Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | November 13, 2014

Feeding the 9 Billion

It is estimated that the State of Hawaii imports about 80% of its food,

yet on the four acres we farm on our property, we produce about 25,000 pounds –12.5 tons– of food a year.

For an interesting perspective on demand and supply of food in the world click on the link below:

http://nyti.ms/1sznCGr

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | September 24, 2014

Our Herb & Spice Emporium Part I:

Recently at dinner, conversation turned into a debate about just exactly what constitutes a condiment, versus a side dish or a spice, or a sauce. One might imagine there could be a similar discussion

about herbs. What is the difference between an herb and a spice, or can a plant be both? And do leaves, wood, roots, berries and/or seeds and flowers of trees, bushes, and grasses qualify? When do these often aromatic plants become a soup vegetable, a calming tea, or the basis of a salad, an ointment or a tonic?

Magic Mountain is primarily a fruit, nut, and coffee tree farm but also, there are herbs and spices, that not only  grow on other of our trees, but on bushes and as grasses and flowers, some of which we have planted, and many more that are volunteers.

Earlier this year one of our woofers*, Jaymes, compiled a partial list of herbs she was able to identify that grow on our land, with information she had gathered about some of their medicinal uses.

Take a gander, and see what you think. Then stay tuned for Part II.

JAYMES’ HERB LIST FOR MAGIC MOUNTAIN FARM
(with minor edits by yours truly)

VERVAIN
“Witch’s Herb”
Used by many religions/spiritualities as an altar herb, ranging from Roman Catholics to Druids to Witches, it was believed to have been used on Mount Calvary to staunch Christ’s wounds.

Uses:  •  Diarrhea  •  Ulcers • Anxiety  •  Intermittent fevers  •  Pleurisy  •  Kidney stones  •  Scrofula  •  Insomnia  •  Expelling worms  •  Muscle spasms   •  Easing pain in the bowels  •  Menstrual problems  •  Increasing breast milk  •  As a medicinal poultice  it is credited with treating headaches, hemorrhoids/piles and rheumatism.

http://holistichealthliving.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/the-benefits-of-vervain/

 

 

OREGANO (2 varieties)
“I am letting go”
This powerful super herb gets it’s name from the Greek words for Mountain and Joy… and boy does it make me feel joyful!

Uses:  Antibacterial  •  Anti-inflammatory  •  Cold  •  Muscle Pain  •  Acne
•  Dandruff  •  Bronchitis
•  Toothache  •  Bloating
•  Headaches  •  Heart Conditions
•  Allergies  •  Intestinal Parasites
•  Earache  •  Fatigue
•  Repelling Insects
•  Menstrual Cramps

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266259.php

 

 

 

 

MINTS (several varieties)
We know it best for it’s aromatherapy uses and for settling an upset stomach, but what else is it good for?

Uses
Orally:  •  Inflamation of the mouth and pharynx
•  Sinusitis  • IBS
•  Fever, liver and galbladder complaints
•  Stomach cramps  •  Common cold  •  Cough
•  Fever  •  Flatulance
•  Tension headache  •  Respiratory infections
Topically: •  Headache  •  Myalgias
•  Neuralgias  •  Toothache
•  Oral inflammation  •  Rheumatic conditions
•  Viral infections

http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/(X(1)S(0hciiq55ohcxbfjsilvawafc))/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=100&id=705&fs=ND&searchid=45955621

 

DAMIANA

” The National Treasure of Mexico.”  

Uses:  Orally:  •  Headache  •  Bed wetting  •  Depression  •  Nervous dyspepsia  •  Atonic constipation  •  Treatment of sexual disturbances  •  Strengthening and stimulation during exertion (overwork)  •  Boosting and maintaining mental and physical capacity  •  Aphrodisiac  •   Inhalation:  •  Used for a subtle “high.”

http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com /(X(1)S(0hciiq55ohcxbfjsilvawafc))/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=100&id=703&fs=ND&searchid=45955621

 

 

BASIL

Uses:  Orally:

•  Stomach spasms  •  Kidney conditions
•  Before and after childbirth to promote circulation
•  Treat snakebites and insect bites
•  Appetite stimulant  •  Warts
•  Anti-flatulent  •  Worms
•  Diuretic  •  Head colds
•  Lactation  •  Gargle and mouth astringent.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil

