Friday, May 18, 2012

The Corn Mill


I have been working with Lino and Atina in Los Palos to build up a small agriculture business.  This is mainly centred around the growing, storing and selling of corn.  On the side, Lino asked about getting a corn mill.  Its a grinding machine that breaks up the corn into crumbs (not flour) for the villagers to make a soupy, porridge type meal.  He says that people will pay about $1 to have 10kg of corn milled.  The mill itself costs $680.  I didn’t do much on the business analysis side except to ask how many people would come each day to get corn milled and I think we had it worked out.  Lino was pretty keen to get the machine and somehow I just went with it – probably because he was brave enough to try my idea of buying a silo for the corn.  Thanks to the boys in Darwin for some of the start up funds for the mill.  Its a Chinese machine with a crank handle to get it going.  The motor (blue part) is a diesel and the guy in the shop couldn’t get it going for the first hour because the pump mechanism was stuck.  He drained the oil and pulled off a side plate to make some adjustments so when the video shows the motor going we were all actually pretty relieved.  IMGP0015The motor drives a flat belt which drives the mill (yellow part).
As I couldn’t take it to Los Palos, Lino arranged to come into Dili to put it onto the back of a bus.  For Atina, it was only the third time in her life to come down into the “big smoke” of Dili.  The second time for her was at the start of this year when they came to our place for a church conference.  Although she got very sick on the bus (vomitted a few times) she really wanted to make the 8 hour journey to see Dili.  She is a few months pregnant now so this may be her last chance for a year or two.  The machine is not exceedingly heavy but there was a fork lift IMGP0054nearby so we made use of it.  They tied it up well and Lino says he got it home ok.  We also bought a set of scales – very archaic (think ancient Egypt), a shovel and a scythe for their business.  He brought us a sack of corn from the first crop for our chickens. 

Seeds of Life have researched a new white corn for the Ministry of Agriculture to release to the people.  It is about to be launched so I decided to buy some early and hope to get it to Lino to plant soon.  It will be harvested in 4 months and be ready to sell as seed for the next wet season (begins November) so we hope to get a good price for it as it will be the first season that most farmers get to plant it.  This is all part of the game of trying to guess the future market.  We’ll see how it goes.  
Some other pics…
WEC wanted to film their dance class on the beach, so they asked if they could run an extension lead from Sonrei to power the music and some spotlights.  Cynthia and the kids enjoyed watching the free concert, so did a number of young guys on their way home along the beachfront.
Cynthia Hosted the most recent homeschooling afternoon.  She had a new family come along making 10 kids all up.  Here they are creating a marble race track using found materials! What fun!
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Some sea activity…  A large army “boat” zoomed along the coast…37-IMGP0004

 17-DSCF3822And on Wed Anen, one of our neighbours ran to ask me if “they” could borrow our boat to go and fetch another neighbour, Gomez.  He had gone fishing way out at the horizon in a larger dugout with his small motor.  Apparently the motor broke down, so he had been attempting to paddle back but it was getting dark and they were worried about him.  He made it back fine.

Another load of boxes arrived through Rotary (From our home town -the Lower Clarence area of northern NSW.  The girls had fun opening all the fabric boxes and going through each and every piece to appoint its future use.  The boxes also contained a huge number of fabric inserts lovingly made by some sweet women in Oz.  Most went straight into packaging ready to be distributed.
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HIAM Health invited us to attend an important ceremony.  Ramos Horta agreed to become their patron.  It was great to see Laura and Nathalia who were both vollunteering back in 2004 when we first met HIAM Health.
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Samuel attended a Grand opening ceremony of a new Ag centre.  He took the opportunity to grab a few pics of a traditonal dance.
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Samuel also met up with a Gideons group.
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