Sunday, April 23, 2017

Beach Camping!

It's nice to get away once in a while, to immerse ourselves in different surroundings, gain perspective and appreciation for home, and to indulge in letting go of the day-to-day cares and responsibilities for a time.  So when the kids invited us to join them in a family beach-camping weekend at the beginning of the month, we leapt at the opportunity.  Besides, it had been years since our last camp-out.  High time to do it again!

We met up at Spencer's Beach Park, near Kawaihae on the other side of the island.  The kids had chosen a perfect spot right under a huge shady tree.  Believe me, shade is important on the hot dry side of the island!  The main camping area was pretty crowded, but we were a little away from that, across the paved path and near the rarely-used tennis/basketball court.

A's new Giant Inflatable Rainbow Pegasus became our campsite's mascot. We pitched our tent next to their's and hit the beach.  I dove right into the warm calm Pacific - and thus baptised, I was really feeling the beach camping groove.

Oh yeah, this beach has sand - lots of sand! - unlike our mostly rocky shoreline and pebbly lava beaches on the windward side of the Big Island.  I love that feeling under my feet!  Of course, it is prime sandcastle material, too.  A and I also created some fantastical sand gardens as well.

Being on the west side of the island gave us a chance to see a spectacular sunset.  No green flash, but the colors were stunning!  We wondered if the lone sailboat would make it into the harbor as the light was fading and the waves were high.  It did, eventually.

Night comes quickly in the tropics - not much in the way of twilight as the sun goes down in a more direct path and on the actual horizon.  All was calm, the stars were bright, and we soon drifted off to sleep with the lull of ocean waves.

Then, about midnight, the winds started up.  Mike and I had camped at Spencer's a couple times before so we knew about these nighttime downslope winds... however, we had completely forgotten how incredibly forceful they could be!  There was a constant patter of leaves and twigs from our lovely huge tree overhead.  The Giant Inflatable Rainbow Pegasus had to be deflated and stowed in the van.  I must have missed that happening as I kept dreaming of it flying out to sea during my intermittent fits and starts of sleep.  I was not the only one awake during this long tormented night; throughout the entire campground people were retrieving and securing loose items left outside and repounding tent stakes.  At least our tents stayed up - there were a couple that completely collapsed with broken frames.

But oh, the feeling of an early morning dip in the ocean!  The water was so calm after last night's extra-high tide plus storm swell waves that washed the entire beach clean and even splashed into the stone pavilion!  Aches and tiredness from the long windy night were (mostly) washed away.

Later in the morning, we all hiked from Spencer's to Pu'uKuhola Heiau Historic Site and the shark bay below. No, we didn't go into the water there; it's full of black-tipped reef sharks!  There is an ancient underwater heiau dedicated to the shark god in this bay, according to the informative signage along the trail.  The shady grove of keawe trees offered much-appreciated shade, and thorns - ouch!

It was so hot and dry and brown in this entire area that we were really appreciative of our green and lush and wetter side of the island.  There's no place like home.  And there's nothing like a little time away to make one appreciate it all over again.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Look who joined the herd...

... Cattle Egrets!

They are just flying away in this pic, shy birds that they are. I guess they like cattle (and horses) more than people. Can't say that I blame them as they are shot periodically from the beach parks in Hilo.

We've seen a small flock of them swoop by at sunset. Then one day last week, there they were, right atop our cows! I'm very happy to see these beautiful birds up at the ranch. They will help with keeping the flies down, and besides, they are so pretty.

Oh, and look at those two little calves who have slipped out under the electric fence... Little rascals!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I have good news and bad news...

First the bad news: 

ALL Mike's tools were stolen from the ranch last month, on Valentine's Day. Many thousands of dollars worth. He was working in Waimea that morning, and I was sick at home when the pics from the security camera came through - INTRUDER!!! I zoomed up to the ranch. It takes 20 minutes, a little less this time.

Mike called the cops who showed up just minutes after me, thank goodness. Because what would I do on my own if someone was still there? "Hey, you (cough cough) get out of here (hack hack) and drop our stuff (cough cough cough) right now (achoo)!"

Actually, at this point we thought it was yet another trespasser who had climbed over our locked and posted gate, ignored the security camera clearly visible from the road, walked on down the drive, passed through an electric fence gate (and closed it behind him), and proceeded further in... like the guy last January did. At least our cameras are now above reach... unlike the one that was stolen in December. (For those keeping track, this makes three times people have come onto the property uninvited; stuff has been stolen twice.)

