Thursday, July 28, 2011

cacao grafting

We've made two trips to Marco's this week to collect cacao buds. This is a tricky job as we're trying to match the size of the buds to the size of our little seedlings. Marco's trees aren't labeled, which surprised me, but he says they're a mix, so we'll just go with that. When (& if) we finally get grafted plants into the ground, we don't want to plant all of one variety in one area. They need to cross pollinate. Since our first round of grafting was unsuccessful, we did a second graft on those seedlings. It was a little hard on some to find enough room for the graft, but we managed. All together we grafted 184 plants. This time we followed Marco's advice and cut the branches, then trimed the leaves off and placed the bud stem in newspaper, which we wet before transporting. The leaves need to be trimmed to stop the photo synthesis. (Wow, I'm learning a tiny bit of the terminology). We looked for trees that had lots of flowers and small pods because we're actually cloning the most productive trees.

We've been asked, "why grafting." According to Marco, if we plant the seedlings directly in the ground, it will take 5 - 7 years to start getting pods. By grafting we should cut the time down to 2 1/2 - 3 years. I accepted this, but still didn't understand why. As Rene and I were grafting, of course we talked a lot. This question came up and he finally put the answer in terms that made sense to me. He's wise in Mayan medicine and has worked in several fields, is smart and inquisitive. Anyway, he told me that the bud comes from a fruiting tree so once it takes hold on the rootstock it takes off from the point of the parent tree. It no longer has to wait to reach maturity, it will start producing as soon as the plant reaches a strength to support the fruit. Not technical, but makes sense to me.

We have about 500 more seedlings nearly ready to graft. We'll probably wait a week or two for them to gain a little size and then start again. Our goal is to plant an acre or two, which would be about 600 plants, and then possibly be a nursery to sell to others who don't want to mess with the grafting. Don't blame them as it's a tedious task and the loss along the way is very frustrating. The thing is, Rene and I seem to do fine and enjoy the challenge. Art is frustrated that he isn't able to help with this stage as he has a little tremble in his hand, so he gets to do the toting and fetching. We're all a team.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shipping into Belize

The things I shipped from Oregon to Belize finally arrived. 7 boxes, 2 plastic tubs and one suitcase, at least that's what they were when they started. By the time they got here, they were barely recognizeable. The shipments started with UPS from Bend, OR to Houston. From there the shipper put in a container to Belize. Not sure of the route, but went thru the hands of the Guatemalans, who took everything apart and threw them back again. The end result of all of this is that the boxes and tubs were crushed and the hard-side suitcase was only holding together because I had shrinkwrapped it. The sadness for me is that most of the things most precious to me were broken. I'm used to packing and have rarely lost items, but this trip was upsetting. I have to admit that I didn't identify everything as "Fragile". I just filled boxes as things demanded, never thinking that they'd be so carelessly handled. One of the wonderful things tho' is that the photo albums that I did ship are here and ok. Memories of building our log house and our grandkids. The bulk of our photos remain in storage with our son. I have to say that the true treasures are our memories. In spite of hurts that have made us sad, the memories of family and friends are still there to make us smile. No careless "lumper" can shatter those.

We've gone from rain to sunshine and humidity. It's so lovely, here on our hill, as we usually have a breeze. Art and Rene worked really hard this week to mow the yard. It really looks like a park. This next week we're hoping to get some budwood to be able to graft our cacao. More about that learning process in my next post.

We're off to visit friends and share some of those unshattered memories. Blessings!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I'm in a strange frame of mind. Probably just getting old, but right now I'm just tired. When I was in Oregon I really missed Belize (of course Art was here), and now that I'm in Belize, I can't seem to settle. I enjoyed having Jane here, altho' we both really wore our selves out, packing her life here. I now seem to be waffling between wanting to be alone and just sit and do nothing but read and being so lonesome for family that I could, and often do, cry.

We have several wonderful friends here who are always ready to help, but I sense that we're all in a similar frame of mind. I think what's got me most upset is missing our grandchildren. Wish we had the money to bring a couple of them down for a visit. Maybe next summer.

