Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

I’ve been thinking about this for days and have drawn a blank. Birds fly by, hummingbirds visit the patio, many things are in motion but there hasn’t been anything this week that has inspired me to grab my camera.

Today though, I went out with a friend to play some tennis. There was plenty of motion there! But I wanted to play, not take photos of playing. But, how about a photo of anti-motion, the opposite of motion? I have a good one of that! For some reason there were green lizards hanging out in various places on the chain link fence. They didn’t move when we approached them, and they didn’t move for over an hour while we played. This guy looks about as unlikely to get into motion as anything I’ve seen for quite a while :D

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The Finca – Another Farm Report

On Saturday, Cedo was headed out to do some errands and check on things at the farm, so I went with her. There are two new calves and I wanted to see them, and we always have a good time when we go running around together. Things seem to be going well at the farm at the moment. One of the calves was sick but is doing much better and none of the other multitude of possible problems has popped up recently.

The radio was on but it was a church sermon. Cedo said it just happened to be on, and the cows don’t seem fussy about what is on the radio. It gave us something to chuckle about for a bit though.

The little calves are so cute. I hope they continue to thrive and do well. The piglets are also doing well, and the one pig with red paint still looks a bit silly but the adults are fine. I didn’t take pictures this time, but there are some fairly recent ones from my last visit. I noticed one of the geese was missing. Cedo pointed her out sitting on eggs. So, with any luck there will be baby geese also.

Don't go near this one! She is a guard goose, not a petting goose and I'm sure she would be happy to bite off your finger.

Don’t go near this one! She is a guard goose, not a petting goose and I’m sure she would be happy to bite off your finger.

 

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It’s Mango Season!

Mangoes do very well in Panama, and many of the trees are huge and very old. Not only are they beautiful trees, they give wonderful fruit. I always look forward to mango season! There are many types, some earlier, some later, some bigger, smaller, different flavors and colors, but they are all so good. One side benefit of biking around is finding various spots good for picking up mangoes.

The Marañón or cashew apples are very interesting and I have written about them before. They are soft and delicate so they don’t travel well or make it to stores. You have to find a tree. To me, the smell and taste is very unusual but I have come to really like it. It’s hard to describe, maybe something like an exotic, musty pear?

But, we are supposed to be talking about mangoes, so on to my other favorite spot.

Last year I ate a lot of the big colorful mangoes and tossed the pits in the compost pile. This year I have two small trees! Maybe in time they will start producing mangoes in this yard.

Mangoes here are kind of like citrus in Florida. When the fruit is in season it’s everywhere, almost to the point of becoming a nuisance if you have lots of fruit dropping in your yard. But it’s fun for me to find mangoes, and I always keep bags on my bike just for lucky finds like these. I already have two gallon size freezer bags full of frozen mangoes though, so I’d better not bring home more than I can eat!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

I am not a morning person and it’s unlikely that you’ll find me out at dawn. Once in a while though something wakes me up and then I’m glad to enjoy the early morning light, the sun rising, the birds singing, and everything that happens at the beginning of the day.

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Sugar Cane

They grow lots of sugar cane in this area. When I ride my bike south and west of David I pass huge fields of it.

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One day when I was out I came across workers harvesting the sugar cane. I have been told that they burn the field first, so when they harvest there are only sticks to cut and load. It is surprising how organized and fast the activity is. Full trucks were leaving every few minutes to be replaced by empty ones, and there was a constant stream of containers to be loaded on the trucks.

I was curious where they were taking all that cane so I asked around and learned that there is a big sugar processing plant in Alanje, a town south of Boqueron and west of David. I figured it only made sense to go check it out for this sugar cane story.

Around Alanje and near the sugar processing plant I found even more sugar cane, fields of it as far as the eye can see! It has been harvested recently so the fields have small plants just starting to regrow. I found the plant but wasn’t able to see much of it, and the guards didn’t seem inclined to let me in the gate.

Now I know where they take all that sugar cane. I was told that they make molasses and white sugar there. There is another type of sugar that comes in solid cakes of brown sugar called raspadura or panela, but that is made elsewhere and sometimes in people’s homes.

An aside – I stopped under a tree in front of a field where some guys were following a tractor. One of them came over to talk with me. He said he had seen me on the bike before, and also on Sunday when I was out with the cyclists from Argentina who were staying with us. He decided the next time he saw me he would ask me where I lived! He said they were picking up rocks because rocks can get in the machines and cause problems. I’m always being reminded that I am noticed everywhere, and that farming anything is always more complicated than it looks.

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A Toucan in the Yard

We were sitting on the patio yesterday talking,  and suddenly Joel hollered TOUCAN!  He spotted it as it flew through the yard and landed on our orange tree. I grabbed the camera and headed into the yard thinking it was in my neighbor’s orange tree until Joel made me realize it was in our tree, not 10 feet from where I was standing and I had better not move one more inch!

