Today was an awesome day. We went to Cartago to visit the Lankaster botanical gardens. They had some really beautiful flowers there. They had lots of ponds with fish in them too. We looked at so many flowers! There were some really beautiful orchids and lots of other very pretty flowers too.
Orchids grow all over Hush Valley. Usually in trees. The birds eat the orchid seeds then they fly away. Later, they poop them out, usually above the trees and then the seeds sprout on the trees they land on. There are trees with lots and lots of orchids on them.
Minor and I tried to look at all the koi in the lily ponds. They were huge fish. I didn't get a picture though. We saw the bamboo gardens too. Where everything was built from bamboo. I want to make a fort out of bamboo now.
I found some crab shells on the river bank. I was trying to figure out if they feed them to the fish, or if some animal pulled them out of the pond and ate them. Its still a mystery.
At Hush Valley we don't have a lot of scary creatures. No big snakes or poisonous spiders. No monkeys or Alligators. We do have some spiders but the only ones I have seen are garden spiders called ' wolf spiders' and small black grass spiders. Neither of them are dangerous. At the gardens, its a lot lower and a lot warmer than it is in the mountains. We saw a lot of spiders. I don't know if they are poisonous or not, but I'm going to send a picture to the spider identification people and ask. They have a page on Facebook. The spiders we saw looked like the picture I'm posting. They were very big. So were their webs. That's my dads hand in the picture.
All of my friends and family in the States are on daylight savings now. My mom says that means they are two hours behind our time. That means, I have to go to bed now, but my friends get to stay up for two more hours. That doesn't seem fair.
Next blog I'm going to tell you about our trip to a different friends farm on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, where we went after the gardens. He has a LOT of animals. It was very very fun.
Last time Kevin asked me how the bulls were doing. So I thought I would tell you about the bulls.
There are five bulls at Hush Valley. I think their names are Cruise ( named after Tom Cruise), Rocky ( Named after Sylvester Stallone) Redford ( Named after a movie star) , Rainman ( after a movie) and Willis ( Named for Bruce Willis) and the black one is named Junio. He is Martins bull.
Im not sure which one has which name. Or even If I'm right about their names. There use to be six bulls. But now there is only five, so Im not sure.
My mom and dad were really excited about having organic beef when we moved here. But then we discovered the bulls are really nice. They keep all the grass trimmed and Hush Valley looking really nice. They are organic lawn mowers. They don't bother us at all. They even let us pet them. My mom and dad don't think they could eat them. Well, maybe they could eat them, but they cant kill them. That happened with me and trout. I like fishing for them, but I dont want to kill them.
Sometimes when Im walking to school the red one will be by the fence watching me. One time i went up and put my hand out to him and he licked it with his big tongue. It felt really scratchy! I think they have a scratchy tongues to help them eat the plants and grasses. Their tongues are also really long. They can reach for grass on the other side of the fence.
The bulls didnt even have a problem with the hurricane. they are smart enough to find shelter and stay safe. But I think they have a problem with Bobbie McGee. She likes to bite their ankles, and they hate that. Mostly, she does it to the smaller black one, Junio.
I think the bulls are doing really good Kevin!
When its a nice day, my dad will let us take the river trail home. I like the river trial because there are lots of places to look for cool rocks. My dad likes to look for specs of gold. I like to look for multicolored rocks with or without crystals. But I prefer with. Lots of the rocks have crystals built into them. They're very sparkly in the sunlight but for some reason you cant make a picture show them.
In Oregon, I had a geode. It was beautiful white, purple and clear crystals inside. I would like to find some geodes here. I think that would be very cool.
I took some pictures of cool rocks in the rock garden. I promise they look much more amazing in real life. I like that they are all different colors. I'm trying to make a rainbow by the campfire because there are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple rocks. Seriously!
Sometimes you can see little tiny pieces of gold in the sand in the river. It has to be in the right light.
Today while we were feeding the fish, there was a rainbow over the big pond. It was really pretty.
