VENTURING INTO THE RABBIT FARMING ENTERPRISE.By Joyce Wachau.

I’ve waited for so long to bring this story out here. At first I was holding back cause I didn’t want to jinx it in any way, because I felt like it was a piece that needed to reach as many people as possible. It was a first piece that I got to use professional photos and I was looking forward to having it in the paper. It was a piece I enjoyed doing, because it was impromptu , but that day turned out to be just great. Thing is, I really wanted for it to appear as a feature in a newspaper, but oh well, I have to do what I have to. So if you don’t mind, please go through it, and trust you me definitely learn something about rabbits, if it fascinates you, how about you share with your friends who love, or might be interested in knowing about rearing rabbits? If you also want rabbit meat, I will definitely link you up with the lady. I feel so emotional because for some reason, I feel so much connected to this piece. Making it worse, I feel awful because I had promised Kabura and her family that I would definitely pull all the strings I can to put their wonderful work out there. Truth be told, I tried, tried so hard that when eventually nothing was working in my favor, my blog is the last resort I had. This is my safe haven. Not forgetting counting on you guys to help me share the story with as many people as possible. And to Dennis Nyaga, a young blooming photographer who didn’t think twice about accompanying me to do the story and take this awesome photos, I will forever be grateful, because it meant so much to me. Every time I’m looking at those photos, other than marveling at how big these rabbits are, I feel so proud, you know, like “hey you guys, look at the very first professional photos I used in some piece that had my heart tendrils swaying all over” you know that type of pride that makes you feel like yes! I just want to do more stories and get them out there for the world. So, if you want to see more of awesome photos, (nyaga-shutterbag) on IG is where you can witness it for yourself. Dennis, thank you so much for that deed, may God bless you. And to Kabura, I’m so sorry this piece didn’t make it to the newspaper like I had promised. It honestly hurts me so much, because I was also looking forward to it being there. I hope you understand.
Hope you all enjoy this piece.

VENTURING INTO THE RABBIT FARMING ENTERPRISE.


Commercial rabbit farming in Kenya has for a long time, not gained the ground that farmers would really desire. But of late, rabbit farmers are now earning good money by venturing into this segment of livestock enterprise niche, whose potential is actually displaying a luminous future.


In the heart of Githunguri village, Gatanga sub-county, we meet a youth who is also a student, by the name of Martha Kabura, who has been overcoming adversities by working tirelessly to see to it that her 50 grade rabbits remain healthy during this pandemic period.

Kabura, a young entrepreneur.

Having started with only 4 rabbits, she is proud to now showcase just how big her business has thriven, to a total of 50 rabbits. Among her 50 rabbits, she has four main breeds which can be easily distinguished by their features. She rears the California White which can be known by their black nose, red eyes and black feet, the New Zealand with red eyes, the Dutch with a white tie and last but not least, she rears the Giant Fleming known for having a brown furry body and their increase in weight happens so fast.

Martha solely feeds her rabbits on pellets, hay and sweet potato vines that are first left to soften before being fed to the rabbits. A half handful of pellets is mixed with a half cup of bread crumbs, to save on the feeds, whereby the rabbits are fed only once in a day. She takes her time to show us each feed at a go and how she measures the quantity.

Pellets.

Rabbits love cleanliness hence their water is changed every day and the hutch cleaned too. To ensure the rabbits remain healthy, they are feed with D.C.P and multivitamins in a bid to boost their immunity systems. Another interesting thing to note is that once they give birth, the babies should not be touched until they are over 10 days, since the mother can refuse to breastfeed them. They also stand a high chance of contracting diseases if touched. Grass is hang for them and not put on the floor of the cage, so as to enhance cleanliness.

Multivitamins.
Hay put up for the rabbits.

‘Rabbit market is not yet saturated, hence there is no sustainability’ says Kabura, as she takes us around her cages, demonstrating everything. She is now forced to sell her rabbits locally due to the fact that people no longer come from far and wide to buy her rabbits. ‘A rabbit usually goes for 3,500ksh and the meat is sold at 400ksh per kg’ claims Kabura as she puts up one rabbit on a scale to weigh its weight.

When it comes to rabbit farming, nothing goes to waste. Their waste is used in farming and actually the best when it comes to strawberry farming. The skin/fur can be sold to the textile industries while the urine instead of being disposed, is also used as fertilizer, but mostly, as a very effective insecticide. The urine is also sold at 150ksh per litre. Rabbit meat is soft and sweet, hence even kids can easily consume it. Additionally, it is quite easy to control the rate of serving.

