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…

Crazymakers.

2014-04-03 17.22.35Yesterday we got back our sack of freshly ground wheat, which I had cleaned the day before for the mill. It was lovely and fine and the miller was impressed with how clean it was. (I’ll write that process up in another blog). I should have felt overjoyed, after all Omar grew the wheat, harvested it by hand, and brought back more bags than all of his neighbours. But I felt completely flat! I had no sense of achievement, or pleasure in eating something baked by flour we had grown and processed ourselves.

Back in England, after spending a full day in the garden growing veges, with my friend Chris, I would go to bed at night feeling absolutely and completely satisfied. The feeling came from the knowledge that we were taking care of some of our nutritional needs, rather than depending on the supermarkets. Growing food gives me a feeling which no other activity on earth gives me. It is completely satisfying and nourishing to my soul. DSC_1674The fact that the work in the garden went hand in hand with the knowledge that we were creating an energy-space made a huge difference too. Every plant had its purpose, and was important to the over-all energy.

Here, I never get that feeling. The men grow things, not the women. The men will grow stuff for the women, but they can choose to remove it if they want to grow something else, and the women have no choice about it.

But that is only half of the problem. I spent all night, and most of this morning, thinking about why I feel so dead inside, when we have produced our own food. Some of it is because I personally have not grown it, and have no real part in it, except for financial, and doing the energywork in the field. I have not had the pleasure of planting the seed and nurturing it to maturity, then of the harvest.

The biggest part of it though, I realised, the part that is really important, is that it is not safe to enjoy, or take pride, in anything here. My time here has shown me, that to achieve anything good means to incur the jealousy and envy of everyone. People here are afraid to be proud of themselves, to pat themselves on the back, or to enjoy anything, because they are constantly having to protect what they have created from other people’s bad eyes, or atrocious behaviour! People with money lie about it, and pretend to be poor, because to show you have money means there is someone who is willing to take it away from you, by force if necessary!

DSCN9566I noticed too, that once they started eating the ducks, which we had raised, that I cut off from them to an extent. I stopped enjoying their play in the water. I used to watch them for ages. Now I feed them and fill their bath but cannot afford to enjoy them, because I know that they won’t be with us for long.

This ‘emotional cutting off’ thing started when I was a young teenager growing up in an equally abusive environment in southern Spain in the 70’s. The Spanish people were so abusive to animals, and to each other, that as a young girl I found it impossible to understand it. I was abused too for those two years, so between the abusive boys, and the animals, my only protection was to cut off my emotionally. Every time I did open up and love an animal I lost it, which caused even more pain. The same thing applied to relationships!

Living here in Luxor is like re-living my childhood in Spain, only this time I try to change it and heal it. I knew that coming here would open up old wounds but it is difficult to heal those wounds when people are behaving the same way as they did in my youth! I still find the behaviour hard to manage emotionally, but I try to change it and fight in a way that I couldn’t when I was young. But I cannot change the beliefs of an entire society!

Life here could be so much better if people enjoyed each other’s successes instead of trying to destroy them!

Where is Nature Gone?

One of the things I feel the most disconnected from here in Luxor is nature!  I know that might seem a little strange to some, who see the beautiful pictures of sugar cane fields and palm trees hugging the Nile, but actually living here is a very different story.

Palm Grove.

Palm Grove.

Having moved from England, where I was in nature a lot, this life here feels so disconnected from it. All of my life I have spent in nature. Growing up in ireland and being surrounded by fields and woods, then Spain where I spent most days either in water or horse riding or roaming the fields, not always with positive outcomes, but that’s a different story! Even moving to England I was again surrounded by green fields and large woods. And water, my most favourite element.

