this early morning i heard something creeping around my fence. i went to investigate and there was definitely some kind of creature lodged between the new and dead part of my fence. i immediately thought "SHREW!" and/or "RAT!" and went running out of the compound with my machete to attack it on the old side of the fence.
a bunch of kids came streaming after me and watched me hack away at the fence -- but nothing came darting out nor did it seem like i was killing anything. no wonder -- after a few minutes one of the boys yelled "stop! stop!" and pulled out a turtle. poor thing hadn't done anything wrong and instead this crazy toubab with a machete tries to chop it to bits. good thing that's a mighty strong shell -- i did no damage and after i yelled at the kids to leave it alone (do as i say, not as i do) it crept off to find a less hostile hiding spot. i could just picture his thought bubble as he rustled away:
otherwise today was an interesting morning of work -- one of those kinds of work days that feel like it's either a miracle or a result of having been here two years. i've been bugging talla to about pruning the trees in the valley for months. he's been reluctant. the day before yesterday, martin and some other WV people came and i told them to tell talla to prune the freakin' trees before the rains started since he is ten times more likely to listen to them than to me. talla did his nervous laugh and said he would do it -- which felt like a lie and i was disheartened. but then diakho (the "president" of the valley) and nefie wilane (of weinde) were there and agreed that we would do it today (wednesday).
i still didn't really believe it but then diakho came looking for me this morning and when we got to the valley talla had actually brought the large pruning shears that i had asked him all morning to find for me. but he still seemed cranky about having to listen to me which made me slightly annoyed. then, looking at the trees i wanted to prune i realized it probably wouldn't make a difference because they're about 4 years old, over 2 meters tall and lignified at the bottom, so how likely would they actually make new shoots at the base? perhaps it was already too late and i could understand talla's resistance because it looked like it was going to be a pain to deal with.
however, last july we had outplanted A. senegal and A. mellifera around the pepiniere area for a live fence and they were very ready to be pruned. i figured it could be a better lesson if i used my time to prune what was ready to be pruned and use the unpruned/impossible prune hedge as a lesson of best practice vs. improper practice.
so i suggested it and at first diakho was scared and said they were too small. but i managed to convince her so we went to it. talla had no part in it but mbaye dia (talla's cousin) and i went and pruned all the trees. mbaye really seemed to understand the purpose of pruning and had no reluctance to lop off any of the terminal buds. the lesson seemed to translate well to those who wanted the lesson and i made a passive aggressive point saying that while it is important to know how to pepiniere, it is more important to know how to plant and take care of trees -- what was the point of putting so much of one's time in baby trees if they were all just going to be improperly planted?
i got many nods and clicks of agreement. i bit my tongue from being a vindictive brat and pointing out that talla is who i was talking about -- he only cares about the pepiniere process but lets his trees grow too tall, doesn't prune, doesn't outplant on time, plants his fruit tees too close, and doesn't protect his trees from destruction (last ramadan i almost passed out in the field planting cashews for him all morning. he promised he would fence them. he didn't and where are they now? gone. eaten by goats and cows.).
once we were done nefie showed up with her machete. she was a little disappointed she missed out on the fun but we hung around for a while and i gave out some limes to some of the farmers i'm working with. diakho and i are getting along these days -- something happened in diakho's head and instead of ignoring me she actually listens to me and likes me a lot and constantly lauds my presence and work to others. funnily enough, it seems to have started since the one day i was so tired of her and was visibly exasperated and pretty much yelled at her. maybe she's scared of me now or maybe she finally just appreciates the fact that i have given her sacks and seeds and that i'm here to help their work and not make it worse.
diakho, nefie, aram signan (from weinde, not the aram signan of my village), a coffee lady named khoudia mbaye, and i all hung out at diakho's field. i seeded her limes and aram ate the leftovers. we talked a lot about trees. WV brought nefie to niger (diakho went last year) to see a bunch of AgFo projects so a lot of what i said had been said to her "officially" in niger. we talked about fences and grafting and that some trees stay in the sack for a year (they didn't know this). it was pleasant and th whole time diakho was putting up a dead fence for her pepiniere. i suggested we do an intensive bareroot bed of Moringa oleifera. she agreed and we will do it tomorrow.
it was a satisfying morning of work but today is hot and i long for rain.