Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kenya Diaries: Day 5, Part 1 - One More Morning at G-BIACK

I had planned to spend my fifth and sixth days with a group called SARDI - Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Initiative - and by the time the day arrived, I wondered if it was really a good idea. SARDI is located in the same area as G-BIACK and they promote the same method of farming. Would I see anything new? Well, it turned out my trip to visit SARDI was VERY worthwhile. But first, I spent a bit of time at G-BIACK before heading off to SARDI.

Since I was staying at Samuel's home (Samuel and his wife Peris are the founders of G-BIACK), I began my day at G-BIACK. G-BIACK starts the day with a Bible reading and a prayer. We had a special, uninvited guest with us at prayers that morning:

Samuel has every guest at G-BIACK plant a tree. That morning, before I left for SARDI, Kate and I each planted a loquat tree.

Me and my tree.

Using a jembe, a hoe-like farm tool.

Kate and me together with Kate's tree

Even since my tour of G-BIACK a few days before, the gardens had already changed. I swear this bed of peas wasn't there before.


As I waited to leave with Samuel, Peris pointed out some safari ants. They are a sign that the rainy season is coming in a few weeks. Oh, and THEY BITE.

Russian comfrey, a very common food plant here

I think now might be a good time to discuss the differences between how Kenyans and Americans view pets. Dogs aren't allowed in the house here. They stay outside. Cats are allowed inside. But only dogs have names. They think we Americans are silly to name our cats (goats, chickens, etc). Often, dogs are named after an animal they resemble. I have met countless dogs named Simba (Lion) and I'm told if a dog is greedy you might name it Hyena. But you wouldn't name your dog, say, Bernie (my dog's name). It's a bad insult to a person if you name your dog for him or her.

Simba the dog with nursing babies

Dogs here mostly aren't fixed, and few people splurge on dog food or cat food. Pets are mostly supposed to go find their own food, although typically they are given leftovers and food scraps and perhaps some ugali (porridge). My American friend Kate was buying fish and other food and even de-worming pills for Simba and her puppies. Simba often came to beg for fish while several puppies were trying to nurse.

Simba gets some fish

After Kate de-wormed her puppies, Jack and Nini, the next morning she found that they had pooped out tons of large roundworms. Gross as it is, I'm familiar with this particular parasite (don't ask) and gave Kate probably more information than she wanted to know about it. Long story short, it's not terribly dangerous, but it's great that the dogs no longer have huge worms in them. After finding so many worms in her own puppies, Kate de-wormed everyone else too.

Simba with Kate's dog Nini

Nini with a full belly

One of the traditional pumpkins around here

Samuel's huge stack of How to Grow More Vegetables books

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