Sunday, September 25, 2016

Free Range Livestock, by Cory

Free-range livestock is one of Haiti's biggest agricultural/environmental problem.

Most of the reforestation efforts would be irrelevant since birds or wind drop seeds everywhere but livestock graze off the new seedlings, keeping hillsides bare and eroding.

Walking by gardens it is common to see damage from livestock.

Overgrazing unmanaged pasture is the norm, with soil compacted or eroded.

Rotational grazing of improved pasture or cut-and-carry of feed could result in a huge increase of productivity.

The reality here is that forage is scarce and any garden with ground cover (ours is to improve/protect the soil) is tempting to livestock and their owners.

Part of the reason we intercropped sugar cane was to distract any livestock, not if, but when, they get into the garden

Last week we caught a small calf that had been roaming the area and feeding in our largest new garden from time to time for more than a week.

Unfortunately the share cropper was working in other fields most of the time, planting peanuts.

I visited the garden with the guys to photograph the damage before they would wait for the cow to come but it came as we finished the photos.

It wasn't hard to catch, and looked too thin, probably ill.

 It was brought to the local authority and a small fine set for the damages.

We haven't heard yet if he paid the fine to get the calf back.

 He had been warned several times by us and the share cropper to tie up the calf.

The calf only mowed off one peach palm tree,  it just wandered throughout the garden, partly defoliating several dozen trees.

Oddly, it ignored the sugar cane. It also tended to avoid the trees sprayed with deer repellent, but the ants or other insects have eaten some of the repellent so it doesn't look like it will last long (mostly vegetable oil, blood, and herbs, sprayed on underside of leaves, so not surprising the ants here would go for it, I may try adding hot pepper next time).

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Noise, bugs and dirt...

A good audience for clinic chat time on Monday morning had me looking forward to my afternoon class.
But walking down to the classroom I couldn't help but notice that the school's brass band and percussion group were practicing very loudly and close to the classroom used for my health talks.

Thankfully as I approached the class, one of the professors met me to note that because of the large number of adult literacy students they would like to move to the church, across campus.

Yes! That would be good, not only cooler and a larger area for the students, it moved us far enough away that the band practice no longer bothered us.

The hour passed quickly as I shared a bit about the immune system, how it defends the body and answered questions.

How does the body battle bugs, dirt and more...

Buildings also suffer from dirt and bugs!

Cory's guys spent the start of this week painting in the House of Hope guest house on campus. While we knew this should be done months ago we decided to wait until after the busy summer conference schedule.

Then one needs to find good paint to buy-not always easy.

Looking much nicer on the inside-which as most homeowners know leads to working on the now more dirty and dingy looking outside!

Termites have been feeding on some of the wooden furniture and trim of the house. We will be injecting boric acid solution where we can but it is only a partial cure. Always a battle with the bugs here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Biriba seeds and planting coconuts.

I've now been married to a fruit enthusiast for more than 40% of of my life.

I remember the days when eating fruit only came with a few questions. Am I hungry for this? What apple or other fruit do I want to eat? 

Now days questions can complicate this simple act in life. Right now we have biriba fruit, a new favorite of Anna's and ours. 

Shhhhh..trying to keep them a secrete from the local kids as Cory wants a good evaluation of which trees taste best and a good supply of seeds to plant, including for other nurseries.  

When first introducing a new fruit that is the most important time to plant the best varieties and not the so so or poor tasting fruits. 

Once enough trees are planted then we can freely share with children and adults, as the need for seeds will be less.
So Cory and Anna go out quietly in the late afternoons to climb and pick the ripe fruits.

Before and after eating, questions abound.
  • Can I eat this fruit or is Cory saving it to share with people?
  • Is this fruit from the good tree?
  • Which fruit tastes better? 
  • Do you need these seeds?
  • Do we need to eat all the fruit from this tree so we can collect the seeds?
  • Did you mix up the seeds from a good fruit and mediocre fruit?!?!
  • Did you forget and throw the seeds in the compost pail?
  • What happened to my seeds?
Newly planted on left. 
Cory and I also planted a few hybrid coconuts this week from Cap Haitian, or at least coconuts from a tree that appears to be Malaysian Dwarf x Panama Tall or 'Maypan' which is Lethal Yellows resistant. Most of the big-type coconut palms in our area have died during the past few years from Lethal Yellows.

 Not sure 'planted' really conveys the right picture. First step the same as with other seeds...fill the bag or pot with dirt. 