I was reading the comments from the last time, and Kevin asked about the bulls. I think the next blog will be about the bulls.
Ever since the dam broke, some of the fish that died that day have been popping up from the bottom of the pond. Maybe one or two every day. That means there have been a lot of vultures hanging around in the trees. I think its creepy. They watch us, they watch the fish, and just wait for us to pull the dead fish out of the pond.
When we leave the fish out for them, somehow they are able to clean the fish and leave only the bones. We have never been able to watch them do it because they are very sneaky! Today I found a huge vulture feather. I think its really cool!
Yesterday, I learned how to clean the chicken coop. It really stinks. First we locked the chickens in their recess area, and then I scooped the old wood chips and chicken poop out. We put them into a wheel barrow. When we were shoveling it was really stinky! Then we put new chips in the chicken coop. We get the wood chips from a place that makes furniture out of wood. We bring our empty fish food bags and they fill them up with wood chips for us. Then we use the fresh wood chips to make the chicken coop smell nice and clean again. The chickens were getting antsy outside to see the clean coop.
After we cleaned the wood chips out, we took them to the garden so we can start a new garden bed for some new seeds to grow. Our last batch are already getting big, so we want to be sure we have new ones growing. I helped my mom bring up the wood for the garden fence. I even hammered in all the stakes to keep the frame up.
I know I said I was going to show you some rocks, but I need to find some better ones because the ones I have don't look very good in pictures, but they look really cool in real life! Ill keep looking.
Here in Costa Rica, instead of dollars we use Colones. Thats what they call their money in Costa Rica. Its all different colors. There is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple paper money.
The whole rainbow. On the front there are people. On the back there are animals. They look cool.
I read on a website that the Colon is named after Christopher Columbus. He discovered Costa Rica AND North America.
This is the front:
And this is the back.
'I think its really neat they have animals on the back. We didnt have a 5000 Colon but it looks like this:
My favorites are the monkey, the sloth and the shark.
The money isn't the same as in Oregon. You can get a little bit more than 500 Colones for one dollar. So if you are trying to figure out how much money it is in the states, you can use a little trick to get kind of close. First you double the money amount. Like on the 5000 it doubles to 10000 then you drop off three zeros, that makes $10. Thats about how much it is in dollars. Its a little confusing that they say mil for thousand, but if you use this trick its easier to figure out the money.
There are also different coins, they look like this:
You can use the same trick with the coins, but you only drop off one zero. The 500 Colon is about $1.00 but the 100 colon is about 20 cents. I still get confused sometimes.
I'm saving my money because I want to buy an ATV. My mom lets me keep the coins from shopping. But I'm hoping if I keep doing my chores, like collecting the eggs, taking out the compost and helping feed the fish, maybe I can get an allowance. I'm also going to try to sell some lemons.
I saw an ATV my size at Wal-mart in Cartago. Its really cool. My mom says by the time I save the money, I will be big enough to ride it.
On my next blog, Im going to show you some rocks. My Dad and I have been looking in the river everyday, and there are some really awesome rocks.
A week has passed since I wrote a blog. Part of the problem is the internet. It just goes off sometimes when it rains. Sometimes I will be working on my blog and it will turn off and I will lose everything I just wrote about. Its so annoying.
A lot of fun stuff happened this week. We had some friends visiting. On their first day, when we woke up, we found out there had been a slide up the river that sent a lot of stuff down the river and it ripped up the dam again. My Dad and Mom and their friends had to go find some more logs and rocks to get the water to come back into the canals that bring the water to the ponds. There was so much dirt and sediment in the sediment ponds it was like quicksand!
It was really sad to see that a lot of fish had died. Trout need oxygen in the water to breathe. When we didnt have fresh water, they suffocated. This is a picture of the baby trout. The ones with their white bellies showing are dead. Jonathon said he thinks maybe 800 died. A lot of fish died in the big pond too.
