farm

Bees, Glorious Bees

The last post about the home invasion was pretty intense, and just a bit scary. This one will be more light hearted and easy on the old emotions. Before I jump into the bee harvest, an update on the robbery is in order. 

Saturday and Sunday I basically just chilled out and attempted to deal with the trauma of waking up to violent thieves in the house. I spoke with friends and officials, read from a book, and contemplated how to better secure the house. Monday, today, I went to see the police. They were helpful and sympathetic. I filed a report, was given lots of phone numbers to call in case of any future events, and given hope that they will do what they can to help find the culprits. Today was a busy and tiring day, but in the end as I sit here on The Shire I do so with more hope and peace than yesterday.

This past Saturday I had scheduled to have honey harvested from a beehive and another hive that had been damaged moved to a new hive.

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This hive is right next to the house.

The hive we were harvesting honey from is right next to the house. We did not place the hive there on purpose. Someone just temporally put it down to go and do something else, and before they returned to the box it was occupied by bees. It was a little nerve wracking to live so close to a hive at first, but so far as I know no one has been stung by the bees yet. They are pretty calm and not scary. The harvesting went on well, and the bees seem to have gone through the invasion of their personal space with poise and dignity. I am still not sure how much honey we have harvested, mostly because the bees were still flying around and all that has been going on since the break in.

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Bees have resumed coming and going

The other hive was a hollowed out log that had become broken on top some how. It was suggested to me that we try and move it to one of our yellow box hives. I agreed and the attempt was made. Unfortunately so far the bees do not seem to have taken up with the new hive. I did see some flying around today when I went to take these photos, but none coming in or out of the new hive.

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Hollow log hive.

You can't really see in the picture above but there is a hole on top of the hive. There was not really any honey inside either.

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Potential new home

 I just want to take a moment to remind everyone that part of the reason we purchased this land was to produce food that could be used in our work in Nakuru. To this day we have utilized some food from the homestead for relief. I have given people pork several times, which is always a real treat. Usually when you are not even sure where your next meal will come from, organic suckling pig is not even close to being on your mind. Maize, collard greens, pumpkins, and bananas have been used to help feed the hungry. The Shire is helping to feed the hungry.

~Johnny


Home Invasion!

I know I have not been blogging lately yet I had planned on revitalizing the blog and utilizing it again. It was not my intention to restart the blog writing with the following story, but this just happened on Friday night so it is fresh news. It was suggested to me that I go through the event again and remember as much as possible to help with dealing with the trauma, so I did and wrote it out as best I could. I have decided to share it with you here:

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Not Friday Morning but today. Similar beautiful morning.
Yesterday started off as a fairly typical morning, lots of sunshine promising a nice day. I had conservation with my youngest brother, then went to town met friends for lunch, after that I went and said hi to someone, and came back home. I got home a bit late for me, around 5 in the afternoon. Fed the dogs, made dinner, and watched some t.v.
 
Went to bed around ten p.m. Was woken at midnight by dogs barking and the sound of the back door opening. Looked out my open bedroom door and say a guy standing there. I said something to him, can't remember what exactly and he replied with something as well, I think he actually asked me how I was. I rolled off the bed picking up a club that I keep next to the bed and a flashlight. As I am standing up something hits me hard in the right arm, but I don't take much notice of it at the moment as I am charging towards the guy I saw at the door. I chased him out of the house through the lounge and quickly lock the door behind him. I turn on the electricity and start switching on the lights and trying to figure out how he got in. While doing that I come across a second guy by the back door and he exits the house. I close the door and lock it and discover that they made entrance through a tiny window in the shower. So I lock that door from the inside, then lock the girls bedroom door from the inside as well. That's when I hear someone trying to pry open the wooden window in my office. I go and see some kind of farm tool being used to break the window open. At some point, and I really have no idea when, I had removed my computer from the office and put it on my bed. The window gets opened and I start fighting with the guy there, who I can now clearly see. I did not recognize him, though I was pumped up on adrenaline at that point so it is possible he is someone I have seen around. He is talking to someone that I cannot see next to the window, and I can hear someone breaking into a window in the girl's room, which is the room next to the office. Around this time the adrenaline begins to wear off and I started to be able to think straight again, and since I had no idea how many they were I started to try and figure out how to get out of this without serious injury to myself. I start talking with the guy at the window, who claimed his name was Simon and that there were five of them altogether. I only saw two, but could not be for sure how many where out there. He told me some story about how they were just hungry and trying to get something in order to get food. So I offer him the cash I had, three thousand shillings, and he takes it while also taking my headphones off the desk. I was tempted to smash him with my club at this point, but not knowing how many I would have to fight afterwards I thought better of it. I re-close and lock the window as best I can. 
 
