Making banana flower salad for the first time!
Hello to all the happy chicken supporters... we continue to hatch and distribute happy chicks at an increased rate of 10-12 dozen per week, sold at or below cost, or given to families in need.... which is not always an easy task!
NEWS! Six months ago we were able to obtain a breed of free range meat chickens “Kabir”, that are originally from Pakistan. These multi-colored chickens (individuals come in red, back, and grey), grew incredibly fast and we were surprised to find out that they are wonderful foragers- mowing the grass like goats! But alas, the Kabir chickens are so big that we fear they will do poorly in the hot summer months. The birds matured a full month earlier than normal, crowing/ laying at four months and fully twice or nearly three times normal size! We then began crossing the six Kabir hens with our largest hot-weather adapted naked neck rooster, and likewise, the six Kabir roosters were paired up with 40 of our local happy hens. After two weeks, the eggs were ready for setting in the incuator and we have now gotten several hatchings of Kabir-cross chicks, which we are raising up to see how well they grown and lay. If they do as well as expected, we will then begin providing them to the communities as a locally adapted, high production, free range meat chicken. Nothing remotely like them is available to the comunities of Fiji.
We have now passed the "fifteen thousand chicks" mark: all hatched and distributed, and with chicks sent all over the country, and into the Cyclone Winston hit disaster islands of Koro, Moturiki, Taveuni,and Vanua Levu. In December we will receive two trainees from the cyclone Pam disaster hit areas of Vanuatu. They will stay for two months at the farm to fully learn the Happy Chicken methods as well other things we at the training centre: chocolate, coffee, virgin coconut oil production, and permaculture. The trainees will then return to their communities to serve as resource people for community workshops and training, building local capacity, much like the women we trained at the farm are now doing on Koro Island!
We are finally able to export the chicks from the Fiji end, having passed inspection and confirmed disease free for over a year now, and hopefully we will finally be able to get the biosecurity permissions on the Vanuatu side! If not, we will have to create breeding flocks on site in Vanuatu, as we have done in Fiji- we will .
An additional recent development is taking place in the island nation of Kiribati, where the government and communities have asked for the project. A single hen's egg on Christmas Island costs $1.20 Australian, imported from Hawaii! In November I had to travel to Christmas Island for coral reef restoration work, and so I was able to repond to this request. https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/emergency-response-to-massive-coral-bleaching/updates/ The trip was no cost to the Happy Chicken project, but lays a foundation for future work in a promising site, where we will likely be travelling twice per year over the next few years. While there I was able to meet with the head of Agriculture, and inspected an old incubator at his request, but it was too far gone to be used. The plan is to bring in fertile eggs from the Fiji farm, plus a portable incubator- in June or July when I return for more coral work. The Biosecurity import “protocols” must be developed and cleared beforehand, as must happen for Vanuatu, so we are working on that now for both countries.
While on Christmas Island, I met with a group in the London community who are very interested in the Happy Chicken project. We planted Leucaena, a small, fast growing, nitrogen fixing tree with 40% protein in the leaves- these leaves are mixed with grated coconut and a carbohydrate source (sweet potatoes or breadfruit in the case of this island), to produce chicken feed. This planting ahead of time will help prepare for the chickens when they do come. In addition to talking about the chickens, I gave the community a workshop on how to cook and eat banana flowers and seaweeds, as vegetables to improve the diet of the community, as vegetables are for the ot pat completely unavailable. I also helped them start a new seaweed farm, and they taught me how to make sweet coconut syrup by tapping the unopened coconut flowers, similar to how they tap maple trees. The workshop was great fun, and one of the participants invited me to an evening meeting in another village to talk about the work and the happy chicken methods. She is also now teaching this community what she learned. I will include a few photos of these activities, which are both educating the community and building a foundation of trust for the coming chicken project.
Thank you all for your continuing support, which is making a big difference and enriching the lives of poor people- building self-sufficiency and economic independence in remote South Pacific communities.
Making seaweed/coconut oil body and hair gel
Sweet coconut seaweed pudding! YUM!
Happy Kabir chickens at three months!
Planting seaweed... free food and fertilizer!
Jack and the super seaweed!