Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The cow babies were hanging out after lunch today and Bulle Boy, their dad was resting nearby with his girls. What a life. The herd is fed like royalty, their food is cut, chopped and brought to them. They do have to swallow, all by themselves. Their poop is later collected, put into the biodigester and methane gas is produced. The byproduct is perfect fertilizer for the crops. No, we do not eat the cows, but you can feed them and pet them. The cows are not that friendly, but the bull is docile. Vida Esperanza!!!

I am so thankful that I live high in the mountains, have cool temperatures and pure water, because down below, it is hot, hot, hot!!! I drove to La Suiza to run errands and the heat was stifling, I could not wait to head back up. Even on one of our hot, sunny days, the air is cool, and when you go in the shade the air can be cold. I wear flannel or a sweatshirt everyday for at least part of the day and I sleep in sweats with a quilt. It is in the 60’s at night except for when it is in the upper 50’s. I love these temperatures on the farm.

For non electric entertainment, Phil reads novels or stories to us. This week he is reading a novel by Jane Hamilton the author of The Book of Ruth. The Short History of a Prince, is very funny, Jane Hamilton really has a way with words.

We get comfy in our big bed after dinner is finished and put away, my daughter Erika joins us, all bundled up in sweats with a pillow and blanket, and Phil reads in the dark wearing a headlamp. He is an interesting reader and I look forward to this time of night. Fortunately he came up with our latest read, we are out of books worth reading and always look forward to Vanity Fair magazine articles which we can now by at the Maxi Bodega. When there is no new reading material I suffer through riveting scientific farm articles like the miracle of bokashi compost, or sustainable black water systems. Please bring good books when you visit, old, used and paperback are just fine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yesterday morning a Cabecar Indigenous man, his wife and baby came down through our farm. It was a cool morning, rain was threatening, and they had walked down mountain for 8 hours already. They emptied their rubber boots of water, full from having crossed rivers. A vehicle was going down the mountain from our place and they were about to catch a ride. I grabbed a very small sweatshirt that had been donated and gave it to the indigenous mother for the baby, she said thank you. The Cabecar indigenous speak the Cabecar language and some Spanish, they are the most primitive of all of Costa Rica’s tribes. We later left the farm and saw this same family at the bus stop where the dirt meets the dirt. The buses run every three hours or so, or, whenever it gets there. We stopped to ask them if they were going our way, but they were not. When we returned some 3 hours later, they were still waiting for their bus and the cold rain was now more than a nasty drizzle. The mother had dressed her baby in the sweatshirt (they had no rain gear) and it covered the little body right down to the child’s toes. A gift of warmth for a child, thanks to our friends and their donations. Without you, we can not help them. We are all thankful for your kindness.

I am sorry that I can not take photos of every photo op, I try. I always ask permission first, sometimes they say no or other factors are involved. Documenting what we do is important for all of us, I must also respect the indigenous and their fears. Each opportunity is different from the next based on their experiences or their lack of them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Turrialba volcano as seen from the farm.

Tonight I made a coconut curry veggie dinner using what we had. I used malanga instead of potatoes, carrot and butternut squash, leeks including the white and dark green, an onion and extra garlic, fresh ginger chopped fine, madras curry, Chinese cabbage, a green and red sweet pepper, unsweetened coconut cream, craysins, a little salt and chick peas served over brown rice. I had a little left over chicken which I cut into bite size pieces and added for the last 12 minutes but meat is not needed because chick peas and brown rice are a complete protein. This recipe is good for you and inexpensive as most of the ingredients are in my garden, besides, I love madras curry and coconut. These are not necessarily the veggies the recipe calls for, you can use what you grow, or whatever is on sale, it’s all good. The craysins I used are an import, we do not grow cranberries in Costa Rica. Thanks Mr. Food for this inspired recipe. Fast to prepare and cook in about 30 minutes, one pot plus the rice, and delish!!! The photo is the original recipe from my old Mr. Food magazine.

I have not written about cooking lately, but I am always trying to create recipes using indigenous veggies. Sometimes I must ask my workers, what is it and what do I do with it. Sometimes the situation is reversed and they are asking me how do we prepare the leaves of that tree? Yup, we eat tree leaves and they are good. Chayamansa is one medicinal plant whose leaves we really like.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am very sad to tell you that one of my dearest long time friends has passed away of a heart attack at age 60. John Schandelmayer and I have been friends for some 37 years or so, and I learned of his death today. We do not have many dear friends in this world, and John was my best friend, I shall miss him very much.

I met John through an ad in the newspaper, Motorcycle for Sale. I bought my first used Honda from him and we were fast friends from that moment forward. He and his wife at the time, Linda, taught me to race motocross. We camped, shot pistols, and had the best times camping, racing motorcycles, and catamarans. He was a natural athlete, a race car driver, kung foo fighter, kayaker, world class wind surfer, heavy weather sailor, motorcycle racer, mountain biker and I am sure I have left something out of his amazing life. John would sit in his truck and read his bible before he raced, he was a devout Bahai. He was the brother I wanted and needed in my life.

John and Linda later divorced and eventually John married Vicki. To John’s credit, he and Vicki added Linda to their lives and they all raised Jeremy, John’s son with Linda. They would visit Linda in Georgia and stay with her; she would visit with them in Florida. Linda worked for John and I would joke that he had two wives; he never got rid of the first one.

Today I was going to skype his cell phone and say hello. We usually greeted each other with John’s customary, “How the hell are you?” He was as warm and comfortable as an old familiar shoe. As Vicki said to me, John oozed kindness, that is a good description of his warmth.

I had been anxiously awaiting his visit to our farm, he would have loved it I am sure. Phil and I had hoped that John would spend his retirement years breathing in this glorious place in which we live. We wanted to share it with him and now that opportunity will be lost forever. We will miss him more than he could ever know, but our lives are richer for having called him friend. So long my friend, you will always be in our hearts. But mine is breaking at this moment.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It’s a boy!!! At about 8AM on Sunday February 1st, our cow, number 71, gave birth to a baby toro. Our first baby boy calf has arrived and he is very sweet. Today when the herd came for breakfast, Mom left her day old baby standing alone. She is a first time Mom so she has a few things to learn. Our farm manager Marcos went and picked up the very heavy little guy (Marcos is very strong) and he carried him over to the truck, handed him off to Felipe (my husband) and then Marcos sat in the truck and Felipe handed the calf back to him. The baby immediately peed on Marcos. Well, it is a baby and it was scared, Marcos did not smell like Mom, and it was his first truck ride.

Immediately following the birth we started taking photos, the umbilical cord was still hanging. Mom allow other cows to sniff and then lick her calf. The neighbors from town all walked up to the pasture to get a look. Esperanza is a small town (44 people according to a government agency) and exciting news travels fast. Babies of all kinds are exciting news in our neck of the rainforest. Of course ours is the most beautiful baby, que lindo.