A little bit of artistic licence was used on the last post. It was written in mid-May but, as can happen, it was left in a corner of the hard drive and never made its way out until much later.
Since then, we’ve been on holiday for a month and then the last month or so has been spent getting back into the swing of things.
And we found quite a different landscape when we returned.
The rains make it a very green place. Rice nursery being cleared in the foreground ready for planting.
The first thing we learned was that it had rained pretty much non-stop the whole time we were away, and what happens when it rains? Things grow. And our things grew quickly.
When we left our recently dug ponds they were surrounded by sandy brown soil that was exposed to the elements. We returned to a verdant canvas which was full of life - and lots of weeds.
Water filling up and accelerating plant growth.
The scale of transformation in just one month was quite amazing to see. Where we’d had bare ground in front of the house, we now had a carpet of green grasses. It was a relief to see it, as this area was a potential land erosion problem. During last year’s wet season the rain hit this part of the land hard and it moved a lot of soil. Being so close to the house we wanted to stabilise this area, and it was good to see the ground covered so quickly. Now, between the path, plants and now this new grass, we can be quite confident we won’t have the same problems this year.
All around the house is now looking very healthy. Our fruit trees planted in April ’21 are growing and filling out, and some are even fruiting. The next few months should see a lot more growth and our garden ‘forest’ should begin to take shape.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’ve only been living here for a year. We’ve made a huge amount of progress, even though we have so much more to do.
Other areas have blossomed too.
When we left this was not much more than a sandy patch of land. Fruit trees, peanuts and grass quickly covered it all.
The island has undergone a big change and is now completely covered in plant life. We’d planted fruit trees in well spaced-out rows and while we were away other members of the family put in some ground cover by planting peanuts in the alternate rows, so we now have trees/peanuts/trees/peanuts across the island. Our plan was to grow vegetables in these lines, and we can still do that towards the end of the year, but it was really good to see what was done. It shows that we are all on the same page and moving in the same direction.
Last week we cleared another section of land and planted corn and more peanuts. This section makes it a bit too much to manage so it’s likely that we’ll offer space to cousins and other relatives in the village to grow their own food. Rent will be a small share of their harvest.
Peanuts. I’m not sure if I knew how they grow but i didn’t think it was like this.
In between this we planted next year’s rice. It involves a huge amount of work and the efforts of a lot of people. Our niece and her husband deserve a medal. On many days work started not long after 6am and carried through until sunset, which is close to 7pm. There are many stages from ploughing the rice fields three or four times until they are ready, making sure the fields have enough water in them to make planting easier, taking the young plants out of the nursery – which is just a rice field planted fill of early shoots, then separating every shoot and squelching through the mud – bent over – to plant. It would be hard work in any weather but it’s been +35 Celsius during the day. We’ll reap the rewards in a few months.
Next up is cassava harvest… as long as the rains haven’t rotted them.
Clearing the nursery. Back breaking work.
One of many fields that needed planting
It’s fun for some
This was rice shoots from the nursery left over. Imagine how many were planted!
Planting corn - young and old get the chance to work.