Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Good Work of the Year

Greetings all.

I am currently in Maradi and enjoying a much needed rest. Since returning to Dan Saga everything has been on the go go go and all my efforts are focused on preparing my tree nursery for the upcoming year.

The hammock is hung, the dirt is being turned, materials are accumulating and my passion for agriculture is only intensifying with each new day of work in my peppenaire.

Yippee!!!!! I feel all giggly thinking about it

Last week my focus was on fencing, I repaired some spots in the old portion of the nursery, and then put up a 35 meter chain link fence to create an area reserved for animal management and manure accumulation. The work was fun and took much less time than I thought it would, there is an expression that many hands make less work so luckily with the help from my friends and about 50 kids just hanging the job was done and I hardly even had to work.

I have upper management written all over me.

Due to how I built the fence a recurring theme from last year has already resurfaced " Nazifi that's not how its done", but then again after the fence was finished we looked at our work and then I heard Hey Nazifi, that's the way! I never tire from hearing that.

It’s the beginning of February, and by the end of next month I need to have the nursery up and going its going to be a lot of work but I am having the time of my life lounging about and using my imagination to create something unique and a benefit for the future of Dan Saga.

By applying lessons learned from last years work and integrating Permaculture concepts the pre-rainy season task will be to transform a discarded parcel of turf generally used for a short cut path and place for kids to number two, into a fully integrated multipurpose area used for animal production, gardening, medicinal forest garden, orchard, and nursery.

Last year my focus was to establish a Sahelien Eco Farm and show farmers a different approach to managing their fields. This year my goal is to continue integrating these concepts to willing farmers, but also focus my attention on establishing food security and diversity within the confines of individual homes or small scale fields within the village. It is essential to find a way to maximize land use and water management in locations closer to available water and available maintenance.

This years work will be a lasting impression of the benefits of giving this white guy two years with nothing but time on his hands and the conclusion of a dream that started decades ago when a young boy dreamed of living in the bush of Africa.

Nothing could make this existence better.

Friday, February 8, 2008

1-23-08 The Social Misfit

2:57 PM

Am I a communication misfit? Yes, probably a little.

Dating back to the time I became really sick and Matt was pulled out, and even more so since leaving Niger, and returning from my vacation, for that matter. I can't say I have contributed even the tiniest fraction of events.

Depending on the notion that many of you know me personally as a family member, friend, regular reader or even random search you might have caught some of the tales while home.

If not too bad, so sad.

Going to the states was incredible, cold quality beer, Mexican food, margaritas, BBQ and a multitude of other things were thoroughly enjoyed. It was a real break from the insect light fecalmatterflaked food, piss flavored Nigerien beer, and 12 hour taxi rides to travel 100km.

But coming back to Niger was a blast, seriously - a land mine going off in the neighborhood. I was in checking my email and it was kinda eerie, but at least its something the States don't have, right?

No worries.

I finally made it back to Maradi after a long drawn out week in Niamey, there was no motivation due to the jet lag. For about two weeks I was a wondering moron, stumbling about sleeping only 3-4 hours a day. Or going to bed at 10a.m.

But it’s nothing being back in the ville can't solve.

Last week I made it back to Dan Saga and was given a homecoming reception fit for a returning celebrity. I had called a villager friend and told him that I would be back in two days time. So, on his own initiative, he told everyone and the result was about a hundred or so people waiting for me to arrive that afternoon. There was dancing, singing, hugs, greetings, jumping, running, handshakes, laughing, joking, and even a pair of potato and meat venders showed up for the occasion and profited handsomely on the occasion.

Good tasty Nigerien taters. Fresh meat. Mmmm

I missed it.

After my first night’s sleep back in the ville there was no rest for the wicked and my villagers put me to work. I didn't have hardly a minutes rest between trying to work in my tree nursery, squeak through ALL the rusty Hausa and dodge the barrage of blessings and greetings.

My house hasn't been lived in for practically two months, and seems to be no less of a barrier to the constant shifting of sands, dust, and wind than to the tremendous rain storms.

But that’s not even important. My village was there with open arms, whole heartedly greeting me.

God bless these folks, I love em.

And you know what? I was given a whole new set of fields, I think its 3 or 4 now. Like I said no time to rest, and even was told by many farmers that they were happy to work with me this year and adapt my farming model to their fields.

This was like day 2 of being back.

Day 3

I measured my peppenaire (nursery), plotted, and planned how this thingy is going to function based on principals that I have learned from studying permaculture…blah, blah, blah.

My work this year has promise to be a project for the records! It’s going to be a lot fun.

Back in Maradi

Today I went on a bit of a spree and bought a plethora of fantastic tools, fencing, and cement to construct an incredibly integrated system. Though it wasn't my money, and I probably shouldn't have spent it, I did because it was too tempting. With the equivalent of about 300 bucks USD in my pocket I felt like a kid in a toy store.

