Some of the activities included picking coffee, preparing the land for planting whatever crop my grandma wanted planted, weeding using a small panga and, of course, harvesting the crop once it was mature. My favorite activity though was always coffee picking; those red berries used to jazz me a lot.
It was during those days that I learned how to milk cows, prepare their fodder while seasoning it with some pinkish-looking salt that was specifically for cows and goats. I learned how to take the animals to the dip, or to spray them at home to get rid of ticks. I learned to tell when a cow was on heat and when she was about to give birth.
It was then I learned how protective a hen is when she has chicks around her. If you have never been pecked by a hen for getting too close to her chicks then you don’t know what the saying ‘a mother’s wrath’ means. It does not matter who or what you are, but if you come anywhere near her chicks, she will unleash all her wrath on you.
Woe unto you if she happens to get you! And, speaking of chickens, did you know that chili (pilipili) has some medicinal value to chickens? I learned earlier this week that to avoid sleeping sickness in chicken, giving them water that has chili works like magic. But, seriously, who comes up with such ideas? Anyway, I digress.
I happened to have spent a considerable part of the week that has just ended up-country in a county called Kisumu in Kenya. It was while there that all my childhood memories came rushing back as I remembered how we used to take care of our surroundings as well as of the animals that lived with us.
What triggered the memories is seeing the children in the homestead I had visited doing exactly what we used to do when we visited Grandma up-country. Just like us back then, the host’s children would wake up very early to do household chores as assigned to them by their mum.
The chores included, among many others, cleaning the hens’ house, cow sheds and goat/sheep folds. In addition, they would ensure the animals were fed and watered either by taking them out to graze in nearby bushes or by zero grazing. They also had the role of ensuring the compound was nicely swept and the fence (made of some vegetation) was well trimmed and nicely manicured.
Looking at the fence you’d think someone went there with a ruler and did some arithmetic calculations to know exactly how many centimetres to the right or from the top to cut the fence for proper alignment.
The animals in the homestead were so free that they would come in and out of the main house without fear. At some point I remember some hens came into the house and started clucking. They sounded like they were in a symphony choir made up of chicken clucking. This might sound weird to you but I have to admit that my time in this homestead was so therapeutic and refreshing that I have decided one day not so long from now, God willing I will have a homestead that has animals in it, not just cats and dogs, but cows, chickens, sheep, goats, ducks, etc.
If you are still reading this article till now thank you very much. It means that you trust me enough to know that even though I started out by describing farm life, there is a message hidden therein somehow. Indeed you are right.
Being on the farm gave me an opportunity to do a comparison of the quality of life the people there live versus the one we live in the city. The fact that they live up-country does not mean that they are poor. Of course, I say this acknowledging fully that not everyone is as blessed as these guys are, but, all the same, there were many lessons to be learned from this family.
For instance, they have everything we have in the city i.e. tap water, electricity, good roads, a nice house, smart phones, etc. But, to be honest, I felt like they have more than we do. Let me explain.
In the city we wake up in the morning, shower and after a quick breakfast (probably made up of lots of processed foods), we jump into the next available mode of transport to take us to our offices and schools. For these guys, they wake up in he morning, shower, have a healthy breakfast made from organic food grown right behind the kitchen and then, instead of going to look for a car to take them to work or school, they either ride a bike or walk to their destination, not because they cannot afford to pay bus fare, but because anywhere under 5 kms to them is not far. In Dar es Salaam today, tell me how many people are ready to walk just 1km. Very few!
For farm people, the walk or bike ride to school or work is in itself a workout and since they do this twice a day, they don’t even need to go to the gym because the walking or riding is exercise enough. Then when they come back home from work or school, they have to ensure that the cows are back in their sheds, they have enough water to drink and enough fodder for the next day, etc. All those activities actually translate to a better workout than what we do in the gym for one hour. No wonder the guys here are so lean and muscular.
Something else I also discovered is that while these guys are working on the farm together, they get to share their day’s or week’s experiences, which means they have a good opportunity to communicate and share with each other. They have quality time with each other where everyone is able to express and share their experiences without feeling they are being ignored.
What happens to us in the city? We tend to forget the people who are with us in the house and instead focus on those who are online. As a result, the people we are living with have no idea what is going on in our lives but the rest of the world does. How does that help family cohesion?
Observing this family reminded me of a story I once read on the internet which I feel is very appropriate for me to share with you today. You might have read it before but it won’t hurt to read it again as I am sure it will have a great impact to your life. Here goes...
One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.
They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, ‘How was the trip?’
’It was great, Dad.’
‘Did you see how poor people live,’ the father asked.
‘Oh yeah,’ said the son.
‘So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip,’ asked the father.
The son answered: ‘I saw that we have one dog and they had four.’
‘We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.’
’We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.’
‘Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.’
‘We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.’
‘We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.’
‘We buy our food, but they grow theirs.’
‘We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.’
The boy’s father was speechless.
Then his son added, ‘Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.’”
In short, what the boy was telling his father is that you may have a lot of money, and a lot of things but all that is meaningless if the quality of life you are living does not amount to much. For instance, if you have all the wealth in the world yet you have no peace in your heart then you are poor.
If love is not evident in and around your home then the quality of your life is wanting. If all you eat is expensive processed food then within a short time the quality of your life will be revealed to you when you start getting lifestyle-related diseases. If your relationships are unhealthy and not flourishing then the quality of your life needs re-evaluation.
By the standards of many city dwellers, the family that had hosted me may be deemed as being poor, but are they really poor? They have time to spend quality time with each other while most of us in the city don’t. They eat healthy food from their own farms, while we buy food whose source we don’t know.
By virtue of their daily routine, they exercise daily without fail, while we fail to exercise because we are too busy to make time for exercises. Their children play real games with each other while ours play alone with gadgets. Their children have the privilege of seeing, touching and smelling real cows, goats, sheep, chicken among others, while ours only encounter such animals while playing Farmville online.
Whose life is richer than the other?
My parting shot to us all this week is this: evaluate your life to see whether it really has some substance, some quality in it. May we all desire to have a quality life and not a quantity life.
Be ignited. Be inspired. Be influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.