The Case of the Disappearing Hen

Once upon a time, on the island of Maui in Hawai`i, there was the story of an escaped “big cat.

Everyone thought it was a black panther or something similar. That mystery was never solved, but I know someone who can verify the existence of such a big cat that was roaming around in his Up Country neighborhood on Maui. In fact, one article states that this same cat was seen “crossing an intersection going into the mountains at 9:11 Maui time on the 6th of January, 2011.” You need to scroll down to the section on Hawaii to read it.

Another story about the Maui cat can be found here.

Now I wonder if the same thing could have happened here on the Big Island of Hawai`i? Listen to my story, and if anyone knows what the predator is, please let me know.

Over the past few years, I’ve had several of my chickens either die, or be pecked to death by other hens in the coop in the traditional “pecking order” fashion.

Finally, I was down to two hens that still managed to give me eggs occasionally. When I went out to feed them one night, I took the picture above.

The next morning, there was only one hen in the coop. I searched all over for her, but found nothing. There is no way she could have gotten out. The other hen was not doing very well, scrunched down and barely moving.

I wondered if there had been cannibalism going on, but I honestly don’t know how one hen could have eaten up another whole hen over night! Each day I searched again, hoping I had overlooked a spot where the other hen could be.

The front edge of the lid to the nesting box had been chewed up and there were holes, as though something had clawed or gnawed at the soft wood.

I didn’t think much about the size of the holes until a friend came to visit. He said that the holes were too big to be from an ordinary animal. The holes were slanting downward, as if a claw had attacked the wood.

He placed a 3 mm drill bit into several of the holes and it fit them all. It’s has to be a very large animal that caused these holes!

The one hen that is left is badly damaged, as if a huge claw had come down on her back and pulled. The skin and feathers have been ripped open down to the bone.

After a week, she is beginning to move around a little more. I keep thinking she might die anytime, but she keeps eating, drinking her water, and clucking at me.

The scenario we have put together goes something like this…

The animal was strong enough to stick a nose under the lid of the nesting box and grab the hen that was there, take it away, and eat it in private. This animal must have come back later, tried to reach in to get the other hen, but she got away somehow. Because the hen wasn’t able to get back up into the nesting box, the animal couldn’t get to her, and hasn’t come back.

Does anyone know of an animal that might be roaming around, or anything that could do this sort of damage? I keep thinking of a bobcat or lynx, or maybe even an owl. If a cat, it would have to be a pet that had gotten away from its owner. We don’t have “big cats” running around on the Big Island….or do we?

A hui hou!

“Wine and Words”

If you haven’t checked out Kona Stories, give yourself a treat and stop by. There is much more than books to be found as you cruise through, and comfy chairs where you can relax.

Kona Stories was begun five years ago by Brenda Eng and Joy Vogelgesang. They recently moved from Mango Court to the Keauhou Shopping Center. Be sure to check out their web site for the many events going on there.

For me, one of the highlights offered by the shop is the monthly “Wine and Words.” This happens at 6:00 pm the first Tuesday of each month, when various local authors are invited to read excerpts from a book they have written. As you wait to listen, you can visit with friends, browse the shelves and enjoy a glass of wine (or water) along with a few pupus.

Last week I attended with several friends to listen to Nancee Cline, who teaches English at our West Campus of Hawaii Community College. There was standing room only as Nancee read from her book, Queen Emma’s Church in Kealakekua: Crossroads of Culture. She began by saying it was so much more than simply a history of the church. Her book is rich with anecdotes, interviews, and more.

After the reading, people lined up to visit with Nancee and buy an autographed copy.

I didn’t get a chance to cruise through the shop as much as I would like because it was way too crowded. That won’t be the last time I stop by, however. I want to return for a visit with the store’s mascot!

Congratulations, Nancee! We’re proud of your accomplishments.

A hui hou!

Cats!

Katrina Relaxing
Katrina relaxing

As a child, I only had one pet, a dog I named “Sugar.” This was in the days of WW II food rationing, and sugar was hard to get, just as the dog (when he would get under the house) was “hard to get.” After a few days, my parents decided we didn’t need any pets at all – and the dog was sent away.

Since I have became an adult, it seems like I’ve always had a cat, along with miscellaneous dogs. Deep down, I know I’m mostly a “cat person,” although I do love the dogs I’ve had in my life.

