farm

Highlights From Kate's Facebook Week

Here are some highlights from Kate's Facebook feed (in case you are not connected or simply missed them:)

 

Oh family tree.. I have learned so much and am really enjoying finding out who my relatives are and some of the scandalous or just interesting stuff in our past as well as my roots!!! Much thanks goes to Anna for doing all of the digging, verifying, and research. Taking my DNA test and applying it to my tree has been an amazing ride.

Kate did a DNA test to trace her roots and has been loving the results. She even found out she is a distant cousin to Beyonce.

And she's ready for school. Off she goes until the end of May.

Edith off to school

My eleven year old daughter Emma Caite loves to ride. 
Being home schooled, she doesn't interact with other kids much. Ponies give her common ground with the friends she has.

Emma jumping

Kate made this picture her cover photo:

Horse theropy

We actually had sunshine today. This is a very big deal! Now if we could have balance... Sun, rain, sun, rain...

I will end with this picture of a butternut squash.

Butternut squash

Veggie Tales lied. 
#bellybutton


Blogging?

There has not been much consistent activity on this blog for the past three or four years. Some of that is because we moved out to The Shire (our almost twelve-acre piece of land in Kenya,) partly due to computing issues, lack of twenty-four hour electricity, and also because we are active in other places online. Sometimes I consider just not blogging anymore at all, but then I go on Facebook and other social media and I am reminded that I like blogs and blogging. 
 
I like having a place to voice my thoughts and what is going on with A Future and a Hope without having to compete with politics, food, and all the other distractions. Which I believe is the biggest drawback with social media, it's ability to completely and utterly distract and derail. In fact, I had Facebook open in another window just a moment ago and ten minutes in I realized I had written nothing, neglected emails, and not planned the day. Also looking back at what I was consuming on Facebook, well it was nothing. I am not saying that social media has no place nor that I do not benefit from it, just making a point about how it distracts. The blog is a better medium as one is forced to stop and read three hundred plus words at once. It gives you time to digest the content and think about the one posting. The slower pace makes for better conversations and a more conducive environment to learn and grow.
 
I still read blogs, a lot of them. Some informative and some purely fun in nature. I prefer my blog reading app over my Facebook app. Unfortunately, the Facebook one is easier and I find myself opening it more.
 
Kate and I are going to make an effort to put more content up on this blog. We will still be active other places, i.e. Facebook, but more content will be posted here. Not just happenings, but thought provoking articles as well. I believe that we are at a point in human development when we can push through to intellectual levels never before seen, or we can be distracted by the flashing lights of social media and gadgets. 
 
And now for what is happening today:
 
Edith, our fifteen year old orphan no more, is heading back to boarding school today. She is starting the second term of her first year in high school. Her first term had some rough spots for her, she really missed being at home. (She did excellent academically finishing second in her class for the term.) Thankfully the school fee has been paid for this second term. We will do a little bit of shopping before dropping her off this afternoon. (I still have more school related expenses for other children that need to be covered.) Andrew, our son, will finish his GED on Monday and be officially done with high school. Next month he is scheduled to fly out of Kenya and head to Oregon where he has a job for a couple of months. He is both excited and nervous about it, we are sure he will be fine and excel at whatever he puts his hands to.
 
The cow is mooing, chickens cackling and crowing, pigs grunting, rabbits eating and breeding, and the horses neighing this morning. Weeds are being harvested for the goats and others. Everyone is ready to start the day. 

Buying the Freezer!

Recently we ran a successful fund raiser to sock up pantries and buy a solar powered freezer for our home, The Prancing Pony. I just received the latest quote and after speaking with the salesman on the phone have decided to make the purchase tomorrow. Below you will find the quote and a video to help visualize the freezer.  (Edit: Oops forgot to mention that we are buying the second option, the larger freezer.)

Thank you everyone who participated, we are about to return to the ice age. 

 

 


Standardized Tests in schools and horses?

Eowyn studying on moon bwTwo years ago, college professors from Louisiana State came to Kenya to film us having no idea WHO we were nor what we were doing in Kenya. They wanted to find interesting folks of whom to document a 5 minute short film to be shared in France at a movie festival. Our relationship has grown since that first visit as they come each year to record edits and additions for our now 20 minute short film in-the-making! We had no idea we would be interesting enough for such efforts, and it is heart touching to be encouraged in this way.

