I have a few things to catch up on...
Since my last post, Kevin has been busy playing nursemaid to the two littlest bulls. Everything was going well until about a week ago when Redford stopped eating and had blood in his stool. After several days of giving him electrolytes, reverting back to bottle feeding him (it's never a good sign when things become so dire that you have to go backward), and desperately trying to keep him dry and warm (keeping him out of the rain and drying him with towels). He shovelled the floor of the shelter, burned the top layer of the dirt to eliminate any germs that might contaminate the other bulls. On the third say, Martin was convinced Redford was not long for this world. Then Newman started to show signs of getting sick and weak. Oh man, Kevin was beside himself. He called our friend Dani to ask him for his advice. Dani came by to check on the two bulls and assessed the situation. Dani diagnosed that both Redford and Newman were suffering from a throat infection. Redford's throat was swollen, which is why he couldn't eat. Dani used a white vinegar concoction (I really don't know all the details) and within a day, both bulls had perked up and Kevin was able to feed them their milk. Kevin's been keeping a very close eye on them, but it looks like they're out of the woods... and Kevin might be able to finally get some sleep.
By the way... below is a picture of the finished shelter for the bulls (you'll notice Bobbie McGee in the doorway checking things out).
Because November is a transitional month in terms of weather, it's very busy on the farm, with or without baby bulls.
The wind picks up and blows the rain clouds over the mountain range. Because it's drying up, but still a bit rainy, it's a great month to work in the garden. So, I started making some organic fertilizer (called bokashi: includes grass clippings, manure, rice flour, ash, molasses, mountain soil with microorganism) two weeks ago... and I've been weeding the garden beds, getting ready to plant our vegetables. So, this bokashi had to be turned twice a day for 4 days, then once a day for 10. It's a lot of work, but here's the result... so rich, so nutritious.
Today, I filled 8 bags... I'll be adding it to all the vegetable and flower beds this week. Then I will start again. I do all the mixing in one of the large concrete containers in the hatchery. Same container I was using for my compost.
And while Kevin was busy taking care of the baby bulls, and I was playing in the dirt... we were also hosting our first guests of the season. It was great to meet Eva and David from B.C., Canada. Lovely couple. They set the tone for a great season. Here's a picture of Eva catching our dinner...
And they wrote a lovely note in our guestbook, too:
"After a busy nine-day G.Adventure tour of the natural wonders of Costa Rica, Hush Valley Lodge was the perfect spot for rest and relaxation.
What a beautiful place you have here Anne and Kevin. You have put your heart and soul into it and your passion for the farm and Costa Rica shines through.
Thank you Anne for the wonderful meals you prepared and for the extra mile you went in guiding us to Santa Maria and San Marcos.
Thank you Kevin for time spent touring us around the property and explaining the intricacies of fish farming and animal husbandry."
We said goodbye to Eva and David on Wednesday and we were out on Thursday celebrating Thanksgiving with our friends from the U.S. and Costa Ricans who used to live in the U.S. It's always nice to get together with the gang... and the food is always delicious.
Oh... yeah, we've also been raising our new puppy, Bobbie McGee. She's a sweetie, but like all babies, she needs attention. She's smart and is learning quickly, but we can't let the training slide or she'll be running the joint.
So, please forgive me for not writing the last two weeks... life has been kind of busy.
I happy to report the days are getting sunnier and dryer. That's not to say we're not getting rain anymore... oh, we are... but the weather pattern seems to alternate from one day to the next. Monday rained most of the day. Tuesday was gorgeous (a very nice birthday treat, for sure). Wednesday didn't rain too much, but felt English weather gloomy. Thursday was a mix of both... beautiful morning.. and HOT HOT HOT... but by the afternoon, the clouds rolled in. Yesterday was much the same but in reverse. Cloudy morning with sun in the afternoons. So far, this morning the sky is blue and it's lovely out. Who knows what this afternoon will bring... we mustn't tempt the weather gods.
And our electricity has been playing up all week. Normally, if we lose power it's only for a few minutes and then it starts right back up... it may do this a few times in one day, but we're rarely left without any power for too long. Two days this week we lost power for over 9 hours. Hopefully, whatever is causing these hiccups will sort themselves out before our guests arrive! Although, it is Costa Rica... there's always something happening. Oh speaking of which, one of the dormant volcanoes in Turrialba erupted on Nov 1st (I forgot to mention it). Kevin and I drove down the Pan American Highway on Thursday to pick up some of the organic insecticide and we saw the white plume of smoke bellowing out of the volcano's mouth. I'm sure it's even more impressive at night as the white turns to red. We don't live anywhere volcanoes (I mean, none close enough to cause any damage or feed any fears) so it's kind of cool.
