3 June 2010

back in Moz

 Orphanage - with local community kids

Apologies for my long absence from all things blogging...  I have been lucky enough to go away to Europe for a few weeks to visit family, but am now very much back in Mozambique.

I was very surprised upon my return to see that one of my colleagues had convinced the bakers to arrive at 3am in the morning to commence baking so we now have fresh bread in time for our 8am breakfast! what a treat, but it should have always been this way...

The Orphanage is also coming along nicely, it now has all the glass for the windows in so can be locked and secured. This means its now ready for some of the fixtures and fittings to go inside. Hope fully this won't take too long and it'll be up and running soon.

The rice is also now all harvested. Its currently drying off in a warehouse before it can be packaged up and sold. Fortunately most of it was saved despite the heavy flooding.

30 April 2010

rice harvest

"Eish! how does this thing work?" - more rice problems

The Rice harvest is finally under way after a month long delay where we had too much rain ,which re-flooded the paddies and stopped access to the rice.
Of course though, nothing is simple, no sooner have we started harvesting than another problem occurs; the harvester! Right now I think its mostly being held together by scrap pieces of steel re-enforcing and binding wire but lets pray it holds!

26 April 2010

April update

 Our dogs sniff out a predator in their midst - baby crocodile!

Wow, what a month its been. Starting with two late night armed robberies of our closest neighbour, some 3am snake catching incidents, almost losing the rice crop and generally being under-staffed and under-financed, we've taken some strain to say the least.

All is not lost though, things are gradually progressing at the orphanage. I've managed to find some time to help out with the painting, and although I'm no Picasso, it seems to be looking good!

I've been busy recently writing up some reports on what we do here for our parent ministry's website http://www.healingwings.co.za, in the process I was looking through some of my old photo's and found the one posted above. The baby crocodile was caught by some of the guys on their way through to our beach camp. don't worry its mouth is cable tied closed so it can't attack any of the dogs!


7 April 2010

still wild...

 Mozambican Spitting Cobra

Moses the Monkey

Don't worry things are still a bit all on the wild side here. the above two photo's taken in the last week alone. The snake is a Mozambican spitting cobra, that fortunately didn't spit on me. The monkey is "Moses" so called because he was found abandoned in the rice paddies, and adopted and raised here on the farm. No relation to Mango though, who I hear is still doing well :)

2 April 2010

new transport

answer to my transport woes?

Regular Mozbak followers will know I am often struggling with transport issues, broken down cars, or lack thereof etc. I think I may have found the solution (see pic above) its low on fuel, cheap to build, and the tyres - coke cans - last for ages.... perhaps its a little small though!

25 March 2010

monkey bike


How's this for a 'pimped' ride? One of staff's bicycle complete with a monkey welded to the front mud guard, a headlight (decorative - not connected to a battery) and Toyota badges.

More updates on the way, its been an eventful last few weeks and unfortunately I've been more than a little distracted...

16 March 2010

Bazza


I think its time I clean the ash off the walls of the inside of the bakery, any ideas on how to get it off?!

10 March 2010

Vegetable Patch

setting up the pump to fill our water tank

Just in case I was in danger of running out of things to do, a friend and I have decided to start a small project growing vegetables. I'm tired of the thought of living on a farm and having to buy in all of our vegetables, it can't be that hard to grow your own? right? well, it depends who you ask... So far everyone has an opinion, mostly consisting of variations on "it'll never work". Problems these cynics cite include: bad water / soil / too much sun etc. etc.

Luckily we weren't too drawn in by this negativity and have tried to follow the philosophy of 'its worth a try'. Knowing that it possibly might not work has also meant we are doing some experimenting, using different fertilisers (cow manure and  industrial stuff) and are watering some by hand and some with a home made drip irrigation system. Aptly called drip irrigation as every join / bend / even straight piece just drips the whole time from leaks as the pipe is all salvaged scrap pieces held together with glue, insulation tape and binding wire! However the upside of this is it hasn't cost a lot of money (we have had to buy some fittings) so we won't be going bankrupt just yet.

