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City Slickers


Papayas Life on the farm can sometimes befuddle us city slickers.  Not only did we move from the suburbs to the country, we also moved to a tropical island.  It's quite different than anything we were used to.  We're slowly but surely starting to identify all the plants around here.  I had been told that we had papaya on the property but I had no idea what a papaya looked like.  Valerie finally figured it out.  It turns out there's a papaya tree right outside our front door.  Valerie also noticed that a couple of the papayas were ripe and ready to be picked.  I got out the super long basket-on-a-pole that I had discovered in the storage area under the house and, with the guidance of my family, tried to get down the ripe papayas.

The lower papayas were in easy reach of the pole.  I'm still not sure how to get the higher ones down.  I tried shaking the tree but when some dead leaves fell on my head, I decided I better stop shaking before a ripe papaya fell on my head.  The tree is too skinny to support me climbing up it and too tall for the basket-on-a-pole.  I'm sure the native Hawaiians figured something out.  And I bet it didn't involve hard hats and vigorous shaking.  I'll have to think of a way to ask a native Hawaiian without sounding like the clueless haole (pronounced howlee, Hawaiian for foreigner) that I am.

The papayas are good.  We eat them like a cantaloupe.  Even the girls like them.

We had another interesting encounter.  It involved some of the locals from down the street.  Valerie and I were out front working when Valerie said "There's a truck full of guys in camouflage with guns coming down the driveway."  Sure enough, there was a beat up little pickup truck rattling down the driveway with a couple guys crammed in front and about a half dozen more guys and dogs hanging on in back.  They looked like some kind of ragtag paramilitary group coming to "welcome" us to the neighborhood.  If you've ever seen the movie Road Warrior, that's the image that popped into my head.

We have a gate out front but we usually leave it open.  It's ironic that this was the first day we closed it and also the first day we had any unsolicited visitors.  Our driveway is long so I had time to walk down and meet them before they got to the house.  I tried to look friendly but not naive.  I'm not sure exactly how to look friendly and not naive, but I did my best.

As they pulled up I recognized some of the dogs.  They lived about a mile down the road.  There's a collection of run down shacks and abandoned cars where the dogs are always out front playing in the road whenever we drive by.  The driver introduced himself courteously enough.  All they wanted to do was go hunt pigs.  There are lots of wild pigs in Hawaii.  The pigs are not a native species and are generally unwelcome.  There is a season for hunting birds but pigs are fair game all year round.  Our electric fence is primarily to keep the pigs out of the macadamia nut orchard.

I told our visitors that they were welcome to go look for pigs but I hadn't seen any recently and I had the electric fence on.  I offered to turn off the fence for them but they said it wouldn't be a problem.  The back of our property is adjacent to a large cattle ranch that is primarily wilderness.  The entire mountain above us is wild park land.  I figured they'd park at the back of our property and hike up to the park.  There are certainly plenty of places for wild pigs to hide around here.  I just hadn't seen any recently.  The electric fence is pretty effective as long as I don't drive my tractor through it.

After introducing ourselves and exchanging pleasantries, the pickup truck full of hunters rattled on up the dirt path towards the back of our property.  I heard them stop near the macadamia nut orchard.  A few seconds later, I heard a `Yelp' from one of their dogs.  Followed by another.  And another.  Maybe I should have turned the fence off for them.

They were only out there for a few minutes before I heard the truck come rattling back.  I hadn't heard any gun shots.  They stopped again on the way out.  One of their dogs that hit the fence had gotten spooked and ran off.  They said they tried to call her back but she wouldn't come so they just left her behind figuring she'd eventually find her own way home.  Then they promised to take me hunting with them some day, left their phone number, and drove off to their next hunting spot.

A few minutes later Valerie wandered back to the mac nut orchard.  She called for the dog, named Pele.  Pele was a little pitbull puppy and very friendly.  She came right up to Valerie wagging her tail vigorously.  Of course Sarah and Emily wanted to keep Pele, but we convinced them to load her in the station wagon so we could take her home.

All in all, our first run-in with the locals went quite well.  Who knows, maybe in a couple months I'll have a pig hunting story to share.




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