When I began really connecting to nature, and the elemental energy within it, my awareness that my body and consciousness were part of the energetic matrix of Life within the natural world expanded. I knew myself to be in a relationship with nature and that is where I felt the most comfortable. Doing my earthwork over the past 13 years and being part of the natural world made me feel healthy and whole, even though I was still healing myself of all of my pasts. Over the years I have moved ever deeper into the consciousness of nature, and the elemental energies which keep it growing abundantly. I learned why certain areas were not growing abundantly and how to change it energetically. I also learned how our ancestors understood, and worked with, the cycles of nature to create abundance for themselves. They too had a good relationship with their surroundings. They understood the necessity of creating harmony within that relationship if they wanted to survive well. They understood the vagaries of nature and respected it. Although this has changed immensely over the past few thousand years people are realising that in order to survive they need to move back into that awareness again. Many of the problems with nature is the people in it!

Seti the First Temple in Gourna.

Seti the First Temple in Gourna.

So having grown up, surrounded by nature and the Elementals, and now living in the desert, I find it it is a very different experience. We live on reclaimed desert but which was once ancient graveyards, going back to the Naqada period (6.000 years). A few hundred yards away lies the Temple of Seti the First, which was once beautiful and surrounded by nature, but is now a barren tourist destination. We are surrounded by an ever-growing community of people whose only desire is to live the modern life depicted on TV, and promised by the money brought by tourists. Older, mud-brick houses are replaced by concrete and steel buildings and people are becoming more and more disconnected from the land. In order for these buildings to be built they tear down the trees, which grow around their houses. Palm and fruit trees only grow around the mud-brick houses but disappear as soon as another son needs to build a house because he wants to get married. Slowly the nature is disappearing and being replaced by tall, unfinished buildings with satelite dishes on top and the noisy hum of air-conditioning units. You can’t live in a concrete and steel building here without one!

The disconnection from nature is palpable. As a foreigner here, having grown up in greener Nature, this disconnection is very difficult to manage. I yearn for a small house, surrounded by garden and lots of trees. Although we are lucky here to have a garden I rarely go into it as it is always filled with kids or adults and I really want to be able to just sit under the olive tree and ‘commune’! There is no concept here of ‘personal space’!

The Nile at Night.

The Nile at Night.

It feels here like the prevailing energy is always ‘tense’.  There is no sense of ‘ease’ here, even if people spend most of their time sleeping, especially in the hot summer months. I have spent the past two years crossing the Nile, back and forth, from East bank to West bank, but only once actually ‘felt’ the water. The first time we were sitting on the ferry waiting for it to move away, and I suddenly heard the lapping of the water at the edge of the bank. It was such a quiet, soft sound and my entire body relaxed into it. It was the first time in nearly two years that I had felt this and i wondered why it just never seemed possible to connect with the river in this way any more. The people here are constantly thinking of survival and the pursuit of money. The enjoyment of nature is just never considered. They live on nature, not within it.

The farmers, who spend a lot time in the fields, have a closer connection but this too is about money. They think of the land as a product, rather than as something to be nurtured by and enjoyed. They spend more time fighting over it, selling the topsoil for cash, yelling about field boundaries, but not a lot of time actually relishing the miracle of the life they are nurturing as they grow the food for their families. But again it all comes down to survival.

One of the most satistfying feelings i have ever felt was the tiredness at the end of a day spent growing my food in my garden. Knowing that I was taking care of myself and my kids, foodwise. It was a feeling of utter completion and joy, and I never get that feeling with anything else that I do.  I miss that connection. I miss life. And as I write this I am hearing three men’s voices, arguing and shouting, about God-only knows what this time. It is a constantly stressful place to be and maybe that is why there are so many stroke-victims here. Virtually one a week. Cancer and stroke, the two big killers.

2013-07-05 16.57.35 (2)

If you cannot connect with Nature then you are also not connected to your own body. I feel like the energy in my body is depleted. It is starved of life. Living this way is a trap with very little hope for a way out. That is how most people exist here. Cut off from their feelings, their experience and from life. It takes such a long time to move out of this that people often just don’t bother any more. They live in a tiny fishbowl of envy and petty jealousies. They are always on edge. Life is hard but it could be a lot easier, if they only changed their minds and listened to newer ideas and ways of doing things.

But I guess that is why we are in the middle of revolutions. Because people need to be pushed to their limit before they know that change is necessary. And I hope, that when the change really comes that people will reconnect to their land in a positive way and not continue skimming across it as if it were ice.

I can only hope…