The solar racks were painted a few days ago so we set up some “stepping planks” secured by ropes on the opposite side of the school building in order to scale the roof without crushing the corrugated zinc. Four men hoisted the welded frames while Isaac and I received them. The long self-tapping ceramic coated LedgerLock lags bolts (used in deck construction) I packed in my luggage for fastening the frames into the wooden trusses below worked great – after a little alignment guidance from ground level eyeing how to angle the lags to hit center of the trusses. While caulking the screw holes, the cloud cover broke and the reflective heat became too intense so I abandoned the rest of the work I had planned for another time.
During recess I enjoyed watching a gaggle of girls scratch a grid into the dirt and play a hop scotch like game with a few small rocks. When they got bored of that, they played a game of jacks without the jacks…just some pebbles.
After meeting with BRAC yesterday in Suakoko with Tumamee to get the most updated pricing and availability for both chicks and feed, we invited the program assistant, Mawolo Kullie, for a site visit to get feedback on our structures and discuss any modifications he might suggest. He was impressed overall but recommended we reduce the half wall height for improved ventilation. I was happy to find the price of purchasing the day old chicks had only gone up 5¢ and the cost of feed is unchanged. This made updating my 3 year income/expense projection spreadsheet easier. The other important factor we learned was that BRAC only sells their day old chicks twice a month. The next available dates are May 8th and May 22nd. Our chicken house won’t be completed by the 8th and I’m scheduled to go home on the 22nd…not sure how this will play out yet. We also discussed dimensions and plans for making our own feeder trays. One of the encouraging facts is that Mawolo says there are customers who approach BRAC needing to buy eggs from farmers but the demand is so high that they can’t keep up with order fulfillment. It suggests there’s a ready market and we should have no problem selling any eggs our chickens produce. When I go to Monrovia (hopefully next week for the solar panel shipment) I want to stop by Waterside which is another large open market similar to Red Light, to visit “Sunshine Store”, a manufacturer of cardboard boxes needed for packing our cases of eggs. Tumamee is in the process of seeking a farm assistant from the Deanville community who will also receive training from BRAC.
Meanwhile, a variety of other things are happening in the background. Titus is coloring reed material using a boiling “bark tea” as natural dye in order to weave some baskets for me, which I buy from him (and others) to sell in the US. The photos below give a sense of the process from drying to dying to “plying” (what they call weaving).