 

THYME
“Ain’t Nobody Got Thyme For That”

Uses:  Orally: •  Bronchitis  •  Sore throat  •  Colic  •  Arthritis  •  Diarrhea

•  Flatulence  •  Skin disorders  •  Urinary disinfectant
•  Appetite stimulant .  Topically:  •  Laryngitis  •  Tonsillitis.
Topically as an oil:  •  Antiseptic in mouthwashes.

en.wikipedia.org./wiki/Thyme

 

GOTU KOLA
“Brain Food”

Uses:  Orally:
•  Reducing fatigue  •  Anxiety  •  Depression  •  Improving memory and intelligence
•  Alzeheimer’s disease  •  venous insufficiency (varicose veins)  •  Wound healing

•  Increasing longevity  •  Common cold  •  Sunstroke  •  Tonsillitis  •  Leprosy
•  UTI  •  Hepatitis  •  Abdominal pain  •  Diarrhea  •  Indigestion  •  Trauma
•  Psychiatric disorders  •  Epilepsy  •  Asthma  •  Anemia  •  Diabetes  •  Aphrodisiac.
Topically:
•  Wound healing  •  Reducing scars.

 

PLANTAIN
“White Man’s Foot”

Uses:
Root:
•  Toothache
Seeds:
•  Mild laxative effect
Orally:
•  Astringent • antibacterial
•  Anti-inflamatory
•  Antimicrobial

•  Depresses secretion of mucous
•  Asthma
•  Lung infections
•  Hay fever cough soother
•  Appetite suppressant
•  Gastritis
•  Diarrhea
•  Dysentrery
•  IBS
•  Quitting smoking
•  Freshens breath
•  Detoxification
•  Semulcent
Externally:
•  Styptic
•  Sunburns/burns  •  Anti-fungal  •  Eye wash  •  Soothes skin  •  Acne
•  Itchiness  •  Blister prevention

 

LEMON LEAF

Uses:  Internally:

•  Sedative
•  Antispasmodic
•  Insomnia
•  Nervousness
•  Palpitation
•  Alternative to Valium

•  Migraine headache
•  Asthma
•  Worms

 

 

 

 

http://lemonpowerinfo.blogspot.com/

 

LOQUAT LEAF
“Diabetes Super food”

Uses:  Internally:
•  Diarrhea  • Depression  •  Counteracts intoxication  •  Reduces swelling
•  Aids mucous membranes  •  Releases antioxidants  •  Combats diabetes
•  Supports the pancreas  •  Assists liver in detoxifying chemicals
•  Fights skin inflammation  •  Aids in the fight against skin cancer
•  Fights a variety of viruses  •  May even help fight HIV

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/benefits-of/loquat-leaf

 

ROSEMARY
“Housewife’s Herb”
Said to only grow in a house where a strong female was present, many husbands would mutilate this plant to “disprove” this old belief.
Hmmmm….

Uses:
Orally:
•  Dyspepsia  •  Flatulence
•  Inducing abortionScreen shot 2014-09-24 at 4.12.44 PM
•  Increasing menstrual flow
•  Gout  •  Cough
•  Headache  •  Liver
•  Gallbladder complaints
•  Loss of appetite
•  Cognitive decline in the elderly
•  Cardiovascular conditions
Topically:
•  Preventing baldness
•  Alopecia
•  Circulatory disturbances  •   Toothache  •  Ecsema  •  Joint or muscle-skeletal pain  •  Neuralgia  •  Balneotherapy  •  Wound healing  •  Insect repellent

 

SPANISH NEEDLE
Once the flower goes to seed, you will know you have the right plant because the ‘needles’ stick to your clothes.

Uses:  Internally:

•  Anti-inflammatory  •  Antibacterial
•  Antiseptic  •  Antimicrobial  • Antidysenteric  •

Diuretic  •
•  Anti-malarial
•  Mouthwash
•  Joint discomfort
•  Swelling
•  Stomach ailments
•  Cold
•  Flu

* The leaves of the Spanish Needle are also extremely edible. *

 

LILIKOI VINE
“Passion of the Christ Flower”
Named for the cross found in the middle of it’s flower, this entire vine packs quite the punch!