Anyway, the cops were there with me when we reached the Banana Shack, aka Mike's workshop, and I noticed all the doors were wide open. We hadn't seen any camera pics showing the guy leaving so assumed he was still around. The cops drew their pistols to secure the building. I was shaking like a leaf. Poor Mike was a nervous wreck, hours away but in touch by phone. He asked me to check for his brand new chainsaw and professional-grade weed eater, both less than two weeks old at the time. Nope, both gone. So now it was theft. The cops searched all around the building, down to the Lower Banana Patch and out to The Meadows... to no avail. They took fingerprints before searching further up the road as well. Nothing.

It was upon Mike's return that we discovered lots more tools were missing, including our generator, his $1000 hammerdrill, all the power tools and expensive stuff. We looked and looked for a stash in the bushes... but nope, nothing... it was all gone. He was devastated. We both felt violated and angry and bewildered.

Later, we learned there were actually three thieves involved. But none of them have been arrested thus far. We had some good leads and forwarded all info to the police. One thief was trying to make a deal with the cops but nothing ever came of that. Of course, lists and photos and serial numbers have been posted and shared. Pawn shops have been notified and flea markets checked regularly. Craigslist is perused every day. Our assumption is that, by now, everything is long gone. So here we are... filling out paperwork and awaiting the official police report and wondering how to proceed with our plans for the ranch.

All this, just as Mike was working on preliminaries for house-building. We are now rethinking everything. My goodness, has it really only been three weeks?

Thankfully, the cattle and horse are okay. If only we could understand them, they could tell us what they saw that morning.

Now, the good news:

First, one of our customers started a gofundme account to help us replace the stolen tools. (Thank you so much, Brittany, for your generous and proactive self!)  It has been completely overwhelming and humbling to have such support from so many people wishing us well. We don't even know them all! But every single one has touched our hearts deeply and helped restore our faith in humanity. And Mike has been able to start replacing tools as needed.

We send our deep heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all those who donated to the fund or shared the information about the theft or helped search for our tools or just sent positive messages and good vibes our way. It all helped, and it continues to help.
(in our yard)

And more good news:

Our oldest cow, Unicorn, had her calf this morning, a little heifer. Mike found her when she was just-cleaned-but-still-wet, maybe a half hour old, if that. Awww! This is the fourth calf and the first female born at Serenity Ranch. Welcome, little one!

(Calf photos by Mike)

Monday, January 23, 2017

CowCow's First Calf!

Remember back when we got our very first little cow?  That was back in June 2015 when that sweet little Angus heifer was just a little thing.  Needless to say, she has grown!  Beautiful CowCow now towers over the shorter Dexter herd.  But somehow she and Ferdinand, the Dexter bull, figured it out. Ten months and 10 days later, we have a third Serenity Ranch calf!

It took a couple hours of searching through the fields and forest to find this little guy, all nestled down and only a few hours old.  Oh my gosh, he is the softest little critter!  Not yet afraid of people, I was able to spend a bit of time petting and examining him.  He's a healthy little bull calf.

CowCow seems to be taking well to motherhood.  She knows what to do, even if this is her first.  It's all instinct, and I find it fascinating.

I must say, this whole cattle thing is waay easier than raising pigs was.  It takes so much less of our time.  We're really starting to see improvement in the pasture areas with the intensive mob-grazing and rotational pastures.  More weeds are getting trampled down, weed trees are giving way to more open vistas, and it all works together to allow more grasses to appear.
Now that the fencing is complete and cross-fencing is just about done, maybe we'll actually be able to start building our house.  I'm sure looking forward to the time when we can live at the ranch full-time, alongside our beautiful cattle.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Early Morning at Serenity Ranch

I managed to capture several wild chickens that had been roaming our yard, waking us extra early each morning, and making a bit of a mess. They were lured into an empty chicken yard, the greedy little things, then I shut the door on them. Easy peasy. I even managed to get a rooster in there, too!

After a week or so, I could tell they were never going to settle into the domestic life, but I didn't want to just let them out to take over the yard again. Aha! How about releasing them up at the ranch? So, last night before bed, we plucked them off the roost, one by one, and stuck them into the transport cage. Then early this morning, we drove up to the ranch to set them free under the Grandmother Mango tree, well away from the flock that's already living by the Banana Shack.

Alongside the future house site, looking over the Center Field to the ocean beyond.

I didn't have a chance to get any photos of the birds because, once the transport cage was opened, they instantly popped out and ran for the cover of the jungle! As we wandered around, checking on the cattle and hunting for the free-range horse, it was fun to hear the rooster of each flock crowing to the other one across the fields. Even the cows got curious, recognising a new sound coming from higher up the hillside and they soon set off to investigate.

Meanwhile, a bit of drizzle stretched from over the rift behind us... and suddenly a bright rainbow appeared! It was a good morning.