So, Kevin finished the raised beds in on our island garden. We still need to fill them with organic compost, which will happen sometime this week. It will be easier to contain the dirt and keep the weeds out.
Kevin's potato experiment is successful. Out of 16 potato seeds, four plants have taken hold in a serious way. There are two potato plants, in particular, that are growing so fast. Kevin has had to add another plank of wood on one side to contain the extra leaves he's heaping on top of them. We're feeling really encouraged... no mould, no grubs, all looking great. All organic, too, which is even better!
When the biochemists came last week, they told us that we would have to remove the infected leaves from each of our avocado and citrus trees. We have to leave 25% of the leaves on each tree (infected or not, but preferably not). Some of our avocado trees are almost a lost cause, but we're willing to experiment and see if they will bounce back. This morning, I started the task of removing as many leaves as I could... as I could reach. The leaf above shows brown spots, which we thought might be some kind of mould, but in fact, they are microscopic insects eating the veins on the leaf. And they spread from one leaf to another. The organic solution that Kevin will be spraying on the tree trunks and leaves is supposed to kill all the insects. I managed to tackle nine trees today. It's not difficult, but very time consuming. And of course, because the leaves are infected, I have to be careful to bag them and throw them in the fire pit. We cannot use the leaves as green manure around the base of the trunk, that would defeat the purpose. We have to get rid of the leaves and burning them seems the most efficient way to ensure they don't survive. Hopefully, next year we'll see some results. Good results. We're crossing our fingers.
When I clean and gut the fish, I throw the entrails in the river. And this is what happens...
A bunch of vultures don't waste any time circling and do what they do best... vulturing. Today, there were dozens of the huge black birds competing for the scraps. It didn't take long for them to swoop down, devour, and depart.
I am trying to move away from boxed cereals for breakfast in the morning. I'd rather eat something that I know I've made with fresh ingredients. I started doing this a month or so ago, then lapsed into old habits... but today, I got back on track. This concoction is sweet potato with butter, two eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and cranberries with a crumble topping made with flour, brown sugar, walnuts and almonds. Now all I have to do is store it in the fridge (this should last me a week) and in the morning I'll scoop a few spoonfuls and top it with homemade yogurt (a friend makes her own yogurt so it's not full of the junk store-bought yogurt contains). So I'm back to eating a wholesome breakfast full of good, healthy, nutritious ingredients.
Our elderberries are ripe, ready for picking, and Kevin is doing more research on how we can use them. They, too, are incredibly healthy (as long as we don't eat them raw... they contain a chemical similar to cyanide and must be cooked before ingesting... we learned that last year). I'm looking into making kambucha tea with ginger and elderberry. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out!
This morning, two biochemists came to visit our property. They have a lab about 30 minutes down the highway (on the way to San Jose) and Kevin had gone to see their operation last week with our friends Roger and Larry. The biochemists asked if they could come and see what our issues were specifically, to make sure they were producing the correct formula for us to apply. We showed them our avocado trees and they confirmed that tiny insects were the culprits. Although insects are also attacking our lemon and lime trees, they're different kinds and therefore we need a different formula for those. They told us not to worry, if we remove the diseased leaves off the trees, spray the organic insecticides and apply an organic anti-fungal spray, we should see all our trees return to health. Yay! We're so happy to have found a true organic solution. It feels good.
I can't believe it's been 5 days since I've written here. We've been pretty busy working in the garden, trying to find ways to increase our productivity. My parents sent me an awesome tomato plant guide, which I've been reading and implementing all the suggestions. We'll see how we fair. Our tomato plants are growing really well, but we only have a few tomatoes growing... this book says to get rid of all (well, almost all) the leaves. I started my pruning overhaul two days ago and already we're seeing results! Love it when something works.
Speaking of working, our friend, Tony, the mushroom grower in La Cima (just 10 km or so from us) sells his mushrooms, smoked trout (our trout smoked by Roberto who sells to Tony) and other produce at a new market down near San Isidro de General (about 100 km from us). He invited us to join him and see what the market was like. We met up in La Trinidad (5 km, right on the Pan-Am highway) at 5:30 am. As we followed Tony up the mountain, his truck broke down. We ended up towing him all the way back to the mechanics in El Empalme (20 kms from where we were when his truck broke down). We were travelling approximately 20 km/hr. It took us a while, but we eventually made it. We unpacked Tony's truck and loaded as much as we could into our SUV.
We got quite a bit into the back, we were all surprised at how much. I sat in the back... pretty cosy.
The market opens at 8 am every Tuesday. We got there at about 10:30 am.
Kevin had the task of weighing the fruits and vegetables, bagging them and setting them out (while people were waiting). Everyone was very pleasant... no one was rude. Mostly they were relieved Tony showed up, I think.
This market has only been open since February, but it appears Tony has made quite a name for himself. It was an absolute frenzy when we got there. So much so, I didn't have time to take a picture to document it. It took me a while to get into the swing of things to feel productive. I had no idea what anything cost, so when people asked, I kept having to apologize, telling them I didn't know. Tony then gave me a list with all the prices... which helped immensely! I finally felt useful.
This is Tony when things had calmed down.
The day started out pretty stressful (especially for Tony), but in the end it was a great day... it's good to be able to help friends out.
Look at what Kevin made for our little cucumber plants to climb. It's two-sided so we can have plants growing on two sides. The frame is made with bamboo sticks and the mesh is a hard plastic with holes, which makes it perfect for climbers to... climb! Yay.