Now no one is trying to break in and  I am trying to figure out if they really have gone. The dogs were still barking and close to the house, which gave me reason to think they had not gone. Though next day after going over it I believe they went through the fence to the neighbors and down towards the road. I only have one small light outside in the front of the house, and I cannot turn it on from the inside. So I go around turning off lights so I can see out the windows. Did not see anyone, and dog barking had moved off down towards the front gate. Now my arm is hurting, and I decide that I cannot just stand in the hall by the toilet for the rest of the night. So I go out and check around. I did not go too far from the house, as I did not want anyone to sneak in while I was out. They had left. This game me time to examine my arm, which is just bruised and not broken. I found what he had thrown at me, a heavy car part. 
 
Spoke on the phone for awhile with Kate, Andrew, and Butterfly. Everyone I know in Kenya would have been asleep at this point. Anyway the night passed without further incident. I called the chief around 9:30 in the morning. She was not around but promised to come by in the morning. She will help me with reporting to the police and talking with the elders and neighbors. Ali came to check on me and stayed for awhile. 
 
All in all a fairly terrible night, but I am glad to have escaped with only a minor injury and a small loss of cash. (They also broke into another of the houses which I did not find out till daylight.) Also first time in the past five months that I was glad the children where not here. (Edith and B.T. are away at school, and the others in the U.S.)

 


Day 11

For the eleventh day of Kate's absence, I thought it would be good to remind you of the wishlist. We do not visit the U.S. that often so bringing back a few items is high on the priority list. Also feel free to be creative and contribute things not on the list, but consider that Kate has to be able to pack it and bring it back with her. Also, let me know when you purchase something so it can be crossed off the list.

Here we go:


Busy Month, Busy week

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taking the girls shopping for school supplies with puppy in tow!

School fees are paid for this term. Edith and BT are in high schools both are boarding, and we also sponsor a third orphan for whom this is the final term of high school. Then Sarah M is finishing her culinary practicals for her cooking school, also paid. The older girls are living their lives and doing well. Grace is almost 24 years old now, in a customary marriage, and expecting a baby in January! So I guess I'll be a grandma soon!

Andrew is finishing his time in Oregon and will be traveling with my dad down the west through Yellow Stone and seeing a bit of the USA before settling in Texas where he will decide if he wants to attend school or continue working. He already has jobs lined up, and it is exciting to see him growing into a man!

Makena, Starry, and I are traveling to England at the beginning of October to visit a school for Makena and to visit some friends, then on to Texas, California, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania (visit another school), Arkansas, back to Texas, then back to Kenya.

 I am planning a women's health educational meeting for Wednesday. Both men and women will be there. This will be the first time for me to speak to the men at the same time! I will be distributing over 40 menstrual cups. Each cup is $39.48, but I am asking each person give $5/cup so that only the folks who really are keen to use it will take it. I have learned that when I pass them out freely, they are not as respected and valued. This is my first attempt at actually charging a small fee for them. I hope I am doing the right thing! We must live and learn as we go along.

P1380241 (2)Our Horsepower program is doing well. We have 5 horses going now! We still need stables and fencing, etc... but that will come in time. This month is jam packed with school, meeting, horsepower... not to mention, I am trying to sell 9 Great Dane puppies and find homes for 9 kittens, too! So far, I have managed to sell a few puppies and find homes for 8 kittens. They all live with us until the 19th so it is pretty manic around here!

As you may know, we are still trying to raise travel money so I can visit people in the US. We need $1,924 to reach our goal. Our biggest issue is that when we do these kinds of fundraisers, some folks who give regularly toward our project decide to divert their normal gift to the designated item, in this case, airfare, so that means we struggle on the normal monthly stuff... With that said, August and September have been difficult. We are butchering rabbits and pigs to feed the carnivores (including dogs, cats, and humans). We don't have much to eat in the garden, really. We can only eat so much kale and sweet potatoes... but we are grateful for those things! But in all of these things, we are so grateful to just be ALIVE doing what we love. The rewards are so beautiful smiles, lots of giggles, happy hearts, proud parents, and so much more...

I think during my USA trip, my hope is to raise awareness of what we are doing in Kenya and how unique it is. The only horse therapy programs in Kenya I know of are ours and one other in Nairobi. . Kenya is around the same size as Texas, but our population is DOUBLE. In Texas, over 87 Horse therapy programs are listed on Google. Who knows how many more there are that weren't listed in that search. Imagine double the population in Kenya and only TWO Equine therapy programs... Needless to say, we don't lack for children with needs.

 


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

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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.