How urine is collected.

‘People are yet to have the necessary awareness when it comes to rabbit rearing and production. Many people engage in small scale since they are not equipped with the necessary information when it comes to rabbits’ Kabura sadly says.

A rabbit and the babies.

When rearing rabbits, it is good to have a few concrete facts that will help one navigate the course. Rabbits are a very territorial lot and hate anything that stresses them out. When it comes to mating, the female has to be taken to the male and that act is known as serving. Also to avoid interbreeding which results to inferior breeds, males and females are put in different hutches. They communicate by stomping their feet or as a way of indicating there is danger. Rabbits require sufficient light and no cold. When putting up the hutches, one should ensure there is space between the top cages and those below, to give room for waste collection. Under the cage, a translucent/plastic iron sheet is placed to collect the urine which is highly corrosive. Normal iron sheets would easily corrode. The hutch should be slanted so that the urine is drained into containers. If not slanted, the rabbits stand a chance of getting sick, once exposed to their waste. Some of the diseases they are easily prone to include; pneumonia, bloating which mostly occurs during weaning but can be counteracted by being given glycerine which is also crucial in mite eradication which affects their ears, mouth and feet. They are faced by a problem of rats eating their babies when they are a few days old.

Up close photo of the hutch.

‘Just like any other enterprise, rabbit farming has its challenges that make it hard to be able to earn the maximized profits that this business is capable of bringing’ Challenges include; starting capital can be quite high since it requires a good quality hutch that can take up almost a solid 50,000ksh. Exploitation from other farmers is also devastating since they are set out to buying rabbits, or the meat at a very cheap price. ‘The government should highly invest in rabbit skin industries since it is hard to get one’ says Kabura. The fact that there is no market for rabbit skin makes her dispose them off, which is draining money down the gutters.

Kabura and her two brothers.

Audacity and guts on the lowest bid.


So, two days ago, around 10pm, I was on the phone, playing candy crush. I must have been watching some show on TV too. Suddenly, there came these screams, but in my mind I’m like, that might just be the drunkards who prolly took too much than their systems can hold, screaming anyhow. By the time the second scream tore through the air, it sounded so close that I put whatever show I was watching on mute. When the third scream came through, it was when I realized that it was my neighbor.

Hand to God, chills literally swept across my body. She was screaming calling out my mum’s name and the dogs barking wildly , signaling something was wrong. My mum had long gone to sleep and so had my brother, leaving me there to do whatever it is that I was doing. My mum must have jolted up from her sleep, cause she came out in her night gown, shouting at me to pass her a lesso, as she answered to the hysterical screams, all confused. When she went out to go see what was happening, I stood at the door, cause I couldn’t make out what was happening, with no sweater on, the night breeze hitting every nerve in me. From where I stood, I could see the shadows of my mum and that of my neighbor, wanting to hear what was happening.

From her shaky voice, I could hear her narrate of how two guys had some minutes back tried to sneak into their compound, through the fence. And then it hit me, those are people who must have been here before, because that couldn’t be an outsider’s work. One thing I can tell you for free is that, their gate makes so much noise whenever one opens it. It is not once or twice that I’ve snapped while alone in the house, due to the noise from that gate. So I was putting one and one together and concluded that should have the two goons used the gate, then it only means, my neighbor would have heard the noise and definitely know something is wrong. They must have been after their cow or goat, because the two animals actually have a makeshift place just outside the house, close to the gate. By the time her husband was back, he was panting, barefooted and a machete in his hands. He was the one who had heard the shuffling and got alerted. He grabbed the machete and ran after the goons, who unfortunately disappeared into some maize plantations.

I could detect disappointment in the woman’s voice as she continued to talk to my mum, “you want to mean the others didn’t hear me scream, at least come out help me do the screaming or even see what is going on?” I could feel the disappointment from where I stood. By the others, she meant our two other neighbors. We live as four families around this area. It is just us four, each family in their own compound.

As the three of them talked, trying to dissipate the dense situation, trying to comfort each other, exchanging ideas on what the goons might have come for, that early in the night, that is where I derived my topic for today.

Are both audacity and guts on such a low bid? Because, in my mind I was like, “don’t thieves come in the middle of the night, or rather, at ungodly hours? I mean, that is their doctrine right? Ungodly hours when at least people are in bed, if not dreamland. But these ones? They had the guts and audacity to be here as early as 10 pm!! For chrissake! Isn’t that too early to be sneaking into people’s compounds? It had me making up a funny scenario in my head of how they must have gone into some shop, ordered for the lowest, predictable, imaginable, disgusting, questionable , pathetic type of guts and audacity, cause that is what they could afford. But we all know cheap is expensive, right? That is why I tell myself that the stars must have aligned for my neighbors, that they had not gone to sleep and that the husband heard the shuffling just in time. This is because, only God knows what those goons would have done.

