Friday, November 21, 2008

Sun's down

The sun's down and I'm settled in to start off on this new adventure. I've been on this farm a lot of years and a lot has happened. This day is one in a long string of days. As I write I'll mix in news from past days alongside the news of the day.
I got this land, about 10 acres, 18 years ago. I lived by myself until about five years ago when I married a friend named Amaranth. I brought her down here on our honeymoon and we never left. She hadn't been to Mexico and was amazed at how beautiful it is. Life here has a whole different quality than most other places. You can open up and take it all in. When we get into cities with their busyness we find ourselves closing down just to block out the intensity of it all. Much too fast. I looked all over the world for this place, it's home.
Our life here is all about living each day awake and aware and taking the time to notice and learn from the wonderful world that surrounds us. This blog is offered, to those who find it, as a glimpse of our lives as we go through our days. Welcome.
At present Amaranth and I are in the midst of planting our vegetable gardens. This year we're turning to soaker hoses to get the watering done and also using up a large pile of pumice, left over from last year, as mulch. We planted lots of leafy greens a few days ago and they're already popping up in delicate green rows.
For years I've had an older Mexican man named Lorenzo helping me out on the farm keeping vines and other things at bay. We found out this year that he's also a very good gardener. I've never used chemicals on the farm and Lorenzo is a big fan of them so we never could agree on how a garden should be managed. This year when he suggested I lay down some white powder to kill ants I told him Amaranth was allergic to chemicals and that was that. He's fine with organic. It's been a pleasant surprise to see how happy Lorenzo is in the garden. We're both lost in our thoughts while we're working but share a few thoughts when we're taking a break in the shade.
When we first started our gardens they were the traditional rectangular plots. That worked fine but when they were done you had these odd looking, geometrical shapes that didn't fit in with the randomness of nature. We decided to make them irregular, rounded shapes with flowers planted in and around them. Now when the vegetables have been harvested they blend in nicely and don't look so sad.
This year, like every other year, I'm planting more fruit and nut trees. I just got five Macadamia nut trees and I'm also beginning to plant some Mangosteen trees I got 3 years ago. We have around fifty different types of fruit and nut trees. I lost count a few years back and haven't gotten around to cataloging them. I plan on making it a project some day when I need something to do. I'd like to come up with some way of labeling each tree as I'm not the best at remembering the names of things. Mostly when I see a tree or bush I like I get it and put it in the ground. I don't mind not knowing the name cause I know it's something I like and it's going to produce something good to eat.
When I was a kid we were poor and didn't always have a lot to eat. My dream was to one day have a place with lots of fruit trees so I could eat all I wanted. My dream came abundantly true. There's nothing more wonderful than fresh picked mangoes, we have eight varieties, or lychees. Amaranth and I can eat a five gallon bucket in one sitting. We like eating them in the chicken yard and sharing an occasional lychee with the chickens.
We have about thirty chickens, four ducks and two geese. They live in a large aviary with a pond that I built beside our house. They all have names because we don't plan on eating them. They share their eggs instead. If we want to an occasional chicken dinner we go down to the village and buy a whole barbecued chicken with rice, salad, hot sauce and tortillas for about six dollars. Much easier than killing and plucking etc. I know how to do all that but I don't feel like it. Someday if I'm lost in the woods and a chicken wanders by I might, but for now we have a peace treaty.
We also have seven dogs we've rescued from the streets. Dupy, Winky, Penny, Lucy, Emily, Sparky and Opey. We didn't plan on seven it's just hard to resist a pair of sad eyes looking up at you. We stopped at seven because we wanted to be able to take care of them all and any more would have made it pretty hard. It's a lot like having seven kids. I grew up in a family of six kids and it's very similar.
We spend a lot of time, each day, with our animals and they've let us share their secret lives. Our dogs are a pack and we're part of the pack. We're also part of the flock. That's a picture of me and Hiromi the goose up in the corner. We thought Hiromi was a female until we actually got a female goose. Hiromi isn't the typical aggressive goose. He loves sitting on my lap and leading the way when I enter the aviary where he lives with his chicken and duck neighbors. When I have the hammock up he likes sleeping on my stomach. The chickens, ducks and Helena, the other goose, all gather round and take their naps too. The aviary they live in is huge. It has some very nice palm frond houses and a couple of palm frond tee pees for shade. My wife says it looks like a vacation resort for fowl. The area they spend most of their time in is enclosed by plastic fencing with fish net over the top to keep hawks out. They also have a smaller area that's even more secure to sleep in. The possums come by at night but can't get in. The swimmers in the group have a large, fifteen foot round, pond to swim in. During the day we let them out into an adjoining area to forage.
Our oldest rooster came with five hens. The hens were normal sized hens but the rooster was very tall. A normal size chicken could almost walk under him. His children are magnificent. We once got some eggs from a neighbor that were green. We put them under a sitting hen and got three hens and one rooster who grew up to be very aggressive. There are lots of fighting roosters around here, I think his dad was one. Anyway, when the young rooster grew up he decided to challenge the big one and the big one hid his head in the fence. He's a pacifist. We got rid of the aggressive one because here peace rules. The big rooster, we call him "Big Bird", is also a good father. He, sometimes sits on the eggs when a hen needs a break. Sometimes he sleeps next to the nest with his head beside the mother to be. We have five or six of his children who are roosters and they all get along fine. People told us that the geese and ducks would try to kill each other but they're peacefully co-existing.
During the summer we got some Costa Rican chickens. They're tiny. They look like toy chickens. Right off the bat the little rooster picked a fight with Big Bird. I ended up giving the Costa Ricans a place of their own and they're perfectly happy. They hatched out four teeny little babies a few weeks back. At the same time one of the big chickens abandoned a baby so we put it in with the little mother. Her babies were all black and the other was a pretty yellow. The big baby ran straight for the little mom and popped under her. She looked a bit shocked but accepted it. After a while the big baby got too big to fit so it slept beside her. In the days that followed a snake got one of the black babies and the little yellow one got herself stuck in the fence and died. Those things just break your heart but you mourn them and keep going. All life is a celebration, no matter how short or long. We take it all in and cherish the time we have together.
Well, it's getting late and it's time to hit the hay. We usually get up before the sun and go to bed a little after it sets. Our days flow naturally and clocks only come into play when we have to go somewhere outside the farm. Good Night. Wally

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