The fish that didn't die are doing fine now though.
I also got to go back to play in Rafa and Minors river. Their river has lots of really great rocks! We found a lot of rocks with fossils of plants and shells and small sea creatures. Minor says that Costa Rica used to be on the bottom of the ocean but that the tectonic plates are crunching together, and they made the mountains that we live in.
Their river is a lot different than ours. They have gigantic rocks in the middle and lots of waterfalls.
They also took me to a special ice cream store, which I liked very much! I really like playing with their dogs too. I think they are getting used to me. Even the grouchy one- Annik.
You can see in the pictures that my hair was getting really long. It was so annoying. Mostly it was annoying because my mom kept saying I needed a hair cut and making me wear a hat. Our friend Martins daughter cuts hair, so we went to her house for a hair cut. Its very short, but I like it. People are very surprised when they see it. My hair cut cost $1000 colones. My mom said that's about $1.75 in dollars. I wonder if the dogs will recognize me now.
I have to go to bed now. I hope everyone has a good night. Thank you for reading my blog. I really like it when you comment!
On Monday, it was a holiday from school. I asked my Mom if Tomas could come over and play. She called his Mom and made a plan, so we walked over to his house to get him and bring him over to mine. On our walk, we ran into a traffic jam.
,This happens sometimes when farmers are walking their cows to different fields. These are actually bulls. We have bulls at our farm too. A lot of people use bulls or goats to eat the grass on the farm. They are like living lawnmowers.
Once we got Tomas we walked the river trail home. I like the river trail because its like hiking through the wilderness. Bobbie always comes on the river trail with me. Sometimes I take this trail to school, sometimes I walk the long way up the driveway. The trail goes to the new rock garden. Tomas and I checked out all the cool new rocks. There are so many cool rocks! My mom says if I don't quit leaving them in my pockets, shes going to ban me from collecting rocks.
After the storm, the river left a sandy area where the casita trail used to be. When we looked at it in the morning, there was Tapir tracks in the sand! Tapir are mammals that eat mostly plants. They can weigh up to 800 pounds but are usually around 500 pounds. We have never seen one at the farm, because they are nocturnal creatures. But we know they live here, and now we have proof!
After we dropped Tomas off, we went to our friends house for Lunch. They made a soup called Olla de Pollo. In English it means chicken soup. Rafa says the recipe is hundreds of years old. It has a lot of vegetables that I have never even seen, or heard about before. My dad said it was good. I ate some potato out of it but, I wasnt very hungry. Everyone else liked it though.
In Costa Rica, at 3 O'clock, everyone stops what they are doing and sits down to have coffee (or tea), and a snack. If you are at somebody's house right then, you will probably be getting coffee and a snack too. I like it when we are at Rafas house during coffee time. they always have the best snacks. Minor makes really good cookies. I dont drink coffee so I usually have Jamaica tea. In spanish it sounds like ham-eye-ka. Its red, and a little sweet. Minors family was here on Monday, so we had coffee, jamaica and a snack.
My Dad told us he had found three papaya trees on the property. They aren't like the regular papaya. They are smaller, and sweeter. Minor says they are from Chile. They grow way up in the trees. My dad had to use the fruit picker to get it out of the tree.
These kind of papaya taste really good with vanilla ice cream.
The first week we got here, we decided to clean the big pond. Most of the ponds have names, but this one is just the big pond.
We have to clean it because the water comes from the river and it brings sand and dirt with it. Especially during the rainy season. The big pond is the one right behind the house.
To clean the pond, first we had to drain it. We had to try to catch every fish before it was empty. We used nets and buckets. We counted the fish as we put them in the buckets. When there were five fish we put them into a tank until we could move them to a different pond. When the water got low, Bobbie helped herd the fish into our nets. Its was really funny.
When we were counting the fish, and we saw one that was deformed, or blind, or we thought it would get eaten if we put it in the new pond, I would put it in a separate bucket. My mom would take the fish down and let it go in a stream in the waterfall garden. Ever since the storm, that waterfall garden is all rocks now. There's not even a stream.
