All that went through my head today while painting the nursery tables was, should I, or should I not, hang the shade cloth. If a big wind comes then I have to take all the cloth down.... flip the tables... bring the propagation trays inside... take down the tarp. If I don't do anything, then there could be no nursery disaster or reversal procedure. If I do something more, then I take a chance... a chance to grow keike lettuce in the midst of a hurricane, awesome! Live and learn.
Last week the forecasters called for tropical depression Three-C strengthening into a tropical storm, the hurricane and heading directly to Kauai, if and only if, nature follows human meteorological models. Come early Saturday morning I went to the gas station and waited in line for 15 minutes to fill my tank. The front page of all the Hawaiian newspapers by the cashier had pictures of a tropical storm named Kilo, the maturing Three-C. Rosa and I then did a trip to the food market and half of the bottled water was sold out and I saw several folks piling up charcoal in their carts. At the checkout the lady scanned my two bottles of dish soap and told me I was smart for stocking up soap before the storm, I replied, "no, I just like this not stinky, baby friendly, no sodium lauryl sulfate soap and it's on sale." Walking out of the store I told Rosa that if a storm ever were to hit we'd bring outside all our jars and buckets to collect rainwater, and we have wood for fire and Dada knows where lots of avocados, bananas, coconuts, chickens, eggs and pigs are. Rosa said, "eat lilikoi and Apple Jack." Yes, we would eat lots of passion fruit from the backyard and the neighbors horse if we had to. We're set.
Over the weekend the big WHEN is it going to turn dictated how we would be impacted by Kilo. Some grew more paranoid, others more skeptical. I weighed out in the middle and simply observed what local natural resources are around us, and how we could survive if the power and water would go out for an extended period of time. I was born a survivor man.
Then yesterday morning the big WHEN became a big NEVER. There was no big headlines of Kilo or any forecast. It was gone. Vanished. Thanks for buying, come again.
Adios Kilo. Nice to know you. I thank your arms for bringing rain to our garden and farm, but this 95% humidity and no wind and super high heat is bugger!
Now, three days after the whole county was readying for a state of emergency, and most of the plywood, bottled water, batteries and flashlights and charcoal, oh my, is bought up.... Kilo is peacing out way westward, defying the normal path. It wants nothing to do with us, except maybe to excite us and boost a little consumerism in an indirect way.
But, just wait, tropical storm Twelve-E is heading towards us from Mexico... stay tuned!
A few hours ago I was feeding the chickens and gathering eggs and my cell phone thing buzzed aletring me that flash flooding was coming. Shortly after that I heard thunder, something I haven't heard in 6 months, then... it never rained. Oh, if only a 50% chance of rain was 100% chance of rain with a promise by the creator then maybe we could be certain it's going to rain right here, right now. No matter what, the plants needed water so I went back up to the lettuce patch to give them a drink. If you drive just a few minutes anywhere on Kauai you're almost guaranteed (with a 50% chance) to have different weather. Heading home from the farm I heard from a myna that a hurricane is coming, is this the ol' cry wolf tale or is it really coming this time? We've had a few spinners this season that started way out east of us and came close, but then spun off north and vanished. Still praying for rain.
Hey, Hanai thinking men, what are we going to do if it's the Big One?
"Well golly gee let's get them avocados before the wind gets 'em." says Chef Adam.
Avocados aren't all we have. There's kobocha squash.
Sorgham wrapped in squash vine. Mmm....
Sunflowers... for the birds.
Hawaiian hot chili... probably not a good thing to eat during a big weather event in case we all have to move inside a tent or the water goes out for a few days.
Here's our beautiful family garden.
I could not resist taking a picture of the treasures in the back of the jeep. Spare tire, anti-freeze in case radiator pops again, hose (the good kine), ripening apple bananas (3 hands), boots, several sickles, all various sizes and shapes, a leather farmer hat from the 1950's (I've been through three straw hats in two months and said heck, if this leather one has been around for 66 years then I'm sure it's going last another half century), breakfast - chia, oats, cacao, maca and sesame seed in a mason jar, with a silver spoon of course, backpack, water sprayer, pruners, machete and a family of ants.
I will sell the wagon for $1,000,000. Best invention ever!
Home sweet home.
Nursery is getting there. Today Tony put up the tent and I painted the platform 'brick over red with stain'. Yeehaw.
A little impatient... but, I really wish to get some seeds in the ground. Here's a makeshift nursery for the cilantro with old shade cloth, bamboo and a pallet.
Farmer David building a raised bed to plant rainbow chard and spinach.
Sexy rasta amaranth.
Thank you chickens for the eggs this morning!
A horse wandering by Kealia Farm, another beautiful farm by our house that has a family friendly market every Friday from 3-7 with ono lau lau and lilikoi butter.
Nothing beats Wednesday, mandatory family beach day.
Dada and Roro napping under tree.
Then Mama and Roro napping under tree.
While the girls dreamed I took the camera deep into the woods and had some fun. Enjoy!
More often than not these days I drive the snaking road through the valleys and up the hill to Steelgrass Farm. Farming here is becoming a routine way of life. It offers an opportunity to move one step closer to living with the land. Last week I spent a few 10-hour days in the lettuce patch all alone with the dirt and surrounding trees and mountains. There's very little human noise to be heard, so when there's a 'moo' in the distance or a tree limb falling, it sounds really loud. In the middle left in the picture below is a little gap in the forest with green fields and white wind cages around the keiki cacao trees. That's where I be.
To get to the lettuce go past the coconut orchard.
Past the bee hives.
Down the road by the pig pen and mango trees.
Go past the tour group and homegrown chocolate-filled gift shop.
Here I am.
Grooming the grounds for a new planting. I've been combing through the fresh dozed lettuce rows with a dirt rake and machete, like finding needles in a haystack, except the needles are mostly buried.
There's no rush, so I'm making compost. Thank you Farmer Phil for all that you've taught me.
The jeep is a garden on wheels... it hauls the fertilizer, tools, lunch, kid, tent and the gardener.
Did I say I was a gardener? I mean, I'm a trench digger, tree trimmer, lettuce growing wannabe bow boar hunter and smoke dat meat chef.
The nursery is coming.
A secondary occupation to constructing the lettuce patch is taking care of hundreds of cacao trees. Two weeks ago I hooked up with a traveling lad that specializes in cacao farm management and is an overall genius when it comes to anything related to chocolate.
He taught me how to graft and told me about what he's seen around the globe on cacao farms. Every week it sounded like he was in another country, on some farm, helping cacao farmers make the best of what they can. Some of the production stories he told me were somewhat shocking, but then again, how much do we really know about of all the products and ingredients we ship into our borders. Does organic certified really stand true when crossing borders? Do food facilities abroad carry the same sanitation rules and procedures? Well, given a taste of what I've seen, and what he's seen, all the more reason to do it right here in our backyard in an organic, clean and smart way.
My first attempt at grafting, feels like I'm either going to make or break the tree. The goal of grafting is to take scion material from known mother trees that have large and tasty pods (and/or perhaps are resistant to local weather extremes and pests) and then place it onto a stable root tree; human-engineered natural selection. This process propagates the select kind of cacao one wants. You can take a piece of root material from a cacao tree on one continent and grow it on top a base from another continent, here-in stands the globalization of cacao.
Two beautiful red babies and two with natural wilt. Trees know how much fruit they feed, so over time they will let some go.
Cacao pods come in all different colors, shapes and sizes.
This one looks ono.