After such a long dry season, I was glad to see some rain. However, the last 4 days have been too much rain!
The first 2 pictures are the ditches that we cleaned out by our house to let the rain flow under our driveway. We got them ready just in time!
The next 3 pictures are of the road to our house. 5 months ago we had road work done, but there were a few sections without any gravel. They started working on putting the gravel down 2 days ago, but ran out of gravel and were going to start again today. I do not think they did anything today though. What a mess!!!!
The last picture is how much rain they are getting off of the hill and in some places it is going over the roads. The rain storm has lasted 2 hours now and it appears to be getting a little better now.
I sent these 2 bug pictures to Sarah, who really likes bugs, and here is what she said:
"Cutest little beetle! And a colorful stink bug"
"If you boil them in water the stink bug water will protect you from mosquitos!"
"....and then you can eat the leftover carcasses"
Ummm...I am not going to be eating stink bugs, don't worry!
Starting with the creepy crawlies first today.
The first 2 pictures are of the same bug. It was a cool color, most of them are just brown. These are the ones that keep bumping into the walls and windows until they die.
The 3rd picture is of one of the top 5 most dangerous/poisonous items in Panama. It is the white caterpillar that sends people to the hospital for days.
The last is another random bug on the wall outside.
Some sort of gooey mushroom looking stuff growing just in one area.
Here is what you get for $12 at the fruit/veggie stand. Tomatoes, watermelon, pineapple, apples, bananas, passion fruit, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, leeks and bell peppers. I am set for the week. :)
Widow-Maker Retrieval Day
Each year we and by we, I mean Rick, goes through the field and tries to get all of the dead broken branches that are stuck in the trees. These limbs would seriously hurt somebody if one of them fell on someone as they were walking through the field. This includes people that were taking a tour, the pickers at harvest time, a puppy playing around or just someone walking through to get to one of the fruit trees.
Rick says it took about 20 tries to get 1 widow-maker. He retrieved all 4 that we found.
Below is what his attempts looked like. :)
After the Retrieval
Next, he broke them up to burn them. There is not enough time today to burn them all. They were all pretty big. While breaking one of them up, a ton of very large ants came out. As far as I know, there are no Panama ants that do not hurt when they bite you. These are larger than the ones we normally see, so I am just guessing that their bites are worse....
Everything is turning really green. The trees are very happy about the few days of rain each week. :) Oh yeah, we also got 6 more items crossed off the to-do list!
It is now the slow season for us. Harvest is a few months away and the rain is here a few afternoons a week now. So, while we were not super busy with everything else, we sat down yesterday and made our to-do list. It was 2 pages long and I think we both were too sad at how much there was on it to continue adding things.
Last night we signed up for the workaway program. It is a way for people to travel around the world and learn new things and meet new people along the way for cheap. We provide food and lodging and our wonderful sense of humor (okay, so it is supposed to be adding cultural experience and not so much my sense of humor, but hey!) and someone travelling through helps us out for a few hours a day. I will let you know how it goes, but I am feeling very hopeful after the depression of seeing our huge list of stuff. :)
Today, Rick and I accomplished 2 items off of the list. I was the lucky one. I just had to refinish some wood in the outdoor kitchen. I forgot to take a before picture, but the first picture is when I was halfway done sanding it.
This area used to be exposed to the elements outside and the wood started getting black and pretty gross. Now that it is under a roof, it was time to spruce it up. I am not a wood-working kind of person, so I think I did a pretty good job.
One of the cameras went offline this week. While trouble-shooting it, another one went down too. One of the issues that we found is that waterproof items made for places other than Panama and not-so-waterproof. The box that houses the wires was full of water from the last huge downpour. Then we found out that the wire that is buried underground got water too. Which might not be so bad, if it had not been the fake CAT 5 wire we had purchased our first year. So, he had to dig up some of the pipes, try and take out the old wire (1 of them broke inside) and then get new wire through the underground pipes. Then he had to get it through all of the pipes into the house where all of the magic happens...haha. Here are a few pictures of the mess. He fixed it and still had time to fit in something that was not even on our list and 1 other item that was!
