Did I tell you I am a fulltime employee? I am. Which means all this happens during my time. My free time. If you have ever needed to focus, start a side business while employed. You will soon realize how much time is wasted on social media, Netflix and useless chit chat.
At my place of employment, a wise person once talked about the illusion of risk. That hit me. What was I afraid of? Failure? I had failed many times over and still, here I was. Wiser, smarter, more determined, and certainly, broke! But every single time I restarted this farming venture, I was not doing so from ground zero. I was doing so from a point of strength.
My ability to relocate to the farm had been facilitated by the outbreak of COVID 19. We all became remote workers which meant I could work from anywhere. This time I was determined to give this venture one final push with everything I had.
What hadn’t I been through with this farm? I remember the time my borehole stopped functioning in the middle of the dry season, with the farm heaving full of vegetables. That was the day I understood the true meaning of the phrase “cold sweat”. I remember I had been in a meeting at work and I saw this incessant calling from my house help, who was at the time managing my farm, and I knew something was off. I answered the call. The borehole was not producing water and no one knew why. It turned out to have been silt blocking the pump. Disaster averted, but that cost me a pretty penny!
Prior to getting smart and installing a solar system to pump water, I had been reliant on electricity from the utility company. The rural electrification program that had been launched had seen homes connected to the main grid, but the power supply was epileptic at best, with very dirty power flowing through. It was one of those dirty power episodes that had blown my water pump the first time. Yes, I say the first time because there was a second time. This time, it was a power surge that blew the pump. Remember, tropical Africa, semi-arid Kenya – you need a constant water supply or you are not doing any farming. Every time my borehole stalled it meant all farming stalled.
I remember the time I woke to find my capsicum crop dead. All of it. What had happened? Frostbite. You can’t make this stuff up even if you tried. Frost bite in tropical Africa in semi-arid Kenya! Surely? I remember the tomatoes that got bottom rot. Why? It turns out they did not have enough calcium and they were receiving inconsistent water supply. I remember the onion crop that was decimated by thrips. Thrips sting by the way. They are almost microscopic so you only know they are there from the symptoms on your onions and the burning sting on your hands. So aside from killing your onion crop, they will sting you. Insult to injury!
I remember the red beetle attack on my crop of basil and arugula. The red beetle looks pretty with a beautiful shade of red on its wings. It is a complete disaster on the farm. I remember my zucchini plants that turned into a putrid mess of bubbling decay because the same red beetle had decided to turn them into her nest and lay eggs in them.
Then there was the melon crop that aborted all the fruits. Turns out the seed company had sold dodgy seed to the farmers. Zero produce. I told you, I can’t make this up even if I tried.
I remember waking one day to find my spinach plants producing more leaves than they should. They looked like mutants. And they were. What was the issue? Nematodes. If you ever uproot your carrots and find them looking like pitchforks, that’s the work of nematodes. If your spinach plants have so many leaves they look like mutants, that’s nematodes. I have no idea what a nematode looks like. I just know the damage it’s capable of doing on your crops.
I am a graduate of the “School of Hard Knocks” when it comes to farming. If you are a farmer, this is not to discourage you. It is to tell you that you went into farming because you can overcome adversity, because nothing gets you down and because you don’t need outside affirmation to succeed. You went into farming because you are good at finding solutions. You went into farming because you wanted an alternate lifestyle to the “normal”. You have it within yourself to do this. So go on, do it!