Our tap water on the farm comes from a borehole underground and is barely drinkable let lone good enough for watering plants. To solve this we have set up a water tank - raised on a stand to create pressure - and plan to pump water from a small lake (see photo above) filled with rain water into the tank. We're almost there but need some more fittings to make it work. The first time we attempted it, all the pipes jumped off at the connections and we got a bit wet...

We have already planted some chilli's, cabbages and beans and have made a small herb garden as well, with basil and a few other things

Chilli rows with water tank in background

Herb Garden

8 March 2010

when cops drive...drunk

Local Police Car

There I was out for my sunday morning drive at 7am, when I noticed something odd in a field as I drove past. "This isn't meant to be here" I thought, upon closer inspection I saw that it was the local police car. Obviously they'd had a few too many drinks on the Saturday night and swerved off the road. It doesn't look like anyone was badly hurt, but there goes the local cops' budget for the year...

4 March 2010

new arrival

Our new puppy - ShenDane

Unfortunately my favourite dog Levi passed away from what might have been a snake bite a few days ago. Shendane (he's a great dane from the Shengaan tribe) has been here for a month or so now, hence deserves to get his photo online!

 
Snouted Cobra - can you see him on the end of the stick?

Caught this little guy this morning on the path outside my house.

28 February 2010

wholesale

 
Sophisticated Establishment - one of my new bread customers

Check out those wagon wheels, what a shop! well its more like a little bar actually or "Baraka" as they call them here.
After months of slogging away for more sales I've changed direction and moved away from trying to sell the odd bread here and there 'retail' and tried to find some wholesale buyers. So far so good and I now have 3 or 4 regular customers who take approx. 30 breads each. Of course, to enable them to make a mark up I've had to drop my price by 20% but for the number they are buying I think its worth it for now. My profit margin is slimmer but hopefully the volumes will make up for it. I'll let you know how it progresses over the coming weeks but for now all seems well :)

25 February 2010

Orphanage

The orphanage - almost complete

I thought I'd give a mention to another one of the projects we currently have under way here. The Alulamile Children's Village. A place to provide a home, love and care to children orphaned in our surrounding community.

Construction is almost complete (when are builders ever  on time!?) but we are still outstanding some materials so I spent the whole of the afternoon yesterday drafting an appeal letter with photo's to show to local building suppliers in a hope of receiving donations that can see us through to completion.

Today some of my colleagues are off to Maputo to see if they can make any headway in getting the outstanding materials. I wish them luck! and hope they return with the car overloaded!


 



23 February 2010

the worst 4 x 4 x far

 
another happy customer

Following last weeks flour theft episode (see previous post) I have been behind on stock of ingredients. Today I have a new regular customer - see pic above, a shopkeeper - who wants 30 breads. Great so make him the breads! If only it was that simple. With no flour today and stock only due in tonight from Maputo I have sent a friend off to buy some flour in the local town (at an extortionate rate). My friends car got a flat tyre this morning so he took the Land Rover.
Not 5 minutes later I get a call: "the bottom has just fallen out of the car!".
Great! that's one car in Maputo, one with a flat tyre and the other along the way with the drive-shaft sitting on the road... This could be an interesting day. I have to try and get the car rescued first, then worry about how I'll get hold of some flour...

22 February 2010

rice factory

 
Local Rice processing Factory 

The above pic shows the interior of the local rice processing factory, full of bags of seed and fertiliser at the moment as you can see. My phone has a program that is supposed to 'stitch' together multiple photos into a 'panorama' view that's why the quality doesn't look too great. You can see the machine that actually separates the rice from its husk on the middle right of the photo. Its actually pretty small, but in a larger industrial operation the machines take up the whole floor space of huge warehouses.

19 February 2010

Coffee Time

 
 The pleasant surprise that arrived today!

