The Kinky Green


Funsani Village: In Brief

Posted in peace corps adventure by Joy on June 7, 2014
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I’m procrastinating. It’s after 11 am on a Saturday, and I *should* be outside chopping dried banana leaves & stalks into pieces about the size of my pinky. Standing in the sun. Using a dull machete with a makeshift handle of old plastic bags that will, inevitably, give me blisters. Now maybe you see why I’m procrastinating.

Apparently updating this blog falls in the same category as deep-cleaning. That is to say: it gets done when it’s more appealing than the alternative. Yikes. I never meant for it to be so! If you bother to visit here, you definitely deserve better.

Here’s what’s going on in Funsani Village:
– The banana leaves are to serve as growing material in the mushroom practical lesson I’m teaching this afternoon. (I already have peanut shells & maize cobs soaking for the same purpose, so, really, we’re covered.)
– It’s harvest season. Everyone is in the fields most days, bringing in maize, groundnuts (peanuts), sunflower, soy beans, cotton, & tobacco.
– My youngest village niece, Francisca, is motoring around like she owns the place & calling for Auntie with a big grin on the regular. ❤
– Training for July's trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro has me hoofing it to & from town (~20 miles or so, round-trip) whenever I can. Oh, and with perma-blisters on my feet. Attractive, I know.
– A bunch of kind souls in America-land donated $800+USD to my community's new school, and we delivered 98 brand new textbooks yesterday to a bunch of smiling children.
– The machete just arrived, so I'm going to head out into the mid-day sun & teach these banana leaves who's boss.

Rocks Rule (My Life) (Or: Why I Don’t Practice What I Preach)

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on October 14, 2013
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Sometimes being lazy is really hard work.

When I first saw The Cottage, I was thrilled I had space for a kitchen garden right by my house. My water source is just outside my front door (at least for now–more on that another time), and I felt incredibly lucky that I’d be able to have my garden so close to home. Most people have gardens out in the bush in dambo areas (low-lying places with available water), which means they can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour+ a day just walking to/from the garden. Whooeee!

I know me… I’d be super excited about my garden initially. But then a combination of laziness/early programs/intense heat/travel/who-knows-what-all would get me off schedule & suddenly it’d be out of sight, out of mind. Neglected garden is no garden at all.

So close to The Cottage is good! It’s brilliant!

But there are some hurdles to overcome. In Zambian villages, many people have goats, chickens, pigs, cows, ducks, etc. A much, much smaller number of those folks have any of these animals penned. So, first order of business was getting a fence built, which took nearly 2 months.
Next up: double-digging my garden beds. Double digging is a method we’re supposed to be teaching folks that is supposed to creat permanent beds, improve the soil, & give the little plant babies a nice deep patch of earth to stretch out nice & deep. This is taking… considerably longer. Annnd may or may not be actually happening.

You see, I live on a big, rocky hill. And the soil around my house has been swept clean (of grass & debris as well as that lovely substance we call topsoil) & the clay-heavy dirt compacted for years upon years. So digging isn’t just a straightforward matter of insert hoe, remove dirt (which, let’s face it, would be problematic enough). No, as the Zambians tell me: Eeeeh. PLENTY of rocks there.

I spent countless hours removing rocks from the surface & first 6-12″ of soil during my first 3 months, knowing I’d want to plant soon after returning from training in September. With the Iwes’ help, I pulled out loads & loads of stones of all shapes & sizes. I have stone-lined flower beds, rock-lined garden beds, a stone-covered shower drain. I’ve given rocks away, started seeking stone-based projects, & taken to chucking them at goats, ducks & chickens careless enough to wander near (though the latter more scatters than diminishes the stockpile). Still I’m with a boatload of rocks.

What’s more? I’m only 1 1/2 beds into double-digging the 5 I have planned. Today, it was 102.2 in the shade by 10 am. My garden ain’t shady, y’all.

Every time I go out, I promise I will dig for an hour. Every time, the sun & rocks & hard, hard soil conspire with my oh-so-dull hoe & oh-so-limited willpower, and I’m back inside within 40 minutes. Promising tomorrow will be different. Knowing it won’t.

The kicker is I’ve kind of given up on double digging. There is only so much room these little plants need, I tell myself as I hit another layer of rock.

Sunday, Bloody Hot Sunday (Or: Got Your Letter, Mom… Here’s an Update!)

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on October 13, 2013
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It’s 10:10 on a Sunday morning. I’m hanging out in my hammock in the semi-cool of my hut (aka, The Cottage). Evil cat woke me at 5:30. her habit of late, demanding entry through the mosi net to cuddle with/growl at me. By 6:30, I was up & out, getting water for the garden. Determined to be slightly more productive today than yesterday. Even on my lazy days in the village, there are chores I just can’t avoid. Drawing water, watering the garden, doing dishes, lighting the brasier & cooking something. Yesterday, the heat snuck up on me, & those plus some letter writing were about all I managed. So I vowed to at least tackle the compost today before the sun blazed so hot I had to seek refuge.
The iwes (kids) helped me make a potting mixture & fill up some plastic “pots” (really just black tubes/bags), & we planted some red mahogany (used for poles in building), guava, lemon, & msangu (a nitrogen-fixing tree we promote for intercropping in fields). I thanked the iwes with a pitcher of crystal light & some doublemint gum. They spent the next 1/2 hour running screaming around the village before passing out from the exhaustion of their false sugar high.
These days most folks in the village are up & out to their gardens by 6 or so. They’ll come home around 9 or 10 for a morning meal. Some go back out to the garden until they can’t handle it anymore. Everyone is as still as possible, napping on reed mats or grain sacks in the shade, for several hours during the hottest part of the day. To me, it’s all too hot to manage as much as they do.

Sunday, Bloody Hot Sunday (Or: Got Your Letter, Mom… Here’s an Update!)

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on October 13, 2013
Tags:

It’s 10:10 on a Sunday morning. I’m hanging out in my hammock in the semi-cool of my hut (aka, The Cottage). Evil cat woke me at 5:30. her habit of late, demanding entry through the mosi net to cuddle with/growl at me. By 6:30, I was up & out, getting water for the garden. Determined to be slightly more productive today than yesterday. Even on my lazy days in the village, there are chores I just can’t avoid. Drawing water, watering the garden, doing dishes, lighting the brasier & cooking something. Yesterday, the heat snuck up on me, & those plus some letter writing were about all I managed. So I vowed to at least tackle the compost today before the sun blazed so hot I had to seek refuge.
The iwes (kids) helped me make a potting mixture & fill up some plastic “pots” (really just black tubes/bags), & we planted some red mahogany (used for poles in building), guava, lemon, & msangu (a nitrogen-fixing tree we promote for intercropping in fields). I thanked the iwes with a pitcher of crystal light & some doublemint gum. They spent the next 1/2 hour running screaming around the village before passing out from the exhaustion of their false sugar high.
These days most folks in the village are up & out to their gardens by 6 or so. They’ll come home around 9 or 10 for a morning meal. Some go back out to the garden until they can’t handle it anymore. Everyone is as still as possible, napping on reed mats or grain sacks in the shade, for several hours during the hottest part of the day. To me, it’s all too hot to manage as much as they do.