February 7, 2018
At 4:30 a.m., I rolled over into a wet, warm spot on my sheet. I rolled back, switched on the light and there was Patch—a kitten—staring at me. It was as if she did it to wake me up. Patch is one of four kittens that my cat Jay-Z had a couple of weeks ago.
I got up and stripped the bed which sent Patch flying. She started to howl and that brought Jay-Z and the rest of her brood into the room. I can’t wait to give the kittens away.
My day normally starts at 6 a.m. and here I was at 4:30 unable to get back into bed because the mattress was wet and my nine-year-old Maltese was staring daggers at me, having been woken up by the noise from the cats. I decided to get some housework done. With five cats in the house, it took awhile. I live on a farm and work starts early, so after the housework at around 6:00 a.m. I walked to the cow shed. I got there as the last cow was being milked.
I have three milk cows; Black, Brown and Red. They are my source of milk, ghee, butter and cheese. Brown is my problem cow. She hates being milked and she lets you know it, quite often with a kick. This morning she was at it again. Every time the cowhand tried to touch her udder, she tried to kick him. So I had to help, holding down her hind legs while he did the milking. Brown is always breaking out, getting into the potato field or the cabbage patch, or trying to eat clothes off the wire. The only reason I do not get rid of her is she gives me the most milk.
Once the milking was done, we sieved the milk into one-litre containers to deliver to customers in the village. I only keep three litres of milk for myself a day. As the cowhand set off to make deliveries, I walked down to the lake to feed the fish. I farm tilapia in cages on Lake Victoria. The gentleman that usually helps with the feeding was not coming in until midmorning today as he had to help his pregnant wife out in the early morning, so I was doing the feeding myself, ON MY OWN. Not my favourite chore. I went to the store to weigh out the feed. There are three cages on the lake, two have three-month-old fish with about 4,500 fish in each 5m x 5m cage and third a 3m X 3m with about 3,000 juveniles at one month. I weighed out the feed, picked up my life jacket and the paddle, and walked to the lake. I use a canoe to feed the fish. I am not very good at rowing, it takes me about 10 more minutes than it does anyone else to get from shore to fish.
The lake was a bit choppy and I realised it was going to take me longer than usual. I am really bad at rowing on any given day. I am worse when it is windy. I finally made it to the cages, tied the canoe to one of them and climbed onto cage. I find it hard to feed the fish from the canoe, so I always climb onto the ledges of the cages to do it. It can be dangerous as it is slippery and I have fallen off a few times, but it works for me and I love watching the fish feed—so much that I probably watch for too long.
After I was done, I walked back to the house to make breakfast, check my email, feed the natives (cats, dogs) listen to the news on radio and browse the internet. I did all this for an hour and then stripped the bed and took the mattress out in the sun to dry. I then did some work in my kitchen garden. I try to grow most of my own food. I try to grow a little of everything I love, so I have brussels sprouts, courgettes, bell peppers, radishes, lettuce (Lollo rosso and iceberg), cucumbers, dill, rosemary, turmeric, okra, red cabbage, cassava, sweet potato and matooke .
At about 11:30 a.m., I got a call from an elderly neighbour who wanted to go into the city and needed someone to drive her there. My afternoons tend to be free and there were some things I needed to get done too, so I agreed.
I live in Bugiri-Bukasa, a small fishing village about 15 miles from the city. We left for the city at 1 p.m. With traffic, it takes at least one hour to get to the city. Driving on Kampala roads takes patience and skill. I have none of the former and a lot of the latter. Very few people obey traffic rules, even the traffic police don’t and with all the boda bodas and the foot traffic it can turn into an obstacle course. We got into the city just before 2:30 p.m., found parking uptown and set off on our different errands. I was going downtown to pick up some supplies for the farm. My advice to anyone venturing downtown: hold on to your bag and don’t stop moving. I was going to place called Container Village, if you are looking for inexpensive farm supplies then that’s the place to go. I also like the fact that a couple of seed companies have stores there. I enjoyed my tousling with the lady at the seed company, she always repeats the price of the seed packets at least three times before she writes out the invoice. The rains were going to start soon so I had to be ready. I stopped by the pet store and then made an uneventful journey back uptown. My neighbour had finished her errands and we braved the obstacle course back to our small fishing village. It is the same obstacle course everyone braves to get to the international airport.
An expressway is being built by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). Hopefully that will improve the traffic on the road to the airport. The traffic is worse and we don’t get to our neck of the woods till almost 5 p.m. I decided to stop off and try the new butcher. It’s clean, not much variety though. I bought a kilo of beef. We got home at 6 p.m. I brought the mattress in and made the bed. I got a report from the gentleman that feeds the fish, he let me know that he had to repair a small tear in one of the nets and that we will need to replace the main anchor rope sooner than we thought. The report from my cowhand was less eventful.
I made dinner, fed the natives and checked my email. I was in bed by 9 p.m. I listened to “Focus on Africa” on the BBC World Service until I fell asleep.