This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

The Chicken and the Egg

February 28th, 2013

In Colombia, having chickens on your small farm is vital and the eggs they give aren’t the main reason for having them. They are kept for pest control, particularly because they eat brown recluse spiders and scorpions.
Colombian Chicken (1)
For a while, there were no chickens at the camp, then they started having trouble with spiders and scorpions. A flock of traditional jungle type birds were brought in and the scorpions and spiders were history.
Colombian Chickens (1)
These aren’t your typical laying hens that we are used to here in the states. The chickens roost in the trees, no cozy coop to keep them safe. There are a few branches propped up into the crooks of the pomarosa trees to aid them in getting up there. They do a great job staying away from predators since they’re not penned in. In fact, there was someone that tried to keep some chickens contained in a coop and run at the camp and they were quickly eaten by ocelots that snuck in out of the jungle.
Colombian Chickens
My dad has one larger chicken that was a gift from one of his workers. She’s a big girl, much larger than the smaller jungle type chickens, more of the type we’re used to seeing here. It’s funny, because everyone that visits has their eye on her for the soup pot.
Colombian Chicken 6
One day while we were there, she decided to use the wheelbarrow as a nesting box and left us a big beautiful blue egg. We found another one later in the week.
Colombian Chickens 2
Colombian Chickens 3
A few days before we arrived at the camp, one of the smaller chickens showed up with 5 chicks. She was down to three after only a day or two. It looks pretty promising for these three, since they continued to show up every afternoon that week. No doubt they will have the skills to survive.
Colombian Chickens 1
It was fascinating to watch these chickens, they retain their wild instincts and they’re completely different than the ones pecking around my garden. I suppose these traits aren’t desirable for large scale agriculture, but they certainly would be in the small garden setting. This spring I’m hoping to find some chickens that are a little more like these, I’ve found a guy locally that breeds them. You’ll hear all about them, I’m hoping it won’t be long.

Would you be willing to keep chickens with more of their natural instincts and get fewer eggs if you had chickens?

Welcome Home

February 27th, 2013

Last week, we arrived home at around 8 pm on Saturday night.   We had grand plans of taking Sunday off to relax and rest up from our 3 week long trip.   Nature had other plans for us.
Cleaning up the Snow 1
Cleaning up the Snow 2
We woke up Sunday to a blanket of snow.  It continued snowing throughout the day.  Mr Chiots used that new tractor to move the remaining snow from the blizzard that we missed while we were in Colombia.  The snow was heavy and piled rather high, we are thankful that we had the tractor or we wouldn’t have been able to get into our garage for quite a while. The driveway was also plowed twice, I did a ride along in the big red plow truck to take a few photos.
Cleaning up the Snow 3
I really should take advantage of all this snow to get out and get my Christmas card picture for this coming Christmas. I’d really like to feature this truck with big old fashioned Christmas lights. It sure would be nice to get that out of the way.
Cleaning up the Snow 5
Cleaning up the Snow 4
So much for a day of rest.  We didn’t really mind, we love snow and we enjoy hard work.  Since we did so much physical labor on Sunday, however we didn’t feel well-rested on Monday morning. We’ll just have to be mindful to take a few evenings off during the week.

Does nature every thwart your plans of rest and relaxation?

Fresh and Seasonal

February 26th, 2013

One of the things I really miss is all the fresh seasonal tropical fruit from my childhood. It’s hard to come by a really good mango in Ohio and Maine. Though you can occasionally find a passable piece of fruit, they’re just not the same as the ones plucked right from the tree.
Tropical Fruit 2
Tropical Fruit 1
While we were in Colombia, I was able to enjoy lots of delicious seasonal fruit. We enjoyed watermelon, mango, pineapple, guanabana, mandarin oranges, oranges, mangoes, limes, pomarosas and star fruit.
Tropical Fruit 3
Tropical Fruit 4
I also enjoyed seeing all the trees blooming. This star fruit tree, or carambola as I know it, was blooming and fruiting at the same time. When I was a kid, I didn’t notice the blooms or the foliage, I was mostly interested in the fruit.  Now, as a gardener, I can appreciate those aspects of these fruit trees.  Growing up, mangoes were my favorite tropical fruit, I have very fond memories of eat green ones with salt and plucking ripe one from the tree.

Do you have any fruit that you remember from you childhood?

Cultivate Simple 19: The World Tour

February 25th, 2013

Topic: Lessons Learned While Traveling

Traveling to a third-world country and getting out of your comfort zone can teach you a lot of lessons about yourself and how fortunate you are. Susy learned those lessons as a child growing up in Colombia while Brian has experienced them during several visits to the country over the years.
Wendy & Susy
Me and my sister while growing up in Colombia. I’m on the left.
Dinner with Virginia 1
This was the meal that Brian talks about in the episode. The photos below are of their house, their neighborhood and Virginia (the woman who cooked this delicious meal).
Dinner with Virginia 2
Dinner with Virginia 3
Dinner with Virginia 4
Eating healthfully while traveling can be a challenge as well. We share some tips and tricks that we have learned over the years that not only make the trip more enjoyable but also give you more energy to enjoy the journey.

Here’s my post on Eat Outside the Bag on Eating Healthfully on the Road.

My recipe for Nourishing Custard over on Eat Outside the Bag.

Here’s my post about Lavamé Clean, the soap we take down to distribute in Colombia.

Books of the Week

Brian’s Geeky Corner

Sign up for a ‘throw-away’ email. Use a gmail account when you sign up for a newsletter or purchase something on-line. Then all of your junk and distraction email will go to one address while all the email from family and friends will end up in your ‘real’ email inbox.

Quote of the Day: Carol Deppe

February 24th, 2013

Before you were a gardener, you might have filled your schedule. Most non-gardeners do. But anything unexpected then results in overload. And most of life in unexpected. So you were always overloaded. You never had time for anything spontaneous or unscheduled. (And when a friend or family member needs you most it’s likely to be spontaneous or unscheduled.) You also seemed to live from crisis to crisis. You might have even thought your going from crises to crises “putting out fires everywhere” was because you were so important. In actuality, being always too busy for anything unscheduled or spontaneous are signs of a life not being lived as well as it could be, a life full of missed opportunities, a life too full of busyness for most of what makes life worth living.

Carol Deppe from The Resilient Gardener

realxing on the front porch
Mr Chiots and I have spent the last 4-5 years trying to cultivate simplicity in our lives. Simplicity doesn’t mean uncomplicated, it just means that you’re focusing on this things that truly bring you joy and happiness. Even though we don’t have much time to sit back and relax, the things that we spend our time doing are relaxing in their own way.

Have you found that gardening helps you manage your time better?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.