One Year Anniversary

We made it.  One year has now passed and we are still alive.  Most of us.  Some of the chickens did not make it but to be fair, they did not move with us from the states.  The cats are doing well after my paranoia passed about not letting them outside.  It’s dangerous…..scorpions and all that.  They are going outside now and are happy.  No scorpion problems. Click on the words in different colors below for links to previous posts.

Goals met:
1.   Move in one piece.
2.   Build chicken house, get chickensLearn more about farm animalsGrow the “crop”.
3.   Grow organic veggiesBuild planting bed.  Try growing other things. Try againSeedsLearn more.
4.   Have furniture built.
5.   Storage built for porch to contain tools.
6.   Get front yard pretty; at half way mark.
7.   Build new bathroom sink cause I did not like the other one.
8.   Be here to care for Mom if she gets sick, she did.
9.   Be here to care for Ana’s Mom if she gets sick, she is.
10. Move Mom to her cabin on our land….with all her cats.
11. Host visitors, take them on tours. (Susan and Judi were first visitors, did not post anything as Mom got ill the day after)
12. Explore Guadalajara for shopping and fun.  Need to do more!
13. Build sturdy fence between us and neighborsHalfway complete.
14. Harvest our own corn, beans and use them.
15. Get legal.  Apply for residency in Mexico.
16. Learn to use a scythe.
17. Hang hammock on porch.  Relax.
18. Work on cafe/B&B/karaoke….pizza joint.  Whatever.
19. CelebrateHave funMore funAnd moreBirthdaysAnother big one.
20. CookCook some moreDid I say cook?
21. Meet new people.  Do new things.

More things need to be completed of course and we have learned SO much over this past year.
Thanks everyone for your visits and support this past year to our blog.  It really means a lot that folks are out there in virtual land cheering us on and supporting us when things go awry.  Below is a photo of my favorite place in the house, out on the porch.  Ahhhh…….

image

Advertisements

Visit to the States!

Mom and I planned a trip back to the states during August to hedge our bets on good weather; it worked!  August weather in the Pacific Northwest is usually pretty good, although not always good enough to guarantee an outside wedding.  Just plan to have a tent or some other cover, just in case.

The weather was spectacular although most folks in the NW were complaining about how hot it was.  Really?  Hot?  Felt just perfect to me!  Thanks to everyone who hosted us and fed us and put up with our constant shopping and eating.  It was great fun.

One thing that I will do differently next time is NOT plan the trip out of Mexico at the same time as my residency renewal. I waited exactly one month before my “green card” was due to expire and headed off to GDL to apply.  What I did not realize is that they take the old card away while the new application is being processed.  What that meant is if I left the country without a card, I might have to start the whole procedure all over again and see my year of residency go down the drain.  Ana and I put on our most charming attitudes and the wonderful folks at the Immigration service pulled through; a fast application, approval AND new card in hand one week before departure.  Whew!

The most amazing thing I noticed in our travels was how easy it is for my friends and relatives to simply travel to a store and buy just about anything they need.  You cannot imagine how challenging it is to live in rural Mexico and be so far away from stores.  A “simple” trip to Costco in Guadalajara requires an all day plan.  And the restaurants!  WOW.  We rarely go out to eat in our area as the quality is pretty low and we cook far better food in the house, thank you very much.

Pics of the highlights:

Judi and me at Hiawatha Park
Judi and me at Hiawatha Park
Having fun after pizza in Ballard
Having fun after pizza in Ballard
Amber and her sweet smile
Amber and her sweet smile
Nicole and one of the horses she helps care for, that is a fly mask
Nicole and one of the horses she helps care for, that is a fly mask
Teacher Britni and the new puppy, Bella
Teacher Britni and the new puppy, Bella
My hand as sea creature
My hand as sea creature
My son, Nicole and me at the waterfront
My son, Nicole and me at the waterfront
BBQ at Janice's place
BBQ at Janice’s place
"OMG, is he hot" says the Buddhist Lesbian
“OMG, is he hot” says the Buddhist Lesbian
Sarah's cute little doggie, Russell
Sarah’s cute little doggie, Russell
Me and Rocky
Me and Rocky
David!
David!
Early rise and head to the airport to leave with Susan
Early rise and head to the airport to leave with Susan

 

Heartbreaking News

I know that the learning curve is high for me for living in a rural location.  I get it.  However…..some days are just too much and the other day I wondered if I can do this.  That day was the hardest one of all.

A little kitten has been visiting us lately and first wandered in when our front yard was getting the concrete paths.  My mom named him Buster.  We did not let him in the houses but when he showed up we fed him and he enjoyed playing in the yard with the other cats.

A few of the neighbors dogs have been getting into our property and chased our cats up a tree so I had been on the lookout for them and their owner.  Unfortunately for little Buster, I did not catch them in time to save his little life.

I regret not having the fence complete.  Perhaps that could have saved him.  Poor little baby.  He probably thought they wanted to play and instead spent his last moments in agony as we rushed to find a vet to put him down.  We never did.

One of the biggest differences here in Mexico is animal treatment. People don’t really care for domestic animals unless they can ride them or eat them.  Vets, as it turns out in our area, are very hesitant to euthanize animals and will only do so in dire situations.  Apparently the injections are highly regulated or something and the vets that day had none.  We had to take him to a friends that owns a gun.  It was a horrid day and one that will take forever, maybe never, to clear from my conscience.