We put the fish from the big pond into a new pond, and then the next morning, my Dad and Martin and Jonathon clean the pond.
They rake the bottom and get out any plants or alge.
It does not smell good.
When the pond was clean, we filled it back up, and then started cleaning a different pond. The fish from that pond went into the new clean pond.
Each pond is supposed to be cleaned 4 times every year. It is very hard work.
Yesterday, we were able to get our car! Rafa and Minors neighbors, Urs and Isabelle, have a tractor. Urs took all the rocks he could find and put them back in the river, he also put mud and sticks in there too. Its almost like it was before, but they are going to put in a bridge because they dont want it to happen again. We drove to their house on the ATV. I really like riding the ATV.
Ive been hoping they will let me learn to drive it, but they say I have to wait until Im older.
When the power was out, we had to wash our clothes in the bathtub. Then we put them on a clothes line to dry in the sun. Even though we have power and a dryer now, my mom and dad put our clothes on the clothes line anyway. They say its better. I think it makes the clothes crunchy, but they do smell good. My mom says thats how everyone did it before they invented dryers. A lot of people in Costa Rica have clothes lines.
I always think that if we put our clothes outside, the lizards that live on those beams will poop on them. There are three lizards that live above our clothes line. They like to sit in the sun everyday.
One good thing, because of the big storm, school was cancelled for a few days. That means I got to go over to Tomases house to play. We had so much fun! I help him learn English, and he helps me learn Spanish. Tomas has a dog named Lucky. He really likes me.
This week my Mom and I were making some stairs to a fish pond. We picked up some stones to put them on the stairs and underneath we found a huge spider. My Mom sent a picture to some spider people and they said it was a wolf spider. They also said its harmless. I think it looks cool. Especially because its not poisonous. It has some different colors on it, and its legs looked like sticks. I wasn't even scared. There are not very many poisonous creatures in the mountains of Hush Valley Lodge.
I like to read a lot. Sometimes I read about Costa Rica, or animals or rocks. Sometimes I read books like "How to train your dragon' or Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Hardy Boys. In school, every day we have to read. Once a week we read part of our book to the class and show the other kids what we are reading. We have to have a new book every week. I dont like to start a new book when the last one isnt finished so sometimes I read at night so I can finish. Its really dark at night so I have to use a headlight.
I think this picture makes it look like my book is enchanted. Next blog, Im going to show you some very cool rocks that washed up in the river.
I havent written in a long time because there was a huge storm this last week, We went to our friends house on Tuesday. Their names are Rafa and Minor. They have eight rescue dogs and one cat. I thought rescue dogs meant that they rescued people, but it means they were rescued by people. They have a very nice house, and we stayed there for almost a week. We didnt have power so we had to use candles and cook on a wood stove, like this.
Rafa and Minor are both very good at cooking. My Dad cooked too sometimes. I didnt like everything, but I tried everything. I really liked the pancakes .
After the storm, we walked down the driveway to see how many trees fell down. There were a lot. we also saw that the creek that went across their driveway had become a huge river! It dropped about 10 feet too. There was no way for us to drive our car across.
My Dad, Minor and my Mom built a bridge out of logs for us to walk across.We had to hold on to a rope to keep us from falling in the river.
When we got across, we had to walk a long way down the road. We saw a lot of waterfalls, landslides, and trees that had fallen.
Then we came across a huge landslide. The workers were trying to get it cleared, but it looked like it would take a long time.
Rafa let me wear the machete while we were walking so I could clear the path. We didnt pack enough clothes because we thought we would only be staying one night. I didn't even have a toothbrush!
They let me borrow some boots, but they belonged to Minors Aunt so they were for a girl. They kept my feet dry though.
When the road was clear enough, my Dad walked to Hush Valley. Its about 10 kilometers to our house. He brought back the ATV so we could go check the animals. We saw that a lot of trees had fallen down, and the river had washed away the waterfall garden. It made me kind of sad.
