Samuel Kinyua, a farm manager in a Nyeri poultry farm adjusts an automatic water feeder for chicks. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Often, in addition to sharing with readers a basic poultry handout, I have given this advice to farmers who wish to put up modern, predator-proof poultry houses.
“Before you embark on constructing a poultry house using the best laid out technical plans, visit a few farms to come up with better ideas on what works best.”
The reason for this advice is that there are farmers I know who despite following the technical specifications ended up with very expensive poultry or dairy units that became white elephants (Seeds of Gold, December 31, 2016).
I have learnt something else that I think you should add to your checklist before you embark on constructing that poultry house.
The other day, Cleophas, my farm manager sent me a text message which I didn’t understand.
“The boundary keeps shifting,” he wrote. Now, that to me meant only one thing; that a seismic wave had hit Njiru, on the outskirts of Nairobi, resulting in movement of tectonic plates below my farm.”
I later realised it was a simple misunderstanding with my neighbour.
You see, I have been undertaking some structural improvements on my farm to improve bio-security (farm hygiene) practices after losing 594 birds in three months to a stubborn disease (Seeds of Gold, November 26, 2016).
I started by constructing footbaths which I normally fill with a disinfectant so that every time the workers enter the chicken house, they first disinfect their feet.
The next step was to put up a gate at the main entrance and construct additional footbaths so that all vehicles and delivery trucks entering the farm disinfect themselves.
But before doing all that, I had asked Cleophas to work with my good neighbour, Baba Stano, to locate the land beacons at the front so that I could be sure where to erect the pillars for the concrete gate and the wall I wanted to build.
Now, using a tape measure and a rope, they were able to locate the boundary, save for one problem.
According to their measurements, the back side where I had put up the first poultry unit was shorter than the front side where I planned to put up the gate by a whole metre.
From my recollections, such strange events only occur in Abunuwasi’s Swahili folkloric stories.
I was worried because a portion of my poultry units, which have so far cost me Sh1.5 million to put up would have to be dismantled if found to have intruded into the neighbour’s land.
The problem was that I had never bothered to confirm the landmarks on the ground and instead relied on the beacons I found which I later learnt were erected without following the laid out plan.
Immediately, I called the Secretary of Nyumba Kumi Mr Matundura who asked me, “Is there a dispute between you and Baba Stano on the boundary?”
I told him that we had no running dispute but simply wanted to confirm the “actual boundary”. He told me that if that was the case, there was no need to involve a land surveyor who would charge us exorbitantly.
Instead, he came with the original allotment map. On examining the map, which I didn’t know existed in the first place, we realised that a whole one metre of my piece of land had vanished.
At this point, I decided to involve our chairman, Baba Muli, to witness the “tape and measure” exercise that was the only option we could use to identify the original landmarks for my farm.
I was relieved when after two hours of “tape-and-measure” work to confirm the landmarks, we agreed to shift the boundaries and I got my “metre” of land back without going to court or calling a surveyor who would have charged me Sh35,000.
My advice is, please, before you put up a poultry unit, first be sure of the land boundaries.