a tour of the farm

At long, long last, 2 dongles, much swearing and  frustration later (deep breaths…deep breaths), we are now back online, and bring you a tour of the farm and the garden. First up, let me say we inherited the farm from the previous resident of our house, I am fairly old school about animals, excepts dogs (of course!), and I don’t really understand why animals are kept unless they are productive. But, the kids do really like it, so perhaps that is enough.

The stars of the show are the Mini goats:

Cute huh? Since we have been here, 3 kids have been born. The goats have been duly named: they are Liquorice, Caramel, Pepper, Mr. Billy, Mrs. Billy, Mr. Billy’s girlfriend, Smiley, Extra Smiley, Jo and Stripe.

Cecie is very fond of Liquorice.

In Twi, they are aponchen, and the kids are aponchen pa.

They eat the grass strung up in this photo, and the cassava bark cut up in the green bowl.

Vying for most popular animal, is this tiny creature. Otwee is the Ghanaian name (Ghanaian vowels are very tricky, and I would approximate it phonetically as oh!-trea). No one knows the English name, so she is variably referred to as the deer, the antelope, otwee; the South Africans on site call her a duiker (pronounced diker) and Lill calls her Penelope. She is a very timid little creature, easily startled, and prone to bashing against the side of her cage when she is scared. I am determined to move her into a larger cage, despite vague protests from the lady who looks after the farm, who says she will be too hard to catch to feed her. As sweet as she is, I’m concerned that she will always be very flighty. We’ll see how this new enclosure goes.

Here are the seriously productive ladies of the farm. We have 26 black chickens, and one white one. Masses of eggs are laid everyday; our kids egg intake has increased dramatically since we arrived. Any eggs which are not used by us or the Guesthouse are passed onto the Mine office for people to enjoy.

This is 2-3 days worth. The eggs are kept in a basket in the Guesthouse, on the shelf. Living in Ghana, where refrigeration is a luxury, has given me an appreciation for what actually needs refrigeration. Eggs, apparently, do not. Our western obsession with dairy is surely made possible by our easy access to refrigeration.

We also have 6 guinea fowl. Their squawking is tempered by their elegant foliage.

The only animals louder than the guinea fowl are these 2 exotic birds…

Yes, geese. When the vet came last week, he told me he had never seen a goose in real life, and asked whether this was their full grown size. I was so tempted to say, ‘Hell no! They grow to 4 times this size’. But I restrained myself. He told me their Ghanaian name is something like deubi deubi (maybe he was having a lend of me!).

I know people extol the virtues of geese as being like guard dogs. And this pair certainly play the guard dog role around here, which is all well and good. But they needn’t honk at everything…butterflies in the Amazon Basin, someone flushing their toilet in Nigeria, our Tessa barking at the postman in Australia. They were a gift from a local chief, so they’re keepers I’m afraid.

The sheep. Merinos they aren’t! Kind of furry, with shaggy wool about the neck. They are sent out to pasture during the day, and sleep in their pen at night.

My favourite, Jo Boy. A sweet little dog who seems to have come with our house. Gentle and quiet, and will happily follow us down to the club. A few houses down, someones dog has had 6 puppies! They are sweetly tottering about the place. Needless to say, the children are pretty happy about that. All I can think about is 6 more, fully grown dogs.

While the farm is the kids domain, I am enjoying the vegetable garden.

Carrots, beetroot, eggplants, garden eggs (small yellow eggplants, the size of (you guessed it!), eggs). Why are eggplants called egg plants? These garden eggs are much better named. We also have masses of parsley, mint, chilli, up-and-coming lettuce, cabbage, basil (hurray!) and hopefully tomatoes, but we haven’t had much luck with the latter.

When we arrived, the middle of the vegetable patch was dominated by a 4ft tall larger cluster of a very feathery plant. All I could think of was dill, but it had no discernable smell and the gardeners couldn’t remember the name of the plant. We decided to cut the plant off at the base, and see what happened, if it died, so be it; if it sprouted, we were in with a chance of identifying it.

Can you imagine my surprise, when 2 days later we found…Asparagus!! Oh joy.

Being in the tropics, we also have cassava, pawpaw, bananas and pineapple.

Have you seen a pineapple bush? Here is a little, cute, baby pineapple for you.

There is also one orange tree, masses of mango trees about the place (producing very small but tasty mangoes), and grapefruit trees. Lots of people pass by our place at the moment, collecting ripe mangoes (I suspect to sell in town), so it can be a bit tricky to get one. The grapefruits are a bit of a mystery, as none of the Ghanaians eat them, and they are well established trees. They produce lovely yellow fruit, with a very thick skin, and quite sweet flesh. They are quite lovely, with none of the throat burning astringency of regular grapefruits. They are sweet enough for the kids to eat like an orange, but with the refreshing taste of grapefruit. Along the same lines as the eggplant question, I had a very funny conversation with one of the local women here, as to why are they called grapefruits. Grapes aren’t grown, and aren’t really seen much in Ghana, and we had a funny few minutes describing a grape, and coming to the same perplexing question, of why are they called grapefruits?