Uses:
(flower or leaves) Orally:
insomnia  •
gastrointestinal upset related to anxiety or nervousness  •
generalized anxiety disorder  •
symptoms of opiate withdrawal  •  neuralgia  •  generalized seizures  •  hysteria  •  spasmodic asthma  •  menopausal symptoms  •  ADHD  •  nervousness and excitability  •  palpitations  •  cardiac rhythm abnormalities  •  high blood pressure  •  fibromyalgia  •  pain relief

 

ALOE VERA

Uses:  Orally:
•  osteoarthritis •  inflamatory bowel diseases   including ulcerative colitis  •  Fever
• Itching  •  Inflammation  •  General tonic
•  Gastroduodenal ulcers
•  Diabetes  •  Asthma
•  Radiation related mucositis
•  Constipation
•  Epilepsy  •  Asthma  •  Colds
•  Bleeding  •  Amenorrhea  •  Colitis
•  Depression  •  Diabetes  •  Glaucoma
•  Multiple sclerosis  • Hemorrhoids
•  Varicose veins  •  Bursitis  •  Oasteoarthritis
•  Vision problems.

Topically:  • Burns  •  Wound healing  •  Hemorrhoids  •  Psoriasis  •  Sunburn
•  Frostbite  •  Inflammation  •  Osteoarthritis  • Cold sores  •  Antiseptic  •  Moisturizer.

 

MAMAKI
“Vog Cure”  ~  A native Hawaiian tree from the mulberry family.

3000 900-01-3150 Pipturus rockii.  Hawai`i, O`ahu, Ko`olau Mountains, Wiliwilinui Ridge.  Plant 1. (jqcl) Tags: plants plant hawaii oahu nativeplants nativeplant hawaiianislands urticaceae koolaumountains mamaki nativehawaiianplant nativehawaiianplants pipturus pipturusrockii lumpedintopipturusalbidusinthemanual

Uses:  •  Vog (toxins released by our continuously active volcanoes)  •  Relieves sore throats  •  Relieves coughing  •  General tonic  •  Rejuvenating qualities  •  Blood cleanser.

 

 

 

And now, to whet your appetite, here is a partial list of the herbs that grow on Magic Mountain Farm, that will be featured in Part II…

PARSLEY  •  ALLSPICE  •  CURRY LEAF  •  BAY LEAF  •  MORINGA  •  HIBISCUS  •  GINGER  •  TURMERIC  •  SCALLIONS  •  LEMONGRASS  •  NASTURTIUM  •  GARLIC GRASS  •  ROSE HIPS  •  DANDELION  &  more …

* Workers on organic farms

 
Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | September 9, 2014

Whole Lotta Rats

The day after they arrived, Vanya and Lola reported hearing scurryings and squeakings in the ceilings anc592541052d6cee4d331f955228e9be4d walls of their new home at night.  It was the weekend so James tore open a good deal of the roof, to discover a bounty of stinking nests.  With a spade and a couple of buckets he removed what he could and put the roof back on.  Then he laid traps.  By the following evening Cream had caught one and left the severed head in Juli’s bathroom.  Also the traps had been reset six times.

Did I mention that one of the traps was put in the lower pineapple patch?  We have lost about 150 pounds of pineapple, but could not figure out what was hollowing them so that were it not for decay, they would have made adorable lanterns.  Was it hungry birds pecking?  Or was it… rats?

Having caught several rats in one ‘patch’, we will see.  Tonight James is moving up mountain to pineapple patch number two, to lay another trap.  If our pineapples are no longer being devoured, it will turn out to have been damage caused by rodents.

What is interesting though, is that we have already harvested two rounds of coffee, with no rat d5340386648_48fcd31845amage.  At first we thought  it was due to the influx of stray cats.  Mr. T. in particular is a vicious and thorough hunter, consuming his prey fur and all, leaving only the tail to speak to the rat’s demise.  But now I am wondering, too, if it has been the sweeter than sweet pineapple ‘bait’ that has diverted them from our coffee trees.