Mowing the Lawn
We normally use our neighbors mower, but it was sadly not available today. So, Rick mowed our lawn with a weed-eater. The lawn was getting a little out of control...maybe not the lawn, but the weeds growing in the lawn were!
Recycling Milk Jugs
Since we have learned that waterproof does not really mean waterproof for Panama, this year Rick is putting shields over the cameras. I cannot tell you how many outdoor, waterproof cameras we have had flood with water. Maybe his milk jug hoods will help save a few of them this year. I took a picture of my sweet husband fixing the hoods over the cameras from the live-feed camera app on my phone. Maybe he won't read this post and won't see this picture...haha.
We had a coffee tour with a person that actually is doing the workaway program. Talking to her actually helped us decide to try the program out. Anyways, she was a Entomologist and really, really likes bugs....
I have asked her to go through the blog and add comments on any of the bugs that she knows the names of - if she has time. I am hoping she does! We were talking about the Whip Spider that day and she was hoping to see one while she was down in this area. Of course after she left, that night we see a Whip Spider! I sent her the picture, but no more talking about creepy bugs or spiders with people for me....just rainbows and butterflies from now on!
I was responding to someone's email this morning and took these pictures to better show what I was talking about. The first picture below is a different coffee farm's trees and the second picture is a picture of some of our trees. After putting the 2 pictures close together, it reminds me of what all of the hard work is for and how healthy our trees are.
Last, but not Least....Bathtub Update
One of my dearest and best friends just sent me a picture of what arrived for me in the mail today. I will be seeing her in a few weeks and had my new tub sent to her house!!!! YAY!!!!!
Some may still think that my blow-up bathtub is just silly, but I will take silly over no bathtub any day. :)
For those that have read this blog from the beginning, you might remember how excited I was about my inflatable bathtub. I am sad to say that this picture is after we found a hole in it and fixed it. I am afraid the tub is done for, but there is good news for me. The price for a replacement has gone down, so bathtub #2 is on its way.
Living in a place with 3 showers and no bathtubs is just not right! Actually, we have 4 showers on the property, but yesterday I converted one into a storage area for me. I figure if my husband gets to have a shop and 3 sheds, I can use a shower area that is no longer used. :)
The mail system here is very slow. My son just received his Easter card from his grandmother that was sent 1.5 months ago. At least it finally showed up at the post office though and was not lost in never-never land.
This is about how long it takes when you do not use a freight forwarder. The entire envelope (front and back) has stamps all over it, and it is kind of impressive. If we would have used the freight forwarder to get this letter, it would have only cost $3. But, when you add that up for each envelope a person gets in his mailbox in a day, it starts to get expensive.
Below are pictures of a stick bug and a moth. It amazes me how camouflaged creatures can be. The moth picture is a little blurry, but it was hiding out on the side of our house by the roof-line and my phone just would not focus on just the moth. :(
My phone is only 4 models behind....haha
One of the frustrating things here is that property owners that do not mow or cut down their empty fields, tend to set them on fire to remove all of the brush and weeds. Sometimes these fires get out of control and melt the pvc water lines, burn through internet/cable wires, extend to other properties...the list goes on. The fire department here is not like that in the States. There was one truck that did show up, but I am not sure if they had water in their truck. The fire ended up going through acres and acres of land.
This one was a fire on Friday that was just across the street from my son's school and was not one of the bigger ones that we have seen, but it still surprises me when I come across one. Now that the rainy season is almost here, we should not see any more until next year.
During the rainy season it is even hard to start a fire using paper and twigs, so wet fields would take a ton of gasoline.
Rings Around the Moon
A few nights ago the night sky was amazing. There was this beautiful ring around the moon and the sky was so clear! The first two pictures below are from my phone and it did not capture the ring. The 3rd picture is from an actual camera and you can barely see the ring. :(
Below are images from the web that look similar to what we saw that night.
Caterpillar and Moths
Here are the bugs for the week. The large moth was over 3 inches and had a cool camo-look going on. :)
The dog can make anything a pillow!
