Friday, December 25, 2009

Gifts for the giver...

Today we received many wonderful gifts for Christmas.  Each year we spend Christmas morning  delivering presents to the children who live on our road.  They know we are coming.  Their faces beam with excitement and happy anticipation.  For most of the kids, these are the only presents they'll receive all year.

My favorite part of the day was a phone call we got at the end of the day.  Our friend Carol delivered a gift to a 4 year old boy that lives a few houses from her.  He's a sweet boy who entertains himself by making boats out of palm branches and string.   Whenever I'm working at Carol's he always comes over and sits with me asking a world of inspiring questions.  His parents are poor and live in the garage of an abandoned house.  I bought him a scoop loader that has a remote control and Amaranth wrapped it in pretty paper and ribbons.  When Carol gave him the present he was thrilled, jumping up and down.  This was the first wrapped present he had ever gotten.  He thought the box was the gift.  He was absolutely happy to have a pretty box.  Carol had to show him to unwrap the present and his eyes grew brighter as he realized the contents.  Boys love machinery.  He danced in circles and shouted with an uncontainable happiness as he waited for the toy to be freed from its wrappings.  He drove his little toy around forward and backwards, lifting and lowering the bucket, the amber light on top flashing.

When we first married we decided to create our own traditions and this is one them:  to celebrate Christmas by giving Christmas to the ragamuffin children in our lives.  The children give us the gift of wonder and innocent joy.  For Carol the neighbor-boy's sheer happiness was multiplied in her and that too was a gift to Carol.  When we're told it's better to receive than to give it's true.  Nothing can come close to it. 

Merry Christmas,
Wally & Amaranth

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy as clams...defined

Life on the farm is very smooth right now.  All the chickens are safe.  We have five babies running around, happy as clams.  Where did that phrase come from?  Most clams I've ever met are about to be eaten.  Can being a meal bring us happiness?  Anyone out there know?  I've tried asking clams about the experience but they just clam up.   What else can you expect from a clam.  We haven't been very generous with them up to now.  Why should they talk to us.   I don't eat clams.  I prefer peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I might eat a clam if they went well with peanut butter and jelly.  Then again I think the whole point of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is that you don't have to kill anything to make one - nothing that breathes anyway.  The chickens asked me to put in that last remark.  We have standards here on the farm.  We do on occasion sneak down to the village and buy a whole barbecued chicken.  We shower thoroughly before entering the chicken pen,  hopefully removing all traces of chicken as food from our being.  I'm not up to having 60 knowing eyes staring at me.  Chickens have long memories.

We have Jamshed taking care of the gardens, including watering.   This clears up time for me to work on all the equipment that is waiting for my magical mechanical skills to put them back into working order.  I'm nearly finished with a Land Rover a friend gave me.  It was in sad shape.  I had to go through all of the wiring.  After that I removed the fuel injection, computers, etc and converted it to a carburetor  I also made my own distributor by combining the Land Rover distributor with a GM HEI distributor.  Enough tech talk.  Suffice it to say,  I can now work on it and best of all understand all it's mood swings.  There's two kinds of mechanics.  You have the modern day parts-replacers and the old fashioned mechanics who actually repair things and take pride in their work.  I'm the old fashioned kind.  Don't tell anyone -  I have enough to do.

The year is coming to a close and we're happy.  Every day we do what ever we want.  We eat wonderful meals.  Our freezers, cupboards and fridge are full of the wonderful things we grow here.  We have everything we need.  For Christmas this year were giving each other a poem.  That's what you get for someone who has everything.

In the past three years we've shared our home with over 100 WWOOfers.  We're ready to explore other ways of meeting like minded people.  We have a warehouse full of interesting stories the WWOOfers left us with.  In case you don't know.  WWOOfers are members of an organization with a really awful name.  I think it stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms.

We're looking forward to the coming year and all the adventures that await us.  We plan to do more exploring both inward and outward.  It's a great big beautiful universe we live in.  We wish you all well and hope you'll find the time to come visit us sometime.

To all of the above I say Amen and good night.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Up a teak...

Monk-ie boy!

Reminds me of when we were building the house and living without  windows, doors or screens or electricity.  When the sun went down the mosquitoes feasted so we'd get under the mosquito net and stay there til morning talking about everything.  We would check one another for ticks and joked about being monkeys.   We were just married and there was a lot of things from our past to process together and many hopes to re-shape to our shared life.  We were alone without obligations to family or friends and we were sharing a big project.  It was a good environment for growing as one.  It made us think of monastic life because it was barren of the things of the world and all things familiar, and it was centered around a simple life style with a single focus - us.  We joked that we were not monkeys but monk-ies.  Still are...

Monday, December 7, 2009

More news from the pen

Hello this is Wally.
After the last batch of posts I was starting to wonder if I was concentrating too much attention on the chicken part of our farm, but folks are always asking about our chickens so here goes.

The Costa Ricana mother abandoned the last of her chicklets so we took over caring for it by bringing it in at night to sleep in a basket.  They need warmth.  Each day we'd take it out to join the rest of the flock to peck around.  One evening  it was trying to get up to the nesting perch with the rest of the chickens.  I lifted it up and put it into a nest.  We watched as it jumped up on a lower perch and scootched over to a young chicken we call "the runt".  The runt eyed it suspiciously at first but allowed the baby to snuggle up against her.  We were happy and thought it would be nice for the runt to have a companion to be with at night since she normally stayed alone on the fringe of the flock.  Later when I checked the runt had taken the chicklet under her wing in a most loving  and grown-up way.  We went to bed feeling relieved that the two had bonded. In the morning Amaranth discovered the chicklet on the ground with the runt standing guard beside it.  Amaranth brought the chicklet into the house to warm it.  I put it on my chest and talked to it trying to stimulate it from lethargy.   After a little time it raised its head peeping excitedly and then slowly settled into its final rest.  We've seen this before in other chicks we've cared for.  Someone told us that his father who had been in a coma woke up and said he was going across the street to get a piece of pie and then he died.  Makes you wonder.  Some say animals don't go to heaven.  I say why not.  There's plenty of room.

We had two other mothers hatch out more babies.  Two of them came tonight.  Amaranth went out to check on things and found them on the ground peeping.  She deposited them under their mother.  Life goes on.

We've been having a lot of rain lately which is rare for this time of the year.  We're glad for it but it postpones our plans for planting.  You learn to adjust on a farm.  All the regularly scheduled events go out the window when mother nature changes her mind.

We've added 17 new fruit trees to our collection:   Durians, the stinky fruit which tastes heavenly, and  miracle fruits which have the magical ability to temporarily change your taste buds so that sour things are magically sweet and sweet things sweeter, also a curry leaf tree and several more varieties of mangosteens, and a brazilian cherry.  There's a world of wonderful exotic fruit trees out there.  This farm is becoming a Noah's Ark of trees - two of every fruit tree on earth!  Every time I look around and think we have no more room I find a nook or cranny just perfect for one more tree.  We've also removed a few trees in favor of diversity.
We keep a careful caring eye on everything noting the needs and making adjustments.  We are enriched by the process of husbanding just as the trees and plants are.  Plants move at a different pace than us but their response to care is so rewarding.

The vegetable gardens are coming along too.  Each year we move things and mix things around, try new varieties.  We are looking to make things better and more harmonious for all.

Well it's late for me and sleep awaits.    Wally