My dear friend and colleague has a beautiful Birman who reigns supreme. She is so covered with fluff that I often wonder if there is any actual body underneath the fur.

A close up shot of “Darlin’ Miss.”

Last week, I attended a “Wine and Words” evening at Kona Stories in the Keauhou Shopping Center. Once a month, various local authors read excerpts from their books, visit with those of us there and share in the pupus. Naturally, I was drawn to this beautiful gray, also enjoying the social event. It looks like this beauty had her/his share of crackers, cheese, and wine.

Many of you know my beloved Kaimana who lived with me for many years before he became too ill. He is buried beneath an ohia tree on my property.

Later that same year, I was given Katrina, a feisty little kitten who is finally becoming a lady. I took several pictures of her playing (and hiding) in the garden, but she kept moving around so much that it was difficult to get a clear picture. I probably should have taken a video, but check out this brief slideshow.

Watch for another post on one of the authors (Nancee Cline) and her book from the “Wine and Words” event I attended.

A hui hou!

Another Spring in Boise

As soon as Spring semester was over at the college, I took off for a week to visit my children on the mainland. I’ve posted photos of my daughter Inga’s garden in the past, but for the first time ever, I was there to enjoy it in person!

One morning while she was at work, I walked around her garden with my video camera. Another addition since I was there is the little dry creek and bridge in the photo above. Inga set it up to look like it empties into the pond.

Enjoy this YouTube I created of Inga’s garden in the early days of Spring, even though it was still very cold! You’ll see Quimby the Corgi, Mr. Bill and Spooky Boo her two cats, and a neighboring white cat that wanted to get into the act, too.

A hui hou!

Katrina’s Trick

Not long ago, I promised a video of Katrina playing fetch like a dog. It wasn’t something I had to teach her. She dropped her toy at my feet and sat there waiting for me to do something. I tossed it across the room and said, “Go play with it.” She got it and brought it back. Even now, several months later, she still loves to play fetch and could go on forever.

I was playing around with my little Nikon CoolPix to see if I could take a movie with it. As a result, I was able to get just a couple of minutes of her trick with the help of a friend. I love the way Katrina dives behind the pillows to get her toy.

She had already been playing for several minutes by the time I was able to figure out how to use the camera. At the end, she got tired of playing with my friend and brought the toy to me, then went off to play alone.

Enjoy this little clip until I can make a better one.

A hui hou!

Lessons from Lava

The official theme of this blog is ” homesteading, food, travel, and philosophy from the side of a volcano in rural Hawai`i.” So far, I’ve done mostly the first three, but very little of the fourth – philosophy. I could elaborate philosophically on many topics, and over the next few months, bear with me as do more of that.

The official title of this blog is “Lava to Lilikoi,” and that is a great deal like saying “how to make lemonade out of lemons.” In other words, when given an acre of lava, how do you produce lilikoi (our name for passion fruit) in abundance?

The drought has discouraged me from doing a lot of gardening, although I did plant 45 garlic cloves this week! They don’t like a lot of water, so this area should be perfect for them. I bought a pound of California softneck garlic from an heirloom seed company, since most stores sell garlic that is treated to prevent it from sprouting. (I understand that health food stores might have organic non-treated garlic, however.)

The opening photo shows some of these garlic bulbs, plus a few miniature pumpkins from the grocery store, and a couple of even tinier acorn squash that never did grow big enough to eat!

One of the many lessons of gardening I have learned has been not to plant anything that requires plenty of water, plenty of rich soil, or a different climate.

For example, my geraniums have taken over various spots of my acre, and they add a great deal of color to an otherwise gray landscape. Herbs in pots are growing nicely. I have been able to get some delicious beets and arugula occasionally. My donkey tails seem to do well. Palms that don’t require a lot of water are doing okay. Various flowering shrubs have done fine (when the Mouflon sheep don’t eat them). Other veggies did quite well when we had regular rains, or when the birds didn’t eat them.

Please don’t mistake this for complaining! I’m just stating facts about my own particular situation. Everyone in my garden club seems to be suffering from the drought, too.

So on this weekend after Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks for the beautiful ancient ohia trees scattered around my acre, for the hens that give me delicious fresh eggs, for the splashes of magenta, purple, orange, blue, red, pink , white and yellow that adorn my lava “lawn,” for a year-round temperature that allows me to be free from snow and ice. Living and gardening on lava makes me thankful for every single sprout!

