Today was a productive day for me. It started normal enough a morning walk through of the hotel. Dealing with some maintenance issue with the well/borehole, our pump died. Then I did a physical asset inventory of 80 percent of the hotel.
Late in the day though I got to work on shaping some of the farm land. My first objective was to find the first contour line at the top of the field. One of my hopes is to team the farm up with the hotel and have one of the first real farm to table restaurants in Ghana. When doing permaculture design it is about turning lifeless land around and restoring it to where it will work for you with minimal input. I am working on a slope and the land has been plowed with lines going up and down the slope. When it rains a lot the water moves down the slope by two ditches on either side and the plow lines. I want to trap as much of this water and allow it to soak into the land rather than just running off with a lot of the key nutrients from the soil.
The first thing I did was build an A-frame which will help me find a level contour across the slope of the land. Basically you lash 3 sticks together. Traditionally a weight is hung from a string at the top of the triangle and a you use the string to make marks on the cross piece to calibrate it for levelness. Rather than worry about a swinging weight and string I had a small level that I calibrated the cross peace so when it is on level ground the bubble is the in middle of the level.
To use it you start at a spot in your land and you place one leg and then you move the other leg around until you find the the level bubble is in the middle. You then mark where the legs were. I used pieces of coconut husks that I dropped along the way. I will just cover them in the berm I am about to dig. Then you leave one side planted on the ground and rotate the a-frame 180 degrees and find the next level spot. Mark the new spot and continue across the whole land.
Once you have things marked well you can start digging the berm. The berm goes to the downhill side. When water flows down the hill it will stop in the trough. It is important you make a low spot in the berm as a spillway though so it can over flow and the next swale can catch the water. I did this on the ends where the ditches are.
Luckily the ground is very soft and still somewhat moist from the recent rain. It is a little sandy though so it will be fast draining. Another reason to put in these systems and build the soil profile before just planting. I was able to break ground on about 1/3 the length of this swale. I will still need to go back and use my tool again to make sure the bottom of the trough is level. It was good hard work, I soaked through my shirt in sweat, but it was good progress. Another 2 days of a couple hours a day I should have this swale worked out and then I can shape some rows above it. I will do a few more soil amendments and some good mulching also.
It was getting to about 6 pm and sunset. This was the first real beautiful day so I took advantage of that and went to bath my dirty self in the sea.
After that it was time to enjoy what was left of the sunset and some cold local club beer.
Thanks for checking out my day. I hope to take you with me on the journey from dead plowed land to a little oasis feeding the guests at the hotel.
Shot with Huawei P7 Prime