027: A house for birds


The "completed" house for birds

“Ba Chelsi!  There you are, you have come,” a stocky Zambian man standing among piles of wood greeted her.
“Yes, of course.  How are you?”
“I am fine.” Their hands clasped with a large pop, “how are you?”
“I am fine, this is my friend Ginny,” she said motioning to the tall blond woman in a blue shirt beside her.
“Hi,” Ginny extended her hand. 
“So, how is the house coming along?” Something like a box sat between her and the carpenter.  The cluster of pressboard and 2”x2”s held together by a few nails sticking this way and that stood three feet tall, two feet wide and another three feet long. 
“It’s very good madam.”
“Is this the roof we talked about when we changed the design?” a half-a-dozen paired twos jutted up to create the skeleton of an A-frame roof.  “And are you going to be able to cover it with the press board like in the original design?”
“We have used up all the materials and I have used all the money.  There isn’t anything left to cover the roof.”
“That’s why when we turned the house on its side we were just going to put a flat slanted roof across the top, like people do with iron sheets.”
“But no madam, in the picture you drew it has this kind of roof.” He began removing a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.
“I know what I drew, but we talked about changing.” Chelsi could tell now that he had simply forgot they had talked out changing the style of roof, even though it had just been two days ago.
“If you give me more money for materials, I can change it the way you want.” She looked at the pointed roof.  Covering it was not a huge deal.
“Maybe I will just put thatch on it when I get it to the village.”
“You want to put grass on the roof? Ah, but that won’t be good.”
“No, it’ll be fine. My house has thatch.  This way my house and the bird house will match.”  The other carpenters and loitering men who had gathered around began to chuckle. “Or I’ll just get an iron sheet for it.”
“Yes,” her carpenter agreed, “I think that will be better.” Her only other concern for it now was its sheer size. This will never fit in a regular taxi cab to get it back to the prov house.
“How does it look Ginny?” Chelsi asked turning to her friend.
Ginny rubbed her hand gently along the rough cuts of wood that was the roof. “It looks like doll-house.  Like, when I was a kid I could on play in this for hours.” She knelt down getting a closer look at the bare interior. 
“You think the birds will like it?”
Ginny smiled, straightening herself up. “Yes, yes I think they’ll like it.”
“Just the roof… I’ll take care of it later. How much more time do you think you need to finish it up? I want to know when I need to arrange a car to pick, because the taxi’s are expensive and I can only afford to bring one here once.”
“Two more days I think.”
“Okay, You still need to finish up framing the doors,” four, separated, compartments 12”x18”x12” sat atop four compartments of identical size.  The outward side of each compartment was a hinged door.  And at the moment some were just press board flaps leaving large gaps in the walls. “and putting on the landing stage for the lower level of pop holes; the little holes that the birds come in and out.”
“Alright madam.”
Chelsi gave it another look over.  The quality was not the highest but it would serve its purpose.  “And I’ll be back the day after tomorrow to pick it.  Probably around 17 hours so you have all the day to work on it. Okay?”
“Alright madam.”
Tukamonaangana.” He smiled and Chelsi and Ginny parted the way through the other men standing around, heading towards the tarmac. 
“So you’re going to use the house to keep pigeons?”
“That’s the plan.  I’m trying to convince a few other volunteers to keep some so we can send messages to each other.”
Ginny laughed with her big beautiful smile, “How do you do that?”
“After you get your birds, starting with six to eight and you home them, by penning them up in their new home for three to four weeks, you can then trade them with other people who keep doves, as Zambians call them, and the bird will fly back to where it’s been homed… I think Oliver in Mwinilunga and Rachel in Ichilange are going to get some too.” They stepped delicately through the mud that was the road.  The full force of rainy season had not begun yet but the city with trying to regrade some of the roads in a rush before it began and did this for this road by turning it to mud then rolling, rolling, rolling over it. 
“Okay, well that sounds fun. Where can you get doves, are they like the white ones?”
“No, doves and pigeon really are the same. So even that bird would do if you could catch it.” Chelsi pointed to a white and blue mottled bird perch on the iron sheets of the hardware and welding shops surrounding them.  “But a lot of Zambians keep them too; mostly as pets, weirdly enough. If you look around you’ll see what looks like iron sheets just stacked all on top of each other on roofs’ of houses. Those are their dove houses. And they don’t eat them, collect eggs from them; they’re just kind of there. I know a few people I was going to ask.”
“But you can eat them?”
“Yeah, the babies just before they start to fly.  In fancy restaurants in the States they call it squab.  And you can collect eggs from them.  I’ve read there about half the size of chicken eggs.  Which is impressive if you ask me considering their size.  But that’s why I have the door on the side that open. So I can get in and out of the compartments easier and manage them.”
“That’s sounds really cool, you’ll have to keep me updated on how it works out.”
“Of course!” Chelsi smiled.
“Do you want to go to Shoprite?” Ginny asked as they pulled themselves out of the last bit of mud and on to the tarmac.

Categories: Adventure, DIY, Food & Recipes, Mystery | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “027: A house for birds

  1. Jean Thomas

    Love to see your posts. I’m at home on a Thursday. Celebrating our son’s 25th birthday! (When he gets out of bed!) The Capital Christmas lighting was yesterday – in drizzle and fog. It’s a different world than where you are, huh? Lots of Love, Jean Thomas


  2. Amanda

    Hey Chelsi!

    Squab is gross haha but that’s nuts that Zambians eat mice and not pigeons or their eggs. It sounds like you are finally doing some cool stuff there! I hope Daisy is doing well!

    I spoke to your brother the other day and he told me about Mandy 😦 I am very sorry to hear about it. Your mother is going to spoil Daisy so much now!

    Things here are good, next week is finals which sucks and I seem to be spending a lot more time in the Royal Oak and Novi area for school for study groups and class get togethers. Which is good overall just more driving than I want to do!

    I miss you!


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