Monday, September 21, 2009

September Update from Clive and Kim

It’s lovely to be joined by Ralph (a volunteer from NSW Australia) with great practical skills and farming experience. Ralph has been supervising and teaching a group of secondary students (who were here for the holidays) to dig and prepare planting holes for an avocado orchard and a eucalyptus woodlot. So far 70 holes (with pan swales) have been prepared for the ungrafted avocado seedlings and 100 holes for the eucalypt. We are waiting for a few good rains before we plant the trees …

Ralph slashing grass mulch for the orchard trees – “this isn’t as easy to do as Nyero makes it look!”

Nyero relaxed and happy as he digs a pan swale in the soon-to-be avocado orchard

Everyone is asking the question “when will the Wet Season begin”. We’ve been teased by a few light rains but then it returns quickly to hot and dry, dry, dry. Our supply of water from the water tanks ran dry yesterday … the fact that we lost 15,000L from a leak (in June) has meant that we’re quite a bit short this Dry Season.

Ralph has also been busy constructing a permanent home for our compost worms (brought all the way from Australian by Dick Copeman in 2008). They are now comfortably housed next to the compost bays in a 3-compartment worm farm with its own shade structure using an old iron bed frame, left-over wood from construction and with a little help from a local carpenter. We hope to breed up loads of worms to feed the chickens and to use castings and worm wee in the vegetable growing areas. They use of compost worms seems to be entirely new to Ugandans but Anna is very keen to learn more and to use this resource.

We also have 70 gorgeous chicks in residence.

Rico amazed by the tiny 2-day old chicks (they’re the blobs slightly larger than the woodchips)

At 3 weeks old and looking scruffy as they lose their chick fluff

After an initial fright with coccidiosis (a common disease from commercial hatcheries) the chicks appear to be doing very well and Kim is enjoying being the Mother Hen.

Clive overheard a Sabina child talking seriously to another .. explaining that these are “layer hens, to lay eggs for the school children” – spot on!

One of the flocks at 5 weeks old

The Large Vegetable Garden is taking shape well under Anna’s supervision but the vegetables are all hanging out for some rain. The main crops are silverbeet, cabbage, collards, garlic, chilli with interplantings of herbs (eg dill, basil, coriander). Some of the garden beds are being visited by red ants and the most effective control seems to be chill/garlic spray (used sparingly). Anyone have some other suggestions?

Anna and a helper doing the evening watering

Anna at one of the taps (water coming from the tanks at the school)

Watering the vegetables each day is a time consuming job for a numer of people. There is a need to provide shade in the Large Vegetable Garden and to carefully plan the types and amount of plantings during the Dry Season.

And, of course, there is always time for some socialising, which usually takes place around food …

Charles perfecting his pancake flipping skills

Some happy pancake customers

Some of our Permaculture helpers during school holidays – Irene, Paul, Opio

Opio happily anticipates a goat meal (Ralph hung the meat overnight in the banda, where it’s cool)

And, finally, one of our ‘friends’ along the path to Ssanje ...