Thursday, May 30, 2013

Introducing Mama

With the leftover bricks I added a small herb garden, two
flower beds, and a couple spots to try and get trees to grow.

Mama. When I got her she could walk
around on my palm, curl up, and lay down.

Mama, the porker, eating my leftover tuna. She usually looks like
she's just eaten a tennis ball, she's got a gut. I think she eats too fast too,
because she tears up every time she eats something.

Patrick and I eating the 4th goat I've caught.

Women in my fish farming group cooking the goat. I went ahead
and shared with the whole group. The men in the group were
busy fixing the fence around the ponds at the time.

How to Build a Hut

When building a house you first find some clay, which is everywhere. Get a few pieces of wood and mold your bricks (pics soon). Lay them in the sun for a few weeks, then you'll want to fire them. Since you don't have any electricity and a kiln anywhere nearby, build a "chimney" out of the bricks. Basically they stack them up kinda like a pyramid with little compartments in the bottom where they put some firewood. Then cover the whole thing in fresh mud to seal it off. Fire it overnight, let it cool, and you've got yourself some fresh new bricks (pics to come soon). Usually people just make the bricks where they are going to build the structure, so you don't need to move the bricks.
 Cement can be bought in town, but most people just use clay again to mold between the bricks. Houses don't last forever around here, with the rainy season, termites, kids, etc. The first bricks are dug about half way into the ground, string and stakes make for straight lines, and you just eyeball to make it level.
 Windows are typically just holes in the laying of the bricks, sometimes people get fancy and put the bricks in diagonally. I wanted wooden framed windows that I could put chicken wire on, as well as have a little chicken door/flap/thing. Some houses don't have doors either. I went ahead and got a door made with a frame and all that. I got a sliding lock and instead of drilling a hole we lit a fire and heated up an metal rod, then sizzled away the hole.
 On the inside there is a big log dug into the ground that holds the top log in place. Angled sticks are nailed into the top log and just lay along the edge of the structure.
Patrick and Mayben tying reeds in a grid along the sticks. Villagers typically use a type of bark soaked in water that works like a rope, then dries hard. Peter untwisted some rope I had to tie for this job. Yes I paid them, gave them some money to go get fish at the market, then my cat stole some.
 There are several types of grass that grow around here. (I actually measured one at 15 feet tall, and that's not getting into bamboo) This grass isn't ideal, I think the good stuff grows later before the rains start, but this'll do. I don't think the chickens will mind. The grass is sometimes tied, sometimes just layered and held in place by it's own weight.
And you're pretty much done. I'll go back and put some plastic underneath the grass on the inside to keep the dust down and some leaks under control. Most villagers don't have plastic inside their huts. So, all the materials can be found nearby, in fact you can build the whole thing for free if you don't include a door or labor. Most villagers can do all of this, although some specialize in brick laying, thatching, carpentry, etc. to make extra cash.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Updates All Around!

So what's new in the last month or so?

Well first of all when I got back from Lake Tanganyika, Bagheera decided to go off on some wild adventures. My counterpart, who was taking care of feeding Bagheera while I was gone said that he had eaten his food the night before I returned, but no one had seen him since. While I hosted 2nd site visit I heard nothing about him until I brought it up at my fish farmers meeting. One of my neighbors said he had seen Bagheera near his house for the past few nights. So for the next few evenings I went to his house to call for Bagheera (he knows his name). But I didn't have any success. Then I hear that guy's neighbor started hearing him in the night. So I went over to his house after dark to look for him. Still nothing. So I opened it up to anyone in the village who could either come get me when they found him, or bring him to me, I'd pay them. Still nothing, though people still talked about seeing and hearing him. I don't get it.

Just before this was going on, I was looking for puppies. I have wanted to get a dog but since I travel so much I wanted to make sure I had a neighbor who would “own” the dog, and I'd help pay to feed it. I did have a neighbor lined up, now I needed to find the right puppy. I was going to get a puppy from one of my nearest volunteer neighbors, but she got relocated due to some safety concerns at her site (nothing too serious). So getting those puppies fell through. But I did find a puppy being sold in the next village over, so I decided to go take a look. The one who hadn't been sold yet cost 5 kwacha, about a dollar, but was still too young, so I'd have to keep checking back and wait.

