Progress, predators, power on ‘Ati mountain’

Nearly finished chicken coop on Ati mountain

Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Ellen

I was back up on ‘Ati mountain’ today, after a few days dealing with physical/health issues.

Progress on Ati mountain

It was good to see the nearly completed hen house and familiar faces of the indigenous Filipino tribe members: Chief Ernesto, Nilo, Garry, Michael, Jové, Gilda.

They immediately asked about the chicken drinking water system. At this point, it’s the last real work that needs to be done. Last week we discussed some ideas, but since I’ve been M.I.A., now some concern.

No worries. I have 50 new ‘drinking nozzles’ – special ordered from Kalibo, the provincial capital – that will be attached to PVC piping running the length of the chicken coop. That is in addition to the 25 to 30 nozzles that we can salvage from the typhoon wreckage of the old structure. In coming days, we will design, test and install the ‘watering’ system. 

Plastic nozzles to distribute water in the chicken coop being rebuilt by Earth Vagabonds and donors on Ati mountain.

Predator prevention

The hens will arrive in two weeks, barring COVID-19 delays. 

The (greatly) reduced work crew has now put the finishing touches on the building: bird enclosures, hinged doors, septic tank and cover, and most of the predator protection netting.

Indeed, the topic of predators has become a standing joke. But I am truly freaked out by the thought of nocturnal, reticulated, python snakes measuring up to 20 feet in length, native to these parts. The Visayan leopard cat is supposedly another ‘chicken killer’. Crazy as it seems, the hen house will be completely wrapped in protective poly-netting when finished. 

Further, the small trees, brush, and even grasses surrounding the hen house have been yanked out and burned to discourage the snakes. I doubt ‘Landscape Sam’ (one of our generous donors) would approve. I’ve expressed concern about water runoff and erosion. The answer: low grasses will regrow quickly. Also, I like to joke about one of my favorite nearby Ati grandmothers wielding a macheté as security.

Left, burned foliage in front of the chicken coop on Ati mountain; right, netting to prevent snakes from attacking chickens.

Electric excitement

The other current development – electrification. Imagine living in 2020 without electricity! That is the reality for the Ati who reside in the mountainous hills away from the main roads and neighborhoods here in Malay, Aklan on Panay Island.

After overseeing the hanging of a one kilometer ‘main line’ up to the cluster of nipa houses near the hen house project, tribal leaders were OK’d by the local power company to prepare the small homes for electric service hook-up. During the remainder of this week, the handful of the Ati carpenters will install basic wiring: fuse, outlet, switch, light in each unit – like those shown below (and the hen house) — about 20 in total.

Homes on Ati mountain constructed of leaves, wood slats, some metal sheeting, that will get electricity hooked up in the coming months.

We expect the materials/labor cost to be under $20 per home. And the Ati people are excited at the power prospect. Hopefully, the electric company will follow through promptly.

Electric service will also enable the next Ati community upgrade: a planned electric water pump to send drinking water from the village spring up to a holding tank/tower for easy community access.

Fingers crossed…

I’m almost afraid of jinxing these plans on Ati mountain by mentioning them. But thanks to our financial contributors, we are committed to push ahead. In addition, as we move into August, rainy weather and storms are more likely a factor. So NOW is the time to make haste and progress.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

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