Diary of a Poultry farmer: Yippie! Diary turns two; look out for more

Saturday November 11 2017

Titus Kamau feeds his 50 layers in Elburgon.

Titus Kamau feeds his 50 layers in Elburgon. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SUBIRI OBWOGO
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Around this time last year, I gave readers a glimpse of what it was writing the diary.  

Today, as the diary turns two, I wish to share my reflections and plans and pay tribute to hundreds of fans who’ve kept in touch – through their feedback. 

I’ll start with a common question I get from readers. “What happens when you just can’t think of a topic to write about?” one asked me.  

Another related question was, “Do you struggle sometimes to come up with your story ideas?” 

My engagement with readers through this magazine over the last 24 months has taught me one thing, which is that they like stories about every day experiences on the farm.

In fact, some story ideas that appear trivial sometimes resonate better with readers.  

For instance, the story of my arrest by the police for using my private diesel-powered ramshackle vehicle to carry goods resonated well with many (Seeds of Gold, Jan 21).  

In fact, the story took a life of its own. The policeman called me after it was published to congratulate me. Another reader who was having problems with his diesel engine asked me for the contacts of Wanyoike, the mechanic who had repaired my vehicle.  

However, sometimes I lack ideas. What I do in such instances is simply to take a walk around my desk, go for a jog, or sleep over it and, guess what, when I get back the next time, some new ideas pop in my head. 

In fact, great writers like Dr Travis Bradberry agree that ideas take time to develop and you don’t have to force them. “You can edit a bad story, but you can’t edit a blank page,” he says.  

As I’ve said before, when events start unfolding, I always assume I have a story even if I can only write two sentences.  

Another thing that I normally do to overcome writers’ mental block is to have two or three back up stories just in case what I’m working on isn’t flowing.  

ORNAMENTAL KIENYEJI CHICKEN

My wife, Ciru, whose is a better writer than me, always reminds me that “a good story should challenge all the five human senses,” meaning that readers should see, smell, taste, touch and hear the plot as it unfolds.  

But I’ve also learnt that finding a good story idea is only the first part and the writing style matters as much.  

You see, readers prefer to have a conversation on a given topic as opposed to being bombarded with technical explanations and industry jargon.

This was my lesson when I shared a three-part series on drafting a winning poultry business plan (Seeds of Gold, February 4, 11 and May 6).  

I also try to write in the first person when I’m reflecting on actual events, places and actors. One thing I try to avoid is to write the diary as an opinion piece.  

If you recall, my brief for writing this diary entails sharing useful, scientifically-based information told in a manner that readers could learn some lessons.

It’s certainly not about sparking interest and discussions with controversy and exaggerations.

As a fan of this column, expect more informative and interesting pieces going forward because of the several things I am doing on the farm.

First, I’ve started stocking ornamental Kienyeji chickens that include Frizzled-feathered, Naked-neck, Barred-feathered, Feathered shanks, bearded and dwarfs. These birds are thought to have supernatural powers in the African traditional settings.

Second, my hens have started laying eggs and I intend to start hatching day-old chicks for sale soon if all goes well.

Third, I am putting up a farm house and office to facilitate more sessions for exchanging ideas with other farmers, especially those who visit my farm.

Therefore, expect juicy stories out of these additions and many other things happening on the farm.