There's nothing we like more here in the bush than a good cup of coffee, whether its that 6am wake up shot, or a long relaxing one after supper.

Having shared my love for coffee with a few other bloggers out there, I had a very kind offer from someone to send me some decent coffee. Having worked in the charitable business for a few years now I have unfortunately developed a slight scepticism towards people's promises of well-doing as they often don't follow through. So how pleasantly surprised I was to hear from my colleagues in South Africa (where our postal address is) that I had received a parcel all the way from Seattle in the US. "There's only person I know there" I thought, Melody from www.StarbucksMelody.com. Wow she was actually true to her word! I shouldn't be so surprised but I am, so a BIG thank you to Melody for the effort of posting me some delicious coffee, much appreciated! My hope in people's good intentions is restored!

See picture below for an interesting spot to enjoy one's coffee on the go!

Mobile Coffee spot / 3 piece suite and coffee table

17 February 2010

Burglar bars installed

 
Burglar bars - a necessary evil


"Let me out!" - Hendrik doing the fitting


Finally getting the necessary security in over the windows, you can see from the bottom picture above the mosquito netting on the window is still broken. Just in time as we had new ingredients arrive last night which I really can't afford to replace.
The one bag of flour we had stolen meant we couldn't bake yesterday so that is lost earnings. Good news is I secured an order of 50 breads for delivery this afternoon. That's quite a large one off order which hopefully will bring repeat business!



16 February 2010

Burglar bars

Nice Shades! - Grinding / cutting the steel to size for burglar bars

Despite the poor aesthetics of having steel burglar bars over the bakery's windows I think it is a necessary evil (see previous post)

I have another 150kg of flour and other ingredients arriving today and can't afford to lose any more, so the construction of burglar bars is well under way. I hope to have them installed by later this afternoon. Will this deter the thieves? lets see, but I hope its a psychological barrier that will stop them trying again. If they really want to get in they can always smash down a door but the bars should keep them out for now.

As for the bag of flour that was stolen it has meant that I have no flour with which to bake today, a big hassle... that's a big chunk of the weeks income lost. I've asked the bakers to come in later tonight when the new stock of flour arrives but they are notoriously unreliable at obliging to these requests.

15 February 2010

Maize / Mielie Harvest

Car and trailer full of corn harvested today

Still suffering in the heat and humidity here, but we started the harvest of our maize / corn / mielies (what ever you care to call them!) which is good.
At the moment they need to dry out in the sun for a few weeks, then they can be processed to make maize meal, the by product of which (bran) we can use to feed the pigs and the horses we have here.

14 February 2010

Thieves :(

Alberto holding the flap where the break-in occurred

Received some bad news this morning.
It appears that sometime over the course of last night someone cut through the mosquito netting over the bakery windows, climbed in and stole one 50 Kg bag of flour. Monetarily this isn't such a huge loss, although it might affect next weeks production, but it is a real disappointment. I was always quite sure the bakery would be safe enough with just locked doors, unfortunately I can now see this isn't the case.
The solution? It now seems i will have to put together some sort of burglar bar with steel re-enforcing over the windows, which to be honest will look ugly :(

13 February 2010

Bread tray rack

3D design of bread tray rack / shelves

Yes I know it looks a bit, ok a lot, like a bunk bed but it is in fact a rack system I plan to build for bread trays. It is important when making the bread to allow it to rise - and after baking - to cool down on the right surface. Namely wood, preserves some of the natural taste apparently. I've been meaning to do this for ages but so far have yet to get around to it

11 February 2010

aerial farm pic


Nice Aerial Shot of the farm where we stay. the bakery is unfortunately just out of the frame, to the left about in the middle.

10 February 2010

Flooding

 
Waiting to go up in the helicopter
 
Flood damage to crops and house

 
our rice - fortunately survived

Flooding can be both a good and a bad thing...