Now we must be alert to the remains of the rats from the traps, strewn in the grass.  At Magic Mountain Farm, not all is Magic.  At least some of what we do is strategic and practical.  We are doing what we can to geb35419a0t rid of the rats. But because we are organic and we care about the environment, the only dead rodents found here, will be free of poison.  When the mongoose, the owls and the hawk swoop in for the leftovers, they will thrive and not perish.  And the diversity, the balancing and the melding of wild and domesticated life that thrives here, is what we hope will continue to be the catalyst for the magic on our volcanic, mountain farm.

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | August 28, 2014

Little House: All A-Bustle

It is calm and quiet right now.  James is sleeping.  Milo is waiting.  For a walk.  But I am here in my window seat, that looks out over the ocean and the farm, laying down the bones because it is probably the last peace and quiet there will be all day. Little House and Magic Mountain Farm, you see, have been all a-bustle, all week, getting ready to grow our community.

At the moment we have four permanent, two-legged residents. Add to that two more of the woofer* sort, but woofers come and go. Now we are about to embark on a new adventure we hope to have go on and on, and it begins tomorrow.  It is for this we have been getting ready and it feels like Christmas is almost upon us in August.

We are striving to build a unique community at Magic Mountain Farm.  It will continue to consist wagon-train-of-pioneers-moving-west-1800s-jpgof us, my husband and me. It also has our dearest, amazing Juli and the Dolphin who arrived last October and are on the autism spectrum.  Tomorrow night three more of beloveds, including my brother, will arrive.  They are Vanya and Lola, and Aaron.  Aaron will visit briefly.  Vanya and Lola we hope will stay on and on. They are another autism spectrum family.

What we are creating is an autistic community.  With an emphasis on the pursuit of happiness and also, developing a model for others of modest means to do the same.  And further more, we are creating a think-tank and a place of discovery, for development of break-through therapies and techniques for gaining speaking for meaning in non-verbal people, and the measurement, validation, and acknowledgement of their intelligence through observational models, backed by scientific research. 

This is Phase II.  And the ‘a-bustling’ has been to make room.  Literally.  Beautifully.  So far, living space is two suites with shared decks, overlooking the ocean.  One of the kitchens, filled with the strangest of things, that one seems to acquire as both a pack-rat and farm dweller, has been gutted.  Heaps of boxes have been ferried to the dump, the recycle facilities, and thrift shop. Cabinets have been scoured.  A room for boxes, along with a $60.00 twin bed from Craig’s list has been transformed into woofer housing, namely a bedroom for Katia and Kaoru right next door to the bathroom, and of course, with internet access.

At the top of our farm there is a cabin.  By chance a friend called and promptly delivered a king-size bed for that structure over last weekend.  At the bottom of our farm is a shack.  We are tearing it down, but leaving the deck and building little cottages that open onto the deck for even more folks to come here. 

In Vanya and Lola’s quarters we are installing bars and shelves in the closet, moving furniture, vacuuming and washing the windows, so that everything sparkles.

IMG_5011

Juli and the Dolphin

When they arrive late tomorrow, their bed will be ready.  All will be calm and cool with mountain air. We will have fed them on the ride home.  The room and the blankets will enfold them under clouds or stars, whatever the night has to offer. And they will feel the high ceilings and step onto the deck and breathe and slumber.   And all of us will dream away the night, waking when we please on Saturday, and so a new chapter on Magic Mountain Farm will begin.

IMG_5012

*workers on organic farms

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | August 14, 2014

Frugality Reality

I have always enjoyed using things up, recycling, finding a bargain.  Back in the day, this was actually considered cool.  But then I moved from small towns and rural areas to Chicago, and later Los Angeles, before landing here, on Magic Mountain Farm.  And through it all, I went on a cathartic journey, making peace with saving and using every scrap, v. being stingy, poor, or miserly.

You see, farmers do the same thing.  They repair old equipment, drive old vehicles, and use everything up, just like other successful business entrepreneurs.

Take chickens.  The ones we buy for food.  First we eat the meat.  Then we boil the carcass for soup.  Scraps become treats for our dog and cats.  The bones, we freeze.  When we make a fire, we burn them, adding to the plant ash, making fertilizer.  Or take the chickens on the farm.  We eat their eggs.  We give them feed, compost, and pulled and cut greens, such as grasses and clovers.  What they don’t eat, decays along with their poop to make incredibly fertile soil.  Eventually we move their pen to fresh ground.  What is left, of uneaten seeds, spontaneously sprouts into a garden.  When egg chickens, or our pets die, we bury and cover them with rocks (so wild animals don’t dig them up).  After a while we plant a tree over their remains, which in turn, feed new life.

