Alledal has some new arrivals this week. The eggs I put into the incubators at the beginning of april to test fertility has started to hatch. It seems fertility is good. We have three new Gulankor [Yellow Duck] and one new Skånegås [Skane/Skania Goose] so far. I’ll get photos for you all as soon as they’re moved over into the brooders.
It’s great to have new life around the place and to help build up numbers of some of the more endangered Swedish poultry breeds. I’ve filled the empty incubator with eggs from my Ölandsk dvärghona [Oland Bantams] to see how their fertility is going and oi’ll let you know in around twenty one days how things turned out. It’s not just me that thinks it’s time to hatch out some eggs. Out in the orchard one of the female Skånegås has been sat brooding eggs for a couple of weeks now, so has one of the female yellow ducks. So with a little bit of luck and a fair wind we may yet have more new arrivals.
The weather here has been absolutely perfect. Hardly any rain for almost the last month. The hedgerows are now covered in blossom, so are the wild cherries and most of the top fruit too. I’ve also seen the first swallow this week. It’s ten days earlier than last year, maybe global warming is bringing them back sooner I don’t know, but I am glad to see them here. Their frenetic antics above Alledal are always a joy.
The air has a scent right now, its sometimes subtle sometimes quite overpowering, a kind of honey with a hint of spice. I can’t tell you what it is, though I believe it to be tree pollen. Certainly the bees are going crazy right now. They not only have all the top fruit and hedgerow blossom to work, but the sycamore and horse chestnut are now starting to flower and if you stand beneath them you cam literally here the gentle hum of the honey bee. It’s a great sound occasionally punctuated by the deeper note of the bumblebees. It means that there is plenty for the bees to work, which means a good increase in numbers. This also means that in a few weeks I should be able to perform an artificial swarm and divide the hives. I just need for them to get to the point of producing queen cells. At this rate of growth though it shouldn’t be long.
Steph and I took a drive out to the coast yesterday. It’s easy to forget that in Skåne you are never very far from the sea. We went out to Landskrona, a nice little coastal town and spent a few pleasant hours just browsing and enjoying the sea air.
The vegetable bed in now completed and ready for us to start planting out seeds, over the last couple of weeks It’s been weeded and dug over them I put the Mantis tiller over it till the soil is beautifully crumbly. The Mantis is one of those pieces of labour saving machinery that I really wouldn’t like to be without. It may be just a small lightweight rotovator and definitely not something you’d choose it you’re wanting to break up virgin ground, but for jobs like preparing seed beds it is ideal. It is mall enough to get between rows of plants without damaging them and it’s lightweight means that it doesn’t need you to be a colossus to use it. The big rotovator is great but I do have to fight it as it tries to drag me around the garden. I don’t have that to contend with when I use the Mantis.
I know that some of you out there are familiar with Kiva the site that allows individuals to contribute to loans made to entrepreneurs in developing parts of the world. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, I strongly recommend checking it out. It's an interesting site, and a fun way to help out people around the globe.
I got introduced to Kiva in 2008 when Steph ‘bought’ me $100 worth as an anniversary present and since then I’ve been hooked. This month with the repayments of some previous loans I’ve just added my eleventh and I’m quite pleased with that milestone. I have to say that it became apparent this month that one of my loans was also defaulting, but no one ever said this was without risk. I also have to emphasise that this is an exception; the payback rate for these loans is phenomenal as these entrepreneurs take great pride in living up to their promises. Risks aside, it is probably one of the few ways where you and I can actually make a difference in a specific individuals life and that of their family.
Kiva isn't a hand out; it's a hand up – the loans are expected to be repaid and we donors are encouraged to then take the repayments and lend them out again to another borrower. The Kiva web site www.kiva.org reports one loan every 23 seconds! It's such a simple idea, such a fantastic idea that we all probably wonder why it wasn't thought of before. Let's not worry about that, let's start truly making the world a little better one person at a time.
My latest loan is to Ulugbek Sanjarov from Somgor in Tajikistan. He wanted to buy 20 goats to expand his livestock business. He works on a collective farm, but also to care for his family he raises livestock – goats. As an owner and a great admirer of goats, I knew this was the one for me.
A big challenge with Kiva right now — and I admit that it's a nice challenge to be facing — is actually finding new loans to fund. With the changes to the repayment system the release of funds has allowed lenders to be more generous meaning that that loans are being funded almost as quickly as they're being added. This means that to contribute, it's often necessary to regularly check the site and jump on a loan as soon as you spot it. Otherwise, it's liable to be fully funded. But like I said, that's a nice challenge to face.
My goal is that with my seed money and repayments from current loans to be able to help fund around six loans a year. That’s six families who have the chance to lift themselves out of poverty. I saw a wonderful video included in a Kiva Newsletter about an entrepreneur in Nepal. She has used microfinance to help herself and her family several times. The first loan was used to dig a well, the well meant she could grow and sell vegetables, the second loan was for a cow, the cow gave milk for her family and a little extra to sell, the manure made the vegetables grow better, her latest loan is for a system that turns manure into methane this reducing the need for charcoal for fuel. This enterprising woman is setting aside money to put her two children through university; these loans really do change lives.
I feel quite small in comparison. $25 dollars is really not a lot of money; I could easily spend it on a bottle of wine or just fripperies and never notice. With Kiva a $25 loan means so much more – go on people spread the love.