Today I have news of both. On the negative side there has been some severe flooding of the local population's farm land with some corn fields and a neighbouring rice project particularly affected.
Not all doom and gloom though as a veritable flood of new orders for bread have come in this week so far. including a possible contract to supply +/- 100 breads a day to a local business down the road. I have ordered a larger 'production run' already of which i'll take 50 with me tomorrow and see if we can get them sold first. If we can it will be a great start to getting things back on track!

6 February 2010

back again

Wow so I'm finally back in the land of the third world. In case I forgot where I was flying to yesterday I was soon reminded upon my return by the 3 hour wait on the pavement at the airport to get a lift, then a flat tyre at 9pm on the way home scuppered any attempt to be back in time for supper.
Good news though came in hearing the bakery has been well looked after by my friend and colleague Pedro. Even returning a little profit and meaning I had enough cash on hand to pay the bakers today. They sure were happy to see me, apparently Pedro had been ruling the roost with a heavy hand! (not literally don't worry...)
Just a quick update for now to let you all now things are back on track. I've returned with some fresh ideas so look forward to getting them implemented and writing about it on-line over the coming few weeks.

27 January 2010

Holidays



More profuse apologies for not writing any posts lately, I have fortunately been granted 2 weeks holiday to go and visit my family in Cape Town, South Africa. The bakery is in the safe (I hope) hands of one of my colleagues who so far hasn't contacted me with any problems. Well, its only been 5 days so lets see how the rest of the time goes!

12 January 2010

random snaps






big lawn mower!



snake eyes!

Apologies to all faithful readers, haven't had much time to write any posts of late so have had to settle with a few pictures illustrating the activities of the past few days!

7 January 2010

Mythbusters


A 'swarm' of winged termites outside the office last night


Living in the middle of no where for long periods can do strange things to you, last night was a case in point.

After every heavy rain here the bugs come out to play. None more so than the winged termite (Reticulitermes flavipes) which burrows out from the rain softened soil and flies around the nearest light source looking for a partner - this last about an hour then their wings fall off and they crawl off to mate.


termite close-up (Photo credit: Wikipedia.org)

As long as I've been living here I've heard the myth that these flying ants are edible and tast just like peanut butter. Last night we decided to put it to the test, catching a few, breaking off the wings and head and giving the body a good chew. The taste? nothing in particular really although we did detect some "buttery" undertones! We decided to complete the myth we must fry them up, just waiting for some re-supply on the cooking oil and we'll give it a try!

Strange indeed!

4 January 2010

car trouble


Break down in paradise

As if right on cue, the new year has started with car problems. I was due to drive the re-supply trip through to the beach camp but someone else asked to go instead, being the kind (haha) person I am, I let them go. The result being they're still stuck there as the clutch disk burnt out on the way back. So far they have been stuck there since Friday the 1st Jan! Stuck in paradise, not too bad.


clutch repair team!

Having purchased a new clutch disk on Saturday we needed another car to give us (and mechanic) a lift there to fix it - typical catch 22 situation. We do have another car here - a land rover defender - but that is also broken so this morning was spent trying to fix that to drive through and fix the Nissan at the beach. Needless to say we don't have the parts to fix the land-rover so we were stuck again. That is until a friend came by with his helicopter to airlift our mechanic, clutch disk and tools out to the beach camp.
Interesting morning so far!

3 January 2010

New Year



A belated happy new year to everyone!
I hope you all had a good one, things here were very quiet. My quietest new years to date I'd have to say. What I did enjoy though was the 'late' wake up of 6:45 am on new years day, what a treat! This was, however, made bearable by the fact that I didn't drink and therefore had no hangover :)
Unfortunately the Christmas and New Years period has seen us suffering from a spate of break-ins and small scale robberies. Nothing major has been taken fortunately but it really annoys me that we get taken advantage of like this when all we are trying to do here is help people out. I guess I should stick to the humble approach of "They obviously needed it (whatever they took) more than us, so let them have it". Easy to agree with in principle but would I be as humble if some of my prized possessions were among the things taken? Hmm, one to ponder for a while...