This last week, they returned to finish up the film, and while here, they suggested they might do a second series focusing on our horse therapy program and how we use horses in homeschooling. I had no idea they were interested in the impact the horses are having. In fact, the horses and home schooling are not even featured in their first film titled "Pioneer Pizza". I was surprised our schooling methods were even an item of interest, and the horses being a GOOD model of home educating? That made my heart swoon! Feeling curious and extremely flattered that I was doing something right, I inquired of my film making friends why the interest?

Being professors at Louisiana State, they struggle with standardized testing pressure and the structure of the educational system's negative impact on students. The producer and director of our short film expressed his passion for hands on type learning and how meaningful our type of home schooling is on young people. Our time was short by the time I realized this gem that connected this college professor to myself, the measly, little, home schooling mom who wonders if she is doing things right, so we didn't get to delve in any deeper into the topic.

However, I went away from the conversation happy that someone sees the benefits of having my children start their school day with the responsibilities of caring for horses on our farm. That particular morning, my day started off with a confrontation with one daughter, who will remain unnamed, who insisted that she couldn't brush or work her pony because she had 'school' to do. So I retorted with the fact that indeed she WAS doing school, and that I as her teacher have made a farm work subject of which she can't just 'opt out.' She got the point, and she actually enjoyed her morning, but it was extremely convenient to have university professors bring up the topic in our home on the very day my daughter just didn't feel like DOing the hands-on section of school because she didn't think it was as important as Algebra.

If you are wondering my reason as to why I feel that horses are a vital part of my children's education and why I think every child who shows interest should own a horse, here are a few reasons that I will put in an article soon:

  1. discipline                                     Eoywn pony bum
  2. responsibility
  3. humility
  4. challenges
  5. bravery
  6. physical education
  7. friends
  8. socialization,
  9. emotional management
  10. adventure
  11. patience
  12. something to do
  13. transportation
  14. coordination
  15. birth control (seriously, haha) More on that in my next article

There are other blogs that talk about this topic, too! Just google 'why every person should own a horse!'

 


Bull

Yesterday, Sunday, we slaughtered and butchered our young bull. The process was done as humanely as possible and with the aim to come out the other side with as much meat as possible. Mission accomplished. We had succulent, juicy, and delicious meat from ten o'clock in the morning till seven that evening. It was a good day.
 
Not only did we enjoy the nourishment, but many of our neighbors did as well. Typically a kilogram of beef sells for around 400 KES in Nakuru. That is about $3.87 U.S. dollars, which is a price that puts beef out of the reach of many people. We started selling our beef at 250 KES a kilogram and ended the day in another village selling the remainder at 200 KES. The bull did not bring in much income, a total of $90, but we were able to spread around the meat to many families in our village. 
 
This is the third bull that our cow as given birth to (hope with us for a cow this next time around.) Bulls are pretty much useless to us here on The Shire and can be rambunctious and too eager to break through fences. The first two bulls we sold to brokers who then resold in the market. This time around we decided to try slaughtering and selling the meat in the village. We made less but were able to spread the wealth more. Not only were our neighbors, who rarely eat beef, able to buy at almost half the normal cost, but we also were able to pay the butcher/slaughterer, also one of our neighbors.
 
Most of the profit went to pay labor around the farm, and the rest will be used to buy feed for the pigs and dogs. We are not creating a commercial farm, but when money can be made we will use the profit to help spread as much hope as we can. 

Rain

P1240627

Here in Kasambara Kenya, we have two basic types of weather;  it is either raining or not raining. Fortunately, we do not have much extreme weather, just raining or not raining. The Shire, our almost twelve acres here in Kenya, depends on rain for water. We do not have access to any piped water nor do we have a well. We capture all the rain that falls on our roofs during the rainy season and store it in large tanks. We then pump the water from those storage tanks to a tank up the hill from the house and that tank feeds the house via gravity. Currently, we have a little over 100,000 liters of water storage (not full as our rainy season has just started.)
 
