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La vida loca! Wished you were there? We did, so here we are on our big adventure! A year in central America, to make sense of this vida loca...

The egg detective and other stories... part 1

COSTA RICA | Tuesday, 5 August 2008 | Views [904]

and the present she left us...

and the present she left us...

There is always something happening at the ranch, sometimes happy, others sad, happy, satisfying moments, excitement with scary bits, and the completely unexpected.  I´ll begin with the completely unexpected. 

The egg detective

It happened one sunny Monday morning.  I was sitting in the library, quietly preparing bingo cards for my lesson on Tuesday and, wait for it, I needed a ruler.  So I stood up, walked the few paces to our room and leaned down to the appropriate shelf to pick up the tape measure sitting there.  My hand reached in and was pecked.  Yes pecked!!  By a chicken, sitting on spare carrier bags, on a shelf, in the bedroom.  Of course, I yelped and the hen clucked furiously.  We were both in shock – but it quickly wore off and she sat still for a photo call.  Leaving a tasty little present behind.

The thing we all subsequently learned about chickens is that they are creatures of habit.  What they lack in intelligence they more than make for in sneakiness.  The next day and for several days after that, she came back to the house determined to lay a second egg in our room and if not there somewhere inside.  Our door was closed though, Dan disapproving of hens rustling through his (our) belongings.  We all took turns in chasing her out of the house as she tried to nest in the library, office, workshop and finally the tool store.  She was booted out with a broom, in a net and carried out on one occasion by yours truly in a towel.  To no avail.  She would just sneak back in by another entrance as soon as your back was turned.

You´ll have realised by now that doors are always open during the day, windows too because it´s too stuffy and humid otherwise.

We found two eggs at the back of the shelves in Robins´studio – nestled on new hammocks wedged behind the large plastic boxes used to store clean sheets.  Then for two days after that we found nothing.  By this time, we were was affectionately calling the hen Kevina. She was now destined to be the first inmate of the Ranch´s new chicken-coop nicknamed Kevin (for Kevin Costner, and no, I don´t know why).  By the by, he coop isn´t finished yet, but it´ll be a veritable chicken palace.  But I digress. 

Kevina had earned my respect by this time, I couldn´t help but be impressed by her determination, almost desperation to come in and lay her eggs.  It´s also fair to say we were also fed up of chasing her.  On the fifth day we opted to let her be.  Over lunch I decided to follow her around to spot where she would lay her egg.  What followed was an interesting game of hide an seek.  I was the egg detective!  Although it´s not for this that I gave up the day job, she saw me creeping up every time!!  I gave up.  Later she was spotted in a plastic bag on the work bench in the tool store – right next to the knife grinder.  Who would have thought it.

She was determined though.  Even the racket Sam made when he sharpening his machete right in front of her (he failed to see her…), sparks showering the floor, failed to move her.  She laid her egg and left the house squawking her usual affront at the interruption.  That was several days ago now.  I think we did finally and inadvertently persuade her to stay out of the house.  She´s still around though, friends with the cat and happy on the compost heap.  She´ll have to watch out when the coop is ready!

That´s a big spider!

Recently at the Ranch, we´ve had a few unwelcome visitors in the main house.  It started with a scorpion climbing into someone´s bag as it was left to dry on the roof.  The scorpion had to be evicted and dispatched with a machete.  Then one morning a tarantula appeared on the veranda amongst my ginger beer bottles and the aloe vera plants.  Now there was an eye opener!  This visitor was re-homed much as you would a house spider, but with a bowl and magazine…  And another large spider appeared in one of the bedrooms shortly afterwards, also to be re-homed.  Have a look at the photos if you don´t believe me! 

The moral of this story is that caution is definitely called for at night because you don´t know what you might step on.  I´m not just talking about spiders and scorpions either… there are deadly snakes hereabouts too.  All of which imbues a healthy respect for one´s environment.  Quite right too.

Bye bye Chingo

Chingo was Katya´s dog.  Katya is from Mastatal and has worked at the Ranch for years preparing countless lunches and dinners with volunteer asssistance.  She spends so much time here, her son Ion too, that quite some time ago Chingo decided that he prefered life at the Ranch too.  That was the dog´s point of view.  Tim on the other hand spent years trying to chase him home back to Katya´s house.

By the time Dan and I arrived at the Ranch the battle was almost lost.  Chingo was pals with Pico the resident hound and pretty much used his bed every night.  Pico allowed this and took it upon himself to share his fleas by sleeping on everybody else´s bed.  The one area where proper boundaries were respected was around food.  Pico got fed, and sometimes, let Chingo have his left overs.  Besides the dogs, the Ranch boasts 3 outdoor cats as well.  Only one cat actually arrived with Tim and Robin in Costa Rica!

A house full of animals may not appeal to you, but it helped me to feel at home.  Chingo definitely played his part.  An intelligent, friendly animal he would come to anyone for attention and roll over at any opportunity.  He liked being around people as much as he liked food.  Even Dan liked him, which is an accolade in itself.  Pico in comparison thinks only of his stomach, sleep and the fact he doesn´t like thunderstorms…

Then one day not so long ago Chingo fell ill. Most people didn´t pay much attention the first two days, myself included. He just seemed to be sleeping more, but he wasn´t coming for food which should have been the giveaway.  On the third day he got up and staggered towards us as we ate breakfast.  He was so thin.  We were worried.  Later I managed to get him to eat something and to drink too.  By lunch time he seemed better.  Then in the evening he worsened again and only wanted to lie down. 

By horrid coincidence this was Saturday night and volunteers and interns wanted to party.  Which they did around the veranda of the main house, and in front the dog´s bed next to the beer fridge.  The party finished at around 12.30am.  At 1.30am Chingo screamed.  Only Dan and I heard, we had gone to bed early, sleepless until the party finished.  The other two occupants in the house were out cold from booze.  I found Chingo lying on his side, hot all over and dead.

Sunday was horrible.  Slowly the news trickled around, Katya was told too.  We buried him in the garden that morning and I sobbed my heart out.  Animals have a way of getting under your skin. 

I remember –

Chingo, my four legged friend,

Four days to know you and three days to end,

That doggy duo, now Pico runs solo,

No more fun walks down by the rio,

I miss you already, your leaning affection,

Big mournful eyes and smelly canine perfection,

Now rest where you wanted to be,

Here always, with your adopted Rancho family.

To be continued…. 


Tags: chickens, dogs and cats, spiders

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