Do I ever get tired of bragging about Kevin's ingenuity?... Uh, nope! (even at the risk of making him blush).
We're learning our second batch of Bettys behaves differently. We have a couple of hens that don't seem to bother getting off their perch to lay their egg. The perch is approximately 6 ft high (nearly 2 m), so the result of laying an egg from that height is a smashed egg on the floor. Even though the floor is covered with wood chips, clearly not enough to cushion the blow.
We have 14 Bettys and we average 12 eggs a day. Sometimes we get 11 and other times 13. We've only ever collected 14 eggs once. The first batch of Bettys were much more consistent and laid each one egg per day.... for nearly 18 months. They were completely reliable. Batch #2, not so much. Losing one or two eggs every day really adds up.
We have several people we exchange our eggs with or sell to, but we've had to refuse some people because we don't have as many at the end of the week as we 'should'.
So Kevin put on his thinking cap and devised a net to catch the eggs. At first the hens we're not sure about this new contraption and none of them bothered sleeping on the perch for the first day or two. It seems they're getting use to it and it's working like a charm.
Kevin goes up every morning to open up their pen door and collects the rogue eggs in the net. It's been a week and it's working beautifully. Yay, Kevin!
Can you believe it's been two years since we arrived here in Rio Blanco, Costa Rica! It just goes to show that time will tick on by with or without our permission, without us having all our ducks in a row, whether we're ready or not... it will pass. We could still be in Burlington saying "one day." Although the first year seemed to have whizzed by... so many 'firsts' to conquer... our second year feels like we've properly settled in. It feels like eons ago that we were back in Canada. We've missed one of the worst winters on record (lucky us!), that we know. Although it's pouring as I'm writing this post, I look around and continue to marvel at the beauty we call our backyard. Everything is so lush and green this time of year.
We've been hatching new plans and projects for the farm. We've had Martin and another neighbour from Copey chop all the dense vegetation on the forest floor. We want the sun to shine through the tall trees to attract more birds. We have a lot of trees, which the Quetzals love, but they haven't been able to grow due to all the undergrowth. There's an area that is just overgrown pastureland. We are cutting everything back. Kevin is looking into buying six or seven bulls to keep the pastures maintained. He's looking at bulls specifically so that we don't have to deal with milking. With bulls, they roam, eat grass, that's pretty much it. We an go away for the day... or several... and we don't have to worry about them. Bonus. I'll update once the plan is clear.
Primo, our other neighbour and worker, continues to work on the waterfall garden area. He's planted four new trees, which when they are fully grown will bloom with blue, red and yellow flowers. That area will be so colourful. I can't wait! It's going to be so beautiful down there. A little piece of heaven.
Hey, we're closing in two week's time during September and October, but we'll be re-opening again in November, so if you're looking for a place to relax this coming winter... please contact us here.
I've spent a couple of hours every morning this week sanding the wood enclosure of the guesthouse porch area. Kevin showed me how to use his electric sander (oh, thank goodness for having the right tools on hand!). Nothing is perfectly straight or even which means I have to tip the sander from left to right and from top to bottom. The sandpaper gets worn quickly leaving the middle almost untouched. There's really nothing that can be done about it. I've gone through at least 10 pieces of sandpaper squares and I'm not done!
So far, I've managed to sand nearly the entire enclosure (that took 4 days), but I have to go back and finish the hard-to-reach areas with a small sanding tool and I still have to do the front door.
Here's one finished surface, which I've varnished. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better and cleaner than it was.
Kevin has spent the week transforming the the hatchery into a fully closed greenhouse. He's adding plastic sheet all the way around (as walls) to keep the cold out. We hope this will improve our rate of growth. Yet another experiment, so we'll see.
It's been a relatively dry "rainy season" so far this year. The summer (or "dry season") in Costa Rica begins in mid-November and last until late April with very little rainfall to speak of. Then by May, usually, the rain arrives sporadically and increases from day to day, from week to week with a good balance of sunny morning and wet afternoon. By September, there's usually more rain than sun... and by October, well, it's best to have a few good books on hand and reconcile that you'll be spending more time inside than outside. Kevin and I love our sunny days, but we enjoy the rainy days just as much. Because even in the rain, life is pleasant. We have rain gear and we're not too concerned about making any fashion statement, so our big, black (and ugly) rubber boots are our best pals.
This year, we've had much less precipitation than is usual. In fact, there are so many micro-climates here that in Copey, only 4 km/2.5 mi away, has not be getting the rain the town is used to getting this time of year. Rain is vitally important to fill up the water table and natural reserves. The coffee crops are suffering in Santa Maria and San Marcos. The cows, horses and goats are all looking for lush, green pasture to graze. Many farmers lower down the mountain are running out of good places for their cattle to nourish themselves properly. Cows need good, nutritious grass to produce good, nutritious milk. We have so much unused pasture land that we've offered our neighbour a place for his cows and bulls. We now have 14 bovines mulling about. We love seeing animals up on the side of the pasture. And although we're providing them with a healthy environment, they provide us with natural lawn mowing... bonus! It's a symbiotic relationship and everyone wins.
We invite the rain... it's a good thing... we wouldn't want it any other way. It's still paradise.
Primo and Kevin worked most of the week on the waterfall garden area. I can't believe the transformation in just a few short days. We're not looking to create an area overly manicured, but we do want to reach a balance between structure, colour contrast and Mother Nature. The plants Primo is recommending are not particularly fussy, but they will all bloom in blue, orange, yellow, white or red. Also, we want flower types that will attract birds and butterflies. Kevin and Primo will build a bench or two so people can sit and enjoy the sounds and sights. Eventually, we'll build a wooden platform with a roof... hang a hammock...
You'll know where to find me... my chores can wait!
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!