Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shopping in Shashamene and Work at Kokosa


July 28th, 2010 Camel Wreck-Shashamene-Kokosa

I had a nice visit with my family before scripture study and prayer. It is really good to be able to talk with them even though I am half a world away.  I anticipated that it would take about 45 minutes to get my breakfast and I was about right even though there was only one other couple in the restaurant that came in after me. I had ordered an omelet not the most complicated of breakfasts to cook.

Abera and I went shopping for jumper cables but they don’t know what they are in Shashamene so I bought 20 feet of heavy wire and some battery clamps and made my own for 392 ETB($28).  They don’t look very good but they got the job done.  We also purchased a large jug for storing milk, a couple of plastic buckets, basins, and pitchers all for 108 ETB($7.80)  We also spent about 50 birr on water and 50 on oranges, bananas, and bread. This will feed us for a couple of days I hope.  I am sure that Abera will go with Negeso to his restaurant a time or two and probably take Mulgeta and Gemechu. We also bought 20 liters of gas (13.23ETB/Liter, $3.65/gal) to run the little generator that they bought after my last trip here.  Jamal tried to run it on diesel but it didn’t work very well.
A load of camels ran off the main road and crashed. Many of the drivers chew "chat " a hallucinogenic plant. 
Abera drove to Kokosa and stopped where the camel carrying Isuzu truck had run off the road and down into the river.  It looked like everything and everyone probably died.  The road was just finished and has no guard rails. Many drivers chew a plant called chat which is similar to marijuana. Usually the poor road conditions keep the road speeds below 50k/h (30m/h) but with the new road the drivers can get going much faster.

The drive went well until we were about half way down the muddy lane to the farm. Abera overcorrected and slid to the low side of the road and got stuck.  He looked at me as if to say can you get us out now. It took a shovel and four people pushing but we got out and Abera learned a little bit about mud driving.  I pulled out some birr to reward the helpers.  Two of them gratefully accepted but two of them said that is not enough they set the one birr back on the truck seat and said give us ten birr each. (Ten birr is a day’s wage in this area).  I said if you don’t want the birr I will keep it and we drove off.  Abera was disgusted with them.  I asked him if it was because I was a farenge (foreigner) that they acted that way.  He said yes that he never pays people that help push and usually they don’t expect pay.
Gemachu and Mulgeta using the newly installed water pump. They were very excited!
The water pump is working great.  We filled a 10 liter bucket in 20 seconds.  That is much easier than hauling it up out of the well by hand. I had to calm everyone down or they would have pumped the well dry.  We will buy two more to use over by the corrals.

Mulgeta and I bred the three cows that came into heat.  I hope that the rest of them will come in tomorrow.  I am not sure about the semen quality but I am using this more as a training exercise for Mulgeta.  Tsehay is having the semen checked in Addis.  If it is no good we will just have to buy new semen. There are probably 6000 to 7000 doses in the tank. The semen that I have here was in the smaller tank so I hope that it was OK. Mulgeta bred all three cows with only a little difficulty on one of the cows.  I also started training one of the workers to thaw the semen.  He will need more practice.
Sultan explaining the project to Mulgeta. The idea is to have the overflow of the first trough to fill the second one.
Sultan has been working on the water troughs and is getting the hang of it now.  I told them that the first one is where we learn by making and correcting mistakes but from now on we do it right the first time.
Our new crop of Boran calves watched over by one of our herdsman. The cows are being milked as part of our dairy program. Most of the milk goes to a restaurant in Kokosa.
Mulgeta and I walked around the farm looking for other possible sites for gravity flow water troughs.  I continue to stress the importance of having lots of clean water for the animals to drink.  With so much rain and green grass the animals don’t really get that thirsty so the herders just assume that they don’t need any water and just let them drink out of puddles if they do.  Good management here will really make a difference.
Abera is very excited about his new toy. This will work much faster than the hand labor plowers.
I had attached my makeshift jumper cables to the tractor batteries and let the truck charge them one at a time. When I first tried to start it I couldn’t get any power to the motor.  I looked all over for a switch or something that I might have missed to no avail.  Later I climbed in again and tried the same thing and it worked. I went through the gears to figure out what was what then I trained Abera how to drive it.  He was really having a lot of fun so I left him and went to eat dinner.  I picked some chard and carrots to eat with my ham sandwich.
           
With the generator running tonight I am able to type even after dark and not worry about my battery dying either. With no light around it gets very dark here on the farm.  When the sky is clear you can see millions of stars.

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