DAY 9, SATURDAY, January 12th
Today the driver, Savon, the co-founder, Vesna, the other teacher - Jeff, plus an electrician and another couple are going to visit the farm. The purpose is to determine how to upgrade the electrical supply to allow the expansion of the farm. It is planned when enough money has been raised.
Jeff (from Austria) is also teaching at ACODO. We're heading out to the farm together. I'm trying to convince him he does look good in a hat - mine!
The farm is interesting. Several large rice fields are surrounded by a moat containing fish, which will be kept till larger. Ten cows were bred over 4 years and now there are 50, which provide meat and the older ones are loaned to poor villagers when they are in calf to provide a calf for them. Also many ducks, chickens and turkeys provide eggs and young, which are sold to help support the orphanage.
Out of the van and onto the farm - and who challenges our right to be there? Well, the water-buffalo, of course. Well, he works here. Look at his hooves and see if you can figure out where.
SATURDAY (12). FOR DANIELLE - There were pups on the farm! I played with them but mum kept shoeing them away. Notice the palm leaf construction?
SATURDAY (12). This is SAVON - the supervisor in the ACODO school, standing in front of one of the rice fields/fish ponds. Rice in this field is close to harvest time. Harvest is staggered, so other rice fields are at different stages. So are the fish.
SATURDAY (12). Inside the chicken/duck/turkey house. This is a big operation.
SATURDAY (12). Well, it seems like turkey is not a big thing at Christmas in Cambodia!
SATURDAY (12). Cows (bulls?) are good looking out this way! ...or have I been away from home for too long?
SATURDAY (12). This is the workhorse, when they can afford a qualified driver. How can it be made to drive better in the mud? Only Eldon knows for sure. (His challenge when he comes out here next year.)
SATURDAY (12). A picture on the ACODO farm of me with Veasna , one of the two co-founders of ACODO.
On the weekend, the boys will be forking hay (from rice plants of course) for the cattle, and catching fish for the market. The girls will be collecting eggs and also cow-patties to make organic fertilizer for the rice fields. I guess that is what I will be doing.
As we walked, I noticed that one of the large rice fields was empty of rice and the water was being completely drained. I’m told that it was sadly discovered that if the field was not completely drained for at least a day, stocking the ponds with fingerlings resulted in any leftover large fish enjoying their old age eating up all the fingerlings, till the pond was empty!
SATURDAY (12).The plan for the development of the farm over the next few years. The intention is to make ACODO self sufficient based on the farm: producing eggs, meat, rice and fish to supply the orphanage and local markets.
I enquired about accommodation there, as I will spend next weekend on the farm. The boys sleep in hammocks in the trees, the girls sleep in a room on the floor. I will have my own room with a hammock.
We left an hour later, and I went back home to prepare for the afternoon. Jasmine has invited me to visit her home. It is around ½ hour’s ride by bicycle. We found the bikes and set off.
SATURDAY (12). After a lunch break, and showering off the dust from the farm, we're heading to Jasmine's village. There is not much traffic, and it is half an hour's bicycle ride.
We rode through the countryside, buying pineapples and watermelon along the way. We arrived at her brother’s house- a simple 1 room brick house with no electricity. Her brother, Kosal, spoke good English. He introduced me to his wife and baby daughter. I asked him about his work. He sells cooking oil to shops and restaurants. He teaches English to poor children of the area in a grass hut beside his home. He also puts in water wells whenever his sponsor raises money for one. Jasmine invited me to come back to the town the following day for a party, and Kosal said that he could show me some of the wells he had put in.
SATURDAY (12). I met Jasmine's family: Mou, her dad, Kosal, Jasmine and her sister, Nguon. They were wonderful and welcoming. Kosal told me about his work and his passion when I inquired . Nguon spoke no English, but she made me feel so welcome.
SATURDAY (12). A look around the house. It has no electricity whatsoever. Running water: Kosal put in a pump, which is used by several families in the area.
SATURDAY (12). A neighbour has come by to pump some water from the well that Kosal put in.
SATURDAY (12). A garden of healthy looking broccoli next to their house. It must be watered 3 times a day with manure water. The "well" is a pit dug next to the garden. Access is by climbing down the slanting muddy side till you reach the water.
SATURDAY (12). We ate some snacks while Kosal did up the paperwork for the day's business.
SATURDAY (12). There are some of the banana trees next to their home, giving beautiful cool green shade.
Jasmine brought me to the schoolroom. It is actually made of palm tree leaves woven together.
SATURDAY (12). We climbed up a short ladder to get into the classroom where Kosal teaches some local children English. Notice how the building is made: palm fronds sewn together; six desks, a white board and some alphabet and word posters.
Kosal’s wife, Nguon, showed me their home: banana and mango trees grow in their yard. Then we sat and Nguon and Jasmine brought out wonderful things to eat: fresh watermelon, pineapple, pork, chicken, frogs and best of all grasshoppers. They were lightly fried with onion and hot peppers. I found out how to catch them - a net, a plastic sheet and a bucket of water set out overnight…. So next summer, you may be in for a treat at my house.
SATURDAY (12). The wonderful dishes started to arrive, then we all just sat and enjoyed.
SATURDAY (12). My absolute all time favourite! I was sorry that Mou liked these so much. I kept pushing the frogs over her way, so she would give me a fair chance. Yes, they are grasshoppers with onion, chili and oil. Yum!
SATURDAY (12). Just sitting back under the banana trees - what could be finer?
SATURDAY (12). Also very yummy. Not salty like salt caplin, but sort of the same crunchiness. Yes they frogs - legs and all.
SATURDAY (12). Here's my competition: picking away at the frogs, once all the grasshoppers were gone. Don't let her small size fool you - she could pack away those frogs.
We all relaxed together under the banana leaves, and had a really magical evening.
SATURDAY (12). This lovely scene told me we would be riding home in the dark. We bid fond farewells and soon were on our way.