We've had torrential rains the last few days which have kept us housebound, here on our hill. Our "road" down the hill is a slippery slide. We can usually slide our way down, but are more worried about getting back up. I guess I was in a sort of coma last weekend as I didn't do the shopping, so we found ourselves facing a real Belizean life of making do with the odds & ends that were here. Since I'm not much of a cook (I really don't care for it) the reality was very upsetting. Yesterday afternoon the rain had let up and we decided to take a chance and head down. On the worst part of the road down a tree had fallen across the road. I took a chance and backed up, turned around and went back to the house to get some tools. The machette did the best job and we finally were able to make it down. We stocked up on groceries at 3 Flags (icky, but best prices) and stopped in at Cayo Cargo to check on my shipment from Oregon. It had arrived over the weekend, but there wasn't anyone there to help load in our truck so we just paid the bill and left the things there. I honestly can't remember what all's in the 10 boxes I shipped, but it had all better be good stuff as it cost a mint to ship. Actually, it's just little pieces of our life that I tho't would do better here. I had to get rid of so much, but wanted to keep bits that were memories or that I tho't would help us here. Whatever! It's a done deal. The shipment from Houston took a little longer than usual because they've decided to forego driving across Mexico for the near future because of all the violence. They're now filling containers and sending via ship. One of the things I'm looking forward to finding is a bunch of books I bo't on eBay. I've read most of my books at least twice, so new fluff is exciting stuff. My sweet cousin sent me books from Amazon, but he expects me to be a little deeper than I am. Right now just give me a good escape.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jane's back in the UK

We sorted, packed, taped toted and haul boxes for two weeks. Most of Jane's Belize life is now stored at our place. Actually, most of it is boxes that she shipped to Belize, but never did get the rooms finished to be able to unpack. Now most of the books, etc. may find their way back to England.

After much searching, I found two large kennels in San Pedro and with the help of some friends who were spending a couple of days there, we finally got the kennels to Cayo in the nick of time. (There's a whole story there, but I won't bore you with it now). We got the kennels put together the night before, loaded the animals in their kennels and drove to the airport the next day. Jane had done the paperwork ahead of time, but it still took over two hours to get it all handled. The two dogs and a cat flew to Houston and then straight to England. I was concerned about Honey, to old dog, that the trip would be hard on her, but she's pretty mellow and made it just fine. They're now in England in a quarantine kennel. The dogs are together and are living in the lap of luxury. Magic, the cat is staying pretty hidden until Jane comes to visit and then she comes out of hiding, purring and settles in her lap. The animals flew out on Thursday and Jane flew home on Monday, so they were there and settled by the time she arrived. England doesn't approve of the shots given in Belize so all the animals had to get the shots again. Belize is definitely viewed as a third world country in the rest of the world. A weird twist of fate is that, Jane just found out that the UK will abandon the quarantine period as of January 1. Instead you will have to have the animals tested three months ahead of traveling to prove that they don't have rabies, etc. They'll spend 48 hrs in holding and then can travel with you. Jane is having to spend a lot of money to keep them in quarantine, but she's happy that she can go see them every week or so and know that they're safe. This is all new to me, but I understand that all these requirements are only if your bringing animals in from a country that is not part of the pet passport program. I don't think you have to go thru the quarantine if you're traveling from the U.S.

We were concerned about Max, the dog who chose to stay here and live with Elan at Jane's old house. He now seems happy to be alone and the main man. What a relief.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

We're "flush" with pride!

I know that's pretty tacky, but we're

actually pretty excited. To go from our composting toilets to two flush toilets is pretty exciting stuff here at Dreamer Farm. We've toted the doodoo and put up with the bugs so the reality of flushing is really nice. We've had them build an 8' x 8' concrete septic tank and put in a single drainfield with infiltrators. This was a new concept to us, but our friend, Robin, has installed them before and had extras which we could buy. After reading about them on the internet, we felt they were by far the best solution for us. They're designed for locations that don't perk. That's not our problem here, but the marl is close to the surface, so were concerned that, in an extreme situation, we could have a drain problem. Our friend, Jane, is still here so she was able to go thru the transition with us. We've all laughed at how we can get excited about such a basic thing.

Our cistern holds a shy 10,000 gallons of water which we collect from the two roofs. We just had a pretty severe dry season and we still had over 1/2 the tank full, so water isn't an issue. Also, we have a pump and a couple of tanks, so we can go to the Mopan for water, if necessary. Yippee!

We're still not very fancy here, but at least now I'm not embarrassed to direct visitors to the bathroom.