Monday, May 2, 2011

Harvest and visit to Goro Raya School

I will give a brief recap of harvest.  The harvest was disappointing due to lack of rain.  Some of the first crop  planted (1/3 of area) got most of the rain and was worth harvesting but the remainder was very short, too short to harvest and the last 1/3 of the crop never emerged.  Very discouraging to say the least. We knew very little going into the area and hoped that the rain levels would be higher, but with a total of around 3.5 inches of rain over three months time was not sufficient to obtain success.

I went home with my family soon before harvest leaving adequate help to accomplish the job without me.  It was better for my sanity to return home seeing so little fruit from our hard labors.  The yields over the best of our crop may have averaged 10 bushels/acre or 6 quintals/ha, however averaging the complete crop brought down the average to less than 3 bushels/acre, or 2 quintals/ha.  This has forced regrouping at many levels but Morrell Agro is determined to find success during the next rainy season which statistically yields more rain  in February through May than September through Oct.  Clearing continued and is now at over 3,200 hectares of cultivated ground and is our goal to plant for the next rainy season.

Now on the brighter side
We had the moving opportunity while my family was there  to complete a service project initiated from our church primary from in Idaho.  They put together packets of pencils, erasers and rulers to be handed out to children in Ethiopia.  Close to our farm is a small village called Goro Raya that has a humble school with meager supplies.  
   My wife took my Daughter Morgan, her husband Andrew and two daughters along with Haile (farm manager), Ashreka (our maid) and Zakir (my junior assitant) to surprise the students with the supplies brought from Idaho.  

Shelley showing a picture of our primary group from Idaho 


Two of the the teachers showing the extent of their school supplies.

Shelley also brought a large map of the World and of Africa.  Shelley pointed out where Idaho was and where they were lived in Ethiopia on the continent of Africa.  It was apparent that they lacked geography skills since they had no maps at the school.   She then handed over the maps to the school to pin on their wall.

Ashreka showing emotion of what she was witnessing.  Many others of our group were emotional at the power of love and charity.

The school had nothing to give in return but much thanks and two papayas the the teacher gave in ceremonial manner to Zakir.

Here is a large piece of paper signed by all the students saying "Galatooma" (Thank you)

Please see a video of the experience that Morgan and Andrew put together:

All our family returned home together soon before Thanksgiving 2010 and only I have returned since.  Things are evolving at the farm in Ethiopia to where I step aside as the project director and let others fill the void.  I continue with Morrell Agro Industries as a consultant and advisor which will bring me back to Ethiopia a few times a year for about a month at a time.  My wife Shelley will likely not return with me during these visits which has been very sad for our close friends in Ethiopia.  She has been a good example and a mother figure to many of them and a strong support to me while there.  I thank her for this and admire her strengths and abilities.  I will continue to post as I can find the time now I divide my time between my farm in Idaho and consult in Ethiopia.  Thanks for being patient as the posts have become infrequent.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A visit from our daughter & a trip to visit Zakir's family

We  had the pleasure to have Morgan, Andrew, and our two grand daughters come to Ethiopia.  We Traveled up to Addis Ababa to greet them at the airport

We spent a couple of days there before traveling back to the farm by road to have them experience the countryside. 

Waiting impatiently for our Charcoal Tibs at a restaurant along the way

Having a walk with grandma as our tire was being fixed

After a long 18 hr. drive we finally arrived at the farm. 
Those at the farm were excited to see our family.

 We were curious of how our grand daughters might react to the local people with their different features from those in small town Idaho, but as you can see they adapted very well

Morgan being given an anatomy lesson from Zakir

We promised Zakir that we would travel to Beltu to meet his family

Being greeted by Zakir's Mother and Father

It was special to receive a warm welcome from Zakir and his family  

Zakir's Family

We were led inside to where Zakir sleeps at night and served some fresh fruit while we waited for his mother to give us a very honored meal of goat tibs that they slaughtered for this special occasion. 

The walls were decorated with famous sayings

 Zakir's family is Muslim and his father has two other wives who live apart from each other.  This is very common in Ethiopia.  He usually lives with his third wife in another village but did not want to miss the opportunity to visit with the "forenjis".  I have learned that Zakir does not see his father often and Shelley and I have gained a lot of respect for his mother and of what she has accomplished in raising a fine young man and providing for her family much on her own.

Morgan and Andrew put together a great video of our trip to visit Zakir's family that you must watch.