Grapefruit, beetroot and garden eggs. No one in Ghana eats beetroot either. I made some beetroot chips, which I gave to the gardeners to try. Perhaps, like fufu, beetroot is a taste you need to have grown up with.

We are trying as much as possible to eat locally produced fruit and vegetable, either from our garden, or from Konongo markets, which has been fun (and yes, means I have been cooking a bit!). Bill wants to have a local dinner within 3 months. I think he’s a little overly optimistic, but we are enjoying fresh tabouli, with plans for baba ganoush this weekend.



9 responses to “a tour of the farm

  1. What an awesome garden and menagerie Chrissie! Can’t wait to come over and visit. Kids look like their loving it.
    Things here are much the same- beautiful autumn weather means a trip to the beach planned on this lazy Sunday. La Nina ensured a very wet summer though- it’s been flooding in a lot of NSW and Qld, just not Newcastle thankfully.


    • Hey Johnno,

      Always welcome for a visit. We heard about the floods. Crazy hot here…the rains will come in a month or 2. Take care, love to Kirsty.


  2. Wow !!! again. Makes my Tomago vegie patch shamefull.What a interesting lot of animals on the farm, must take a while to tend them all .No wonder the kids look so happy, it must be such an advanture for them and what a learning experience . Pleased to hear from you ,the internet does cause world wide frustration, it have become so dependant on it. Love and cuddles, Rob xxx


  3. Wow, what lovely hens and eggs …and the vegetables!!!!Looks like the garden has some shade too so no excuses re tending it……I thought I was looking at a photo of TuTu when I saw ‘your’ dog…..hopefully the guinea fowl go off from the house to roost at night(as ours do?) …I always found geese and ducks to be smelly and they can see at night which is a disadvantage….not like the good old hen who has the wit to sleep until daylight…..love it all. What fun!! I have been having internet problems recently so thought of you….you are not alone. Never give up!!!!!Brian very envious of your garden…me of the lovely cute animals…..xxxxx


  4. I hasten to add, as William will remember, TuTu was the name of our very gentle lovable dog some years ago…..the kids will hardly remember her?…..


  5. Hi Everyone. It is Evie and Kathy. The garden and farm look wonderful. We just cut down our aspargus for autumn (as you are supposed to do in the sub-tropics….not sure about the tropics) and ours is sprouting too. I think I’ll have to trim them again…… We have some things coming up in our garden too, but nothing like yours. We are thinking of getting some chickens, so we might have to call on you for advice,

    Today was the NEPS cross country. Evie came second in the race behind Chloe De Beer (an 8 year old). It was a long time until another 9 year old crossed the line. There would have been more competition if the Reids were in town.

    Lucy Dunlop also came second in her race and ran very well indeed. It was a beautiful autumn day this year, no rain like last year. A fun time was had by all, but it was a bit hot for the runners. Lots of ice water was needed after the race.

    On the weekend Evie, Lizzy and Adrian went on a cycling tour of Hawks Nest. They drove to Nelson Bay, caught the ferry across and did some short rides on the lovely flat, quiet roads. Evie road on the tandem with Adrian and Lizzy her own bike. They stayed in the Hawks Nest Motel and they collected lots of shells at the beach. They had a nice, but overpriced Italian meal and Lizzy discovered she doesn’t like Al Fungi. Fortunately she and Adrian swapped and she did like what he ordered. Evie liked her meal (plain pasta) which arrived just as everyone else finished eating.

    Kathy missed the trip because she was on her way back from Auckland. Kathy had a great time in Auckland and watched some good movies on the ‘plane. Not Jane Eyre sadly.

    Lizzy (on piano) and Evie (on double bass) are learning a duet. It is very cool (comment from Kathy) and they are enjoying playing together very much. It is called Feline Boogie.

    Next week is the last week of term 1. There is a disco on Tuesday night. We’ll miss Lill, no matching dresses!


  6. OmG you found a wild asparagus? Or it was grown by the previous owners? And they survive our climate? I live in Ghana and I thought all along they wouldn’t survive here and my seeds wouldn’t germinate so i gave up. Super awesome for you. Is the asparagus patch still alive? Lol goat is “aponkye” and the kid is “aponkyeba”. The “Ch” pronunciation is “Ky” in Twi. I’m a little disappointed in the vet for not having seen a goose before. Doesn’t say good things about him…
    Anyway I love your farm.
    All the best❤️


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