While this was going on I went to visit another neighbor, Diana, and while at her site, while she was doing laundry on her porch, right in front of the door, a tiny kitten walks straight into her house. So now I'm catless, unsure about a puppy, and my friend now has 2 cats, and the big one has a problem with the small one. One thing led to another and we named it Mama, after her cat, Papa. And I took it home on my bike in a basket, 26 miles of bush paths and bumpy dirt roads.

Mama is completely different from Bagheera, but it's more her attitude. For instance, she likes to climb trees like Bagheera did when he was young. Mama though, climbs them, cries for hours because she can't turn around, gets tired, and passes out on the branch. Sometimes I have to go save her. She also didn't come home one night because she climbed up on the not finished structure of my chicken house and couldn't get down.

Oh yeah, I finally finished my chicken house. I know some of you were wondering how people build houses here. I've documented the whole process other than making the bricks (which I should have soon soon). Making my chicken house is similar to how they build their houses, so you'll get the idea.

With the leftover bricks from the chicken house, I made a few additions to my land. I'm fed up with dealing with goats eating all of my vegetables, I tore down my first nursery garden, and the living fence for my big garden isn't living so well. So, The main thing I built is a raised circular herb garden. It's a lot smaller, but since it's smaller and closer to my porch, I can care for it easier. Hopefully I can eat some peppers soon. I made a few smaller flower and herb beds, as well as put some bricks around some trees I'm desperately trying to make live.

In other news, due to some scheduling conflicts, I was given the choice of where I wanted to do PEPFAR training. PEPFAR, I forget what it stands for, is an initiative to help spread awareness and education about HIV/AIDS. So, in June I'll be heading to Northwest province for a week long training with a counterpart so that we can take the information back to the village and host workshops, etc. Turns out on the day we leave PEPFAR training, Chipolopolo is playing in Ndola. So I'll be able to fulfill my dream of being a soccer hooligan for an evening. Chipolopolo (meaning “Copper bullets” because of the Copperbelt (which made Zambia, Zambia))) won the African Cup a few years ago. Saying you aren't a Chipolopolo fan in Zambia is about as insulting as saying you don't take (eat) nshima (their main dish).

I was supposed to get a fingerling delivery a few months ago, but the night before they were supposed to deliver the fingerling production plant found out they didn't have plastic bags for delivery or oxygen to put in the bags to help the fish survive longer. So, last week I went and bothered anyone I could about when I'd get the fingerlings. I talked with just about every person who could get the job done, and as far as everyone says, I'll be getting fish in my ponds later this week. I also bothered the Department of Livestock and should be getting a Newcastle's vaccination in July to vaccinate as many chickens in the villages as I can. Newcastle's is probably the #1 killer of chickens in these parts. Plus, by that time I'll have my own chickens so I'll get them vaccinated as well.

(Side note: I'm posting this blog a day after I wrote it, and I was just informed that the fingerlings won't be coming this week, but maybe next week. Again.)

I also got my first case of Malaria. Luckily I was at the provincial house at the time, so I had friends and things readily available to help me out. It began with horrible headaches one morning, which I helped treat with some Tylenol, but by the evening I was in bed rolling over with cold sweats, which continued throughout the night. The next morning I called medical to explain my symptoms and they started me on Coartem, the malaria treatment medication. You take 4 pills twice a day for 3 days. I've taken 5 of the doses and I'm feeling much better. The second day I had to keep a steady input of Tylenol to keep the headaches and cold sweats down. Today I feel I can probably make it without any other meds. The good news, I'm instructed by medical staff to eat a high calorie diet, because Coatrem does a number on your liver. So this morning, with my appetite back, I had 2 buttered pieces of toast, 3 scrambled eggs, and a bowl of ice cream!

(Again, since I'm posting this a day later, I'm feeling very well and haven't had Tylenol for some time.)

I also caught another goat. Ate it this time.

Sorry no pictures this time, internet has been awful around here.