Tami’s Blog: Animals and plants

February 21, 2015

From: Tami

Challenging as life can be here in some ways, there is a raw beauty to the whole situation too. I had a wonderful meeting with a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird the other day. I was sitting in the truck cab, which was parked on my land, trying to get internet reception, when I heard a whirring and saw a hummingbird with an iridescent green neck looking at itself in the side mirror. She then flew to the back of the mirror trying to find what she thought was another hummingbird behind it. She did that again and again. Then she flew right inside the cab about a foot from my face and hovered there for quite a few seconds. I even talked to her quietly and she stayed there for a bit. She did that a couple of times too. After she left another hummingbird of a different species also few into the cab and hovered a foot from my face. She was a Purple-crowned fairy Hummingbird (green with a white breast). She must have been freaked out by my looks since she left right away and never returned. It was a very unique and special experience that I wanted to share. It was a first for me and I am a very great hummingbird lover.

I often check out my bird book to try to find the species of bird I have spotted during the day. The most stunning were four toucan-type birds called Fiery-billed Aracaris. They were very colorful (red, gold, black, green). I also hear flocks of many types of parrots fly by. I see how happily they fly in flocks where they are constantly chattering with each other. I would never want to have a caged bird after seeing how much better life in the wild is for them. It might be safer in a cage but what life the wild birds have is a much freer, better one than the birds that become pets. So I am “rewilding” myself, rather than caging animals so that I can enjoy these beautiful creatures.

Fortunately, because of the cooler temperatures in the highlands, there are not a fraction of the deadly terciopalo snakes that are found in the lowlands. The snakes are here but not in great numbers. When Marvin chopped the brush on my land so we could see the contours of it, he said he didn’t find any snakes. Yippie!!! While terracing we have only seen three small baby black snakes so far. I walk around a lot in bare feet….You just have to walk slowly and watch every step you take. Walking on the earth in your bare feet is one of the healthiest things you can do. This grounds your body to mother earth.

I did see one big huge tarantula that was black with a purple-iridescent hue. It was walking across the main street from Jorge’s house and someone had killed it. Gary says these spiders are very benign and they eat insects and are helpful in the garden etc. It is sad that they get a bad rap since they are so scary looking. You rarely see them though. We have found several small, whitish/pink small tarantula type spiders while digging terraces in the garden. We just scoop them down to the terrace below and try not to hurt them. There have been a couple big long-legged brown, 3” spiders that we found in the shed but they seem to have left for the moment. Can’t say that I am disappointed. 😉

Sometimes these little anole-type lizards get in your house and make themselves at home. I would like to invite a whole family of them to come move in since they leap for insects. Gary calls them leaping lizards. They are clean and they can get downright friendly if you don’t hurt them. No one seems to mind lizards living in their homes. The lizards I saw had orange throat-sacks that they puffed out to show their spunk. Very cute!

There are very few mosquitoes here which is a WONDERFUL surprise. Granted, this is the dry season, but even in the wet season the little pests were few. We do get lightning-type bugs and maybe a beetle that comes in the shed at night…attracted by the light. They sneak in through the corrugated openings where the roof attaches to the building. The lightning bugs here are large and you can see them twinkling against the mountains if you go out at night. It is a pretty display which is even accompanied by the music of the crickets and the frogs. You don’t need soothing environmental music to sleep by since nature provides it for free here.

The most frustrating animal so far has been the fire ants. Often when digging you get into a huge nest of these guys and they have a pretty nasty bite that itches for days. Another ant that causes problems is the leaf-cutter ant. These guys are the scourge of the area for the farmers. These small ants seem to be everywhere marching in a line (night and day) all carrying bits of green leaves that they have chewed off any plants they like. They take these bits of leaves back to their nests and they grow fungus on them. This fungus is their primary food. They are a huge problem here and one reason that the locals use so much pesticide. Gary keeps telling the neighbors to plant Manicillo (like clover) all over the paths in the garden and everywhere possible. The leave-cutter ants LOVE Manicillo which is fairly invasive, robust and quick-growing. So instead of having to spray pesticides to get rid of the pests, you provide an easier food source for the ants that they don’t have to climb for. They won’t need to chomp on your vegetables and fruit trees. One of my plant books mentions that Manicillo might be better than grass for pasture for livestock but they say that this theory hasn’t been proven yet. Gary says that he has been experimenting with Manicillo for almost 20 years and that it DOES work! He pastures his horse on it. It is also the number one soil reclamation plant anywhere it will grow.

Speaking of plants…..down near the creek on my land (which is filled with tadpoles and minnows), the plants growing there remind me of the houseplant section of Home Depot. Begonia, impatience, dieffenbachia, pothos, butterfly plant, peace lily and many other plants that American’s buy for their homes grow wild there. I even have wild raspberries growing on the creek bank that we want to transplant to a garden bed and propagate. My bananas are hanging in 40 to 70 lb stalks. Each banana plant produces one stalk of bananas. I just made my first smoothie yesterday from a hand of my own, organic, non-gassed bananas!

Anyway…..I have been wanting to describe some of the wildlife and plants on the farm for a while and hope you found it interesting.

Until next time…

Tami

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