We have our little pulper working hard; the wheel barrows full of coffee, the greenhouse stacked with drying racks. It is now peak harvest here on this little farm.
Six months ago the coffee bushes had their main flush of flowers, it was St Patricks day. This was early for flowering here and accordingly we are getting our first coffee early too. We are honey processing our coffee this year. Today, we inspected progress in the drying room. One tray had turned the magic color of green that indicates just 11.5% moisture. This first batch has been drying for around two weeks and tomorrow morning early, before the temperatures rise we will be bagging it for storage.
We have planted around 5000 plants this year and the end is in sight.
We were very nearly done a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, the plants were unavailable to finish, so we were left with 500 empty holes and no baby coffee to fill them.
Today, we secured the plants for the holes. They were grown by a fine nurseryman in Boquete, seen in the dapper straw hat. Although they were expensive they are beautiful plants. By the end of the week or maybe sometime next, we will be all done with planting for a another year.
Phew. That was quite a job.
My house is a humming bird trap. Over the months, I have devised some ways to minimize the harm like not putting flowers on my coffee table that lure them inside or remembering in the morning light not to leave the porch doors open.
The good news is that I almost always manage to rescue them and re-patriate to the forest outside. This is a baby rufus tailed humming bird. The locals call them Lucifers - they are like little devils dashing and darting noisily around the place.
As we finish off digging holes and planting coffee for the next couple of weeks, I am going to post pictures from around the farm. As the rains are arriving so the fruit trees are setting fruit.
This is my first set of pictures: These are passion fruit flowers. They turn into oval green fruits that when they are ripe are wrinkled on the outside. The flesh around the seeds and juice is orange. Tart and delicious.
There is a great discussion going on @ CoffeeGeek about my latest article and controversy and opinions about coffee certifications http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/articles/columns/580186#580186
This is truly exciting to me. These are people on the cutting edge of coffee and research and if anyone can change the coffee world they can. Everything starts somewhere and in conversations like these great progress can be made.
Meanwhile, back on the farm, the little horse went back to his previous owner the local petting zoo. We hope they manage OK going forward. On the farm, the guys have planted Caturra around the rose garden and more oranges as a hedge between the main part of the farm and my bee colonies.
We are planting just 500 Caturra babies on the farm. Should be able to get these holes dug and in the ground easily over the next two days. Today, we just have a very few bushes scattered across the farm. Caturra is a shorter stockier plant than most coffee varietals. It is very pretty and perfect hedging material. As this entire farm is a coffee garden we are going to plant a Caturra border hedge around some of the rose garden.
Everything is having a growth spurt out there on the farm. The rains, calcium and fertilizer are working.
The problem is that the young coffee, still in bolsas (Black plastic grow bags), is also growing. Soon the roots will hit the bottom of the bags and get twisted and bent. This means for the trash as a coffee tree needs a long straight tap root.
So, 3300 or so holes dug and plants planted; 1500 to go. Need to get them in the ground by EOD Tuesday.
Unfortunately, the best answer to meeting a tight deadline does
not apply here in Panama. No over time here. Once again my former life lets me down. Working longer does not seem to be an option. So, tomorrow the gardener will join the hole digging team.
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.