Water management is one of the top priorities here on the farm. We can not afford to waste any water. There are no flush toilets. You would be surprised at how much water toilets use. Instead, we use a composting toilet system. All the water from the sinks and shower (gray water) goes into a banana circle. Showers are limited and not every day. With careful oversight, our water lasted throughout the previous dry season. We never ran completely out. Nice.
 
Now the clouds have come and it is raining again. Tanks are filling, the grass has gone green again, and the temperature has cooled off a few degrees. The rainy season is our favorite. 

Pork

Part of the reasoning behind buying The Shire, our almost twelve acres here in Kenya, was to be able to grow and raise much of our own food. Plus to be able to produce food for the hungry people we work with in the Nakuru community. We spend the vast majority of funds that come in on feeding the children, ourselves, and a host of other people. When we started to look for a piece of land to buy that was one of the foremost agendas for that new land, production of food.

Now since we know little about farming and gardening we are studying and applying that timeless learning tool, trial and error. I have failed to grow quite a few vegetables and succeeded on a few others. I am confident that in the future this farm will produce an abundance of vegetables.

One aspect of the farm that has been a big success are the pigs. We bought the two pigs from a farmer nearby, and honestly I did not think they would survive. The things were skin and bones and covered with mange. Lots of food and a little medicine fixed them right up. Maggie, our sow, is on her third litter. We have been able to sell some of the piglets, give a few away, and most importantly eat some ourselves. Last week I slaughtered a piglet for dinner and tomorrow will do the same for lunch. One hundred percent organic and well cared for suckling pig is some of the best meat I have ever had.

P1240632


Refrigeration!

Some time back, many months back, Juliet Barnes gave us an old kerosene refrigerator. Now if like me you have, or rather had, no idea what a kerosene fridge (or as they say in Kenya paraffin fridge) is don't feel bad. It is a pretty old piece of technology.  I deduced from the name that it was a refrigerator that ran on kerosene, but I had never seen anything like it in my life before.

We drove across the Soysambu Consverancy to get to her house (also a mud house) and pick up the fridge. She had not used it in some time and it is pretty ancient. Juliet advised us to drive as roughly as possible on the way home to shake up the chemicals that cause the cooling. We did so, but alas could not get the thing to work. We tried a couple of times and more or less gave up on it.

Enter Andrew, our nineteen year old son, he spoke with a fridge fundi (repairman) in town and got some advice. The fundi told him to turn it upside down and listen. If he heard the chemicals moving than great. The fundi said to leave it for a day or two then turn it over and try it out. We lit the flame in the evening and had ice in the morning. It works!

Now this refrigerator is small and will not be able to meet all our needs, but it is helping to keep the milk fresh. Thank you Juliet.

P1240637The Fridge

P1240638The flame that heats the chemicals that causes the cooling action.


Fire!

We had a fire today.

P1210909

Not to worry the only thing lost was a compost bin. Unfortunately not everyone thinks about how dry things are before throwing coals onto a compost pile. We managed to contain the fire before it spread too much. The biggest loss, all the precious water we had to use to contain that fire.


It's Friday!

Hello Friday.
 
School is back in full force. 
 
Weekend is just over the horizon. I wonder if I can manage to pull off doing nothing this weekend? My guess is that with fifteen children, farm animals, and trees to water the answer will be a resounding no. Sigh. Someday a weekend will come that will bring the blessed nothingness.
 
Last night during dinner preparations our gas cylinder needed replacing. (No piped cooking gas in the house we use cylinders. You know like the ones you take camping, only these are bigger.) Fortunately we have two. Unfortunately the replacement has a problem with the nozzle or whatever you call that thing. So dinner was cooked over coals. Not as convenient, but more African. In fact we had a Kenyan dish. I suppose it was appropriate we cooked it on a jiko over charcoal.
 
Busy day today. I, Johnny, will be Kate's driver as she places orders for lumber to build three more animal stalls and collects various bits and pieces for that project in Nakuru. There is still an ongoing fund raiser to help with these costs. The stalls will house animals related to the horse therapy and another cow. (At least the cow is planned right now. We might change our minds and do goats.) Thankfully Kate generally rewards my driving her around with nice food, perhaps Chinese today?
 
What are your weekend plans? Chinese on the menu?