The one good thing is, I love rocks! There are some really cool rocks in the new rock garden. Lots and lots!
At school on Friday some ladies came to teach our class about local birds. There are 165 birds in the Hush Valley area. But there are 903 bird species in Costa Rica. They gave us a booklet for ''the Cloud Forest Highland Birds''. It's really cool. My granny loves birds. Mostly humming birds.
We were looking at it to see which bird was stuck in our attic. I think its a baby vulture. But it may be a pheasant. It was really funny. I took a video of my mom trying to get it out. We still don't know how to upload video, but when we figure it out I will post it here. It's really funny.
On Thursday I didn't have school. My mom and dad and me walked up to the pasture where the blackberries ( called Mora in spanish) grow. The blackberries weren't ready but in a few weeks there will be a lot!
On our way up to the pasture, we saw a pond full of tadpoles. I wanted to touch one. I think its weird that there were so many tadpoles because we never hear frogs here. We also don't hear crickets or grasshoppers but we see them around the farm.
I think there are a lot of predators that might eat the tadpoles. Like lizards (lagartija), birds (pajaro), raccoons (mapache), and larger tadpoles.
When we were at home, my dad and I loved to have Ice cream. We loved every single kind. My favorite kind of ice cream is Strawberry. My grandpa also loves Ice cream
Here in Costa Rica, We have a friend who makes delicious Ice cream out of goats milk. I never thought I would eat goats milk. But its really good.
My mom found a recipe on a website that showed us how to make Pineapple Ice cream. We made some last night. Im going to show you how.
The first step is to take a pineapple and cut off all of the outside. Then chop it up and put it in a blender. Try to make sure its a very sweet pineapple. I like to squeeze it to make sure that its really juicy. My grandpa said to try to pull off a leaf. If it comes off easy then its ready.
Next, you open a can of coconut milk like this:
Next squeeze the juice of one lemon into it . Add a half cup of honey or it says you can put maple syrup instead. We used honey.
Pour it into parfait glasses or just plain glasses. Then put it in the freezer. and then wait.
When its frozen its just like regular ice cream, only with fresh fruit. I cant wait to try this with Strawberries.
There are a lot of the same fruits here in Costa Rica , that we have in the United States. Peaches, Lemons, Limes, Melons, Pineapple ( called Pin-ya here) but there also some crazy looking fruits and vegetables. The fruit in the picture is called a Mamon Chino. I think it looks like a sea creature.
Inside, the fruit is kind of like a honeydew melon. It feels like it on my toungue, and tastes kind of like it too. But instead of having seeds in the middle like a melon, there is a pit. Kind of like a peach or a nectarine. They are about the same size too. The pit looks kind of like a nut, but if you eat it it is toxic. My mom says peach and nectarine pits are toxic too. The word for poison in spanish is Veneno.
We have lots of other fruits on the farm too.
I love goldenberries. I even put them in my jello for dessert sometimes.
I think passion fruit look disgusting inside. I cant make myself eat the slimy seeds.
My mom says they're delicious but I'm not interested. There are lots of other fruits on the farm, like peaches, avocados and blackberries (Mora) and some I just don't know what they are called yet. But I will find out and show you.
On a different day I will tell you about my vegetable garden.
At Hush Valley we have a trout farm. Kevin told us that this place is where trout began in Costa Rica. He said that some body brought the fish from OREGON, USA a long time ago, and now lots of people have trout here.
There are seven ponds on the property, and there are two hatchery tanks where the babies stay,
The babies are called fingerlings ( I think because they are about the size of my finger). Right now, we have fish in five ponds. Fingerlings in the Hatchery pond. Fingerlings in the Cedro pond. Medium sized fish in the pond behind the house, and large fish in the pond by the chicken coop. We also have a pond way over by the casita ( guests house). They are all different sizes. My mom and dad call this the sacrificial pond because it is not protected by an electric fence and the animals come and eat the fish at night.