Here are our little cucumber seedlings ready to shoot up!
Today we said goodbye to our Bettys... they have been so good to us, providing us with fresh eggs everyday. They're getting older and tired, and are now laying inconsistently. We were told they would only lay for 12 months... we had more faith... they've been laying for 18 months! We decided to give them to our neighbour, who will get a few more months of egg laying, which will be perfect for his small family. We will be without hens for two weeks or so, allowing us time to fix the coop and clean it thoroughly. We will be buying 15 (5 more).
So, any suggestions for a name? We're still partial to 'Betty'... but maybe it's time for something different... new batch = new name? It's a one name fits all Send us your suggestion... you never know, we might choose yours!
We said goodbye to our second French couple... in the same week! What a coincidence. It was so nice to speak French. This couple are from France and live in the Alps, not far from Geneva, Switzerland. They invited us to come visit if we're ever out that way... uh, well, I think we can plans to be :) One of the fabulous perks of meeting people from all over the world... our network of friends is definitely growing!
Here is what they wrote in our guestbook... the translation (my best crack at it anyway) is below:
Je n'étais pas convaincue quand Philippe décida de quitter la côte Pacifique pour prendre de l'attitude. Nous habitons dans les Alpes. Pourquoi monter à 2000 m? Comment dire? On arrive à Hush Valley Lodge, on resent la sérénité et l'harmonie.
Anne, Kevin et la nature vous accueillent dans ce lieu privilégié. Là on découvre un petit bijou de casita, à l'intérieur tout est dans le détail, charmant et cosy. On craque pour la cuisinière et la douche. On s'endort sur un lit d'étoiles. Au petit matin, ce ciel tellement pur nous invite au petit-déjeuner: oeufs, beurre et jus de fruits frais, pain et confiture faites maison: que du bonheur!
Anne est un fin cordon bleu (c'est des français qui le disent!). Attendez seulement le dîner s'il faut encore vous convaincre! Kevin prend le relai, il nous embarque dans sa belle aventure de l'élevage de truites: c'est incroyable! Il fait ça depuis toujours?!?
Anne, Kevin, vous deux, vous donnez tellement de bonheur. On vous quitte pour continuer notre route. On emporte avec nous plein de bien-êre, de jolis souvenirs... et de la truite fumée :)
Phillipe et Marie-Pierre
Viry, Rhone-Alpes, France
I wasn't convinced when Philippe decided to leave the Pacific Coast to gain altitude. We live in the Alps. Why climb to 2000 m (6,500 ft)? We arrive at Hush Valley Lodge: we feel the serenity and harmony.
Anne, Kevin and nature greet us in this privileged place. Here we discover a little jewel of a guesthouse, inside it's all in the detail, charming and cosy. We don't waste any time to start the wood stove then hop in the shower. We fall asleep on a bed of stars. In the early morning, this sky so clear invites us to breakfast: eggs, fresh butter and fruit juice, homemade bread and jam: what happiness!
Anne is a fine "cordon bleu"* (this coming from French people!). Just wait for the dinner if you still need convincing! Kevin takes the relay baton and takes us on the tour of his lovely adventure of raising trout: it's incredible! Seems he's been doing this forever?!?
Anne, Kevin, you two, you give so much joy. We leave you to continue our journey. We bring with us a sense of well-being, lovely memories... et some smoked trout! :)
* Cordon Bleu is French for 'Blue Ribbon" and is a designation given to the highest quality of culinary skill in French cuisine. What a huge compliment... it's humbling... and so encouraging! Thank you, Marie-Pierre and Phillipe!!
Our first French-speaking guests arrived yesterday and left this morning. The couple and their 17-year-old son are from Dordogne region in France. They only spoke French, so I was the cook and the tour guide this time around. Although I still speak French to my parents, when I slip into English... they understand me. I didn't have that luxury with our guests. It certainly was great practice... and I somehow managed. They were lovely people. They happen to be landlords of four beautiful stone houses in their village, which they rent out. If anyone is looking for a place to stay in France, let me know and I'll hook you up. Kevin and I can't wait to visit France again one day.
For our French-speaking readers, here is what our guests wrote in our guestbook:
Cher(e) Anne et Kevin,
Nous vous remercions pour votre charmant accueil, votre sens du service et votre grande hospitalité. Nulle doute que votre petite entreprise sera une vraie réussite! Nous avons de la chance de vous rencontrer. Le paradis existe vraiment, n'est ce pas? Si vous venez en France visiter la région du Lot, Dordogne, Midi-Pyrenées, c'est avec grand plaisir de vous accueillir avec des produits comme le foie gras, les noix, nos fromages, etc.
À bientôt et bon courage pour la suite,
Pascal et Paola
Loose translation: (my father is the translator, not me)
Dear Anne and Kevin,
We thank you for receiving us with such kindness, your sense of service and your hospitality.. No doubt that your little enterprise will be a real success! We consider ourselves lucky for meeting you. Paradise really does exist, doesn't it? If you come to France and visit 'our' region, it is with great pleasure that we would receive you and share our local products like 'foie gras', nuts and our cheeses, etc.
So long and all the best
Pascal and Paola
We continue to be amazed at how wonderful our guests are. It makes running a B&B a pretty great experience. Now, gotta run and get the guesthouse cleaned up and ready for our next guests... coincidentally, we are receiving another couple from France on Thursday. It's nice that we can offer this extra little language service... now if only my Spanish was as good!
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
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