Sunday, May 13, 2007

The weekend

We left here around 3:00 on Friday to take Selwyn home and pick up the chickens. Our first stop was Selwyn’s neighbor, where we got the rooster and the laying hen. The chickens are all free range “local chickens,” which means the whole flock just roams the yards in Selwyn’s neighborhood. That meant that the woman who owned them pointed out which ones we were supposed to take, and the chase was on. Once the chickens realized we were after them, they took off in all directions, and we had to herd the ones we wanted back to their coop area so Selwyn could catch them. This effort took the chicken’s owner, Selwyn, Hilda, Tom, me, and Ali and Junior filling in the gaps, and the chickens spread over about six of the yards in the neighborhood. We finally rounded them up, Selwyn tied their legs, and we asked the woman how much we owed her. She shrugged, and said they were $2.50BZ per pound, and had to be weighed. There’s a house across the street from Selwyn that doubles as a small store, so we took the trussed chickens over there, passed them through the louvers in one of the windows, and had them weighed in the vegetable scale. When I saw this process, I was really glad that I make it practice to always wash my produce before I use it, since you never know if the same scale that weighs your tomatoes is also used to weigh a dirty live chicken!

Tom paid the woman for the two chickens, and we took off for the next chicken stop. This man didn’t have any laying hens, but he has a whole flock of half grown hens that he was willing to sell for $2BZ per pound. We had another chicken roundup, and while one of the man’s daughters took the three trussed hens off to the nearest scale to be weighed, we talked to the owner of the property. When he realized where we live, he asked if we were interested in a horse. We told him that we already have two that we’re not doing much with anyway at the moment, but that since we might be interested in another horse later, we’d see what he had. We headed out the back of his yard and up a little field on a hill at the edge of town and found a very nice three year old stud colt tied to a tree by a rope around his neck. Tom and I don’t need another horse right now, and we really don’t need a stud colt with the two mares, but he’s seems like a very nice horse both temperamentally and confirmation wise, so we’re actually thinking about it. The man said his kids take the colt out riding with groups of mares, and there isn’t any problem, but we’re still not sure about keeping him in a pasture next to two mares.

We took the chickens home and put them in their coop. Everything seemed fine until this morning (Sunday), when Tom went to feed them and found that the rooster is dead. We’re really bummed, because he was a really pretty rooster, and we’re not sure if we’ll be able to find another. Plus, we don’t know why he died, so we’re worried about the hens. He was fine last night when I fed them, but dead this morning. I’m feeling like we’re not doing too well with animals here because we’re also having trouble getting weight on Esmerelda. She was thin when we bought her, but we thought if we started giving her hay and grain she’d probably fatten up pretty quickly. She seemed to be gaining a little weight for a while, but over the past week or two I think she looks even skinnier than she did when we bought her. We’re not sure if she’s stressed out because she’s sharing the pasture with Glinda, or if she just looks gaunt because she isn’t drinking enough with the hot dry weather. We upped her feed, and bought her some special horse grower feed, so we’ll see if that works. I also haven’t been riding her much in the heat, but it doesn’t seem to be making a difference, so we’re crossing our fingers that the horse grower feed works.

Tom cut down some trees that will make perfect jump poles, and I’d really like to start trotting her over little fences, but I don’t want to do too much with her until I feel like she’s able to at least maintain her weight. I’ve always been proud of myself because I was always told that our horses in the US looked good, so I’m a little embarrassed to have the mares in the front pasture by the road looking like starvation cases. But, I’m really glad we made the decision to sell our horses in the US before we moved here, because if I’m having this much trouble keeping local horses in the shape I like them, I’d never be able to do it with imported horses.

We spent yesterday running around San Ignacio and Spanish Lookout getting supplies for the next phase. In San Ignacio, we went to the tile store and bought all the tile for the first bathroom, flooring for the bathroom that will be a kitchen first, and we ordered the wall tile for that shower when it becomes a shower. Our neighbor, Sharyn, is down here by herself trying to get their lodge project going in overdrive because Jim, her husband, had an offer for a few months of work in the US that he couldn’t refuse. Since she’s there alone, we combined forces and she also took the day to go to San Ignacio and Spanish Lookout, and she too picked out tile for their cabanas and lodge. We hit the San Ignacio market, and headed out to Spanish Lookout where we each bought a 1000 gallon tank. We both figure that with the water shortage that apparently happens every year around this time, we’ll need more water on hand when we have guests. Tom and I weren’t planning to get another tank for a few months, but since Sharyn wanted one too, and since they stack, we could bring two home with no more effort that it would take for one.

We came in the Georgeville Road, and had a brief panic attack because we suddenly ran into a wall of smoke about a mile from here. As I said before, we’ve been able to smell smoke for a couple of days, but from Friday night through last night, the smoke has been visible as well, and sometimes quite thick. We thought it was cloudy yesterday morning, but soon realized that it was just smokey. We had a brief rain shower while we were out yesterday, so we think the increased smoke in this area is probably because the fire got wet and created more smoke. This morning we can see blue sky again, but we don’t know if that’s because the fire is lower or if it’s because the wind shifted. The fire is still about 10 miles from here, and the smoke blows a long distance, so we’re not worried, although it’s a little stressful to constantly smell the smoke – what would be a good smell if you were sitting around a campfire, but much less of a good smell when you know the fire could ruin everything you have.

I took a quick walk around on Friday and took pictures of all the fruit that’s coming ripe on the property.

A couple of weeks ago, Bol gave us some bags that are supposed to keep the ants from ruining the sour saps before they’re ripe. I bagged everything I could reach on the tree, and Bol says that if the fruits in the bags don’t fall down within about 2 weeks, they’ll probably be good to grow to maturity. We had sour sap juice at Bol’s and Petranela’s last week, and it was delicious, so we’re anticipating a few ripe sour saps.

One of our avocado trees has a few avocados on it, and the other one is loaded. I tried to take a picture of a section of the tree so you can see how many are growing, but it’s hard to see green on green, so just picture this density of avocados all over a pretty big tree. I’m going to eat avocados for every meal in a few weeks!

The other thing I’m really looking forward to is the mangoes coming ripe. I’ve been able to get a few at the market for the past few weeks, so they’re just starting to come into season, but ours, as you can see, still have a little way to go. Mangoes are my absolute favorite, so we’ll be eating them with every meal too.

There are also lots of very small mangoes that have a lot of growing to do, so I’m keeping an eye on them as well.

Every once in a while when we’re clearing pasture or brush, we come across a pineapple plant. We’re not sure how long it will take for this pineapple to get full sized, but it seems to grow a little every week.

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