Down on the farm

We try to carry a camera with us almost everywhere we go, because chances are we will see something worthy of a picture. We do a decent job of getting some interesting photos, but sometimes it’s the ones that we don’t get that are the coolest. For example this morning it sounded like someone was popping popcorn over our tin roof. I went out to see what it was and there were about 50 or so parrots eating the seeds off a tree above the house. Then the other morning I’m sitting on the porch enjoying a cup of coffee and a dozen or so toucans land in the big tree over the casita. One of my favorite sightings was, I’m watching a lizard run across the driveway and a 3-foot harmless vine snake chasing him. Lizards can run fast, but not as fast as a hungry snake. That snake grabbed him spun around and was back in the bush before you could blink an eye. A lot of stuff happens around here, I just wish the animals would have the courtesy to wait until we get a camera.

We did get this picture! I know some of you will freak out about this and then there are others that will think it is really cool. We saw our first Boa Constrictor on the property today (which we were pretty excited about). He was a fairly small one as far as boas go because they will get up to 12’ long or so. He was very docile as he moved over the fresh seedlings tray and didn’t really seem to care that we were that close taking pictures. Of course, we have a handy snake guide to identify any snakes we see just to be safe until we get better at snake IDs. If you are still thinking ohhhh snake, how many of you had a friend growing up or even yourself who might have had a boa for a pet? As far as snakes go, these are the ones we want around here. They are pretty much harmless to humans, control the rodent population and I just read that when they are bigger they will help control the possum population. Where was he last week when that pineapple thieving possum was around? Anyway, people in Belize say that you are very lucky if you are fortunate enough to have boas around your property. Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago we saw one on the road that was hit by a car and he was definitely a big full-grown snake. I mean big enough that he could probably eat your dog. Anyway, we are happy to have these creatures around here, it’s just, at first sight, they will startle you.

Our first boa constrictor.

Well, the smokehouse is coming along and should be ready fairly soon. The problem I was having was what to use for a firebox. Sure we could have made just a cinder block pit or something simple like that, but you know us, we wanted something a little different. A friend of ours was getting rid of an old water pressure tank that the bladder had gone bad in. Perfect, this could be the fire pit for the smoker. So after I pulled the bladder out, ground off all the brackets and ground off all the powder coating it was ready to take it to a local welder. I came up with a small sketch and explained to him that it needed to have a door that opened like a BBQ, look like a pig, (curly tail and all) and have the smoke pipe coming out his ass. He said, “No problem can you come back in a week?” We were anxious to see what he had come up with, and it was perfect.

Here piggy piggy.

So after another quick grinding and some clean up he was ready for his coat of high temp paint. Soon we will be filling up the pig’s belly with wood, the smoke will come out his ass into the smokehouse, curing the meat to perfection, all while putting a great smell into the air. It’s the perfect cycle.

pig painted
All painted up and ready to go.

There are a lot of carpentry shops in Belize that make all the beautiful hardwood furniture and stuff. Which means every shop has a big pile of wood shavings that they need to get rid of. They will gladly give you a bucket, a sack or even a truckload for free if you just haul it away.

truck shaveings
I think this is just from all the furniture we had made.

So we have been going to one of our favorite wood shops and loading up the truck with wood shavings. The shavings work great in the new veggie garden as well as around all the trees and other plants. And besides looking good it really helps to keep the ground cooler, weeds down and hold the moisture until the rains come.

shaveings bbq
Looking good around the yard.

Our oyster mushroom log is starting to give mushrooms almost daily now, we don’t know how long it will last, but we are sure enjoying them while they are here. Kelley sautéed them in butter and olive oil with a little salt and pepper and they were to die for. Hopefully, soon our other section with the common white button mushrooms will start to produce.  If they produce well like they are supposed to, then a lot of people already have their orders in for some, and if that works out then we will be putting in some more mushroom beds.

So, so tasty!

It seems that all we have been doing this last year is planting fruit trees and other edible plants that will benefit us in the long run. It has been a lot of work, but in a couple of years when everything starts giving back it will be great! A lot of the fruit trees we buy are grafted and should start to produce next year. We keep thinking that we have enough plants, but then we’ll see something that is different from all the others and we have to have it. And besides that, the prices on fruit trees and other plants are very inexpensive compared to anywhere else we have lived. For example, a 3’ coffee tree that is starting to bear fruit runs around $5usd. What we call tropical house plants in the states will set you back 2-3 dollars. Besides all the colorful, tropical plants we are adding around the yard, here is a list of the soon to be edible plants we currently have growing.

Coffee is doing well.

8 banana plants (4 different types)

2 peach trees

11 cocoa plants (yes this is where chocolate comes from)

27 coffee plants (that are starting to produce)

50 pineapple plants (if I can keep the critters away)

2 Surinam cherry plants

2 red raspberry plants

1 kumquat tree

1 Lisbon lemon tree

1 pineapple/orange tree (it gets oranges the size of grapefruits)

1 lime tree (it has one lime, but I know it will do better next time)

1 red grapefruit/Valencia orange (it’s grafted so it will produce both)

1 mango tree (grafted to produce two types of mangos year-round)

1 avocado tree (grafted with two types, should also produce year-round)

1 starfruit tree

1 wax apple (sorta the shape of a pear and taste like an apple)

1 Chinese plum tree

1 custard apple tree

1 macadamia nut tree

1 almond tree

1 coconut tree

dragon fruit

star blossoms
Blossoms on the star fruit tree.

Those are the trees that will be producing for a long time and provide fresh fruits all year long. Other things we currently have growing are vanilla, black pepper, mushrooms, okra, zucchini, chili peppers, artichokes, basil, rosemary, oregano, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass and I’m sure there are more. If you know us, then you know that we love plants and gardening, it’s a lot of work, but it sure makes us happy.

Peppers and squash.

Since I started writing this about a week or so ago, the rains have started to come, which makes everyone very happy. So far they only last for about a half-hour or so, but that is enough water for the plants that we don’t have to hand water so much. Once the rains really start, that’s when everything here really takes off and grows like crazy. The rains should have started in June and never came, so everyone here is really looking forward to some good rainy days. To tell you the truth we are also looking for a good rainy day so we don’t have to work in the yard and just have a relaxing movie day on the couch without feeling guilty.

Finally some rain.

4 thoughts on “Down on the farm”

    1. Thanks! I’m finishing up the smoker this week so next time there will be pictures of it all done.

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