Haiti Homefront
Haiti Homefront
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Commenced:
01/02/2011
Submitted:
14/03/2011
Last updated:
07/10/2015
Location:
Sans, Ouanaminthe, HT
Phone:
+509 31052449
Website:
worldturners.org
Climate zone:
Wet/Dry Tropical





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Back to Haiti Homefront

Chicken Woes and Worm Mating

Project: Haiti Homefront

Posted by Natasha Turner about 9 years ago

Learning from the locals, chickens dying, worms at a standstill

We're in a one-bedroom apartment now with three kids, but it has electricity (inverter and batteries). The owner also keeps a custodian here, and he is teaching us a lot. All-in-all the space trade is really worth it.

We've learned about double-dug gardens, protecting seedlings from chickens and sun (with palm branches), planting pineapples, plantains, and bananas, drying seeds, guerilla gardening, how to know which young papaya trees will produce and which to cut down, what a breadfruit is and how to eat it, and the list goes on.

We brought our worm bin and pollywogs with us from our old place across town. The worms are sure slow on the uptake. We've had them for months now, and they don't seem to be multiplying. How long does it take? I don't disturb them often - maybe once a month.

Our pollywogs have mostly grown legs and hopped off, but the boys are concerned that the chickens might have made a snack of the last couple. We dug a tiny "pond" for them, lined with a planter bottom and shaded it with a board against the afternoon sun. It's amazing to me how maintenance-free they seemed to be. Just make sure they have some of the slimy water you found them in, make sure it doesn't dry out, and they're good to go. What in the world are they eating? The kids sure loved to see them flitting around, and it was amazing, even for me to see as their legs began to grow. I had only ever seen it in pictures. Nothing beats real life.

We lost one chick shortly after our move - chicken fever? The locals say it hits at this time of the year when the wind picks up, and it is "cold." We had named her Cinnamon, for the color of her head fluff. Before we could dig a hole for her and say good-bye, the custodian came along and offered to take care of it . . . by throwing her over the wall! He said the dogs would take care of her :-( I guess that's life, the food chain. About a week later our son reported another languishing chicken, but I thought he was just getting over-reactive, so I waited.

That evening when we finally went to check on her (Star), sure enough, she didn't want to move. I felt around on her body and found a very squishy, swollen lump under her neck. We took her to the custodian, and he felt the lump and then squished it around and made her throw up all the goo that was in there. He said she must have eaten something bad. We thought she'd be good to go, but she was still trying to doze off, so he told us to run for a sour orange (a common Haitian remedy). By the time we got it to her, she was in convulsions, and we couldn't get her back. She was my favorite of the chicks :-(

That would be a really down-er note to end on. The rest of the chickens are healthy and growing. One we rescued from death by string (wrapped so tightly around his leg that it was cutting into him, and his leg was swelling painfully hot and huge around it). He kept wandering into our yard from no-one knows where and would just sit outside our chickens' pen like he wanted to be part of the family. When I finally clued into what was wrong with him I actually called our nurse-friend over to help me, because I was too squeamish to do it myself. I thought it might require amputation, but she persisted patiently until she had dug out every last piece of string and hair that was cutting into his leg. Now he walks like a soldier, but he's doing very well, and there is no more infection.

We are beginning to see who our real friends are here, because they share their seeds with us :-) When they are feeling extra generous, they share a strong, healthy tree seedling with us. We had seen no visible progress from our avocado seeds yet, and today Pastor Daniel gave us a beautiful avocado start! Yeah!

 

Comments (3)

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Mark Garrett
Mark Garrett : Hi no need for double dig gardens look into no dig gardens or sheet mulched gardens. It sounds as though you should have chichen manure,banana leaves plus other carbon and nitrogen supplies available. Also if a chicken dies use it to supply valuable nutrient to your vegetable bed via the use of the feathers composted as they are high in Nitrogen and phosphorue I did a hole and plant a fruit tree on top of them when they die out of the blue. the dogs will find food !!double digging is not only labour intensive but destroys the the soil life in the first 100cm of soil which is so important for the making of humus. Plant selection can break up the soil for you and so can worms. Are your worms composting worms or earth worms and how much food do you give them and is there a carbon source as well. If you have cow poo available I have found worms love it .. check first if the cows have been wormed as this can kill them off.
Posted about 9 years ago

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Natasha Turner
Natasha Turner : Wow, lots of good info. Yes, I agree about the double-digging. It definitely was very labor-intensive too. What I haven't figured out is how to kindly suggest another way, when I still only have baby Creole. I'm working on it. Unfortunately, the chickens are spreading their manure out over the whole property for us, so there is no way of collecting it. On the other hand, I have been gathering what is in their sleeping house and using it around the trees. Will it burn their roots? I like the idea of planting the tree over the dead chicken. I actually did that with some leftover chicken organs in my vegetable garden in Texas. Those plants took off better than the others. Surprisingly, the custodian was worried about burying the chicken that died today. He thought it would stink. I found it amusing that he thought it would stink but wasn't concerned about one rotting in the open air in a neighbor's property. When you said plant selection can break up the soil, which plants do that the best? Our worms are just the ones we found in the ground around our old place. I did add a little cow poo but maybe not enough. It was dried, and I pulverized it, so I'm assuming it had already been "seasoned" or whatever the word is.
Posted about 9 years ago

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Landcraft Permaculture ...... Paul Boundy
Landcraft Permaculture ...... Paul Boundy : Sounds like you could feed your worms weekly to build them up. You can look at them as often as you like, but just don't expose them to hours of direct sunlight, they will burrow away and not eat the food. As the worms are just from your environment, they may not be fast eaters. You could get some composting worms / tiger worms (Eisenia fetida are one very good species). Ask a friend with a good farm if you per not to buy from a supplier. These worms don't mind if you turn the food over every few days to keep it aerated as they eat on the surface and don't make any burrows that would otherwise be ruined every time you turn the humus. Once you know a few tricks, worm farming is an awesome way to make humus.
Posted about 9 years ago

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