Jackie Goes to Farm

I went to farm today! I actually went to farm. I am pretty proud of myself.

I hiked into town this morning carrying only a 1.5L bottle of water and a Clif Bar (thanks Dad!). I met Yahya at the Muslim center of town, a big grass hut. From there we set off to his farm. We ran into some farmers I knew and they were all joking that I was going to farm. They asked me to come weed their farms too. I don’t think this large group of Muslim farmers has ever seen a white lady go to farm with a Muslim man. I am sure they were pretty shocked, hence the joking. They all told me I would get good exercise today. They weren’t lying.

So Yahya and I continue on to his farm. We walk out of town and no kidding, the second we hit the bush the temperature changed. It instantly got cooler. Probably a good 10 degrees, it was incredible. We walked down a long dirt road past acres and acres of cashew farms. This area is incredibly lush and beautiful. We continue walking and make it to a cashew farm, we take a shortcut through the farm. I know why Ghanaians are short now, so they don’t have to duck under the cashew trees when they take shortcuts. We keep walking and we pass by one of my favorite farmer’s farm – Haad. His farm looks great and his trees have a good yield. We pass by his farm hut (he isn’t there today) and keep going. And going. And going. Finally we make it to Yahya’s farm. He shows me his chickens and the one tree that has pests. Yahya pulls a stick out of the tree and this nasty ooze comes pouring out – stembore. Evil little beetles. There is not a lot of cashew on the ground so we move on to cassava.

On the way to the cassava we pass by two of Yahya’s cashew trees. The nuts on that tree were MASSIVE. The size of my palm. I have never seen cashews so big. It is a special species. We continue on to the cassava farm. Yahya starts to harvest some cassava and I watch him hack and dig at those little tubers. Yahya then goes and starts a fire, I was really confused. He comes back and starts weeding. I have a cutlass, so I weed too. I do a damn good job of it, if I say so. I hack and slash away at those pesky weeds. Yahya is back over at the fire. He walks towards me with an oil container, time to fetch water.

So we trapeze through the jungle in search of the water. I use my machete to clear some brush so I can get by. We run into another farmer. We chat with him then descend down a steep hill and BAM. Out of nowhere this gorgeous stream. The area around the stream was a lush jungle. It looked like somewhere they would drop Bear Grylls off at. It was simply spectacular. Back up the hill and back to the farm. We use the water to boil some yams we just harvested. Mmmmm, river water boiled yams. Tasty. They actually were.

Yahya shows me how to plant cassava, so I take a cutlass and start planting cassava all over his farm. Pretty damn easy actually, you stick a stick in the ground. Done. But still, that totally counts as farming. It was exhausting. After that we ate the yams and headed back to town. Farming complete. We were at the farm for probably 1 hour, tops. On the way back to town we come across a fallen banana tree, aka bananas are done! These bananas are unlike any banana you get in the states. They are super thick and stringy. They are pretty tasty though. So we hack the bananas off and carry them back with us. We pass by lots of women just now coming to farm. Why on earth would they come at the heat of the day, heaven knows. They are all extremely shocked and excited to see a white woman coming from farm complete with cutlass in hand. It was like seeing an alien climb out of a cashew tree. We finally make it back to town. Yahya gives me the bananas, yay!!!

We part ways and I still have another 30 minute walk home. I get lost in my own damn town, but only partially, I come out pretty close to where I wanted to be. I drop by the office. I get a few more shocked faces when I tell everyone I am coming from farm. Okay, the look on Cynthia’s face was pretty priceless. I poop out and take a break at the office. I weigh myself on the cashew scales, which is always fun to do. I have lost 10lbs since coming to Ghana. So I am only up 5lbs from when I started my let’s-eat-everything-in-sight-for-two-months diet. I think I lost 5lbs just this past week. I haven’t been able to stomach more than one meal a day. Anything more and I about vomit.

Anyway, so the Chairman, this random Ivory Coast guy, the Co-op guy and myself all start talking about quality and we actually do cashew quality tests. It was incredibly random, especially after just coming from farm. I finally leave and head home. The walk home was wonderful. I kept day dreaming about how wonderful my upcoming shower was going to be. I have never enjoyed a shower quite so much. I was filthy. I had a ridiculous amount of dirt on me. And here is proof:

Before:

IMG_3555

After:

IMG_3558

All in all, I walked for 1.5 hours to farm and 1.5 hours back. At Yahya’s pace that’s probably about 4.5 to 5 miles per hour. So do the math, I walked probably over 10 miles today. Factor in the actual physical labor. And now throw in a dash of 30 minutes walking with a 10lbs bunch of bananas. And what do we get? A ridiculous amount of calories burned today. It was a great workout. Exhausting. Hot. Dirty. But totally worth it. 

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