There are just so many atrocities being committed out here and maybe if they had gotten away with their motives, I would be here talking of a different story, but thanks to God, the devil was shamed once again. Someone give me an Amen!!

But hey, by the time the three of them parted, everyone was laughing, saying how scared to death they had been! And that must have helped them calm down.
Anyway, from that day, I’m scared of being out after 9! Yikes! I can’t even stop thinking that there is someone who is always watching us from the fences! And that is no pleasant feeling at all!

I wasn’t you before i became me.


So forgive me if i drew many a tears from you
If one day too soon, i gave up playing charity for us
I just wasn’t you before i became me.

If drowning you in uncertainties is all i did
Till you had to pack up and leave
I just wasn’t you before i became me

If the tides came and pulled me away from what is right
Unable to be there for you
I just wasn’t you before i became me

For the times i closed my doors against your face
The times i recoiled from your love and care
I just wasn’t you before i became me

If i was unable to reciprocate all what you were
I just hoped that you would have understood my insecurities
That i just wasn’t you before i became me.

That i just needed some extra love and understanding, but you had needed it more
But maybe we all don’t get second chances with some people
I was just not lucky to have been you, before i was me.


To a best friend that i drove away. 💔

Was in, too deep.

Of the sadness and emptiness .


I’m a walking empty soul
I thought talking to you would help ease the pain
And now thinking of how it didn’t work out
Got me feeling so worked up
Got me wallowing in regret of having reached out
Till the rising sun deeply touches my soul again
The pain sinking in my heart will remain for long
The sadness taking control is hard to fight
I hope smiling for me, is not yet over.

FARMING MADE FUN.


I would be lying if I said that back then is when my interest for farming started. If you had dare told me to go to the farm, to weed or plant and even harvest, you would have been my greatest enemy! Because, why should I? Why should I make my fingernails dirty? Why should I smell like manure all in the name of farming? But guess who is now addicted to this farming show that is aired on a local TV show every Monday? Guess who is slowly getting the nitty bits of farming ingrained in her system? On thinking about it, all it took was passion. There are just some things you cannot do, if passion is not the constant variable.


The best thing I have come to love about farming is just how diverse it can be. With farming, you do not have to feel like you are walking on eggshells, or like you have everything to lose. It is all about showing your garden some love and all it does is reciprocate the same, right back at you. Amazing right? I mean, receiving the same type of love and care that you give? Isn’t that all what we ever want? So yes, farming will not break your heart.

This is an example of a vertical garden.
This was a new design that Eddy, one of the youths , came up with, called the Slope garden.


I remember doing a piece on urban farming and today, I want to expand on it and share with you more skills that I managed to learn since 2020. I want to shine light on it, because not many people actually have large pieces of land where they can grow vegetables and food stuffs. Most people have little or no compound space, hence excuses that go on and on, on how they cannot grow anything for themselves. Thanks to Madam Faith who has been tagging me along with her on farming expeditions, I have learnt new ways that we can embrace when it comes to green leafy vegetables. Matter of fact, we need to know that urban farming is easy ( using readily available materials), environment friendly (helps hugely in recycling of plastic and proper use of non-degradable materials) and it is also a great impact in enhancing food security.

An example of an already set up and functional Green Wall. Amazing, huh?

Green walls.
As the name suggests, the green wall is a wall made up of green bottles. Now just picture green leafy vegetables planted in green bottles! Quite a sight to behold isn’t it?
Requirements:
-20-30, 2litres plastic bottles. (if you are unable to find all of them in green, it is okay to mix up with other colours)
-A knife. This will help to cut out the bottles into the desired sizes.
-2 and 4 inch nails. This is to drill holes on the bottle tops, to help the water drip into the next bottle. The same nails will be used to nail the bottles on the pieces of wood.
-A hammer, light stone or a small log. This will help to hit the nail into the bottle tops. ( note that I have listed the three materials so that you can choose what is readily and comfortable for you to use)
-Hot piece of round metal. Helps to burn the bottom part of the bottle so as to insert another bottle into it.
-6 pieces of long straight wood. The bottles will be nailed on them.
-Worn out piece of rubber. Easy rubber, preferably a worn out slipper. The rubber helps when nailing the nail into the wood, to prevent the plastic bottles from breaking since some can be having a very fragile material.
-Take some good amount of soil and manure and mix well. Helps to ensure that the soil is fertile enough
-A spade. Helps to mix soil and the manure. The manure should be from the animals, e.g. cows, pigs and chicken. Reason being, we want to grow clean and organic food, free of chemicals.
-Source of fire. The fire will be used to heat the metal, so as to burn holes into the bottles.