I’m also grateful for my friends, whether here or on the mainland, who keep in touch; for my students who challenge me, and who keep my mind active and alert; for good health that permits me to continue gardening and teaching; and for my family members who make me proud to be their mama, grandma, and great-grandma, sister, cousin and aunt!

Finally, I’m grateful for my little Katrina, a sweet and photogenic joy in my life! Doesn’t she look pretty in blue?

A hui hou!

Shades of Green

Living on an acre of lava that offers many shades of black and gray, I might quote the Muppets and say, “It’s not easy being green.” I forget what it means to be green.

Friends from the mainland came to visit and were amazed at my catchment system, and for the first time, I had an inkling of just how “green” we live here in Ocean View. I know my friends in California think they are being “green” when they put in a 100 gallon rain barrel. It’s no wonder they are in awe of my 15,000 gallon tank! Still, our planet appreciates every 100 gallons saved.

So much of what we grow and eat here goes through its green stage, like these bananas before they turn yellow . . .

. . . or the coffee berries before they turn cherry red.

Herbs in all shades of green stand close to my kitchen door.

Fresh corn and other veggies offer more shades of green.

Then we have fruits – the enormous jackfruit. . .

. . . and wonderful limes.

I love cooking up a mess of fresh greens from my garden . . .

. . . or a pan of this brilliant green chard.

There are so many places where shades of green forms a spectacular frame, like this scene from Kauai.

Mostly green forms a background to other colors of Hawaii. . .

. . . or for our sensational orchids, and other flowers.

St. James Park in London provides another backdrop for early spring flowers.

Our Hawai`ian fauna also comes in shades of green. There is the florescent green of the Jackson. . .

. . .and the dark almost black green of the sea turtles.

The stately ti plants are considered good luck when planted around your home.

The green lotus leaves create a sense of serenity and peace.

The many pictures of green in my albums would fill a few coffee table books, each one another category of my life. This is only a small sampling of my green pictures. Beyond the visual green, there is a lot of symbolism to be found in the color green. I think I’d better reserve that for a future post!

A hui hou!

Happy Halloween from Katrina!

When I checked my website this morning, I realized it has been over 2 weeks since I last posted something. Fall semester is my heaviest term, and as a result, school prep has come first. Now that we have passed the middle of the semester, I may be back on a regular basis again.

On September 4 of this year, I brought home a new kitten. As near as the vet could figure, she was born somewhere around the middle of June. This past week she was spayed by the Humane Society, and is doing fine. I took this shot of her with my cell phone about a month ago.

I have taken several pictures of her and like most proud owners of the feline species, I will be posting these periodically. Several of you have known about her from the beginning and are interested to know how she is doing now.

Katrina has several places where she likes to sleep – or survey her world, like the picture at the top of this post.

Her favorite place of all is across the red pillows of my chaise.

It’s not easy to get a shot when she’s asleep. The minute she hears me approach, even in her sound sleep, she is awake and watchful.

Then of course, there’s the big yawn and the question, “How dare you wake me up?”

She has found the ledge on my kitchen window.

What a brave, adventurous girl!

Like most playful kittens, she loves to pretend she is hiding. Can you find her?

Not only is Katrina a mischievous kitten, but she thinks she’s a dog! In a few weeks, I’ll try to post a little video of her playing “fetch” with me!

Happy Halloween!

Caught!

It looks like the drought or the pheasants aren’t the only culprits responsible for losing plants! I looked out my kitchen window one morning this week and saw three healthy Mouflon sheep munching away.

They are such a nuisance that the National Park has a lottery for hunters to help get rid of them, especially in the Park.

These beauties must have spied me at the window, because two of them came a little closer to check me out.

This web site shows some of the damage being done by these feral sheep.

Bill Doar is a retired Community Policeman from here in the District of Ka’u. Since he retired, he takes beautiful nature photos and sells cards for visitors. Here is one shot he took of one of the Mouflon.

You can see this guy must have spotted my movements at the kitchen window.

Here is the last shot I was able to get before they turned tail and ran into the hills.

They are certainly a handsome animal, even though they do eat my plants!

A hui hou!