The goat project and more

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Laos
Tags: , ,
Hangin' out with the goats

Some well-traveled goats having lunch

We realized we haven’t told you much about the organisation we’re working with, so here’s some more info:

The hub of the development project in Vang Vieng is an organic farm, founded to teach the local farmers that slash ‘n burn and pesticides are not necessary to achieve a healthy, sustainable way of living. The farm was founded in 1996 and has since been expanded, after which the campaign to introduce other farmers to the techniques and principles has started. This entails embedded teaching -the farmers come and work on the organic farm to learn- and supplying them with the resources necessary to start using organic methods for themselves. If you want to know more about this specific farm than we can reproduce in this blog, visit their website.

One of the development initiatives started by the organic farm in Vang Vieng is a dairy goat project. As goats are less picky where it comes to food, and generally more resistant to disease than cattle, they are easier to keep and maintain.

For this reason, the organic farm has an initiative which involves distributing dairy goats to farmers in the area. The farmers receive the goats free of charge, but on the condition that once the goats start breeding, an equal amount of goat -measured in kilos- is given in return so those can be distributed to other interested farmers. This way, an addition to both the diet (goat milk, cheese and meat) and income from these products is created without a prior investment. This makes it attainable for even the poorest of the locals.
The first of these dairy goats were imported into the country from France by plane, after which they traveled another 150 km by car, making them the most well-traveled goats on the planet.
Besides the goat project, similar initiatives are being developed to try and reinstate the classic Lao silk fabrication, which has dwindled under the pressure of Chinese fake silk and cotton alternatives. Nonetheless, it has the potential to add to family incomes, as the influx of tourists has created a demand for authentic products. Now, all but forgotten techniques are being rediscovered and modernised.

Oinks!!

Being a farm, the reproduction of life is what it’s all about. Nonetheless, the birth of 6 piglets on the 5th came as a surprise, as the sow in question was not supposed to be pregnant. Thoughts of an immaculate conception arose, but were quickly disregarded when the sow ‘showed’ the way she escaped from her pen. Presumably, she had done this before and then gotten herself knocked up a bit. The result is some pinkish, some spotted and a black piglet, all very cute for the time being.

Escaping seems to be the big thing among the farm animals this week, we’ve already had to catch a goat in the garden yesterday morning, and last night we found a goat enjoying itself in the stable hallway. They’re not very difficult to get back in their pens, but it’s quite clear to us that the pens can use some more attention to get them escape proof.

This weekend we’ll be moving to the new farm, where we’ll be able to distribute the books we’ve collected and help out building the school/community center. Devie’s quite excited to move out of the House of Spiders, as the mud house seems to be their local hangout. Poor Jasper gets to chase them out at all hours of the night, even though they do keep the mosquitoes out.

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