Saturday, November 18, 2017

Banámichi November 2017

Insect Wars:
A month ago, tender green shoots were beginning to emerge from the soil. All was well in garden-land. Yes, I decided to hang in with the vegetables for one more year. 

But when we arrived in Banámichi a few days ago, only a few carrots, and some cilantro and dill were in evidence. What happened to the beets, spinach, chard, 3 kinds of lettuce and the other herbs? Had it been too hot? Did the grasshoppers get them? It was a mysterious disappearance. All the work to dig the plots and plant the seeds, not to mention the cash layout for seeds, soil amendments and drip tape. Those would be some damn expensive carrots! What a waste, and what a pain in the tushie!

Then we noticed that all the rose leaves were stripped off and the peach trees were  also stripped halfway down from the top. It became apparent that the culprit was "mochomos," aka leaf cutter ants. We've had them before, but never like this. 
Rose bush stripped of its leaves

Mochomo mound

We found several mounds that were obviously nest entrances. I saw online where some artists pour molten aluminum down ant holes and create amazing tree-root like sculptures. Not having any molten aluminum lying about, Dan W. got a Mexican product called "Trompa," little brown sticks that the ants carry down into their food supply in the nest that is supposed to get rid of them. It did slow them down, but the coup de grâce was when he poured a bunch of termite poison down the holes. Gone. I replanted the garden.
Aluminum Anthill Casting from anthillart,com

Then, we noticed termite tubes in our kitchen. One of them was actually free-standing between the floor and the bottom of the cabinet. We looked around and found that in places, the wood around the cabinets was gone and only the paint remained. One of the shelf supports actually disintegrated when Dan  picked up the shelf. Even the cotton rug in front of the sink was chewed up.
Some of the termite damage

So we had to take everything out of the cabinets, cut and drill holes in the sides and floor. The two Dans were lying on their bellies, half inside the cabinets, injecting termite poison into the cracks where they were coming in from outside. I am not a fan of pesticides, but thank God for termite poison. Gone. We put everything back into cabinets.

I have read online that the biomass of insects on the planet is actually much greater than the human biomass. That is scary!  They certainly have made a grab for our little corner of the world!

Our Banámich Cat:
Most cats in Banámichi are feral. They kill whatever they can and raid garbage cans to survive. Over time there are more and more cats, although the survival rate is low. For the last couple of years, a scrawny little brown and gray tortoise shell has consistently found hidey-holes in our back yard to have her kittens.

Mama Cat
Dan and Tracy always bring their two pampered pets down with them. They felt sorry for the skinny mama cat, and so when their cats left food over, they began putting it out for the stray. Gradually the cat became accustomed to the handouts and now she hangs out in the yard and shows up a couple times of day with her pitiful and piercing meows. She seems to know when one of our cars arrives, and within a few minutes is yowling in the back yard for something to eat. We always feel sorry for her and succumb to her wiles. Of course we are only here for a week or so a month, so this is intermittent reinforcement which is the most potent reward system.

Last time we were here, it was impossible to work in the garden because she literally followed me everywhere, meowing piteously. We actually went to Aconchi to buy some cat food so she would leave me alone. So now she has become a fixture of our visits. She gets nose to nose through the screen door with Dan and Tracy's cats. Remarkably, there is no spitting and hissing, just curiosity on both sides of the door. 

 Kitten With Hincky Tail
Now, Mama Cat has started to bring some of her older kittens with her, so we are beginning to feed the whole famdamily! The kittens are very afraid of us, hurling themselves at the garden wall in an attempt to get away if one of us comes near them. But Mama is letting us get closer and closer. Dan W. says she actually rubs up against his legs now when he feeds her. So we have us a part-time cat!

It's Papaya Time:
 Last spring, our friend Vicky gave me and friend Lynn a plastic bucket with a bunch of small papaya trees growing in it. I carefully cut them apart, and we each planted some. So now, I have a cluster of 4 fairly tall papaya trees, loaded with green papayas! One of them was ripe, and I have been eating it over the last few days. It is sweet and delicious...way better than any commercial papaya! Life is good!
Trya Papaya...they're delish!

1 comment:

  1. Wow wow we! Ants, feral cats, termites. And of course the taste of that sweet, ripe fruit makes it worth every ounce of inconvenience. I love the basic nature of your Mexican abode life June. Rich with stories of food and shelter.