Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day

 Hello Dear Readers,
We hope you all are reading this in good health and happiness.
As fall quickly approaches on you guys, I am really enjoying sharing my sentiments of spring with you all. So, here goes... with plenty of photos.

Yesterday, I was reading in our rocking chair. Outside the weather was sunny and in the high 60's, but quite windy. I noticed a bird perched on the peach tree in full bloom right outside our window and it was very lovely. By the way, I made sun tea yesterday - which by Shane's prediction means summer has arrived! We've been doing a bit of spring cleaning too, and I'm proud to say I've been a good house 'M'e and asked the woman who helps us do our wash to also wash our blankets, so for about 3 dollars a pop, our blankets joined the ranks of all the other blankets on the lines yesterday to celebrate the arrival of good weather, coming in at the end of the day with that clean and fresh smell exclusive to line dried things.

I went out to one of the WFP primary schools to do some agricultural education last week and on the way, I realized one of the things I've really (already?) grown to love in Lesotho. It is this time of year when the countryside is covered with pink blossoms. I've never seen anything like it in America, and I will miss it next year! In the above photos I tried to capture the loveliness as best I could. Below are a couple photos to prove that I do in fact do "development" work, and this time I was even using some of my education! You can see me - even giving the thumbs up (do I look like a PCV yet?)! And there is also the classroom and students taking notes below. Below that, is a photo of some of the guys Shane has been working with, enthusiastically about to depart for a martial arts tournament in a neighboring village.

As I wax on about spring, Shane noted about the last post, how different the photos look from the actual experience. Walking home, the photos don't capture the feel of the wind and your heavy backpack, the smell of burning plastic and often urine or sewage, the sound of bells on the animals, the kids playing, overly loud music coming from shops and cars, and hearing poorly mantained cars drive too fast nearby. In any case, we're doing the best we can to convey the experience to you electronically. Also, on that note - if you have any suggestions for topics that you'd like to hear about, please email me or Shane or feel free to comment.
I've just been talking about the sensory experience of the place and I thought it would be a fun time to point out that in Sesotho, there is only one word that includes the sense of taste, touch/feeling(also includes feeling emotions), hearing and sometimes even smelling. I had 'my' library kids go outside last Saturday and write down what the experienced for each of their 5 senses... it was fun and of course, sounded like poetry, but I really noticed that they didn't sense nature as much as the human components around. I heard birds while they heard cars, and they even turned on their cell phone radios so they could hear music, they smelled food and saw houses. But they did great and hopefully got them thinking about expressing themselves and connecting to the environment.
I try not to get too philosophical as I write here on the blog because that can get tiresome. However, I'd like to mention something that I've been really impressed with about ourselves as our Peace Corps service has continued. We have always been pretty resourceful and creative, but PC has really given us an opportunity, out of neccesity, to constantly flex our resourcefulness muscles. As examples, I've included a photo of Serurubele playing with his new favorite toy that we have made him, it is a stick with a plastic bag on the end - he loves it. Also, below that you can see a photo of his scratching post and self-feeder that we made out of 2 peanut butter containers. Duct tape is usually at the core of a lot of these projects!

Several people have commented on my resourcefullness in cooking - thanks.. I really can't help myself and there really isn't a lot in the way of entertainment so... below, I present to you a photo of falafel from last weekend. Does it look like something from a restaurant? I homemade the pita bread, the 'feta' cheese, the honey-mustard sauce and of course the falafel balls, and then topped it all with cabbage and diced tomatoes. I have to say, it was pretty delicious and Shane was also happy!

 I've mentioned our seedlings previously, - here they are below "hardening off" and getting ready for being transplanted out to the garden. We might wait a bit longer so that we don't have to frequently water them by hand like our other seedbeds and newly germinated veggies. The wind is not only taking the soil also taking the soil moisture with it!

I know in some of our other posts I've talked about problems with livestock eating our crops, as well as rabbits, insects and even moles. One of our other challenges is very poor soil quality where we are growing, last year this, along with the other factors, really depressed any actual vegetable production. I tried to plant several successions of pea plots as well in attempt to green manure - and they got eaten by livestock too! Many of you already know this, but a pretty important factor in growing organic successfully is the legacy of your plots. I've been cursed by this several times and have had terrible luck growing several gardens now. So, this is year two, we've rolled up our sleeves, made a fence, have compost ready to go and have resigned our selves to hauling a lot of water. I'm not sure if that will be enough. So, Saturday I went into one of the small (shack-like) businesses that sells ag products to scope it all out, and even consider buying some fertilizer (I know what many of you are thinking...) regardless, what I found was actually interesting. I think most of our lovely readers are familiar enough with fertilizer to be suprised that all I found was 6-3-2-31... the 31 being sulphur. Most of it was parceled out into smaller (completely unmarked) 1 kg plastic bags available for about $1.50. I spoke with another ag minded PCV about what was available to him and he said that 2-3-2-22 and 3-2-1-25 was what he commonly found. I'm a lot more comfortable with soil building and organic nutrient input methods, but notheless I was extremely suprised not only by the low primary macronutrients but by the high sulphur! As I understand sulphur numbers like this are mainly for canola and alfalfa... certainly not maize, which is the main crop here! In any case, I suggested to the woman that owns the shop that she may help her customers by writing the numbers, at least, on the smaller plastic bags (PCV on duty 24/7...) and I returned and she actually had done that on a few, yay for the small victories of PC!
I think I'll wrap up now and wish you all a very nice labor day off and as I talk about our garden begining again - I hope you all are enjoying a bountiful harvest. Though I have been hearing a lot about the drought and even seeing some of the effects on global food prices and food aid! In any our best wishes and -
Thinking of you from Lesotho,
Carol and Shane



  1. I love the pic of Carol teaching!
    I love the picture after too, Shane's class looks so happy!

  2. Hey- thought of you guys:
    Registered to vote for the upcoming federal election?