Erosion control and frisbees

Bright and early I saw the band of boys peering through the porch screens accompanied by bags of “carpet grass” which they had harvested for transplanting around our guesthouse septic tank. The soil keeps washing away and this is part of my efforts to mitigate further erosion and beautify the grounds. The boys eagerly went to work with hooks and diggers in hand, planting carpet grass chopped with their cutlass into six inch squares of sod laid in a rather neat grid of their own design.

Meanwhile, my four guests headed to Kpatawee for a field trip to see the waterfalls as I stayed back to do some projects. I attempted to fix both a loose kitchen faucet and bathroom faucet without much success. The kitchen faucet is now tightened as much as possible but it still pivots sloppily. I pulled the bathroom faucet up enough to clean out some failing plumber’s putty and old silicone then attempted to re-silicone it and tighten the plastic locking nut underneath. Unfortunately, all six tubes of silicone I had in the warehouse had become rubbery in the tubes and the faucet’s plastic locking nut was either stripped or slightly cracked because it keeps spinning instead of tightening.

I took a break from my unsuccess to show the band of boys how to throw a frisbee (which they had never seen before). We created a large circle around the carpet grass worksite and exchanged frisbee tosses and laughs. I demonstrated my acrobatic acumen by jumping and catching the frisbee between my legs which, inevitably led to them trying also.

I moved on to assessing some issues with the poultry buildings and reviewing construction ideas with Lavela – some of which we disagreed about. I also drew up some dimensioned sketches and a parts list for running PVC water lines from the tower to the first poultry pen. I called Tumamee and made plans to meet him later that morning (he said about 45 minutes).

I then met Sumo and accompanied him to pay my respects at Moses’ home. Along the path we took a slight diversion to see the new church building under construction for over four years now. As money comes, they build a little at a time. Sumo wants me to do a “computer picture” of what the final church could look like. I think this came about because I did a 3D rendering of different church for a pastor friend of his.

At Moses’ house the family constructed a large shade area with wooden poles cut in the bush and covered with palm branches. Benches of wooden planks were lined up like pews in a church with a small table up front. Two men sat there while another stood on woven reed mats facing them. He intermittently repeated a phrase in Kpelle which is basically a call to those sitting in the “pews” (about 30 people) to come forward and speak if they want while the two sitting men accept and then record “small money” offerings to help the bereaving family. In the background are other groups of women sitting together while others feed the fire and cook a rice meal. Others are entering the home where “old ma” is lying. She will be buried tomorrow. I shared my “sorry” with Pa Sibley (Moses’ grandfather) and “old ma’s” sister who will probably become the new mother of this household, caring for Moses and James (among others). Many people thanked me for the bag of rice and bucket of fish I contributed. It felt good to have shared in this as Moses has been my sidekick since the beginning.

Sumo and I returned to campus and met Tumamee on the path (this is over 2 hours from his 45 minute estimate…ahh Liberian time). I split from Sumo and headed to the poultry area for a meeting with Tumamee. Our discussion ranged from chicken care to farm staffing and I left him with very specific planning tasks to accomplish by Tuesday which included providing a list of every item he thought we would need in place the day our first chicks arrive (feeding troughs, waterers, wood shavings, etc.) plus candidates for being his first part-time farm helper. I’m concerned about both continuous chicken care and 24/7 security so I introduced the concept of having someone live on one side of the storage building.

Our guests returned from Kpatawee and shared about some of their adventures with Saah and Amelia. My band of boys was around so a new project began to complement the erosion control effort. A border of abandoned blocks was made around the newly planted carpet grass sod and adjacent to the porch entry where heavy downpours of roof runoff pound the ground then run in a downhill torrent forming deep crevices. Kathy directed the work, scratching a line in the soil as the guide for laying blocks. It looks great and the boys were proud to show it off. A little more carpet grass and the area will be ready for receiving the season’s rains which have already begun.

Dinner was prepared by Amelia and Annie so my guests could experience some jollof rice and fufu. As usual, I passed on the fufu (my favorite named dish, but a least favorite for ingesting). The generator was low on oil so we opted to go dark tonight and converse on the porch by solar powered lantern.

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