Coffee, pineapple, missile warning, medicinal herbs … missile warning??!!!

What a crazy weekend this turned out to be.  For those not from here, the national news minimally covered the missile scare in Hawaii.  So to quickly summarize, on Saturday at 8:07 a.m. we (we being people in Hawaii who have cells phones) received a warning text to our phones stating that there was an incoming missile, take shelter, this was not a test.  The warnings subsequently came on the radio and on the television.  Hawaii has been preparing for such an event for months.  We get updates at work, and there is information in our newspapers regarding how we should prepare in the event this occurs.  Our sirens have been changed to include a new sound to indicate a missile strike. We’ve also been informed it would take 12 -15 minutes for a missile to strike us once launched.  To be clear it is a nuclear missile from North Korea that we are preparing for.  When that message came blaring across our phones, there was no reason to doubt it.  29 minutes later I got a text saying that there was no missile, it was a false alarm.  Talk about scary?!  I really cannot verbalize adequately those 29 minutes, but it was bad.  I had a lot of things planned for this past weekend, but the rest of Saturday was spent decompressing, and accessing my life.  Seriously, it was a life contemplating experience.  I’m still a little shaken, and the family members I was able to reach during that period were left shaken as well.

Homework!

So Saturday afternoon after I felt a little better, I decided it was time to get to work on my medicinal herb garden. My daughter and I had recently visited the used book store in Kona and I bought some books on the topic.  I also have a few books on Hawaii medicinal herbs.  I went on-line to Baker Creek Seeds, a really good source of organic products, and purchased a number of seeds to start this garden.  I took my hubby out, and showed him the spot I wanted to utilize for this purpose.  He’s all in.  I’m going to need some help with fencing, but hopefully I can do most of the planting myself.

This is the spot (the before)

It’s right next to the piece of property my husband is preparing for more pineapple.  I’ll start the seeds in containers first.  I’m going to carefully document what I’m growing and what they are utilized for.  I haven’t quite decided how to organize the garden.  I’ll probably have a native section of just Hawaiian medicinals, but I’m thinking about organizing them in sections according to health, i.e., skin issues, stomach issues, etc.  We’ll see; I need to do a little research and get some inspiration in order to make this a really special spot.  I also need to research the Hawaii medicinals better, and find a resource for those plants.  I’m very excited about this area.

In addition to the medicinals, we’re starting a whole new section dedicated to just white pineapple.

The new pineapple patch

If you’ve never had white pineapple, you’re missing a special treat.  You know how sometimes when you eat pineapple, it kind of burns your tongue a bit. The reason is does this is because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein.  I know this sounds bad, but it actually dissolves protein, so it’s literally eating at your tongue.  Your tongue produces new cells so quickly, that feeling goes away very fast once you stop eating the pineapple. White pineapple doesn’t do this.  I tried to find out why, and couldn’t locate any information.  But my guess is that it contains less bromelain.  Also known as sugar loaf, these pineapples are just the sweetest. It’s the only kind of pineapple we grow on our property.  In addition to just eating them fresh or putting them in smoothies, we also dry them and make a  liqueur with the fruit.  My husband prepared the land today, and soon we’ll be planting the slips.  It takes about 1 1/2  years for us to get pineapples off the slips.  Slips come out of the bottom of the pineapple after it’s done growing.   Some people grow pineapple straight from the tops.  There is debate about what makes a better pineapple.  The tops take longer to grow, about 2 years.  We’ve found that tops produce smaller inferior tasting pineapples.  Others will argue the opposite.  But on our property, the best pineapple come from the slips. We have a few patches of pineapples already and get a nice yield, but we love them so much we wanted more.  It’s also one of the crops we sell.

Today, I picked the last of this yield of coffee.  We do have some new flowers and beans on some of the trees, so we’re not completely done.  It’ll be awhile before those are ready to pick, so for about a month or so, we have a reprieve from picking coffee!!! Yeah!!

Otis swimming with ducks

It’s been a warm few days, so we’ve enjoyed the pool.  We have no idea why, but recently the ducks have been coming up to swim.  UGH!! They’ve got 5 ponds they can swim in down in the garden, and they come up to use ours???  Otis was NO help at all.  On one level we’re glad he’s not chasing/killing ducks, but swimming with them?  Otis, help us out buddy.

Holidays are over, guests are gone, and our daughter is back in school on the mainland.  Things are quieter, but still busy, just a different kind of busy.  Farm busy.

 

 

 

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Spring cleaning

Recent conversations with my sister and my best friend in Texas, I realize I too need to do spring cleaning.  I started this weekend, and got the bathrooms done, and mopped most of the floors and yes, the baseboards too.  I need to do the windows.  This is the chore I least like, because one, I think our home has more windows than actual walls, and two because of the weather and all our little critters who scratch at the doors and windows to be let in or let out, they just don’t stay clean that long.  It seems such a wasted effort for so little value.  But I will get to that too.

