in Kenya. I think the mosquito netting that was put over the chimney to solve the problem stopped being bee proof some time ago so the bees returned to their old home. After blocking the fireplace in the kitchen a bit more effectively the bees had no choice but to swarm out of the top of the chimney before clearing off. I’m not sure how many bees are left in the hive, (the chimney is quiet at the moment but you never know with bees).
If there is honey in the chimney it would be good to harvest it. We need some Mongooses, (or naked Masai)! – (see previous entry from Sunday October 16th). Unfortunately they are both in short supply around Kosele. We do have a fair number of small children but I’m fairly sure the Kenyan child protection laws aren’t keen on that kind of thing. It looks like we’ll just have to smoke them out then draw straws to see who goes up the ladder to the chimney. I'll let you know how it goes.