Now, if you have gathered all those materials, we are ready to get to the next step and it is just getting better and more fun! So stay with me, because by the end of all these, I want you to be able to come up with your own green wall garden.


How to go about the preparations:
Step 1: ensure the bottle doesn’t have any sticker on it. Remember we want uniformity and the beauty of it can only be achieved if every bottle is (as naked as it can ever be.)

It was now Madam Faith’s turn to give it a try and i was keenly watching if she would do it as good as i did mine😂. Also, if you notice the bottle i was holding wasn’t in a good condition, so we didn’t really use it. Remember what i mentioned about uniformity? That is why!


Step 2: if the bottle top is on, remove it and keep it aside for later use. Now take the knife and cut out the round collar that usually rests at the bottom of the bottle top. Cutting it helps in smooth connection with the next bottle that will be inserted at the bottom.

The green collar at the mouth of the opening is what I’m talking of.
Well, the knives were limited and we had to wait for one to finish with it. Eddy, in a white beanie, is the guy who came up with the Slope garden.


Step 3: if you look closely and keenly you will notice the bottle has two symmetrical lines, running from top to bottom. Take the knife and slowly but carefully start cutting slightly below the neck of the bottle. (Right where my top 1 sticker is there is a marking above it, and that is where you should consider cutting and right at the bottom where my bottom sticker should be where you cut) I have labelled to ensure that you do not go way below because that will distort the bottle, hence render it useless. The two stickers are to help guide you on where to cut. Cut all the bottles that you have.


Step 4: take all the nails and drill 3-4 medium sized holes on the bottle tops. I say medium sized, because we do not want that much water going through. Remember we are also trying to save on the resources that we are using. The medium holes also help to retain water in each bottle.


Step 5: find a favourable position on a wall. That is the whole essence of it being called a green wall, because it is a green garden, on a wall. Take 3 pieces of wood first and nail them on the wall, at the top and on both sides, such that it looks like you have a straight 3 sided square. Pin another piece of wood at the centre for stability. Lastly, for the remaining 2 pieces, nail them horizontally across such that they run across our three sided square.


Step 6: get your source of fire ready and take the round piece of metal. Ensure it has an insulated end where you can safely hold without getting burnt. Place the metal in the fire till it gets hot enough and start burning the bottom of one bottle and taking another by the mouth and insert it where the hole is, quickly, before the burnt space contracts. Depending on the number of bottles you have, for example if you have 30 of them, divide them equally into 5 bottles per row so that you will have 6 streams. If 20, divide into rows of 5 or 4, whatever you find effective for you. Just make sure the last bottle which will be at the top is not tampered with.


Step 7: after connecting the bottles, now take the drilled bottles tops and close the connected bottles.


Step 8: nail the first bottle that was not tampered with against the top most piece of wood and remember to use the rubber so that the bottles do not break. According to the length of the bottles, nail another one on the second piece of wood and another on the third piece of wood. If one is in a position to have a pipe, they can make a drip, which will involve drilling holes all across the top most bottles, so that the drip can run across.


Step 9: now that the bottles are now secured on the wall, take the soil that had been mixed with manure and fill all the bottles to the brim.

The girls working together to fill up the bottles with the soil.


Step 10: fill the top bottles with water such that it starts dripping to the bottom bottles, through the drilled bottle tops. Since when the water gets to the very bottom bottle it will drip down on the ground, it is advisable to have another small garden, so that the water does not go to waste.

Pouring water into the bottle, to make sure it was working just fine and that the water was dripping, just like it should.


Step 11: depending on the seedlings you have, e.g. strawberries, spinach, kales, parsley and many more, take a small piece of stick, dig a small hole at the centre of every bottle, and then proceed to plant. After planting and the seedlings start to mature, ensure to carefully direct the plant towards outside of the bottle, so that it gets enough light and air and so that it doesn’t get squeezed while germinating. After sometime, one can always remove the top layer of the soil and add another one, and add some goat manure, since it helps to add nitrogen to the plants.

Yaaiiiyyy, , this was the final product, only thing remaining was the planting.

On this day that i learnt about the green wall, i also made some new friends.

