Its a long holiday weekend, Labor Day. Down in the town families are celebrating. Here on the farm, no worker related interruptions, peace at last.
My young peach trees are starting to really produce. It is always a competition with the birds, mainly the blue grey tanagers, or the workers. Everyone loves the tasty little mountain peaches. They are the size of apricots with pale flesh like a miniature white peach. Lovely balance of sweetness and acidity.
I missed out on the first lot thinking I would let them fully ripen on the trees, so decided to try I picking less ripe. They come off the tree easily but have a little green as well as pink blush on the skin. Testing out a technique to ripen inside between linen cloths.
Should have many more if the sun and rains cooperate over the next couple of weeks.
It is Spring here on the coffee farm and the male tarantulas are coming out of their burrows to look for a mate.
Unfortunately for one male tarantula, it found me instead getting ready to go out for dinner.
I had flipped my head over the bath tub to wash my hair and came face to face with him, maybe my nose was an inch away. He was surprisingly large. A little annoyed I did not take the time for a photo.
I am not sure how many people who drink Panamanian coffee know about the struggles of our coffee pickers vs government and business interests in Panama. It is very sad.
Today, I went to look at horses with cow farmers. Lovely horses, great people and new meaning for the word 'paint'.
How does your bull paint? How well does he stamp his good looks on his offspring? Some of the time, most of the time or always?
For example, an animal with one gene for polledness and one gene for horns will be polled but can produce horned offspring when mated to another animal carrying the gene for horns.
Cow farmers use this word a lot it seems. Not too many of our hosts sons have taken to roping like dad - he did not paint.
I think to myself, a bull that paints too well is a total waste of a good cow. To me anyway, in this macho land of studs, this is more than a little amusing. Now I have this song from an aging stud on my brain.
Tomorrow, back to coffee farming. Back to supervising hole digging for baby coffee plants. Thank goodness for diversions.
Monday mornings on the coffee farm often involve recovery from weekend happenings. Dealing with the fall out of two days of recreation. Today, no exception:
1. One of the workers had a big family party on Sunday - no show today. We are planting so every day off delays the process. Each worker is planting around 125 plants a day. It takes time to plant a coffee tree. Fertilizer and chicken manure soil and calcium all go in the hole in a precise order then the soil is compacted. Monday mornings are famous for no shows in Panama. So much so that if you have a string of missing Mondays you can fire someone without liquidation, one of the very few exceptions. A family member assured me he should be back tomorrow, bright eyed and bushy tailed?
2. Secondly, my Gorilla Gardening neighbors were out in force. These are folks who opportunistically cultivate vacant land with a view to obtaining rights which come with time. Yesterday, I stood in front of his weed whacker to get the attention of my neighbor 'friend' who is slowly increasing his empire along the river bank at my expense. As we live next to a river opportunities for Gorilla Gardening have been numerous over the years as the river moves back and forward and he has 30 yrs of experience and success in the art of land acquisition with weed wakers and herbicide. I have just about a year of paying attention and already I am about as angry as I have ever been about anything.
Unfortunately for him, on this occasion, I intend to exercise my legal right or at least put that concept to the test here in Panama and see if the law actually works. That in itself is a question worth answering as an investor. According to the law, I have the first right of refusal to use my weed whackers on newly created vacant land between my title and the river and intend to stand my ground. So off to the local land police today and lets see what they can or are willing to do? Our local government land policeman seems like a nice chap, I have high hopes.
In a little village up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere: The houses don't even have paint, no tile floors (mostly no floors at all), no glass windows and no iron fencing around the flowers growing outside in the longish grass. But here in the cemetery, the deceased have a paradise.
On a hill above a canyon with a roaring river below, I was drawn to this place in the middle of nowhere. It is a little graveyard dating from 1920s. A peaceful and moving place.
Why is it that where this life has very little to offer in terms of material luxuries, the next is more important? To be buried where friends and relatives remember you, put flowers on your grave and garden there - that is real wealth in both life and death and it shows in this place. We are alive for such a short time and dead for so long.
Thank you to my Education for Ministry friends for introducing me to the practice of Theological Reflection.
It tastes as good as it looks. Real pure honey, and more so than than almost all honies that claim this label.
This is from bees that have never been fed corn syrup or sugar and have fed on nectar and pollen only. Local pollen and nectar.
Even better, mostly, it will be from my farm where I am not using any chemicals.
No need to buy expensive honey from Greece or Australia. This is as good as it ever gets. My honey.
Something quintessentially Spring like in April here. The rains, the greenery, the birdsong and the wonderful blossom of the Mountain Oak. Different pinks and rarer and more lovely still the white ones.