Animals that eat the fish are otters, herons, and raccoons. Raccoons are called mapache in Costa Rica. Otters are called Nutria, even though in Oregon Nutria are different creatures. There are nutria that live here, and my friend says they are called agua raton. That means water rat. The animal books say its called a Coypu.
We have an electric fence that comes on at night to keep the animals out of the ponds. It will zap you if you touch it. My mom got zapped once. It was so funny but I felt bad for her.
We have a customer that orders fish every Monday. My dad and our friends Martin and Johnathon, catch the fish and clean the guts out. We put the guts on the river bank and the Vultures come and eat them. Vultures are scavengers, but they are very big and beautiful birds.
I really like catching the fish but it makes me a little sad to kill them. You have to conk them on the head with a big stick. I used to like to eat trout, but I dont eat them now.
I asked my dad if I could have my own pond for my own fish that wont have to die.
He said he is thinking about it.
One thing I really like about Costa Rica is the food. They have the best cheese. My dad is really good at baking breads and delicious things like that. He can also make really good pizza. We eat a lot of really good food here.
There arent very many restaurants around here and most of them are trout restaurants.
Where we are in the mountains, you have to drive a long way, on some really bumpy roads just to get anywhere. Because everything is so far away. We eat at home a lot.
Sometimes we have breakfast scrambles. We have 15 chickens that lay eggs. It is my job to pick up the eggs, and make sure the hens have food and water. Sometimes we get 13 eggs. Some times its 14 eggs. All of the hens look the same. Their beaks are shaped funny. I think they look like they are making kissy lips.
I like it when my mom makes spaghetti, and my dad makes pizza. I do not like it when they make squash soup.
At our home in Oregon we have an aloe plant. It kind of looks like a cactus. Our plant at home is in a pot. In Costa Rica, we have aloe plants too. I did not know that aloe plants have flowers. The red flowers in the picture are the flowers that come from the aloe plant. They are perfectly shaped for humming bird beaks. All day long humming birds and bees come and eat from the plants. The hummingbirds eat the nectar and I think the bees and the humming birds both carry the pollen to the other flowers.
One day we were driving and a hummingbird hit our car. I thought it was dead, but we had pulled over in front of a veterinario, that means veterinarian in spanish. We took it in to show her. She said it was just stunned and would wake up soon. We took a picture, and it shows the long beak of the hummingbird. I think humming birds have beautiful feathers and are very beautiful.
Do you see how the beak fits perfectly in the aloe flower?
The aloe plant is very useful. It feeds the bees and humming birds. But it also can be used to put on sun burns. My mom got a sun burn one day and my day cut open some aloe, and put it on her back. she said it was nice and cool. Lots of people use aloe for sunburns.
When we travel to Costa Rica, we have to drive 2 hours to the airport first, and we have to have a plane ticket. It looks like this.
It shows your name, and what flight, and what time, and your seat number. I always try to get a window seat. They are the best. I like to watch out the window when we go above the clouds. I put a picture in the slide show above that shows you my window seat, and what it looks like above the clouds. Its really awesome.
The air plane ride usually takes about 10 hours. Some flights are longer that other flights. it depends on where you layover. if the plane doesn't go to Costa Rica directly, you have to fly to a different airport and wait to take a plane that does. The time you are waiting there is called a layover.
There are lots of different kinds of planes, and there are lots of different kinds of airlines. My favorite airline is Delta. I like them because more of their planes have tv's to watch while your flying. You can watch movies, or tv shows. They give you headphones to listen to them.
Sometimes they have maps that show you where you are in the sky. I showed some pictures in the slide show of when we were flying from Miami, Florida to Costa Rica. It shows the plane going over Mexico, and then over Central America. Central America is where Costa Rica is.
I came from North America. Most of my friends and family live in North America.
I like to fly on airplanes. But I always bring a pillow.