We decided to do a little old-fashion processing. We took the 2lbs of coffee cherries that we picked the other day and decided that we would would hand process them. We have access to machines, but we wanted to document the process with a small batch using only common, every day items and manual labor. (We should have watched YouTube first, because there were quicker ways to do this first step, which involved using only a board and mashing the cherries :)
Step 1: Take the outer red peel off. This was much like peeling a rubbery grape. Our hands became sticky and slimy. It took us about an hour to peel the bowl of 2 lbs, however, we were always looking for better ways of doing it and laughing at how slimy our hands were.
TaDa!!!! One bowl of red slimy peels and 1 bowl of slimy seeds!
After a rinse, they went outside to dry in the sun. They were very wet and slimy for the first couple of hours, so every 20 minutes they were "raked" so that the sun could dry each side.
The beans are no longer wet to the touch, but they are now in the "parchment" stage. The actual coffee bean is drying and shrinking inside of the husk of parchment. The beans are not yet dry enough to have the parchment removed today, but I did just weight the pile. It is .96 lbs right now. We have lost over 1 lb. since we started removing the outer cherry and drying the beans. I am hoping to have a half pound at the end this adventure, but at this rate...that might be a little optimistic. I will let you know how the rest goes later!
The picture above is of one of the trees the pickers will get to in a few days. By then the cherries will even be a little more ripe. Not every tree has ripe cherries on them, but there were enough trees to start the first "picking." As seen below, some trees have no red cherries yet.
First signs of a Watch Dog
Yesterday we had talked with someone about having the field picked this week, but we were not told what day they would start. This morning our puppy was barking from our front porch looking towards the coffee fields. Our neighbor's dog (who is normally the one that barks at strangers) was on the porch just sitting there watching our dog. Much like a proud mother would do, so my husband assumed our puppy was just being loud and barking at a fly or something. He kept trying to quiet her, but she would not have it. It turns out that the pickers had started this morning and the puppy would not stop her barking until we acknowledged the people in the coffee fields. Good puppy!!!
(Image is from a previous parade)
One thing I have not really talked about much is what is sounds like to live on this hill by the jungle. I know it sounds like an odd thing to bring up, but bear with me.
Not only do we hear the birds all day and the howler monkey when he comes to visit this part of his territory, but there is another more unseen human activity as well. The schools spend all year practicing for the parades and the drums can be heard echoing through the canyon all the way up to our house. We hear them from breakfast until dinner time most days. Even when the rain has come and the mist has floated over the land and the birds are silent, the steady beat of the drums can be heard.
If a person had been dropped off here, near a jungle when the mist made it hard to see 5 feet in front of you and all you heard were the drums beating...... However, the schools are probably 2 to 4 miles away in each direction and they are not nearly as close as they sound. I think it is the way the canyon is around our house... :)
The good news is that the drums finally are in sync around this time of year. Right before all of the parades start and big holidays begin, the bands sound really good. So, for the last few weeks, I think all of the schools have it all together. As a mother that has had a child in band, I know there is a learning curve....up here on this hill, we get to hear all of the schools and each of them proudly pound on their new drums each phase of that learning curve. I can tell you that I like October, November and December the best. :)
I do not have a good way to record what it sounds like. So I recorded a few seconds with just my cellphone from my front porch, which does not do it justice on what I actually hear. You can click the link to my google drive, but you might have to turn the volume up and remember that these are drums from 2-4 miles away and my phone recorder tries to mute out background noise. https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4w0lDC_PWYjYmlEd291LXZibEE
We have a new kitten. We had always planned on getting a kitten for our son, just had not quite planned on getting it yet. Like most of our days here, things do not go quite as planned, they kind of go however it turns out. :)
We went to a wonderful volunteer community event where they spay and neuter animals. The vets and volunteers spayed/neutered over 200 animals on this day, including our two puppies! What an organized chaotic bunch of wonderful, wonderful people!!!!! Anyways, while we were waiting on the patio with a bunch of other people, we were talking about pets and other topics. I had mentioned that we would eventually be getting a black kitten in the future. Within moments, I was escorted to a bunch of crates where someone had rescued some starving kittens the night before and brought them to this clinic. In one of the crates, there was this almost 2 lb., black and white kitten. My son of course fell in love with it as soon as he heard the purring motor kick in. Of course it was meant to be, so we now have 3 animals in line for the spay/neuter clinic. :)
A little note about this little, adorable kitten. She has NO fear. She has shown the puppies that she is not afraid of them and even snuggled up with one of them to sleep last night. She purrs constantly and has already made the house her home too.
My neighbor and husband made me a lamp. My son helped with the lampshade and even got to practice welding a wire frame. The lampshade is made out of paper and the lamp is made from scrap wood that was laying around the farm. :)
Here is a picture of the farm. Rick was practicing taking pictures today. I love how green is it here and today was a wonderful day to be outside!
We finally got our driver's licenses!!!!!! Woohoo!! So, we go into the office and hand over our paperwork and wads of copies and are told to sit down. We sit in the waiting area with the other 30 or so people. My husband watches the other people closely to see what we should expect. We not only see each and every person in the room go first to one desk, answer some questions, get their picture taken, go to another desk and get their eye's checked, sit down, get called into a room for a hearing test, go the payment window, sit down, get called for their i.d.s and leave....but we see the next 20 or so people after us do this too. We start to think that we are never going to get a turn, when we see our passports and wads of paper being brought from a back room up to the front desk. Yay!!!
We were rushed through the processes after we were finally called up and we now have Panama driver's licenses! One more item down on our long list of items to get done.
We have one item that was ADDED to our long list. Apparently, the notary that was working on a property transfer for us was working off of the wrong blueprints. So, we did manage to get new copies of the correct blueprints, but still have to get the new copy to the notary. However, November is full of holidays, so we will have to wait until next week to do that.
November 3, 4, 5, 10, 28th are Holidays in Panama
There will be many parades and tons of celebrating this week.
November 3rd - Separation Day from Colombia
November 4th - Flag Day
November 5th - Colon Day
November 10th - Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos
November 28th - Independence Day from Spain