So the garden – things are blooming and growing everywhere.  Our clove tree is really taking off.  I pulled a bunch off this morning and put in our dry rack.  It’s been hot and dry here, so they will dry out within a few days.

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We have a lot of avocado trees and have a number of different varieties.  Many of the trees are just loaded.  We will have a bumper crop this year.  There are so many on the tree, some of them reminded of me of wind chimes hanging from the trees.

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We have lots of papayas.  We have a number of varieties of those too.  We have this one variety that is really big and long.  We planted those to make green papaya salad.  One papaya will make a large bowl of salad big enough to feed and entire family of 4.  We have  strawberry papayas which are really sweet.  We have this one papaya tree that is so low to the ground that the papayas actually touch the ground.IMG_0746

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I caught a picture of Angel today.  She literally stood there and posed.  As soon as I snapped the picture, she walked away.  We call her angel because of her white wings.  See the white spot on her side, well she has one on the other side of her body too, so it looks like she has wings.

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She’s a hair sheep.  Hair sheet have hair instead of wool.  She actually gets wooly looking, but the hair molts and comes off.  The sheep will sometimes rub against the fence to help the process.  She has completely molted, so she’s looking really pretty.  The sheep who haven’t completely molted, don’t look as pretty.  Angel’s hair will get longer and form a thick coat, and then she’ll molt again.  My sister is always asking me to send her the hair, but it just blows away.  It’s not like it falls off in big chunks; although sometimes there are larger pieces.  The only hair we usually see is the stuff that is stuck to the fences, but it’s not that much; way too little to spin into yarn.

On a sad note, we lost all our new baby ducklings to a mongoose.  I almost didn’t write about it, because it was just so sad.  But this is farm life, and while we have a beautiful piece of property, sometimes things happen. We are reinforcing all the remaining duck mama houses to help prevent this from happening again.  We also have a number of traps set up.  Another mama had 5 ducks, and they’re all doing well.  We have two more ducks sitting on eggs now.  We always lose a few ducks during the season, either because of mongoose or some other animal, but we’ve never lost that many so quickly.

And finally, I finished making the jaboticaba liqueur I started about a month ago.  It made a little over 3 bottles.  It’s got an almost wine-like quality to it.  I haven’t quite decided if I like it yet.  I think with a little club soda and lime, I can make it a nice refreshing drink for the summer.

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Jaboticaba

 

 

 

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We have two jaboticaba trees on our property.  One has never flourished.  The other, however, when in season bears a ton of fruit.  Okay maybe not an actual ton, but a lot.  The jaboticaba grows on the trunk of the tree.  It’s odd looking.  It almost looks like some sort of wart or growth on the tree.  I actually know people who won’t eat it because of this very reason.  It is a shame for them, however, because the fruit is delicious.  It looks a lot like a dark purple grape, but the skin is much thicker.  When eating, you can eat the skin, but most people don’t as it’s a little tough and slightly bitter.  Rather you simply pop the whole thing in your mouth,  pop it open with your teeth and suck the pulp and seeds out.  Then you spit the skin and seeds out.  It doesn’t sound too attractive but it is really good.  People make jelly, wine and liqueurs out of it.  The wine process is a bit time consuming and to be honest I’m always nervous about the fermenting process, so I haven’t tried that yet.  We picked two large baskets full of the berries.  I made some jelly and am in the process of making the liqueur.  This jar will sit for a few months before I strain it and add a simple sugar syrup to taste.

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Jaboticaba can fruit year round if taken care of well.  This is our second batch this year.  Once ripe, they don’t stay fresh long.  So it’s important to pick quickly, else they’ll simply fall on the ground and rot.  Jaboticaba is native to Brazil.  It has high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-aging properties (who doesn’t want that??).  It is also a good source of Vitamin C, B1, calcium and phosphorous.

 

It’s raining mulberries, hallelujah

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We have loads of mulberries right now.  I learned recently that mulberries are part of the fig and breadfruit family.  Mulberries are super easy to grow here.  When in season, we can pick all day long.  The berries should be picked when they’re dark purple, not red.  Mulberries are a good source of vitamin C and have more C than oranges.  As a fruit, they  provide high levels of protein and iron.  Mulberries have many health benefits from building bone density, preventing cancer, aiding digesting, and reducing stress.  Not only can the berries be eaten, but the leaves can be used to make tea.  I haven’t made tea yet from the leaves, but I use the berries to make jam and often put them in scones.

We picked a bunch of berries today.  We’ve been freezing them, so when I have a large batch I can make some jam.

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It’s been dry and sunny for the last week.  David was able to drain and repaint the pool.  We filled it up yesterday.  It looks so nice.  Much improved from the last photo I shared.

