martes, 20 de abril de 2010

the Buzz

Apologies! Just when I got myself fired up to really take on the dry season challenge, I was unexpectedly whisked away from the farm. and it's going to be for awhile :( The decision was so abrupt, I barely had time to transplant my cabbage, pepper, and kale starts to the garden. All animal and plant chores have been allocated to caregivers, a responsibility I did not hand over lightly. Leaving Stella was the toughest part, although at the last minute we found her a four-legged companion:
meet Daisy Abril!
Daisy is a 5 month old Boxer--she's small, but definitely a tough cookie.
Happily, the two pups hit it off immediately and it has been chases and wrestling ever since!

The other buzz on the farm is the real deal:
I wish I could take credit; alas, we are merely the landlords of a new industrious tenant family. A local beekeeper found our lemon orchard an ideal sublet for his bee colonies, who inhabit these drawer-like boxes along the perimeter of our farm.
From the day they first arrived, a marvelous humming filled the air around our house and garden. Obviously thirsty, the little guys crowd around water spigots and the animals' water buckets. Stella's curiosity got the best of her only once, with a swollen snout to remind her to buzz off ;)
I am still trying to sweet talk my way into some free honey, otherwise we are grateful enough for the summertime bee song, the widespread pollination, and the built-in security of bee hives guarding our property lines :)

jueves, 1 de abril de 2010

Tree Crops

Lucky for me, lots of yummy crops are well established on the farm; they come not from rows in the garden, but high up in tree branches. Now that I've observed a good year or so of farm progression, I am beginning to recognize which tree crops show up when.

Year round, banana and platano trees fruit and flower in a showy display of tropical abundance. As a Virginia native, i am continually impressed by this dramatically beautiful and nutritious plant.
I didn't know before that despite our warm climate, many fruit trees here are seasonal. It is the middle of the dry season and several of my favorites (mangoes, avocadoes, guavas) are just arriving. The mangoes on the farm are a smaller variety than i used to purchase in the States, but pack plenty of juicy flavor. Mangoes in general are phenomenal trees, living upward of 300 years and producing copious amounts of fruit. Right now the mangoes are green and tart, exactly how Nicas prefer them.
And apparently they are not alone. Unripe mangoes are popular in most Central American countries, as well as in Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

During mango months, the very popular salted slices are sold everywhere on streetcorners and in markets. Some also prefer to add spicy chile flavor. I found the tedious job of peeling the hard fruits worth it for a salty sour snack.

Moving right along, avocado season is also upon us!!! The grand old tree outside my kitchen window is heavy with growing fruit. The problem is how to reach the high branches. Often by the time an avocado ripens enough to fall, it is rotty or invaded by hungry insects. Even if it lands relatively edible, it turns out i am also competing with an avocado-loving dog!
If I beat Stella to it, or am able to knock down a ripe-looking specimen with a long stick, I am awarded with a nutrient dense, delicious prize. they might not be so beautiful on the outside, but as you can see, perfect inside!
Tree cheers for Tree Crops!