Macadamia nuts have many uses.  First there are the nuts themselves.  They are good to eat in so many ways.  Then there is the ‘packaging’ the nuts come in; a husk, like soft tree bark, which inside has a shell.  The husks are removed first.  They make an incredible, ground-nourishing ‘peat moss’.  The shell inside the husk is very hard.  Cracked, they are like gravel.  We use them on pathways, to fill and smooth land, and to cover husks, to hold moisture.  This combination does amazing things for plants.  We grow pineapples with mac husks and shells, that are almost as tall as me, and produce ten-pound fruit.

4530_1162710509230_5771744_n

Native Ohia trees on our farm.

An endless supply of wood is another bounty we put to good use.  Some years when we prune coffee and clear forest we chip it all.  There are mountains of chips, in fact, that when shoveled, let out piping hot steam.  Like the macadamia nut husks and shells, they make for good ground and path cover.  They protect the base of trees in times of drought, holding in moisture, making it difficult for weeds to grow, or pulling them out when they do, very easy. Also wood is milled to be used for building projects, or burned to cook food and make fertilizer.

Even during times of drought, we recycle our gray water from the sink and the washing machine, keeping the front lawn and certain trees from expiring.

We conserve in other ways as well.  When my husband and I married we combined two households.  It meant packing a big shipping container when I moved here from the mainland.  Pack rat that I am, I used odds and ends of rags, old linens and newspaper to protect things in recycled boxes and crates scavenged from shops and restaurants in L.A.  The doubles of everything have been slowly absorbed as some appliances broke down, and friends have come to live with us.  Speaking of recycling, the other night, when the topic of thrift shops came up at dinner, I explained to our help that even much of what we buy now, when we can find it, comes from resale items from trucks to clothes and furniture.

When we shop, my dear Juli and I know every place to check for clearance items and discounts.  It allows us to have more expendable income, to buy nice things that are not on sale, to get farm machinery we need that is not cheap, to charge less rent, to sell our harvests at more reasonable prices.

No, we do not have much in the way of fancy handbags, or flashy new cars.  They might be fun, to be sure.  But as my husband likes to say, although we work like dogs, we eat like kings.  And we are healthy and fit.  No need for a gym membership here.  No need travel to see the ocean, we have panoramic views and amazing sunsets everyday, not to mention the finest filtered rain water and organic nuts, coffee, and produce, even if none of these things boasts a designer label.

Best of all though, is embracing and living in culture and community that supports this value system.  For some years I was lost, caught up in the lure of acquiring fancy baubles and the status they claimed to offer.  Now I am grounded in connecting with Mother Nature, with this farm, and the planet we all live on, being a part of the solution instead of the problem.  And not surprisingly, most of the time, I am happy.  More even, than at almost any other time in my life.

https://i2.wp.com/store.tidbitstrinkets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Cornucopia.jpg

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | August 10, 2014

Plight of the Farmer

Click below for NYT Op-Ed:

 Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers

 

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | August 8, 2014

Whole Lot of Nothin’ Goin’ On

Little House, Day.

Little House before and after Hurricane Iselle

 

First Facebook Post, August 5th, two days before Hurricane Iselle struck:

OK OK OK the Pacific is loaded with hurricanes and tropical storms that might be headed here. Juli got the call that she and the Dolphin can be med-vac’d if needed. But James says that the Big Island has not had a hurricane or a typhoon, at least not in recorded history, so please do not call or text us at 4am Friday to let us know about it. If things get too squirrelly the sirens will be going all night anyway!

Second Facebook Post, yesterday:

The air is crisp, the sky blue, with nary a cloud. The sun is about to peek out from over to top of the volcano where we live. We are awake. We are getting ready by starting work early, finishing overdue roofing projects and picking fruit and coffee as fast as we can. James is here. School is closed. There is a holiday atmosphere. Were it not for dire weather reports, it would appear that we are going to have an absolutely perfectly wonderful day.Hurricane-Iselle-450x337

Facebook Post this morning:

Status update: All is calm. All is bright. We are all very, very tired from working our butts off yesterday. The farm is in much better shape. As to the weather, we got a quarter inch of rain very early this morning. Now we are having soft breezes and the sun and the sky are peeping out through the clouds. Thanks for all of your good thoughts and prayers. They worked!

