The Water Tank Stand

Laying the slab for the reserve water tank was no easy feat, not unlike our work in Namibia to date.
Mixing concrete requires adding sand and gravel to the bag mix. I ordered six cubic meters of sand for this small task. The delivery truck couldn’t get to our site due to the proximity of neighboring homes and the soft sandy substrate, so it offloaded the sand 200 yards away. The promise of a ‘borrowed’ pickup truck fell through, and my helpers complained of a bad back, so I found a wheelbarrow and made 30-40 trips to move the sand myself.

5,000-liter water reserve will rest here, 500mm high, near the fish tank.

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Here we go

Back in full swing with the mind of a farmer and CEO. A friend made the great point that I am now past the dream phase, I am actually doing business in Namibia. Seems it’s weird to hear, but the feeling of being responsible and fulfilling commitments is very real.
Our pilot farm is located 45 km south of Windhoek (Namibia’s capital), in the small village of Verdruk, which has approximately 500 residents and consists of mostly small farms. Since August, our pilot farm has maintained consistent employment of 3-5 staff each week, most of whom live in Groot Aub, a nearby community with roughly 10,000 residents. Each day, we all walk six miles from Groot Aub to the pilot farm, and walk another six miles to return home after work. I am incredibly grateful for these employees and their commitment. Their daily pay rate is just above minimum requirements for farms at $N300 ($US24) per week plus a daily meal. In addition, contracted labor has been used for several tasks, providing work for another 3-10 people, again from Groot Aub and Verdruk.

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The price of solar energy

Today is the first day back from holiday for most in Namibia. I am speaking with the solar contractor, trying to negotiate a lower rate of service. I thought I could talk them down a few thousand, but they didn’t budge so I’ve reduced the amount of power requested to the bare minimum and am waiting on their response. Work is at a standstill until we get this settled.
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Holidays

Everything in Namibia stops in December. I mean EVERYTHING.
My horoscope says I should not think about work stuff ‘today’, it would do my body well. Monday and Tuesday will be holidays here; I’m gonna take it easy thru Jan 2 – no work at the farm. I’ve seen only one Christmas tree, in the mall, but there are decorations at the town square.
It’s been a great year full of surprises, accomplishments and blessings. Fish in the tank will be good for all of us and we are nearly there.
So I wait.
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Covering up!

It’s been raining here—at least twice a week—so I pushed hard to get the hoop house covered, trying to keep the system protected as much as possible and keep excess water out of the plant bed. Now that the cover is up and rocks are in the bed, only two tasks remain: piping in the water, and getting the solar power system up and running.
 
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Giving Thanks

I am now a pro at starting a fire and cooking a nax meal in the pot. This is the common way to prepare food the the village.
 
Today’s Thanksgiving meal—lamb steak—cost me N$16 each, which is less than $2USD!!
Namibia is slow moving, but the anticipation is so high for this project. Getting to this point has been a challenging but rewarding effort, and we have overcome the expected obstacles effectively. Synergy Farms has come a long way and we are now on the threshold of success.

The view from our soon-to-be compost area

There is still much work to be done, but today I am pausing to express gratitude for the investors and friends who have supported this effort to become the single largest producer of naturally grown fish and vegetables in Namibia.
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Practice, practice, practice

Goal for this weekend: install this device so we can run the water line to the area.
We’re just now starting to lay the river rock in the bed…it takes a lot of patience and practice, practice, practice. We had to lay and then re-lay the liner to remove unwanted folds.
 
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Positioning the liner

This liner was a beast to handle; it is heavy, 230+kg.
Jr the kid has been my ‘full time’ staff available whenever I need him. We generally work Tuesday through Friday or Saturday.
Last week I met with the manger of a store that buys the largest volume of talipa in all of Namibia. Of course, he agreed to buy from me.
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Closing in

 We closed in the trench and filled the bottom with sand and gravel. This was by far the hardest part. My pond liner arrives today from South Africa. The rest is downhill from here.
Moving along nicely and I am starting on the plant bed.
 
I have a cold, of all things, as hot as it is. Next week is a big week…I’m going to meet my buyer.
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On a budget

Last week was busy, this week even more. Am now in communication with the solar contractor, expecting a sizable expense.
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