Going, going, gone

Taking advantage of the relative morning coolness, I grabbed some helpers and climbed up the poultry feed storage building to install the new solar panel on the zinc roof. I pried up the seam between sheets of zinc and passed a short section of PVC pipe to act as a conduit, protecting the solar wires from the sharp metal edges on its way inside the building. With the luxury of a cordless DeWalt impact driver, within seconds I sent long lags through the aluminum angle brackets I had fabricated back in Chelmsford into the wood purlins below the zinc deck – much to the amusement of my manual-screw-installing Liberian onlookers. I ambled down the extension ladder and back up a freestanding version erected inside the storage room. I began installing the charge controller when I was called to see a visitor…someone to see the truck.

I thought it would never happen. Would anybody in Gbarnga want – or even have the money – to buy our beleaguered baby Foton truck in “as is” condition with a wheel bearing problem? Sumo indicated on Thursday that someone was interested in our truck. They unexpectedly came this morning to check it out. By noon we entered into negotiations in Sumo’s office. For full disclosure, I explained again about the wheel bearing problem. Prices were exchanged. I served first with a high volley. Haggling commenced – significantly down then up; down with a counter up; then one final down and my last return volley up was accepted at a price that amazed me. It all seemed too simple and quick and convenient – and satisfying. If they can get to the bank tomorrow, we could be transferring paperwork before the weekend is over. I guess I’ll need to find another 3-ton paperweight.

In between the arrival of the truck buyer and the start of negotiations, my actual morning appointment arrived. Daniel Thompson from UNDP spent time touring our campus, taking notes, and asking questions.

I’m explaining our needs to Mr. Thompson, UNDP (right) with assistance from Tumamee (center).

We spent a good deal of time at the poultry area and he was very impressed with our entire operation. He said he had no idea so much development was going on back here. We had a very promising discussion about programs UNDP has that may benefit our corn growing idea so we can grind our own chicken feed. Their focus is primarily on small business development and not agriculture. Therefore, they would not support the corn growing aspects but could possibly support the equipment needed to convert our crop into a commercial product like feed.

A view from the cassava field to our three poultry buildings.

They also offer small business training which could be helpful for our block makers. Daniel bought a flat of 30 eggs from us, took my card, and promised to look into other programs that might fit our needs. He also toured the guesthouse and commented about visitors from USAID and UN liking the facility and quiet location. They may even want to buy drinking water from us.

Back to finish the latest solar connections. All looked good on the initial test and electricity began flowing immediately upon termination of the solar panel wires – that sun is amazing. In the adjacent storage room, carpenter Jerome and his assistant were working to build a screened enclosure for our feed. Rats are an increasing problem so we hope to deter them at minimum.

With the taste of victory in my mouth after the truck sale, I decided the flavor of fried chicken and French fries would be the perfect complement. I took a shower, loaded up the cooks who wanted a ride to Deanville (including old, blind-in-one-eye Esther who sat with me in the cab), and headed for an early dinner at the Passion Hotel. A satisfying end to another sweaty day.

3 thoughts on “Going, going, gone

  1. Hi, Jon,

    Yeah, that sun is something. I should mention that our church has gone solar, and yesterday, during worship, it was announced that as of this past Thursday, we are operational. We are expected to reduce annual electricity costs by approximately 8%, with a 12-year payback. I expect that with that enormous Indiana Jones hat you’re wearing , the sun wouldn’t dare to attempt to get anywhere near you! Be well, Herk


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