Happy Halloween from the Coffee Farm
One of the many creatures of the night on this farm. Bigger than my hand, left behind at first light.
Halloween decorations Boquete Style
Got to love it. Instead of lots of themed junk made in China, in this small town we have re-cycled milk and orange juice carton lanterns hanging in the trees.
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The school marching bands are clogging the back streets by 8.00am in the morning with the stomping of feet, the beating of drums and little bells of hand held xylophones.
The workers are all reminding me it is a holiday next week, no work on Thursday (and probably not much the day before or the day after). Mainly a drinking holiday I think.
For my part, I just picked up my new Chiriqui flag. It is actually two flags stitched together as I wanted a more even look. The fabric cost me around $16 and the work about $14 - $7 per each side. Good value considering there were 26 white silk hand stitched stars, 13 on each side.
It was stitched by one of the town tailors who has a shop next to the Church. He uses an old Singer sewing machine. The fabric came from a little fabric store on the main street, about 50 yds from the Tailor, that sells all sorts of 'old fashioned' things like ribbons, buttons and felt. It is staffed by lots of very helpful mature ladies who know about sewing and measuring and all those useful things a girl without such experience needs.
We have been doing two straight days of coffee picking; This is one of the last rounds of early picking. Yesterday, I did my thing, put my bee suit on and picked around the hives. I need to get a bee suit in Indigenous size as it took me most of the morning but not sure they make them for very small adults.
Today, I was indoors making marmalade, but did my due diligence and went out to inspect the bags our Indigenous pickers had picked today. Oh dear. My pickers have been getting too many greenish beans and more importantly, too many with their stalks on - that means no flowers next year and no beans. Greenish, not so bad for this early pick that goes to the beneficio but they will weigh less and might have been quite good beans in a weeks time.
As I had been picking myself yesterday, I thought I had perfected the technique of picking without getting the stalks. It involves a rapid hard wrist action. It has to be done bean by bean not by the handful of beans. I think this is the problem for those paid by volume, picking beans individually is not fast enough.
So, I explained very nicely that there were far too many stalks in the coffee bags. I went on to say that although they were naturally the coffee picking experts, maybe they might like to see how I did it. Without waiting for a response, I was not getting any, I proceeded with a demonstration. Well I never seen the Indigenous laugh so much in all my years in Boquete. Not sure I find it quite so amusing and expect improvement in tomorrows bags.
The oranges just won't stop ripening. It is exhausting. The harvest will likely be over by the end of November this year. There are growing piles of orange gold sitting around the farm this morning. Normally, I would have oranges at least through January. With the hot, relatively dry, summer the oranges are all ripening up quickly.
I have pulled the caretaker and a full time coffee worker for orange picking duties for a few days. This at least cuts down some of the labor costs. We may even break-even.
So, another 4000 or so leave today on our Coffee Manager's truck, I delivered 100 to a lady customer. Finally, we made more marmalade. Although satisfying, marmalade only used up 30 oranges. Apparently, my oranges are the sweetest freshest in Boquete but unfortunately sold to the market by the 100, I do not get any credit for that.
My little marmalades are becoming quite popular. I am making a coffee and orange mixture that is the essence of Boquete as well as this farm. It tastes very good especially on scones, somewhat too delicious. Trouble is there is only so much marmalade a girl can make comfortably in a week; And only so many scones and marmalade a girl should eat in a month. Yesterday, I swapped some marmalade for strawberries from a friends strawberry farm up the mountain and we had strawberries for dinner and smoothies for breakfast this morning. My offer stands to all within a delivery radius of my farm.... what will you give me in exchange for oranges? Life is good.
The videos (taken by my nearly 5yr old daughter so bear with us) show the first stallion and a mare being ridden by the stable manager. Then I rode the mare, the owner road the stallion and the stable manager rode a 3yr old stallion that they are training. We went outside the arena and practiced the parade thing. We rode in lines and in parallel. The owner is an accomplished rider of Pasos and used to do a lot of showing himself. They are training the 3 yr old to feel comfortable in the Peruvian tack and working in thin and parallel lines.
I learned that the perfect height is up to 15hh although, they can be much smaller than that. They have very compact barrel like bodies on shorter legs, good looking muscular horses. They compete around the smoothness of the gait as well as how flashy it looks. So, it is important that the rider does not jiggle about but stays still in the saddle.
Apparently, there is even an event where the riders demonstrate just how smooth their ride is by carrying a glass of champagne. I would like to try that one time. I learned a good Paso has brillo - I think this means sparkle or fight (good rule of thumb for people too). It is different from other horses I have known in that it is desirable for them to have a wild look about them; But close up they are very gentle. Also, like the clothes, honestly riding in a large poncho more flattering than jodpurs. They do wear trousers as well.
Conclusion: These are the perfect horses for lots of people for lots of reasons. In particular, they are a very suitable option for mature people. Nice ride for a hack, good fast long walk, no jolting in the saddle at the sitting trot, easy on the back, easy to mount, kind and part of a long and interesting culture and tradition. A lot to be said for that combination.
Thank you very much to the owner of the Boquete Country Club for being so generous with his time, his beautiful horses and explaining how to ride and what to expect from the traditional coffee farmers horse. I'm suitably impressed and look forward to riding a Paso again, hopefully soon.
Mostly, the garden looks best in the summer, the dry season. That said, there is a section with gingers and ferns, hydrangeas, heliconias, codiaeum and impatience that thrives in the rain and even after a downpour can hold its own.
How embarrassing, that English English always comes out when one is nervous. Must try harder next time........Otherwise...
Bees are doing great. They got treated for mites and have been producing honey even in the rainy season. Thank you to my fabulous bee mentor for providing guidance and lets not forget the mega large smoker that makes my smoker look like a cigarette lighter. Below are videos of each hive.
Coffee farmer accidentally gets introduced to a fighting cock breeding program
Could not help but notice some fine cockerils lined up and tied to a gate post today. Cock fighting is popular here although not something I have ever come across - different social circles and sensibilities.
Curiosity was aroused. They were beautiful birds, quite distinctive from laying hens. Today, they had been taken out to get some sun and fresh air on a gatepost. Some 100 yds away the ladies were pecking about in a flock of hens including layers with their chicks...the next generation of fighting cocks.
It transpired the birds were the property of the farm workers, who were surprisingly willing to talk about their hobby. They seem very proud of their birds and the sport. They showed us the spurs they use which they buy in the USA and are made of metal and cow horn. They put two of the cocks together without spurs and with a request that neither should get hurt - these are the pictures you see with the birds facing off with their ruff feathers all sticking up on end. Lasted no more than 30 seconds. Apparently, a good bird can sell for $35. That makes breeding quite a popular little sideline.