Now it’s a discarded tree nursery with connecting fields next to a well.

But soon this domain will be transformed from a littered low output field, into a multidimensional space integrating a garden, nursery, orchard, cash crop field, medicinal forest garden, and home to chickens, bees, rabbits, goats, ducks, guinea fowl, an ox or two, then possibly a horse, then top it off with a dog. We will also be selling value added products, along with a multitude of other services.

What keeps me motivated of working here like this? I look at the long term and think this is how I would do it back on my farm.

My goal is to turn this area into a learning environment that extends its impact beyond my own service and stands as a testament to anyone who takes the time regularly to stop and ponder on the larger things in life and use their imagination to create something wonderful.

Or if one just says eh' that's a great place to tether an ox, or for little kids to take a number two, good enough for me.

Woe to me for having a job where all I have to do is explore my imagination and create something musical, beneficial, but most importantly sustainable.

The next month seems to be a very busy one so don't expect for me to surface too often other than for a quick jaunt out of the ville to grab something.

2008 is going to be an amazing year.

Even managed to put up a hammock in my peppenaire for a place of rest, deep thought, and work.

Peppenaire (pep-EN-yair) as spoken in upper flatland Missourian dialect is a tree nursery.

There is work.
Life is good indeed.

1-09-08 Smurfs Attack!!

10:10 AM

I am back lapping it up in luxury – oh, how I missed the sunny sands of Niger. The trip back across the pond was dreadfully long, but stopping off in Casablanca, Morrocco and sharing time with new people along the way made the trip even better.

Similar to my returning home and missing flights, I returned back to Niger in the same fashion and somehow missed my connecting flight from Atlanta to New York.

I don't know how, really, I don't get it.

Seriously I was there on time, my flight was on time, and my arrival gate was next to my departure one, and I WAS waiting at the gate. Yet I saw nobody enter the gate, no boarding call or anything and the plane still took off without me. The only way I could have missed my flight was during my 5 minute jog down to the restroom and grabbing some airport food and returning immediately.

I don't get it.

Now just between us I don't want any of you to think I am paranoid but perhaps there were more sinister parties involved. Recent evidence has emerged and I believe the culprits to be a crack team of mercenary smurfs whose ambition was to delay me, crawl into my luggage and then deploy their evil doing.

Okay I know what you’re thinking now….

Smurfs are cute, blue, diligent, and courteous, but still I don't trust them. For real people, let’s not forget they have been in a long standing war with Gargamel, and let’s not forget how crafty Handy Smurf is.

Plus, don't you think perhaps Papa Smurf just looks a little too much like a terrorist?

So moving on, I am back in Niamey, jet lag has hit me terribly, once again part of the evil smurf scheme. Somehow after my slumber I awoke to find that my resources had been whittled down.

Where are my reserve stocks of American candy, supplies, but most importantly, bourbon?

But I don't want to sound paranoid.

I can't help it though, anytime now I feel the slight bit tired, BAM! Like a door slamming I'm out.

Can you believe I was thrown out of a bar because they thought I was drunk!! ….bastards!!!

It was smurfs I tell you!!! SMURFS!!!!

Just kidding. Actually not kicked out of bar, but not about the smurfs

You just can't joke about that lot of folk, they are evil doers down to their little blue bones.

Despite the smurf meddling, my time back in Niger has been getting back to normal.

Slow and steady, just the speed I like it.

Yet despite my inability to adjust to Niger time yet, somehow everything seems to be quite right.

I have been playing mando, surfing on my cool new laptop, and reading my new farming and agriculture books, even managed to squeeze a jam session with a famous Nigerien musician.

So why haven't I left Niamey yet?

Glad you asked.

Smurf Meddling I tell you.

Know the Mercenary intentions of the crack team of Smurf assassins have struck.

Last night a land mine exploded in a residential neighborhood in Niamey, killing a director of a public radio station along with his wife. Naturally the Toureg resistance group (MNJ) is denying all responsibilities for this occurrence, along with all the other recent wave of landmines striking the country. Naturally most seem to believe this, except for the Nigerien government, and most likely ours as well.

Really the worst of it for us was that for a day we were not allowed to leave the hostel, and then not allowed to ride in taxis for a day or two.

But don't any of you worry we are all doing well, safe and on lock down…....again.

Thankfully the criminal investigators never came to ask me, I fear the repercussions too terrible to think or mention, but you know what I think. It was, without a doubt, the same crack team of mercenary Smurfs that hoodwinked me in Atlanta. They are the ones to blame for this new wave of violence.

How do I know?

The escalation of this proxy war has been small scale.

There you go, simple logic once again prevails.

Do you think it could have been the time zone changes? Dunno.