In this case fill a large bag or pot all the way close to the top.
Decide where you would like the tree to sprout from the coconut- out the side or out where the stem was once attached and make sure this part is highest when 'planted'.

Unlike some seeds where the roots exit on one side and sprout the other [like mangos-plant concave side down] coconut sprouts can tell which way is up and come out heading toward the sun. 
Put the coconut about half way in the dirt. Done! 

Or you can leave the coconuts in a shady spot, partly in damp ground until they sprout and then plant. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Church visits...and reaching the 18 year mark!

Sunday we went to visit a new church for us. A second pastor, who's church we pass along the way, heard we were going by and asked us to stop in for a few minutes to give greetings and drop off some Konsey books.

We arrived a bit later than planned as road work on Route National One, which runs from Cap Haitian to Port-au-Prince, occurs even on a Sunday.

 So we waited in an area where local lumber is placed beside the road to sell.

We made it to the Plaisance church in time for the call for visitors to stand up and be recognized.

After giving greetings we enjoyed special music from three different groups, the last group singing during offering.

Then the pastor took Cory and JeanPierre to see the construction where the church is being expanded, following which he encouraged us to take to the road so that we could arrive in time for the next service.

Boxes of Konsey books were left for the congregation.

We continued south until we arrived at the small church.

The Puilboreau, Grde Rivier Plaisanse, church stands on one side of the road and the parsonage the other. After greetings we enjoyed the service.

After service we looked over the property and then crossed the road to wait with the preacher for a bit of lunch.

He does not yet live in the parsonage as it has only been built in the last year or so.

Unfortunately, with the widening of the road, they do not yet know if the building will stand..or if the church side will lose more land.

With the exact lay of the road yet to be decided..they dare not plant trees to stop the continued erosion of the land.

After sharing some boiled plantain and yams with a chicken in sauce we headed home for Jean Pierre to work with the children's club.

Yesterday, we reviewed the district list of the northern churches.

Some of the names change now and then and some churches tend to go by the area or town more than the name.

We believe that we only have one more established church to visit, and a couple 'stations' and then we will not be 'first time visitors' again in the district until new churches are established.

Eighteen years ago we moved to LaGonave, with Eli.

This year we celebrated with Anna.

Think every area of our lives have changed: family, friends, this country, our ministry, our hopes and dreams, our faith, our many memories stir up a huge range of feelings.

One thing remains unchanged..our God, Lord, Savior, and Father.

While we don't understand many things about this life and every year may add questions...yet we trust Him.

He remains our Comfort in pain, our Leader in confusion, our Hope in waiting, our source of Love and Peace.

To Him any honor, glory, or praise sent our way during these years in Haiti, be to Him.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Garden Update by Cory

We hiked to the new gardens Thursday this week.

We need rain, things are still green but even some established trees are wilted.

Gardeners in the floodplain are busy preparing gardens and planting peanuts.

The share cropper has part of our big garden freshly planted to rice.

Note the erosion control berms made of the old weeds.

I have expressed concern to him about topsoil erosion and the berms are the usual local practice although of limited effect on soil loss from our heavy downpours, about 150 inches of rain in a normal year.

It is good having someone working the garden for free to help keep livestock out but he isn't there all the time.

A neighbor reported that he tied up a big cow that was in the garden and said we should come more often.

Damage was minor with nibbles here and there and only one palm mowed off.

I sprayed most of the trees/palms on the underside of young leaves and at the base with deer/rabbit repellent, will see if it keeps livestock and rhino beetles from eating the trees.

Peach palms on campus are blooming again as harvest starts.

One tree that had a small bunch of small fruit last year has four good size bunches now and several flower buds.

 The fruit are much bigger than they look on the tree.

The flavor is good.

Fruit harvested on campus this week:
front - 3 banana varieties (Gros Michael, Ceylon/little Cory, and a FHIA hybrid), breadnut, hot bird peppers, miracle fruit and two barbados cherries/acerola, wild passionfruit.

2nd row - bilimbi (sour fruit) peach palm, sapodilla, breadfruit slice.

3rd row - starfruit/carambola,

4th row - Blanc' mango, atemoya, cacao, avocado, biriba, 'Baptiste' mango.

5th row - squash, black sapote, coconut.

Not included but also producing: guava, African oil palm, regular passionfruit. There would probably still be a few pineapple but the last few disappeared before full size.