Qurna Homestead Update. April 2015.

Its been quite a while since I posted here and quite a lot has happened, even though it still feels as though nothing has! Much of the change has been on subtle levels, creating change within the house, so that for people looking in from the outside, it still looks the same. But every little shift here is important. People are so stuck in their old ways of doing things that it takes much healing to bring any change at all.

DSCN9923We are still looking after our animals, a bull, a cow, a pregnant ewe, a ewe and lamb, lots of ducks, turkeys, geese and chickens. Some of the chickens we now have were incubated by Ruby Tuesday on the East Bank, which was a godsend as all of our other chickens were wiped out by a particularly nasty cholera outbreak. Normally we lose a lot but never all of them. We were lucky that we managed to save the young Muscovy ducks and geese. Our Pekin ducks seem to be impervious to it! Even our turkeys managed to avoid it, once we used the right anti-biotics. Pretty miraculous really, as nearly everyone around us lost everything. We try to keep the place disinfected, but it is so difficult when all of the birds and animals share the same space.

It has been a very trying few months. Last November I finally thought we could escape Luxor. A British woman, converted to Islam, advertised for a job on her farm in Alexandria. We lasted a month before returning to Luxor. Lovely place, but terrible working environment, and completely lacking in integrity. But I did do much personal healing while we were there and so it was  not wasted. All we did waste was a lot of time, energy and money! It was a very emotionally challenging month. DSCN9659

When we returned, we found that our animals, who were supposed to be looked after by Omar’s brothers, were as thin as rakes. Even the bull looked more like a calf again. MIL had taken over the hen house, even though I had given the care of the birds to one of the other women, and it was in a state. We quickly put it back into shape and fed the poor birds. None of them were laying because nobody fed them properly. I bought a large bag of feed and within two weeks they were all laying.

Omar sold two of our sheep and bought a new ewe with her twin lambs. Within a month they both had died. We had no idea why, until the second one was dying. They were riddled with fleas, which were just sucking the life out of them. We tried to save the second one but it succumbed. We had to dip all of the remaining sheep and spray the pen. Then Ginger, my sheep with the lovely wool, gave birth to Paschal, on Easter Sunday. He is the spitting image of his mum, and the first ‘boy’ that we’ve had since we got the sheep.

2015-04-05 14.53.56But then we noticed that he was scratching. More de-flea-ing, but we had to be so careful as he was less than a week old. We got rid of those and three days later he had even more. So all of the animals had to come out, while we turned the place out and burned everything. Then we discovered the bull going nuts, scratching! Lice! Once again we had to race to the vet to get an injection. Omar had sold the cow, bought a bull, changed his mind and bought another cow instead. She brought lice with her; just as the two lambs had brought the fleas! It was getting a little crazy! All of the chickens had already died, plus one of my young geese; then the Muscovy ducks were ill and one of those died. Next it was the turkey’s turn. Having treated them for Cholera they developed a Vit. B deficiency! It was one thing after another! Then we discovered, that although the other young goose had managed to survive the cholera, she was blind! So she has to be taken more care of and we have to make sure that she gets enough food and water.

However, in the midst of all this chaos, our Muscovy hen hatched lots of eggs, so we ended up with more Muscovy and, Pekin  ducklings, plus 5 chicks. 2015-03-03 12.48.45They are all huge now and our first new chick from the latest hatching is now in the brooder. The Muscovy hen started laying again, but after two days we had to stop her being with the drake, as he tore her back to shreds. We put one hen’s egg underneath her, not thinking anything would come of it, but it hatched two days ago. In a few days hopefully we will get a few more ducklings to keep it company. It spends a lot of time sitting (put an ‘h’ in there and it would be more appropriate”) on my lap for now!!!

We have brought in the wheat harvest, which Omar’s brother planted, but harvested too early, and the onions have now been pulled. Omar is definitely the best one for the job. His wheat and onions were brilliant compared to this year. But his older brother thought he could do better; he has now changed his mind! But Omar has influenced the way that they think. They planted wheat in the sugarcane field too, so now even with the Gov., wheat shortages, we have enough wheat for the year.

We have stopped everyone from going into the garden as they kept taking all the tiny, pea-sized lemons from the tree. Everything is nabbed before it even ripens on the branches. So this year we are taking care of it and no-one has the key to the garden anymore. Everyone will get their fair share and no-one will go without. Plus, I am slowly convincing everyone that duck eggs are actually delicious! Two of them now eat them regularly! Small successes!!!

Although Omar did get bitten by a snake, while planting Okra in the dark, but that’s another story…

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Chicken Cholera

Our flock of chickens, ranging from between two months old to 6 months have contracted Chicken Cholera, again! This morning we lost 7 birds, including one point-of-lay pullet. We had been losing at least one a day for the past few days, but because these were mother’s chickens which had been badly fed since the beginning, and which is why she wanted us to take care of them, we thought it was just down to bad health. However, once a healthy pullet was stricken, I knew it was more serious.

DSCN9593I keep our pullets separate from the others, but as one has succumbed I’m not sure if the others will survive. This disease seems to be seasonal and can wipe out a whole flock with a couple of weeks. I hoped that only the weaker ones would die but when Prince, our lovely cockerel, was ill this morning, I knew it could potentially kill any of them.

Last week, while doing some healing on myself, I had an image pop into my head of a black crow cawing into the animal pen. I knew it meant death, but didn’t know of what! Now I know!

When we were able to keep the chickens in the garden, only a couple of them died. But now we have to keep them in the animal pen as the men don’t want the birds in the garden. For me it is the healthiest place for them, and with a little care it could be managed so that the hens didn’t eat new seeds or young plants. But, things don’t work like that here. Common sense is rare here!

So far, it is only our birds dying, none of mother’s or Eman’s. I don’t know why ours were susceptible and none of the others. Hopefully theirs will be OK. We feed ours better, take better care of them, but yet they are ill. Two of the brothers have bought new young rams recently, which are now in with ours, and they might have been around other birds in their previous home. All the chickens run around the animals so if an animal is carrying anything on their feet, they then bring it into our pen. Its the only different thing that has happened recently!

But I decided that if none of the birds survive then I will not replace them until we have our own place and I can build them a house with a concrete, cleanable floor and proper outdoor runs. I will also see if they can be vaccinated. DSCN9563

The only good thing about this situation is that the women will not want to keep their birds with mine if it looks like they are just as susceptible there. That would save me a fortune and a whole lot of hassle!

In the meantime I will enjoy every egg that the hens produce and will eat it with immense gratitude. The sickness does not seem to have effected the ducks so hopefully they will be alright!

Here’s hoping…