It was so much fun doing the preparations with them.


Trust you me, if you follow through these steps, you will be having your green wall up in no time. Oh! Not to forget, consumption of good, clean and fair foods, at the comfort of your own home. You can use the green leafy vegetables for home consumption, or even for commercial purposes and be earning some money.


This is the part where I sign off and almost go all out like, ‘hey guys, thank you for watching, please subscribe to my You Tube channel and make sure you click on the notification button for more content’ but I realise naaaa, this is not the place nor platform. I mean, you do understand that, right?


But all in all, I feel so exhilarated sharing this information and so, how about you leave me a comment on what you think about urban farming? Would you be willing to try out the green wall technique? What is your take about consumption of clean and fair food?

Rest in peace, Francis.

The thing about wanting to do something is that, you never know just how much time you have left. Late 2019, i can still remember my mum giving me his number. His name was Francis. I use the past tense because he is no longer here with us. First time i met him was during a family gathering that had extended families present. That was still in late 2019, a few days before my mum gave me his number.

It had been a great day. He had recently obtained his PhD, hence Dr. Francis Muiruri Kang’ethe. I remember marvelling, i mean, obtaining PhD is no joke, that has to be the highest level of education you can obtain. One that calls for hard work, persistence and discipline and i told myself, “i want to get that far” bask in the glory of such achievement. As he told us of how he had been experiencing medical problems, it made me admire him the more. He had undergone some eye surgery, and he was always having this awful headaches that weren’t going away. At that time, much as we were all worried, we were not that worried still, you get me? Like Francis looked so healthy and by the fact that he was standing there telling us all these, we were all like “If God has seen you through all that, then He will definitely see you through much more”

So, my mum giving me his number, was after he learnt that i was studying close to where he lived, that is Juja and i was studying at Jkuat, suggesting that i can even go stay at his place, that his wife and kids would be glad to have me over, afterall, we are a family and it would only mean more time for bonding.

If i ever called or texted him? No i didn’t. And i say that with so much pain and regret. I cannot emphasis on just how many times i would scroll through my contacts and when i would get to his contact, i would just stare at it and decide otherwise. Reason i never did it was because i was a bit scared. Scared that he might be a busy man, scared that i wouldn’t know where to start. You know, how would i start with, “my mum gave me your number” it just seemed a bit far fetched for me. Worst thing that i beat myself up for, is that i never tried. I’m crying so hard right now, because for sometime, it has been hitting me so hard of how we just don’t know what will happen and when. You could be literally talking to someone one day and the next, they are gone.

The fact that we do not know how much time we have with people God has placed in our lives, is just so scary.


First forward into the last days of 2020, Francis passed away. may his soul rest in eternal peace he had been in the ICU for almost half of December after the doctors realized he had been having a brain tumor for a solid 5 years and yet it only manifested itself when it was already too late. He is being laid to rest today, and i keep going back to his contact on whatsapp and there is no profile picture, only a status, “my faith and hope is in the lord” and it makes me break down so hard. Because, what if i had contacted him? What if i had taken that chance and went to visit him and his family?. Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything, but i feel like i will always beat myself for a small role i didn’t manage to pull through.

As i see the final burial announcement of him on TV, a picture of him in his Doctorate gown, looking so radiant, i just can’t take it.

2020 had me losing so much. It was most definitely a hard year for everyone, that i can’t deny, but the fact that i lost some very important people makes me pray so hard that this year gets to be much more better.

Dear Francis, rest well with the angels, you will forever remain in our hearts.❤

Spread a little bit too thin, but managing.

In a spun of 2 weeks i have managed to clumsily hit my head against the wall, and against the metal pole of the bed. Stupid huh?.

So i have been having this on and off migraines even when I’m sleep at times. I can literally feel my head throbbing. I mean,  for somebody who loves to sleep,  it is quite a stretch for me. Funny thing, i hear a lot when I’m sleeping , i pick up sounds and movements, my brain is usually very alert. Wait, is that normal? Please tell me it’s normal.*crossing fingers”


So combining  the migraines, and my brain being that alert picking up on going activities, reading for my exams makes me so frustrated that I have literally detached myself from everyone. First cause I love it that way, second cause i don’t want to unleash my frustrations on anyone. So I’m just playing safe. When i called my mum today, i mentioned it to her and she made a light joke of how i used to fall off from bed when i was young. Every time she mentions it, I’m always like “whaaaaaaat?”You know, like I’m hearing it for the very first time. Cause how did that happen? How now?. It is hilarious though. It made me smile.