Our Livelihood…

Written by: The Bridge on Monday, July 3rd, 2006

Palmgrove has a few small enterprises that are beginning to bring in money, not much though, but it’s still better then nothing. The Palmgrove construction crew are out almost every day, doing work with the loader and grader. At this time of the year it’s often raining, so at times they have to wait a few days for the ground to dry. They really need someone to teach them how to use the equipment properly, they keep misusing it, getting flat tires and minor breakdowns that really shouldn’t be happening. Paul Vetter has to constantly remind them to grease the machines and do minor repairs on the equipment, otherwise they would run them till they stop moving. They are bringing in a bit of money, but with the price of fuel and all the minor repairs, they are barely keeping their heads above water. That’s a strange thing, you would think that in an oil rich country like Nigeria they would have reasonably cheap fuel prices; but the price is between 70 to 80 cents per liter, the same as back home.

We have a few pigs in the barns, it’s a small start but at least it’s something. They are the thinnest, scrawniest looking pigs I’ve ever seen, I don’t know how they survive. The small piglets run out of the pen through some of the many holes, but they always seem to find their way back safe and sound. They seem to have a heyday, running around the barn chasing each other. The hens are almost ready to lay, but unfortunately, due to this wet season, they got some kind of disease and now they have to be vaccinated. We lost a few of them. In a few weeks the rest should start laying. The broilers are growing up fast, the mature ones are selling quite well. If we could get a few more started we could have a small but steady income. However, we will have to do a bit of maintenance on the rest of the barn to make more room for them. There are so many small projects like that, that one doesn’t know where to start.

I finished the second roof on the chicken barn container, this time it looks a bit straighter then the first one, live and learn. Now Arit, the women who looks after the chickens, will have a nice dry place where she can store feed and supplies. In the picture of the container, you can see a tall papaya tree growing next to it. It was within easy reach, so we sometimes stopped during work to eat one when we were hungry, that was a blessing to have.

At the end of the day, I often look back and think of how much I’ve accomplished. Sometimes it’s depressing to see how little actually gets done. Back home, when we have a power outage for half an hour, we worry about the time that was lost, deadlines that are not going to be met, customers that wouldn’t be too happy, etc. Out here, there is always tomorrow or the next day or the next, and if that doesn’t work, then next month works just as well. It’s easy to fall into this slow easygoing lifestyle, but if we do, we know that we wouldn’t accomplish much of anything, so we have to find a balance of some kind.

The electronic world has found its way to Nigeria. The ‘in’ thing right now seems to be cell phones, everybody is going around with one glued to his ear. The way they do it is, you have to buy a card, which has so and so many minutes on it; once you use it up, you can only receive calls until you buy more time. Every time we want one of the boys to phone somebody for us they’re out of minutes; that is so typical!

Eddy Vetter was working on the aerial for our mobile telephone. He was trying to figure out why we weren’t getting any signal strength with a 25 ft. external tower. He asked one of the guys who had set it up, why he had pointed the antenna towards the northwest. He said that, in that part of the sky there was a big satellite, you could see it shining brightly every evening. Edward explained that what he was seeing was actually a planet or maybe a bright star, not a satellite, also satellites don’t sit in one part of the sky all night long and that mobile phones don’t work off satellites, but on land towers. You just have to wonder how they get their theories mixed up like that!

The past week we have had electrical power for a few hours every day and at night too. You might not think that it’s a big deal but for a country like Nigeria, it’s quite an achievement. I think they should declare it a national holiday. The best word to describe their power supply would be the word randomly. When the power is on, the voltage is ways below what it’s supposed to be and the phases are very unevenly divide; but it seems to sort of work. Such it is around here.

Showing 5 comments

leanne said:
On: 4th Jul, 2006 at 11:16

Nice to hear the broilers may make for a worthwhile income. No use having ‘random’ animals around. Yes, the pig does look rather skinny, I would figure a Crystal Spring wet/dry feeder might do it some good, but then you would need lots of feed. Cell phones eh? Do they have to buy those with ‘agnutz?’

Jeremy said:
On: 4th Jul, 2006 at 11:42

Hi Lance,
Nice roof! Even if it does take more time to accomplish something, I am pretty certain the satisfaction of a job well done is the same as anywhere. 🙂
about aiming the antenna…I doubt that there’s too many people who actually know where the signal goes from their phones…

kon kola glustlen um deh fruit


Karen said:
On: 5th Jul, 2006 at 20:36

O Lance, we’d only “wish” our gas price was 70 or 80 cents a liter…
Your willing spirit, submissive attitude, generosity and hard work ethics are a blessing and a wonderful example to me and lots of other young people. The fruits of your labor are evident! God bless you ALL!

eddie/waldner said:
On: 6th Jul, 2006 at 11:26

If all else fails read the instruction Manuel. The old phone we had in 1996 you dialed a certain number maybe two didges according to the book, then turned the antenna until the beep was herd, then at its sharpest volume you stopped and there was the satellite.

as if you did’nt think —-aahh

Anonymous said:
On: 10th Jul, 2006 at 13:04

Seems to be quite a challenge to raise animals in tropical climates such as these. It reminds me of something I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago. They said that because it was such a challenge to raise animals in some parts of Africa, people where resorting to hunting the wild animals of the jungle and selling them on the market. This was looked upon with concern because it was endangering some of the animals that lived in these parts. Maybe someone else also heard it and could give a more detailed account.
Are the pigs actually sold that skinny? Congratulations to Ari for taking care of the chickens! What do the men folk do to keep busy? I get the impression that most of the work is done by the women.