We went to see the monkeys and sloths in Volcan. There is lady there that treats orphaned and injured animals and exotic animals that people had kept as pets at one time. (The sloths love to be fed almonds!) She even has a hyperbaric chamber that was used to help one of the sloths recover from an eye injury.
The trip started off with a drive that was a little over an hour and would have been a little quicker if some cows had not decided to block the road that day. :)
After our outing to see the animals, we went the Boquete Bar-b-que Fest. They were having a competition for the best bar-b-qued hamburgers, chicken, brisket and ribs. Live music and wafer cookies filled with caramel. Mat decided the cookies were pretty good.
We were rooting for one of our guests in the Coffee Can to win the competition, who sadly did not win the competition, but he still had fun.
Coming up soon
We almost have the new shed done and then it will be on to the solar drying area. In between those projects, we have some tile work to finish and flashing for some new gutters. Our to-do list does not seem to be getting smaller.....
There is one type of porcupine that lives in our area. It is a small creature, that is supposedly pretty tame, but will show its quills when threatened. (the images of the porcupine are from the internet and are not of the actual one on our farm)
Our dogs have tried eating or playing, not sure which one, with the local porcupine. It appears that it did not go well, since both dogs came running home with quills in their paws and around their mouths. Alas, I do not think there will be a friendship between the porcupine and the puppies.
I think our garbage issues are finally under control. It has been about week since Rick installed a top on the bin. The area is pretty clean now, there are still people that walk by and throw trash near the bin and not in it, but it is nothing like it was before. Counting this as a win!
The Coffee Can
Our guest house now has an outdoor kitchen and sitting area. However, we are still waiting on another box of tile to finish the back-splash and counter-top over the dishwasher. The area turned out really nice and comfortable. :)
This week, we are working on building another shed/storage area and then we will begin the solar drying racks for the coffee. Right now, we use solar drying racks for the coffee that comes off of leased coffee trees, but have a big processing plant take care of the rest. This year, we are ready to take on the processing of all of our trees, or so we think.... :) More to come on that project!
Update on Work
We have cleaned out the water ditches in preparation for the rainy season, which included mulching a ton of leaves and branches.
Now we are finishing up the outdoor kitchen in front of the Coffee Can. They are tiling the counter-tops today and we just realized that the box of tile that just came in has a few broken tiles. We will now have to go order another box and wait the 10 days for it to arrive. But we can get the some of it up today. Right now the area has been full of mortar, dust, tools....quite messy!
The roof over the new kitchen and the Coffee Can was painted and sealed up ready for the rain to start. The processed coffee from this last harvest is now stowed and in big sacks. The new shelves for the Coffee Store have been started and just need to be mounted to the walls and holes in the yard that the dogs have created are all filled in! Every day there is something! :)
Bugs and the white moth
We have a few bugs to look at. The 1st is some kind of beetle that was suntanning on our porch. The bug in the 2nd picture has a spot on his back that looks like a thumbprint. The 3rd and 4th picture are of a green mouth cricket looking bug and the 5th is a fluffy white moth.
Everything is in bloom!
The jungle has flowers growing all over, the coffee is in full bloom and the fruit is growing on the trees. It is just so colorful and beautiful.
Update on our Trash Bin
I was so happy about how clean I made the trash bin in the last post. But sadly, my efforts did not even last 24 hours. However, I caught the culprit of the messes in the act! Hector, Simon and Rick got the dog out of the bin and cleaned it up again, but that only lasted another day. Today my husband is going to make a lid for the bin. We will win this war with garbage! :)
Just a quick update on Hector's rock wall....there were a few small earthquakes in Costa Rica that trembled our grounds. I am sure we will see him out there again fixing it. :)
After 3 months of no rain, our farm got a good nice shower today! I am not excited for the rainy season, but I am excited for the plants to get some water. The rest of the coffee trees should start blooming now and we can see what kind of harvest we will have this year. :)
I also have some seedlings that can get planted outside now.....yay!!!!!
