Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Timor Corn Husker

What these? a new fishing hook? No! Corn huskers ofcourse.

Have you ever needed to husk corn by hand? In the good old days, when farmers were heroes, they moved down the rows of corn, opened up the sheath (those leaves around the cob) and picked out the cob and threw it into a cart pulled along by a horse. There were a number of different tools to help farmers open the sheath and some of them were strapped to the wrist. The typical husker is made of a leather strap and tough sheet metal. We don't have that sort of raw material and skills here so I've fashioned a simple hook made of 5mm reo bar which is very common here. 
The trick is in the bending to get it to fit right. 

Then we made a simple cloth strap with velcro at the end (because we could, you could just tie it, buckle or whatever).

After a couple of turns the hook is placed on the wrist, the strap is wrapped around 3-4 times after this to hold it on well.


The fine women at Bele Kria cutting and sewing up 150 straps for corn huskers.

 Thanks to Seeds of Life, they bought 150 of these and yesterday we handed them out to lead farmers of commercial seed producing associations. We are hoping they can test them on farm and give us feedback if they work on not.
The idea for the hook came from testing last year with Lino, the corn farmer. He said that when they looked at my prototype last year (it didn't work) they decided they'd take the concept but just take a nail into the field. Then we tried bending a long nail but switched to reo for length and ease of bending. In fact coming up with new ideas takes about 3 years - 1st year to identify the problem, 2nd year testing prototypes, 3rd year delivering the final concept. Now I realise it probably takes another 3 years to scale up and get into the market place.

O, and farmers are still my heroes, its a tough game out there in the paddock especially during El Nino on the western side of the Pacific. Next time you eat, thank God for the farmers who grew your food.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcome 2016!

We’re back in Timor-Leste after a small Christmas break in Australia. We’ve had a few days off at home here in TL to think about what is in store for 2016.

  The tribe of 6

I would like to be more disciplined this year. I’d like to spend more time each morning praying and reading the Bible. I’m even getting into Google Calendar and trying to set up a schedule. Let’s see how long that lasts. I’m a believer in setting new year’s resolutions. I think they should be challenging but achievable. In 2015 one resolution I had was to read through the New Testament in the year and I got to the last chapter on December 31. Resolutions add a bit of sparkle to your life.
I’d also like to encourage others more so I’ve taken the concept of mentoring more seriously. That is, to consciously get alongside people and encourage them in their life or be there for them if they need someone to listen to. This year I’ll set out to mentor 4 men – 2 Timorese and 2 Australians. I don’t specifically tell them so you can try to figure out if it’s you.
Lastly, something else for this year is actively supporting local pastors here in Timor-Leste with financial support. I don’t really know where this is going but I think it is something that rich Christians from developed countries should do.
That’s some things in my personal life. Out there in the world I’ve got a whole mayhem of activity that slides along more or less in and out of control. The agriculture project, Seeds of Life, will come to an end so I hope to have passed on some ag research skills as well as a functional weather station network. Hopefully the training centre will be built and up and running. I hope to make some real progress on getting the Salvation Army to come to Timor-Leste. And, we will be shifting back to Australia sometime around August to live there.
2016 will be a big year for us, so I’d better leave this blog and get stuck into it!