‘Nuff said.

P.S.  Our dearly beloved Juli –who survived 17 hurricanes in Floridaland before moving here has been laughing her you-know-what-off, although she too, is tired.  Her friends and family kept calling and texting all last night.

P.P.S.  We are still waiting on Tropical Storm Julio, which is supposed to pass just north of us Sunday.  That being said, the ‘eye’ of Iselle passed eight miles from our farm at about 5 a.m. –when we were getting that quarter inch of rain.

Video Shorts of Hurricane Iselle

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | July 28, 2014

Hawaiian Pesto

ce2d4fe947733674169f9207f9e65448One of the things I delight in, and try to do every evening, is use food we grow to make dinner.  Or at least, food that is locally grown.  So it was a pleasant surprise to realize that last night only three ingredients did not come from Magic Mountain Farm: pasta, olive brine, and garlic.  Had I used our garlic grass instead of cloves it would have been two.

When woofers* leave, we have two traditions.  There isn’t always time and opportunity, but yesterday we were able to do both, with David who has been with us this summer, who is going back to the Mainland.  First he planted a native sandalwood tree, and second he got to request a favorite meal, which happened to be pesto with pasta.  When I realized that his ‘last supper’ would truly be a farm to table meal, it made me glad, because he has been such a good help and it seemed fitting that in one way or another he had contributed to dinner.

We harvest a lot of basil and freeze it.  The day I make pesto I take a bag out to thaw.  A ripe avocado from our farm contributes oil, a smooth consistency, and great flavor.  The macadamia nuts we grow are also loaded with fat, so to get the olive flavor, I use the brine (liquid in the jar) of Kalamata olives.  The lemon juice gives a nice contrast, something like grated cheese, especially for vegans and lactose intolerant folks.

HAWAIIAN PESTO4999830693_5d060d4a45

Prepare 1 c. nuts (see below) and set aside.

Into a blender or food processor put:

2 to 2-1/12 c. fresh packed or thawed frozen basil leaves and/or arugula**

1/2 c. Kalamata olive brine

Juice of 1 meyer lemon**

1 medium, ripe avocado**

2 whole cloves of peeled, crushed garlic (or a small bunch of garlic grass, rinsed and minced**)

Blend ingredients.  Be patient. This requires quick bursts if using a blender (v. a food processor), stopping, pushing down the ingredients with a spatula, and another quick burst with the blender, until the ingredients break down and begin to mix thoroughly. If the mixture is too stiff, add extra olive brine, 1 T. at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Add to the blender/food processor:

1 c. macadamia nuts,** coarsely ground.Screen shot 2014-07-28 at 12.25.36 PM

Pine nuts and walnuts are good, too, but are not locally grown, and cost a fortune. Use a clean electric coffee grinder or food processor to make a coarse ‘meal’ of the nuts, set it aside, then add them to the blender mixture when all of the other ingredients are thoroughly ground and blend some more until smooth.

Yield:  About 2-1/2 to 3 cups pesto.

Prepare 1-2 lbs. of your favorite pasta, according to package instructions.

Serve pasta hot.  Put out small bowls of Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and a hard grated cheese (such as Parmesan).  Pesto is also good with eggs and on toast. Leftover pesto can be stored in a carton in the refrigerator or frozen in an ice-cube tray and the cubes put in a plastic bag in the freezer.

 

Shown above, macadamia nuts with a ‘cracker’ that is specially designed for their unique round shell. Go to the link http://simpleliving-sherrie.blogspot.com/2010/08/macadamia-nut-cracker.html for more information about this image.

* workers on organic farms

** grown on Magic Mountain Farm

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | July 23, 2014

Mosquito Coast

The problem with living in Hawaii, like winning the lottery, is that no one will ever feel sorry for you, even if you are having a bad day.  I could be standing in long pants and a t-shirt, in a hazmat suit using the hood plus a big hat on top, with socks and heavy rubber boots, and protective gloves, in the soft humid air, with any possible exposed skin 23503_1390490083577_2365269_nslathered in sunscreen and insect repellant and still be considered lucky.

