Category Archives: Chickens

Our Own Walden

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Photo of current Charagua workers cooking giso over the fire in what will soon be our yard.

We recently visited Charagua and decided to accept a position there working with Low German Mennonites, local Bolivians and Guarani (an indigenous group) on water systems, dry latrines and small-scale vegetable production. This is not the position we originally accepted, but it is within the same program. We’re excited about a more rural life and working with both LGMs and the Guarani people. Our house is on the same property as the center where we work and serves as a demonstration plot with a big yard and small pasture.

IMG_6442.JPGI’m excited about all the possibilities this position will provide. Both the more rural setting and living where we work mean that the pace of life will be much slower than in Santa Cruz. I have plans for the garden, but also to experiment with some tagasaste trees as a forage for a couple milk goats in the pasture by our house. I’m also hoping to work on a simple water filtration system (our water gets pretty murky when it rains), maybe rainwater harvesting and a compost pile, of course.

There will be a lot of time for reading, relaxing and just being. I plan on getting a charango and spending lots of time on the porch learning how to play this guitar-like instrument with ten strings and traditionally made out of an armadillo shell. I already have a stack of books to take with us (most of which are fiction this time). I’m also hoping that this will afford me the opportunity to return to my Food in the Bible series.

We will not have internet access. So, I may not be regularly updating the blog at least for the first couple months. If I am able to find a routine for writing, then I will space out those posts over time when I’m in the city.

Coop Building Party

IMG_5241.JPGThis Saturday I hosted a coop building extravaganza in my backyard. We had five people total that showed up to help me build my coop and maybe learn a little about raising backyard chickens in the process. This is what in Haiti is called a konbit. Here in los Estados Unidos we have taken to calling it a crop mob. You may be more familiar with an old fashioned barn-raising. No matter what you call it, when the community comes together around a project a lot can get done very quickly. That is just what happened on Saturday.

About 9am friends started trickling in as I was getting materials set up, marked and organized. Plans were drawn up (and consequently tossed out when it came to putting it together). Tools and materials were donated. Nando brought the power tools, a jigsaw, power drill and skil saw. My friend Charles donated a whole roll of chicken wire. Maggie brought even more chicken wire to share. I got plastic crates for nesting boxes off of a Freecycle ad. The only things I bought for the coop were the lumber and some old hinges. Total = < $50

We even had our local NPR affiliate show up to check out the goings on. At one point she took off her reporter hat and grabbed a paint brush. The truth is it would have taken me forever to get this coop built if I did it by myself. I needed a community to really make it possible. There’s some finishing touches left, but I hope to have some birds happily clucking away in my backyard by next week (donated graciously by World Hunger Relief). It’ll be a month before they start laying eggs. In the meantime I’ll enjoy the added life to the backyard and funny looks from my neighbors. When they get their first half dozen fresh eggs, they might not look so funny when I pass by in my overalls.

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Look mom… it’s a door!

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Isn’t she a beauty! Very light and easy to move. Plenty of room for four chickens, which will give me more than a dozen eggs a week when they start laying. I recommend the A-frame. It’s a simple design and super easy to build.