A year ago we placed a garbage bin at the bottom of the hill. The first picture is all of the trash that was thrown into the bin without a garbage bag, or garbage from bags that ripped open due to animals. Trash collectors here manually pull out garbage bags, the trucks do not lift up the bin and dump the garbage out into a truck. So....today I took 2 large garbage bags down and bagged all the extra trash up. So disgusting, but thankfully it is cleaned up and won't need to be done for another year!!!!
Update from Easter Egg Hunt
We could not hide real eggs around the farm for my son to find on Easter because the dogs would have eaten them all. So we hid paper eggs all over and some of them had a money value. We told my son he should ask the dogs to help him find all of the paper eggs, but he was pretty sure that they would not be helpful. haha :)
This bug was on the hood of my car. I think the Scarabs are due to start coming out again soon....so not looking forward to those again.
Pranks between my son and my husband have been a favorite for a number of years now. As my son gets older, the pranks are getting better.
It started with tape over the faucet, so when Rick turned on the sink in the bathroom, water would aim straight at him. This has been a yearly favorite.
Next came the phone alarm prank. My husband is outside re-starting his phone. I asked what he was doing and he explains that his phone has been glitching all morning. The alarm keeps going off. I asked him if he had talked to his son about that problem yet and I could see his brain working really hard to figure out if the boy really could have done that. After laughing and figuring out what alarm app kept activating, he went straight to our son's room...haha
Rick went out to the flea market today, which gave the boy and I time to plan the next one. We used some food dye and flour to make some fake blood. Rick comes home and our son is on the couch, we have the med kit out......
As a former paramedic, we were not sure if he would notice it was fake right away or not. We did not let him panic more than a few seconds before we gave it away though. :)
Retaliation has already started and this might be a very long day!
The town we live in does not have Easter egg decorating supplies. The larger city does, but we did not go to the larger city last week and I was frantically searching every store in Boquete for something to use to dye eggs. It turns out that the only food coloring the grocery stores carry is yellow and black. I had never even seen black before, although I am not a frequent food dye shopper.
After jokes of bumble bee eggs, school bus eggs and taxi looking eggs, I went searching for dye again. I finally found a small convenience store with 2 boxes of dye. Yay!!!!
We spent last night coloring eggs and yes some of them are a dark charcoal grey (they never turned a true black.) :) Rick could not wait and started before the kids!
Rick and Mat finished putting up some hammocks and have started on the outdoor kitchen. Melvin was here to help with the stucco and counter-tops. I am thinking the kitchen will be done within the next 2 weeks. I will post pictures when it is done.
Sorry, no bug pictures this time. I am getting lazy on the bug hunting.:)
It has been awhile since I have written, but lots has been going on. I even had a quick trip to the US. Time has been flying so fast!
This weekend we went to two patio sales. It is hard to find some items that we are used to in the USA while living here in Panama and especially items that are priced affordably. This weekend, there was a 14 family patio sale held in one building to benefit the Friends of the Animals Foundation and another huge sale where items had been donated to the Handicap Foundation and this patio sale was one of their bigger fund-raisers. As you can see from the pictures, it was a popular place to be this weekend and very crowded inside the building. I have a few bruises on my ribs and feet from people trying to push past me. We made a few purchases, but nothing super exciting. :)
Family Visits Us
One of the reasons we were busy getting the shipping container converted into a guest house, was that we knew some of our family members were coming to see us this year. Rick's family made it here first. His sister, her husband and kids and Rick's mother all made the trip here to see us!!!!
The family went back to the west coast US, but our nephew stayed to help on the farm for a few months. He is getting to learn how hard working here can be. :)
The school year has started for our son. I love hearing how one of his professors is hilarious. Funny teachers and ones that I could relate to always made school more fun. :)
The Coffee Can
Our container-guesthouse is functional! We have already had 5 different groups stay/rent it out and a we have more people booked in the next few weeks. I would like to officially introduce "The Coffee Can."
We are now in the process (thanks to the help of our nephew too) in making an outdoor kitchen to go with the guest house. We have most of the appliances, but we needed to extend the patio and tile the patio - scheduled for this week.
Then the next weeks will be the building of counters, placing appliances and making cupboards. :)
Lots of Creedy Crawlies
Last, but not least....here are some bugs from this last month!!!!