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This is a Fiery-Billed Aracari, an unusual type of toucan only found in southwestern Panama and southern Costa Rica. We have only seen them a couple times before high in the trees behind our house. What a surprise to have one land right in our yard! I couldn’t believe I was that close to it.

In a few minutes it flew into my neighbor’s yard just over the fence, which made for a better photo.

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After that it flew to the big tree behind our house and then into the woods beyond. The cyclist visiting us a few days ago said she saw them in the woods, so maybe they are hanging out in our area right now. We see a lot of cool stuff here, but a rare visit from this colorful and exotic bird is a real treat indeed!

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Little Spiders

Since my “office” is on the patio I am often visited by various insects and spiders. I keep my camera and macro lens within grabbing distance in case I am inspired to point it at something. These are a few of the tiny spiders who have visited me recently.

This is the last of the bug and spider photos, for now. With all the insect life around here I am sure there will be more.

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Just a Few Miscellaneous Photos of This and That

I have various photos that don’t fit under any particular subject, just things I’ve come across as I go about my days.

It is really nice here now. The rainy season has returned. It isn’t raining most days but we have had a couple good downpours and more sprinkles. It’s generally cooler with no more strong winds, and the humidity is back. For me this works, and it is surprising how much greener everything is already.

We have been having fun with a couple great cyclists who are staying with us, and we have mostly just been chilling this weekend. This coming week? Who knows? The plan tomorrow is a trip to the fishermen, some tennis play, and there will be more bike rides later. I let the leaves cover the yard while it was so hot and dry so now it’s time to clean up the yard as well.

Life is good in Panama :)

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Finca (farm) Report

On our way back from Rio Sereno we stopped by Cedo’s farm. One of the calves had a tummy upset and diarrhea, and Cedo had bought some medicine for him in Rio Sereno. She wanted to deliver the medicine and check on him.

I enjoyed seeing the calves. They were in their building to keep them out of the hot afternoon sun, and they also spend nights in there with a light on. There are vampire bats here who will bite calves and make them sick, and the lights keep them away. I watched as the caretaker gave the sick calf his medicine, and listened as Cedo talked with him about teaching the calves to eat. Like any newborn they are fed mother’s milk (with a bottle though), and must learn to eat and drink without the bottle. They are separated from their mothers in a few days or the mothers don’t want to accept the milking machine and of course, being dairy cows, they need to be milked. Every time I visit I learn a little more about taking care of cows.

Someone else is going to have a calf one of these days

Someone else is going to have a calf one of these days

The cows were hanging around in the milking area with the radio on. Cedo told me that the radio is for the cows. They are calmer and give more milk if they have music in the afternoon before they are milked! I wonder if they would rather have Mozart than pop rock, or if they don’t care either way.

Since we were there, of course we had to visit the pigs.

This farm visit was Tuesday. On Wednesday Cedo went back to the farm to meet the veterinarian who was doing an inspection of all the animals. She sells Grade A milk to Nevada, one of the bigger dairies in the area and there are strict requirements, one of which is this yearly vet report on the health of the animals. She came back frustrated because she also needs to go back to the farm every day this week to document exactly what each cow is consuming, how much and what kind of food, and how much water. She also needs to take the water to be tested for bacteria or other contamination which will cost $50. She thinks this is a bit over the top for a small, cleanly run farm. But, I guess you can’t fault the dairy for having strict standards for the milk they sell under their label.

Farming is WORK. I have a whole lot more appreciation every time we buy milk from the store because I know more about all the effort that goes in to producing it.

Some beautiful flowers blooming near the milking building.

Some beautiful flowers blooming near the milking building.

 

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A Day Trip to Rio Sereno

Rio Sereno is a town on the Costa Rica border. Drive up to Volcan and keep going as the road turns west, and it will take you through hills and mountains and some gorgeous scenery to the town. We (Cedo, Lauren, Joel, and I) had no particular reason to go except to see the area and have a day out.

The town itself is small, and there are a lot of little markets lining the main street.

Were were actually in Costa Rica when we ate lunch. The other side of the street was Panama. There was a duty free store just down the street with some excellent prices on liquor, but we were told it isn’t to be taken back into Panama. There was a border agent from each country in the street so we decided saving a few dollars wasn’t worth any possible trouble. The immigration office was just above where we ate lunch but we didn’t go there since we weren’t planning to cross the border.

Cedo has a lot of siblings, and it happens that one of her brothers lives in Rio Sereno so we stopped by for a visit.

The best thing about driving through this area is the scenery! The road is very windy with lots of ups and downs, but there are some really beautiful views. There are a lot of plantains and coffee grown there, often planted together. It is also cool and moist enough to grow a lot of vegetables, but most of what we saw was coffee, plantains, and cows.

We were also very surprised to see a couple cyclists making their way up the hills! They weren’t young folks either, but looked to be retirement age and quite loaded down. What a difficult ride that must be!

It’s a cool, cloudy day in David after a nice rainstorm, a good day to catch up on blog posts. I have a few other things waiting so stand by.

 

 

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