Homestead Happenings – 3 weeks of being sick, 1 week recovered

I was sick for almost three weeks with a parasitic infection of amoebas that causes nausea, dizziness, and headaches when you are standing. When you are laying down things are not so bad but they are still there; which means I was laying down and doing absolutely nothing for just over two weeks. A few days at the end had a little movement but that wasn’t much. Stir crazy is an understatement. Things were getting away from me and everything seemed so far beyond when I was last up and at it, it was almost is like waking from a dream. I was on meds for four days before I really started improving. The meds themselves are terrible and make you feel almost as bad so I was keen to be done early in.

So with this Homestead Happenings, your getting a glance after at least a month’s time – 3 weeks of sickness and 1 week of me back with the living.

IMG_3094Last weekend Dave worked on our new pig pen so that we have a permanent place to keep our critters while we raise them up one at a time (or maybe 2?). We are tired of our plants being eaten if they escape and having to switch the rope on their legs when they become swollen. It’s just not the best situation so we are putting in a permanent pen to give us and piggy a better time at raising them. A Congolese friend is taking care of our pig until the pen is ready; which should be by the end of the weekend.


IMG_3140The pen is complete now and it’s occupant very content with the situation. It has a shed to hunker under during super heavy downpours, sand in the pen for good drainage (although this never bothered the pig its a mess for us), a water nipple for constant water and we will work on putting in a pig trough later. For now he uses a bowl and it work just fine.


IMG_3096Our papaya trees are recovering from the last pig that demolished them but we do need to plant more. If you are unaware, we planted special red papayas from Cameroon because the taste is SO much better than the local Congolese ones here. We are excited for them to start fruiting and the largest one in the garden that was protected from the pig is beginning to flower. We should be able to tell soon if it’s a female (we are guessing yes but are waiting).

The garden truly has gotten away from me. Most things are doing well, though I’m very much behind on things like harvesting, thinning and planting. The turnips and rhutabagas are thriving except for the occasional infestation of cabbage worms. I haven’t been up to spray so I think they are worse than ususal.

IMG_3109After working out in the garden some this last week I’m happy to say I’m getting caught up with things. There are still things to be done (always) but at least I got a large chunk of the planting done that I needed to do. I’ve planted some “cooler-weather” crops now to see how they do. I planted snow peas, sugar snap peas, rapini broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choy and kale. I also did some more replanting of winged beans, kohlrabi, and fennel. We put in a trellace to accommodate the peas and have two posts in the ground waiting to be rigged up for blackberries soon.


IMG_3119We dug up our old sweet potato patch and have oodles of them to eat and replant in another patch which will hopefully be mature by the holidays. For now we treasure the taste of them. We even managed to grow the largest sweet potato I’ve ever seen, larger than even the local coconuts!

The okra is doing amazing this time around; a result of more spraying to help with pests but especially from the added manure. They are bigger and healthier than ever before. I almost planted them too close together based off of previous plantings that were less robust and healthy.



IMG_3112The beans were doing well and desperately needed harvesting. They ended up being left too long and the plants are “tired” now so after only three large pickings I’m leaving them to go to seed so we have some to replant. The trellaced beans are growing but are barely producing yet. The winged beans (the three vines that came up) are climbing but not producing yet. I attempted a final planting of them when I was planting all of the other things this week. Hopefully they will come up.

IMG_3117All of the squash plants and cucumbers are doing well. I’m trying the tinfoil method to prevent boring grubs from killing our plants this time around. I netted them until now and will have to change the tin foil weekly, which they are due for. I also injected them with BT, a natural bacteria to kill any grubs that do make it in. Add that to the list of unusual garden tools I’m using this time around – a syringe. Our summer squash and zucchini are beginning to bear and hopefully we will get a good crop from them this time around.



IMG_3095Dave has been working on several projects around the place including the pig pen. He also created a ‘pathway maker’ for pouring cement pathways, a grill to go on our fire pit for BBQ’s with friends, and a chick brooder. We have gravel down in the pathway for the garden but have yet to pour the actual pathway. The brooder is completed and already had occupants in it! Chicks for the Animal Micro-Loan Program I’m starting.

We moved the ducks outside on the Turkey side of things and they now sleep on that side of the house too. For now, the turkey side will be the duck side of our house and runs. I’ve been putting the baby chicks in with them during the day when it isn’t raining for some exercise and sunshine. They absolutely love it and it’s one of my favorite places to be on our homestead right now – in that pen covered in beautiful vines watching all the babies run around. Our “passion fruit” from Panama is flowering and has set fruit. The fruit are larger than a softball but are still very green. They will ripen to a nice striped yellow when they are ready. Hopefully we can try it in a couple of weeks.

The pathway maker, a homemade copy of what you can buy
The brooder with lid open, unfinished
Lid closed, unfinished
The brooder in the chicken coop finished, complete with poop board. The stilts will be placed in cans of diesel or oil to protect against driver ants
The program chicks
Cute chicks
The gravled garden path awaiting poured stones.
Program chicks running around
Enjoying the outdoors
My Khaki Campbells
The Panama Passion Fruit

We stared incubating more eggs almost two weeks ago – 16 duck eggs to be exact – and planed to add in chicken eggs to the incubator a week after so they would all hatch at the same time. These are all local eggs and will be for us. After a weeks time I candled the eggs and am sad to say only 3 of the 16 duck eggs we put in the incubator were developing. The rest were unfertilized after checking. We might have to find another source for duck eggs. I added chicken eggs to our incubator to fill it up and also started another batch of chicks for the program.

IMG_3132Other progress are our herbs are coming up, the corn is doing much better this time around, and I’ve finally gotten our guest bedroom organized and put together. We bought two bed frames from our organization (MAF) and can now receive guests! I worked hard to get our junk storage room turned into the guest bedroom that can also still function as my sewing/craft room. It’s a relief but a lot of work. I’ll get back at sewing curtains and things here pretty soon.

So much to do after being sick! Did I also mention I’m starting to work in the MAF office here helping our program manager with administration stuff? I’m also discussing starting a “bone broth” ministry for sick patients up at the hospital with another of the MAF wives here. Busy, busy, busy . . . . and I’d better get back to it!

One comment

  1. Ashley,

    Sorry for long sicknesses.

    I am definitely interested in how you succeed to grow zucchini. Are you putting foil on the fruit as it grows or on the stem. I was getting bugs in the fruit so I bought some tights for kids from a used clothes pile. I cut them up into tubes and would slip a tube of the little fruit. It worked for the bugs but my zucchini was yellow and not green since it did not get sunshine.

    Also what is the bacteria you injected them with? And where did you inject them?

    Many questions.

    I think your garden looks wonderful! Piggy pen too.

    I got to snorkel today. I love it. Out on the Great Barrier Reef. We saw some sea turtles and one of them let me swim beside him or her and even let me touch his/her shell. so so so many other pretties and wonders of coral, fish, and giant clams!


    On Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 1:47 PM, thisafricanhomestead wrote:

    > theefrodofan posted: “I was sick for almost three weeks with a parasitic > infection of amoebas that causes nausea, dizziness, and headaches when you > are standing. When you are laying down things are not so bad but they are > still there; which means I was laying down and doing ab” >


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