Which was pretty much the way I had to dress for the first few years, when I lived on the Mainland and my husband and I were dating, when I would come over to visit.  Until I got more used to the mosquitoes.

All my life, I was more or less impervious to mosquitoes.  My daughter, if there was even a single one in the house, would not only get bit, but the bite site would swell up like a balloon and itch horribly.  Me, not so much.  In fact, not at all.  Sometimes I would get flea bites if our cat was infested, but that was about it.  So it came as a surprise when I first spent some time on the Big Island, to find that I not only was covered in mosquito bites, but that they itched horribly.  Little House is round, or rather 14-sided.  I would literally run in circles indoors, between bouts of clawing my skin raw.  There was pain and blood involved, but the itch was so bad, that it was actually a pleasurable sensation to override it with a purge of burning, stinging, frantic scratching.  I used a papaya ‘pen,’ fresh aloe, and even Benedryl which made me sleepy, but nothing it seemed, except desperate alternating bouts of running in circles and clawing brought any relief.

To my horror, I discovered that although I was indeed in Hawaii, where there are no snakes, where there is no poison ivy and no poison oak, by being on an organic farm in a cloud forest, at 2,000 feet elevation, closer to the Equator than anywhere else in the United States, I must be a shut-in, or cover every square inch of my body with poison, sunscreen, and/or protective clothing lest Mother Nature unleash her burning rays and hoards of biting itching insects upon me.

What finally saved the day, was that a colleague of my future husband sold Avon products, one of which was Skin So Soft insect repellant and sunscreen.  The lotion did not hurt my skin or smell lethal,  Even better, it kept me from being burnt and bit.  I still had to wear socks though, because the grass still irritated my ankles with little nettle-like slivers that itched almost as bad as the mosquitoes.  The same for long pants.  And if I were cutting tall grass, or even just trying to move through it, it was a good idea to wear a long-sleeve shirt or a sweat jacket, so my arms would not be covered in welts.  Plus add to all of the above, clothing stained and in probably torn condition, or soon to be that way, with my hair pulled back, with a big headband and ideally, a hat.

A few years ago, our very first woofers* told us how they had interviewed with another farm and turned them down.  They said it was because after a lengthy phone interview, the owners revealed that they were nudists.  Clothing for everyone else was… optional.  Besides the rather terrifying image that the owners might well be middle-aged and walking around naked, there were the direct, tractor-beam rays of sunlight, the raspy vines and stinging grass, and of course… mosquitoes to consider.  Not to mention, that at other elevations on the Big Island –not ours thank God– there can be enormous cane spiders, fire ants, a skin burning-fungus, and that at other farms the rainfall can be up to 180 inches a year, and woofers often bring their own tent for housing.

The good news is, I am now mostly immune to Hawaiian mosquitoes.  Time has made all the difference.  When they get bad, I still wear Avon, although not often.  But just the other day, I ordered eight of the spray repellant, and four of the lotion bottles because… at Magic Mountain Farm there are always visitors and woofers, and coming soon, we have two more dear and treasured friends who will be staying with us, as part of our expanding community.  I already know that even though the screens are all in good order in their living space, they will absolutely need insect repellant.  After all, like me, and all of our other friends, family, and woofers, they will be, at least at first, “fresh meat.”  And if they complain, like me, they will be told that the itchiest day living in Hawaii is better than the un-itchiest day living on the Mainland, or probably most anywhere else in the world, for that matter. They will not get any sympathy.  Not one drop.  Except from me, and our other beloveds, who have come here, and adapted.  Those who know that as wonderful as Hawaii is, everywhere you go, there you are, and if you are new, and you are here, you will be feasted upon by our mosquitoes, if you do not use the recommended protections that are available.

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Fully slathered with insect repellant and sunscreen on the farm with one of my favorite people, my nephew Dov.

 

*workers on organic farms

Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | July 17, 2014

A Map of Magic Mountain Farm

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Our Woofers* sometimes make gifts for us that we so, so treasure. Last year at this time, Becka and Tyler presented us with a hand-drawn map of Magic Mountain Farm on a huge poster board. This summer when Jay and Laura were here, Laura photographed the image and downsized it.

*workers on organic farms

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