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.
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.
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.