Yesterday I spent most of the day writing my book. I felt good to put in several hours in a row. I was on a roll. However, just so I could feel like I'd done something productive on the farm, Kevin and I went up to the pasture to check things out.
Last week we had talked to Martin about clearing the area, chopping the blackberry bushes right down and making sure the grass is cut short. If we allow the pasture to get overgrown, after five years, it's considered 'a forest' and we can no longer cut (based on Costa Rica laws). We have no definite plans for the pasture, but we have over 15 acres, so we want to keep our options open. Of course, that's a lot of maintenance and hard work for one person to keep the grass cut short with a machete and weed wacker. His horse, Paloma, is often up there, but one horse is not enough. Martin suggested that we get some cows to help Paloma out. Although, we really aren't looking to own cattle, there are farmers who have cows but not enough land for their cows to graze. Farmers are always looking for people with land. So, we figured as long as we aren't responsible for the cows, they don't need milking (by us), then we'd be happy to make the exchange. Martin spent part of last week building a fence that will enclose the cows away from our water source. There is a nice watering hole for them up there, but we don't want them trodding on our spring water pipes and contaminating the area. Yesterday, we went up to meet our three new lodgers. Martin assures us that three cows will do the trick within a few weeks.
Of course, the fringe benefit is all the magnificent manure for our compost. I'm not a fan of cow manure... it's stodgy and messy... but I'm quickly getting over it as I'm a firm believer that it shouldn't be wasted. So, we went up with our blue bin and a spade and I didn't waste any time collecting it. Cows are docile, the didn't give me any grief, they just walked away and let me do my thing. Meanwhile, Kevin took pictures for some 'before and after' pics that we'll post later on, to compare the difference. We're told that cows do, sometimes, nibble on blackberry bushes, although I have no idea how with all those nasty thorns. Even so, nibbling won't be enough. We will have to get a few strong, strapping guys to come up for a day or two and chop them right down. All those bushes in the background... those are blackberries... and our land is covered with them. We would consider selling blackberries, and many people in these parts do, but the prices are so low these days, for us, it's not worth the effort. One kilo of blackberries yields less than $1.50... it's a whole lot of hard work, with thorny branches to contend with, for very little return. We've given a patch to Martin to use as he pleases, and during the picking season, he collects them for fresh juice in his restaurant and sells the rest, but we have too many for him to manage on his own, especially since he's busy doing other things. We're trying to find a farmer who would be willing to tend to the blackberries in exchange for selling them. We don't want to pay someone to take care of the bushes, but if someone chooses to, then whatever they pick and sell is theirs to keep. Hopefully we can find someone in the area who would be interested. Of course, we need to make sure they are trustworthy and someone we don't mind having on the property, etc. It's all about the right balance. In the meantime, the cows are a great exchange and we'll start there.
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
Click here to pick up your copy of Anne's book! It's all about their adventure and the establishment of Hush Valley Lodge: from leaving their middle-class suburban lifestyle in Canada to reinventing themselvess in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica. Check it out and if you enjoy it, please spread the word! Thanks!