I have reported several times on the exciting little rose I discovered growing IN fast flowing water and IN the shade, three tiny pink blooms drawing my attention to it. The last time, with links to older posts, was here. As I learn more about ‘Cascade’ – as I christened it after its place of birth – I become more and more convinced that I’m onto a winner.
Do you remember the post in which I told of the orchid which had been trashed by baboons? I cut up the flowering stems and planted them. Not unexpectedly the six rootless ones did not take, but the one which had a small piece of root attached remains as green as when I planted it, and I am confident that it will survive. Note the growing medium. I found old decayed pine logs that I could break with my fingers, and their spongy chunks form the basis of what looks to this amateur like rather professional orchid growing medium.
So much for plants – what else in this progress report?
I started 2011 with a new foreman; I was rather pleased when eventually my previous foreman and I parted company, and I had already identified his replacement. Partially the previous foreman was responsible for four of my staff not being with us anymore and in November five temps started to work with the team. We were fortunate. They proved so willing and capable that I decided at the end of February to employ all five, rather than three as I had intended. In the process I decided not to replace my ‘estate lawnmower’ but rather to continue using the two strimmers for the purpose of cutting meadows and lawns. Such is the reality of rural Africa that the purchase price of an industrial lawnmower is not much less than the annual salary of one man. In the process I keep mechanical costs down, leave a smaller carbon footprint, and put food on the table of one more family. With rural unemployment at over 30%, you will realise the importance of a single job to an extended family. But why the pic? The fence at the entrance, and the work on it, was their idea. Made of invader wattle lathes and finished at the joints with wattle bark, it has already lifted the approach to Sequoia Gardens in a way I love – it is clear but unassuming. And it is a symbol of a new beginning in the way things get done at Sequoia Gardens. This was a casual photo taken the day I came home from teaching to find the fence half built. I will in due course feature it more fully.
Croft Cottage is also nearing completion. In fact all that needs to be done is the last furniture to be bought. Oh – and now that my trailer has been reconditioned – a process that took longer than it aught – I can fetch old tires to line the soak-pit beyond the septic tank, thus completing the plumbing and making the cottage habitable. The original stone structure was built sometime in the early 20th century. I broke out the side wall and doubled it in size, put on a new roof and added a shower-room towards the back and a stone-pillared veranda in front. Because for many years the stone-walled room was used as a store or inhabited by farm workers, I decided to call it Croft Cottage; a crofter being, in the north of the UK, a tenant farmer. It has been a slow process, for we owner-built it all, but I am very happy with the end product.
And so, here I am, at the end of a hectic period; this morning I completed my first-term reports. Yesterday our Rotary Club hosted the Ebenezer Mile Swim, our major fund-raiser for the year. On 1 March, the beginning of the financial year, I officially bought the crop of pine trees from my father, and all income from and responsibility for the farm is now mine. (It is a lifestyle farm: 40% of my salary plus the income from the farm is needed to sustain it, one of the reasons I’m developing tourist accommodation.)
By Friday I will be on leave. We are making progress in all sorts of ways. There are plans afoot. I am happy.