Yesterday, we received a call from a farmer up the road in La Trinidad. He had a two-week old baby bull ready to be picked up. Kevin and Martin didn't waste any time. They hitched the trailer up to the SUV and off they went. And
they came home with this little guy.... his name is Newman (as in Paul)
The good news is that he's already drinking straight out of the bucket, no need to bother with bottle feeding him, which is awesome. He's really strong and taller than Redford, but slightly smaller than Jackson. At the other farm, it appears he was being kept in an enclosure about 5 x 6 ft sq. He was a bit timid when he first arrived, but this morning Kevin went up to feed all 3 baby bulls and Newman was sprite. When Kevin opened the door to the shelter to let them out in the pasture for the day, Newman wasted no time to run out and explore his new surroundings. As I type this, I can see him running around after Jackson. Looks like they're playing a game of tag. Redford, still more cautious and wobbly, seems to be joining in as well. It's nice to see they are getting along... our experience is that's not always the case when adding animals to the fold.
Although Kevin is still feeding them milk, he's weaning them off slowly as they get used to eating more grass. His little project seems to be working very well. With Martin's 3 bulls (Chuck Norris (7 months old), Bruce Lee and Rambo (both 4 months old) and our 3 bulls (Jackson, Redford and now Newman), we're all set for a few months.
Many of you read on our Facebook page last week about being adopted by a puppy. We found this little sweetie at our back door. She was hungry, shaking and scared. We asked our neighbours to see if she belonged to anyone, but no one seemed to know where she came from, so we decided to keep her. We took her to the vet and we were told she's between 2.5 and 3 months old. She got her injections and flea serum and has settled in nicely. Initially, we thought the puppy was a boy and Kevin liked the name Bob. Upon a closer look, we realized he was a she... so we named her Bobbie (I call her Bobbie McGee). She's very friendly, and considering she's just a puppy, she's exceptionally calm. Our miniature Dachshund, Frankie, was none too impressed with the new arrangement though. It's only in the last couple of days that she's warmed up to the little one. Bobbie loves to play and is always kissing Frankie. This habit is barely being tolerated, but like I said, Frankie is finally understanding that Bobbie isn't going away, so she might as well make the best of it. If you ask me, it won't take long before they're best of friends. Bobbie, however, is an outdoor farm dog. We have set up a nice comfy kennel outside for her to sleep in and stay protected from the wilder animals at night. During the day though, she can roam as she pleases. She tends to stay close to home, following either Kevin or me wherever we go. She's a smart cookie, too. It's hard not to fall in love...
Yesterday, Kevin and I caught our first fish of the season. We haven't had trout in a couple of months so I was THRILLED when Kevin suggested we catch a few and see if they're big enough. They're not huge, but they're definitely big enough. The one at the top of the picture is a male, which is surprising to see because the fingerlings we get from the trout institute only sell female trout. Although a few months ago, I noticed some really small fish compared to the rest of our batch, so perhaps they came from the river through the aqueduct system? The male is quite a bit darker than the females, his back seems more rounded, and his mouth is shaped differently... he has an under-bite. We had two for dinner last night and Kevin smoked the other two today... YUM!! My favourite.
Today, as I was sitting outside reading with Bobbie on my lap, I noticed that Rambo (Martin's black and white bull) was in the pasture. He was munching away and I saw his gaze following something on the grass. I looked to see what he could possibly be observing. Suddenly, I spied a rabbit hop directly in front of him. The rabbit then sprinted onto the terrace. Bobbie was asleep thank goodness. I gently got up and put Bobbie in her crate. I called Kevin and told him a rabbit was somewhere near the smoker. We have a small alcove where we keep the extra rubber boots, the fishing poles and other odd and sods. We found the rabbit huddled in the corner. We made sure Frankie was in the house because she would have surely done everything in her power to catch it. Dachshunds, as a breed, were bred to chase/hunt rabbits. That's why they're so short and long... better to maneuvre in the rabbit's warren.
We couldn't let her stay, so we poked her lightly and she ran off. Just look at her colouring... gorgeous!
In other news, we went to our friends Seidy and Danilo's farm this morning to learn how to make Mountain Microorganism (aka MM). MM is a technique that uses microorganisms to make quality organic fertilizers, both liquid and solid, from organic waste materials found around the farm. The benefits is that it improves soil health and crop productivity, stimulates seed germination and roots growth, and protects crops from disease... all naturally... no chemicals... and IT WORKS!
The recipe consists of:
- decomposing forest leaves and soil
- ground rice (flour)
That's it. You lay the first layer of forest leaves and soil down first, then mix in the rice flour and pour molasses in to give it energy. You mix it all together... and then shovel it into large bins lined with plastic bags. The key is that the mixture is air-tight.
As they pour in a little at a time, they use a heavy wooden beam to compact the mixture.
And the final product is sealed in the bin for one month. After one month, 10 kg of this mixture will be put into a separate porous bag and dunked into another bin full of water. This will create the liquid MM, which can be sprayed onto all garden beds, pasture grass, etc. There's also a hot chili version which acts as a natural insecticide. Bugs don't like the hot spicy smell and taste. Bonus!
So, as you can see, we continue to learn and grow every day. It keeps us on our toes :)
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
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