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With the dry weather, I’ve had an opportunity to explore the farm and see what’s growing and sprouting.  We have so many flowers on our mango and avocado trees.  There are flowers on the jaboticaba and cherry trees, and new flowers on our allspice tree.  And for the first time, we have some flowers budding on our clove tree.  I’m so excited about that.  Cloves take a long time to produce the flower, they say 10 years.  Ours has been growing for longer than that.  We also have a flower on our giant lilikoi.  It’s beautiful.  I’ll write more about the giant lilikoi once we get actually have one.  But here’s the flower.

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Starfruit

To say our tree is loaded would be an understatement. The pictures don’t do it justice. The boughs of the tree are so heavy I think they may break. So what do you do with so much starfruit?  Give it away, sell it, eat it, juice it , and make jelly. Starfruit juice is mild so I juiced it with some turmeric, ginger, and carrots for a nice healthy concoction. For jelly I added some mineola oranges, guava, pineapple, and lemons for a nice tropical blend jelly.

Starburst also know as carambola may have originated from Sri Lanka.  It can be found all over now in Asia and the Pacific islands. It’s rich in potassium and vitamin c. It can cause problems for people with kidney issues because it has oxalic acid. Like grapefruit it can interfere with some medications for high blood pressure. You have to eat a lot, but it is good information to know.

Some of our starfruit are HUGE, like the size of a head. For those unfamiliar, when you slice it to eat , it forms perfect little stars, hence the name starfruit.

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Tea time

We’ve had rain for almost three weeks now – not solid but every weekend and most other days. The ground is over saturated, and the grass got really long because we couldn’t mow. But yesterday it clearned up and my husband mowed. And today, Saturday we have this …


Today we picked a few buckets of hibiscus to make tea. I took a picture because people always think it’s the flower that is used, but it’s a particular type of hibiscus and it’s the calyx; it’s hard and waxy. We break it apart and dry it, and then package it.


Today we are celebrating our son’s birthday. I made him lilikoi avocado pie. The recipe is easy , two medium avocados, pulp of 8 lilikoi yes include seeds, and a can of sweetened condensed milk. Mix together and pour into a homemade graham cracker crust that’s been baked. Put in refrigerator and chill. The crust has to be homemade or it doesn’t turn out. I don’t know why but trust me, and my many bad attempts with pre made store bought, it’s gotta be homemade.

Mele Haloa

I recently completed my second ipu heke for hula. I asked my hula sister Edie to help me name her.  In case you’re wondering some hawaiian instruments are male and some are female. The ipu heke is female. I sent her a photo and explained I had burned the images of two taro leaves on the outside of my ipu. Both the top and bottom of the ipu heke were grown in my garden . If you look back in my February blog the largest gourd in the picture is the bottom of this ipu heke. A few days later she sent me the following email:

The name of your ipu came last night and before you learn it, you have some homework to prepare for it.  Because there is kalo on the ipu, you will need to read about Haloa:

“Root of Life” – Taro (Kalo) – Legend of Native Hawaiian Creation

Updated about 4 years ago

Taro plant (Kalo in Hawaiian) is linked to one of many mythological versions on creation of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Legend joins the two siblings – Earth Mother (Papahanaumoku) and Sky Father (Wakea) – together they create the Islands of Hawaii and a beautful woman The Stars (Ho’ohokuokalanii – for “The Heavenly One Who Made of Stars”). Waikea desired his “daughter’s beauty” and came together with her to create a child who came stillborn and alu’alu (deformed). Their son was named Haloanaka (Haloa – for “Long Breath” or “Eternal Life”) and buried in earth’s soil. After Ho’ohokuokalani’s grieving watery tears over her son’s grave, out sprang a fragile, strong and healthy plant—Kalo (Taro): “The stems were slender and when the wind blew they swayed and bent as though paying homage, their heart shaped leaves shivering gracefully as in hula. And in the center of each leaf water gathered, like a mother’s teardrop.” The second child born of this union was named Haloa, after his older brother. The younger Haloa, first-born man, was to respect and to look after his older brother for ever more. In return, the elder Haloa, the root of life, would always sustain and nourish him and his descendants. And so the Kalo (Taro) of the earth became the sacred crop of Native Hawaiian people and principal food for the generations to come. Still today, in remote valleys, such as Waipio on the Big Island of Hawaii, taro is a way of life. Knowledge of its cultivation and its qualities has been passed down from generation to generation. Taro farmers often spend the day in knee high water, planting new keikis, harvesting mature corms, and weeding the abundant tropical growth around the invaluable food source. Taro in Hawaii is mostly used for poi (pounded taro), table taro, taro chips, and luau (green taro tops).

 After I read the story I called her. She had named my ipu heke Mele Haloa, song of Haloa.  I’ve come to really love Hula and my hula sisters and I’m very blessed that she named my ipu heke.