The years 2016 to 2017 will probably remain in all our minds as the years of the worst drought in living memory. All of East
Africa was hit by this calamity with Kenya Coast one of the particular severely affected regions. Thousands of livestock died,
many communities thereby lost their livelihoods and entire source of income. So actually we should not complain.
Our strategic forage reserves in form of 9 x 120m3 underground
round silo pits got us through the worst, but in this process got
totally depleted to the point that less than quarter of one hole was
left by the time it finally started to rain. By May 2017 we had 9
empty pits and hardly any regrowth of fresh grass due to very
much delayed and under average long rains. In all our previous
existence we never had to fill more than 4 holes at a go, actually
per season. Sometimes holes were stored for up to a decade as we
didn’t require them for dry season feeding.
In all our 30 years we never had NO SILAGE at all!
And then came the worms. Named “Fall Army Worm” they had arrived
in West Africa from America a couple of years ago and had now finally
completed their journey to the East Coast of Africa. As they couldn’t
move on any further to the east (unlike the lemmings they were most
definitely not suicidal) and more and more kept arriving from the
west, they got kind of congested our side. Whatever we tried to
harvest most likely they got to it first, leaving nothing but blank soil
and empty plant stalks in their wake.
As a consequence we spend the next year and a half with
trying to restore and adding to our silage reserves. Digging
and building more pits, sourcing grass and whatever other
feed-able materials we could find from close and far, made
silage like crazy, invested every last cent of our money and
last minute of our time into this endeavor.
By the end of 2018 we had succeeded to make a total of 18
pits @ 120m3 each, all filled with silage of varying qualities.
All that is left to see now and daily reminds us of those dreadful
times are hundreds of skeletons of our beautiful trees, so many
Mango trees, Cashew nut trees, Casuarinas and many others that
didn’t survive. Coconuts our side have one sole survivor left.
What a great tragedy!
Now we are busy replanting trees and the grass is busy to grow.
What happened next is a story for another day, but the
most important is that now the rain is back and so am I.
Sorry to all our faithful readers for this long lap in time.