This was very memorable for us and we get a little emotional every time we watch. We appreciate the opportunity to visit Zakir's family and especially to share the moment with our daughters' family. It was a very good day.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Some Highlights of November

I am often asked why we have been so long in keeping up our blog that I feel I need to explain.  I'm sure you out there agree that Shelley has done a very good job of posting through out our stay in Ethiopia and then one day I made an unfortunate comment to her that maybe she was posting too many pictures of flowers and other "girly things" and that it wasn't quite in the spirit of what I felt "Idaho Farmer in Ethiopia" was meant to be. So suddenly I found myself alone in keeping up the blog, very unfortunate for me and the fans of this Site.  Please beg her to accept my apology and for you out there please bear with me as I attempt to slowly fill in many of the highlights of the past few months.  Shelley has been such a good support for me through this venture and I so appreciate her. We have had many interesting things that we were part of that I will spread out over  a few posts.

On Nov. 6th we had Alyssa and her sister return to the farm for a brief visit.  As you may remember after the attack on Wes, Kate was left in Addis Ababa to take care of the five children that Was and Alyssa were attempting to adopt.  Wes and Alyssa then flew back to the USA for further care and surgery.  After the successful surgery and Wes' post surgery recuperation needing to be in Rexburg  Alyssa flew back alone to rejoin Kate to tend to the children.  This day they were able to jump on the our normal scheduled supply flight to the farm for a few hour visit before the plane returned back to Addis.  Of course this meant a brief celebration with Goat Tibs for all!  Yum!

From left to right: Nati, Alyssa Haws, Kiya (Alyssa's maid), Asefa, Kate Hill (Sister) , and Dennis Strong our project director 

It was a good visit and we got caught up with things and revisited the eventful day when Wes got hit in the head with the ax by an angry local farmer.  It was a miracle that it didn't turn out worse than it did.  All of us were so happy to see them.
She explained of the hardships they have encountered since the incident and the trials of trying to adopt the 5 children who are still in Capital, Addis Abbaba.   

Meanwhile the crop was maturing with little to no rain since planting 

The brush and trees were drying up showing that the sub moisture was tapped out down deep too

We had approximately 3" of rain for the crop to survive on which was spread out in brief storms from July through the end of September and only trace amounts there after.  This crop was planted though the month of September with harvest set to be in December.

The Ground 
Clearing  Continues

The Hectare/Acreage goal for Morrell Agro for the next planting season (March 2011) is 3,000 ha / 7,400 ac. and at this point in time we had a grand total of about 1,800 hectares of tillable acres prepared using a combination of hand labor with axes, loaders, and wagons with more hand labor.  This has provided much appreciated opportunity for this poor economic area. 

Coming up in the next blog is the the visit from our Daughter's family to Ethiopia

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yes we are alive and well!

We are sorry that we have been poor at posting events.  I will attempt to go back and fill you all in of what we did.  While the crop was maturing  we were busy putting some new equipment together that had arrived at the farm.

It was Clair and Bracken's time to go back to the USA so I had the pleasure of working with the mechanics to put this "bad boy" together. It was a good opportunity to test our skills  and bond with each other.  They did a great job. Now we had to wait for a "bad boy" tractor to come pull the thing as the ones here are still too small. 

Shelley and I had the pleasure of visiting our maid Ashreka's family who lives about 3 hours away near Ginir.  We had a hired driver and took Ashreka, Nahom, and Zakir and away we went. 

Ashreka'a family lives on a farm that raises such things as avacados, mangos, sugar cane, papayas and fruit that I was unfamiliar with.  There was no road to their home so we had to walk about 20 minutes to get there.

The trail turned to an interesting rain forest like surrounding.  They obviously get more rain here than at the farm.

Here is Ashreka's family along with her little girl Karina that the family takes care of while she works.  It was a good visit and they treated us to some of the fruit from their farm.

While we were at the town of Ginir we stopped at a restaurant and had some "charcoal beef tibs" which were actually pretty good.  (cut up beef cooked with onions, garlic and peppers)

Nahom had to show off by ordering his in the traditional way in its "raw" form.  Good for you Nahom, you are the man!

We went to the Ginir market to take a look.  

They see more forenjis (white people) here in Ginir so the crowd was a little less overwhelming.

 In the USA when many farmers get together the parking lot is full of pickup trucks, but here .......


Poor donkeys

We took the opportunity while we were at Ashreka's to tour a well known tourist attraction in Ethiopia called the Sof Omar Cave that was just about an hour or so away.

At the edge of the cave

Down inside the opening.  It is a long cave of a few kilometers but we were not able to see all of it due to bridges being out.  I'm sorry I don't have good pictures to show a river that runs through it but very interesting for what we saw.  

When we returned home to the farm we introduced a little of our culture to Ethiopia to end out the month of October