Buying a Cow

31 January 2012 But first, an update on the ICC announcement (see previous posting). I am happy to report that there was no violence. David Zarembka, my host in Lumakanda, set up a call in centre, invited people to sign up ahead of time to be citizen reporters and send text messages reporting on what happened in their area after the ICC announcement. He got 45 citizen reporters and all reported no violence. However, everyone was being very careful. It was market day in Jua Kali, but no one showed up, and some shops were closed elsewhere. In Turbo the police were breaking up any gathering of youths that began to form. David was pleased with this test of the system he wants to develop to monitor the next election.

I think I mentioned awhile back that Gladys wanted to buy a cow. Her eldest cousin was selling one, so we took a trip to his brother’s place to see the cow. When we arrived late in the afternoon we were served tea and delicious sweet potatoes. In every home I have visited I have always been served tea. After some time the serious discussion about the cow began. Eventually we went outside to see the cow, a 16-month-old Guernsey, who will be ready to breed in a few months and then will give rich milk, which is why Gladys wants a cow. After a bit of discussion under a mango tree, the decision was made to buy the cow, but Gladys will not take possession right away as she has to prepare the space for the cow.

This gave me an opportunity to see another building method, the more traditional mud and wattle. The original shape was round with a thatch roof. But the thatch is made of reed instead of palm leaves as in Belize. There are still round, thatched structures found, but more are rectangular to accommodate a metal roof. In the U.S. that would be called a “tin roof;” in Belize they call it “zinc;” and here in Kenya they say, “iron sheets.” Wikipedia tells me that they are steel covered with a zinc-aluminum alloy.

The rectangular frame is built out of poles and smaller sticks are put between the crosspieces. Then mud is put onto the smaller sticks and the outside plastered. There was a house under construction for the eldest son which shows the frame and the mud. Another house has the front plastered, but not the side.

This is a small farm, perhaps two acres, but it is very well managed. The best part was the location of the cow shed just a little uphill from the banana and papaya orchard. When they washed out the cow shed, they watered and fertilized the bananas and papaya.

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