Rest in Peace, poor little Buster.  Know you were loved for your short adorable life.

20150618_102129

3 Sisters and Fungus Among Us!

The 3 sisters are a well known combination of plants that are mutually beneficial; corn, beans and squash.  The corn acts as a support mechanism for the beans, the beans add essential nutrients for the corn and the squash helps keep things shady and weed free.  Win, win and win!  Today we were out weeding a bit in the sister’s area and came acros some mushrooms which I take as a good sign that our soil is alive and teeming with micro goodness.  Woot!

20150626_173917

Fermented Fertilizer in Mexico

20150625_162402

Our land where our house is built was an old family plot used to grow corn.  Stories from Ana and her aunt confirm that this land, and much of the surrounding land was owned by her Grandfather, then sold off or divided among family members.  This plot, roughly 4500 square meters (a little over an acre), was given to Ana’s aunt, and then to Ana.  It is a great honor to live on this land that has been in her family for generations.

The soil is not in the greatest shape though and we are slowly composting, using worm castings, bringing in other soil if needed and letting some of it go fallow in the hopes that wildness and decay will add to the quality of the soil.  Time will tell.

In the meantime; we want to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers.  Having chickens roam about certainly helps as they not only fertilize the soil, they irrigate by digging, eat harmful insects and look cute while strutting about.

I have been researching fermented fertilizer recipes as I read when added to the soil, they can help break up compacted clay soil.  Exactly what we need!

The challenge has been many recipes call for ingredients that are just impossible for us to find as either local stores in our area don’t carry them or we are still unfamiliar with the surrounding towns for availability.  Seriously.  A hunt for something as “simple” as molasses just got silly as people met me with a blank stare.  Finally found out that molasses is considered a waste product from local sugar cane producers and used by pig farmers as feed.  Frustrating.  (We finally found it at a health store in Guadalajara). Plus, since local farmers are not yet into organic practices, we are always told to just go get some chemicals.  Blech.

A few weeks ago, I finally found a recipe that has all the ingredients.  Today I was able to use some of the finished product for some new plants.  Success!  It’s a very simple formula….just rinse water from rice, water, milk and a bit of molasses.  Bokashi rocks. Plus, the chickens LOVED the leftover curds….ate them up quickly.  I think we need to get some barrels to make large batches of this stuff.

The recipe: http://www.hawaiihealingtree.org/how-to-make-your-own-em-1-inoculant-and-bokashi/

Supplemental Food Production

20150619_11170720150619_11494420150619_11184920150619_11492520150619_11254220150619_111913

This first (almost) year living full time in Mexico has been busy.  Currently we are experimenting with different plants and growing conditions for the long haul for more food production.

We have grown and harvested eggs, chicken, 3 varieties of corn for human and chicken food, kale, lettuce, green onions, corn, bananas and beans.  Right now we are growing 3 types of heirloom tomatoes; some are ok and others not so much. One type of garlic took forever to grow to harvest time and another is still growing after 7 months. Cucumbers, sweet corn, butternut squash and cilantro are all growing strong if the darned squirrel will stay away from the squash.

3 sisters have been planted this week (corn, squash and beans all together mixed up helps them all grow stronger with the sharing of nutrients, shading ability and providing stalks to climb).

At best, we are supplementing our diet with fresh, organic items but we are nowhere near to counting a percentage of groceries.  The growing calendar, soil, water quantity, sun and pests are all different here and I have yet to find quality resources to rely on for organic food gardening in Mexico.  Better get networking!

Loving the Squirrel, Hating it’s Behavior

We have a cute, adorable squirrel that sometimes visits our yard.  Ana and I love squirrels and used to feed the big mama one in our previous yard that used to beg for food. So cute.  Last week I was so excited to see small butternut squashes growing on the vines and I looked forward to harvest time.  So did the squirrel.  Not so darned cute anymore.

It’s full on non-lethal war now.  I tried spraying the squash with chili, but the little devil kept coming back, so now I have switched to placing a row cover cloth over the vines and so far (crossing my fingers) that has deterred the little bugger.  A dog would help too…..just sayin.

 

Everything is So Poky in Mexico!

 

Plants, animals, soil, sun, wind, scorpions, bugs…..the whole country is a wild mess of poky stuff, especially in our yet un-tamed yard. We debated on how to make at least one part of our yard comfortable and relaxing while reducing the pokiness of the flora and fauna.

Considerations: Time, cost, materials and effort.  We are getting older so if we want to really enjoy a space, it needs to get done in a timely manner. Besides, I am a bit impatient.  We are retired and on a fixed income but we do have a bit of savings for projects, just a bit.  Effort, like I stated……aging.  I used to pride myself on the ability to re-roof the house and complete other feats of strength but let’s face it…..there is a point when someone needs to be hired to do the strong arming.

Materials:  One cannot simply put down a zeriscape of crushed rock of gravel without inviting a horde of unwanted guests.  Scorpions love to hide out in rocky areas.  Dirt paths get muddy and when dry, the wind blows it into the porch area and then inside the house.  Grass….forget about it.  Too much upkeep, not my style and uses way too much water. Bricks or other stones laid out flat; could have worked but over the long run I was concerned about the poky plants making their way into the gaps.  Concrete is not my best friend but here in Mexico its used a lot so we decided on leveling the front yard and putting in concrete walkways.  A patio area will incorporate our boulders into a seating area and the open areas will be ready for low maintenance plants.